Archdiocese Local

Businesses offered ethical guidance to HHS mandate

Program aims to help guide Catholic businesspersons

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — How to deal with the moral dilemma created by the federal contraception and abortifacient mandate will be the focus of a program for Catholic businesspersons.

The breakfast program, called “When Faith and Law Conflict,” will be held from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 24 at the Overland Park Convention Center, located at 6000 College Blvd. (See below for registration information.)

The program is for any Catholic who owns a business or is involved in funding employee benefit programs. It is cosponsored by the Heart of America Catholic Business Network and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

“The archdiocese had been approached by several business people [needing guidance for] an ethical and moral way to respond to the HHS mandate,” said Dan Spencer, president and co-founder of the Heart of America Business Network.

Earlier this year, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama unveiled a federal mandate for contraceptive and abortifacient services as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. bishops, joined by other religious leaders, denounced the mandate as an attack on religious liberty.

“The point [of the event] is to give guidance on what is possible, what some of the options are to deal with this issue for faithful Catholic business owners, and to give some clarity on moral approaches rather than people coming up with something on their own,” said Spencer.

The program will feature John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, and Karen McLeese, an attorney and vice president of regulatory affairs for the Catholic Business Network.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann will speak, and then Haas and McLeese will each give 20-minute presentations, followed by 15-minute question-and-answer periods.

Catholic business owners have expressed various levels of concern about the contraception and abortifacient mandate, said Spencer.

“There’s a lot of confusion, frankly, about how it applies, depending on the size of their business,” said Spencer.

Business owners face three options, he said.

The first is to ignore the mandate and expose themselves to fines that would put them out of business, and even put themselves at risk of jail.

The second option is to comply completely with the law and ignore their conscience and the teachings of the church — exposing themselves to spiritual risks.

The third option is to find an accommodation through an association with a faith-based entity.

“There’s very little wiggle room at this point,” said Spencer.

Spencer hopes attendees will take away from the event three things: a clearer understanding of their options and what the law requires; a better grasp of the issue’s ethics; and a “middle option” that allows them to take care of their employees, follow their conscience and follow the law.

The cost of attending is a freewill donation.

Register to attend by going to the website at:

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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