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Chicago Cardinal Francis George: If Contraception Mandate Stands, All Catholic Hospitals Will Close 'Two Lents From Now


"The Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must 'give up' her health care institutions."

The Obama administration's contraception mandate may be motivated by saving lives, but according to one cardinal, it is likely to lead to heavy casualties in another respect. In a column posted at Catholic New World, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago weighs in with a dire warning:

The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state. The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church. The bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack.

If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank.

Apart from the outsized danger George predicts, this rebuke, especially coming from the Cardinal of Obama's home town, is sure to send a message to the White House. Especially considering that the President made a special point of meeting with Cardinal George back in March of 2009. Though the White House claimed that George and Obama had a close relationship due to their mutual home town, the Cardinal didn't seem in any hurry to warm up to the President:

Though Obama and George have both held prominent posts in Illinois, where they met a number of times, they never developed a relationship, the cardinal said [in November 2008]. Obama, who is Protestant, was a state senator in Illinois from 1997 to 2004, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

"It's always been a friendly meeting, never substantive," George said at a November meeting of the USCCB in Baltimore.

And even if George and Obama do have their tensions, what about George's warning? How much of an impact would the loss of every Catholic hospital have on the U.S.? Quite a large one, as the Catholic Reporter detailed in 2003. According to the Reporter, the Catholic Church oversees the nation's largest group of non-profit systems, with over 600 hospitals maintained by the institution.

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