Jesuit Gonzaga University will cover contraception

…but promises to “clearly communicate” Church teaching on the issue.

While more than 100 institutions and individuals—including Catholic colleges and universities—have filed suit against the Obama administration over the HHS mandate, the president of Gonzaga University announced last week to faculty and staff that the Jesuit school in Spokane, Washington will be complying with the mandate. GU President Thayne McCulloh said that the university will provide coverage for contraception under its health insurance plan starting December 1, 2012.

Matthew Archbold, writing for the Cardinal Newman Society’s blog, has excerpts from a memo sent by McCulloh explaining the decision to university employees:

Gonzaga is a Catholic and Jesuit university and as such demonstrates its membership in and fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church in many ways. One of these involves promulgating Church teachings as regards respect for, and the promotion of, human life. The Church has, since before the issue of the Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (1968) held that engaging in any action which has as its purpose interference with the (sexually) procreative process is both immoral and unlawful. This position is well known and has been affirmed by the Church many times since. While there are many opinions about the Church’s position on these matters, heretofore Catholic institutions, like Gonzaga, have been permitted to construct and maintain policies in accord with this position…

Irrespective of the specific issue (e.g. contraception), the mandate is seen by many as oppressive and as creating an unresolvable conflict between the obligation to promote and support Church teaching and the obligation to follow the law. While the conflict remains, we conclude that it is incumbent upon us as a Catholic Jesuit institution to ensure that the position of the Roman Catholic Church on the specific issue of contraception is clearly communicated, even as we are compelled by the federal government to fulfill our legal obligation under the mandate.

Readers may recall that another Jesuit institution, Xavier University in Cincinnati, went public last month about its decision to comply with the HHS mandate and cover contraception under its health plan. As Archbold points out in his post, no Jesuit universities are among those suing the Obama administration over the mandate.

I know we have readers at Gonzaga—my alma mater!—and in the larger Spokane community. Please do let us know about any further efforts undertaken by the university administration “to ensure that the position of the Roman Catholic Church on the specific issue of contraception is clearly communicated.” I, for one, will be interested to hear about them.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.