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Supreme Court upholds health care subsidies in states with federal exchanges


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Writing that “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court June 25 upheld tax subsidies for participants in health care exchanges run by the federal government in states that refused to create them.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts disentangled what he said was “more than a few examples of inartful drafting” in how the 2010 law was written that contributed to the interpretation that federal subsidies for people with lower income should only be available to residents of states that created their own health care exchanges. Read more »

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5th Circuit says HHS accommodation on mandate not a burden on religion


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The religious rights of faith-based entities — including the dioceses of Fort Worth and Beaumont, Texas, and the University of Dallas — are not substantially burdened by the process to receive an accommodation from the federal government to avoid participating in a health care mandate for contraceptive coverage, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 22.       Read more »

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Saint Francis Healthcare focuses on improved heart-health services

February 20th, 2015 Posted in Senior / Health


Dialog Editor


If you develop heart disease, Saint Francis Healthcare in Wilmington can help you with updated labs and a new cardiovascular practice, but if you’d rather avoid heart problems in the future, Dr. Audrey Sernyak, director of SFH cardiovascular services, has a heart-health tip for you.

“Don’t smoke,” she said.

“Smoking increases your risk of heart disease threefold. I’ll live with all your other vices in this world, if I can get you to quit smoking.” Read more »

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A statement from the Catholic Bishops of Maryland: End of Life Decision Making for the Faithful




The month of November, which begins with the celebration of the companion feasts of the Solemnity of All Saints and All Souls Day, offers a time for our community of faith to pray in a special way for those who have passed to eternal life. As we remember the saints in heaven, and the souls of all those who have gone before us, this time of year also offers us an opportunity to consider important questions we might face at the hour of our own or a loved one’s death.

On a spiritual level, we pray that our journey of faith each day will lead us to a deeper awareness that this life on earth is transitory, and that our true selves will not be fully revealed until we have passed through death into eternity with God. As we more fully grasp this essential reality, we see more clearly the truth of Pope Francis’ words: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Read more »

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Health Commentary: Faith-full recipe

October 18th, 2014 Posted in Senior / Health Tags: , ,



With a tried and true recipe, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have been producing altar breads and distributing them since 1910. But in the early 1990s, they began to receive telephone calls from individuals who had a unique need for a different recipe: They suffered from celiac disease and could not receive holy Communion in the form of the usual, wheat-based hosts.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to eating gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley and many prepared foods, such as wheat-based pastas. Read more »

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U.S. Catholic health care workers, dioceses respond to Ebola crisis


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Tabiri Chukunta has been trying to get the word out to the West African community in New Jersey that their families and friends in Liberia need to put on hold, at least temporarily, cultural traditions of greeting people affectionately and washing bodies of the dead.

For now, Chukunta, executive director of community outreach at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey — a long way from his Nigerian homeland — feels the educational campaign has been effective.

Read more »

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Viewpoint: For caregivers — Special beatitudes and a prayer


I don’t recall my late wife, Monica, and I ever apologizing to Jesus or the evangelist Matthew for plagiarizing and doing a little rewriting of the beatitudes.

Perhaps I should assume that sometimes since Monica’s death in January 2013, she straightened the whole thing out face to face. Read more »

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St. Mark’s theology teacher anticipates healing after pilgrimage to Lourdes


Staff reporter


WILMINGTON – Mary Johnston sat on a plane at Baltimore Washington International Airport on April 30, prepared for a flight she knew would change her life. She was headed to Lourdes, France, where she was confident she would find healing for various health issues.

The long-awaited pilgrimage was nearly derailed, however, by an engine problem on the plane, but after a night in a hotel, Johnston was off to France. What she experienced there, she said, will affect her the rest of her life and was worth the one-day delay. Read more »

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Catholic health group calls N.Y. Times editorial wrong and ‘irresponsible’


WASHINGTON— The Catholic Health Association said a Dec. 8 New York Times editorial “was misleading and in error” when it claimed that mergers between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals and the U.S. bishops’ ethical and religious directives that guide Catholic health care restrict quality medical care for women and children.

“It is especially regrettable that such a respected publication would rush to judgment without validating the facts,” the Catholic Health Association said in a Dec. 9 statement issued by the St. Louis-based organization’s Washington office.

“Catholic hospitals in the United States have a stellar history of caring for mothers and infants,” it said. “Hundreds of thousands of patients have received extraordinary care, both in the joy of welcoming an infant or in the pain of losing one. In many communities in our country, the Catholic hospital’s maternity service is the designated center for high-risk pregnancies.”

The New York Times editorial was prompted by a lawsuit filed Nov. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan/Southern Division by the American Civil Liberties Union and its Michigan affiliate claiming that because of the directives, Tamesha Means of Muskegon, Mich., received negligent care at a Michigan Catholic hospital when her pregnancy was in crisis at 18 weeks, leading to the loss of her baby.

The suit claims the directives kept the doctors from giving Means complete information about her condition, treatment options and adequate care, a situation that led her, it says, to suffer emotional and painful trauma that resulted in a premature birth, and the death of the baby shortly thereafter.

“Beyond new state efforts to restrict women’s access to proper reproductive health care, another, if quieter, threat is posed by mergers between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals operating under religious directives from the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops,” the editorial said. “These directives, which oppose abortions, inevitably collide with a hospital’s duty to provide care to pregnant women in medical distress.”

The suit names as defendants the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Mercy Health Muskegon, as it is now called, which is the hospital where Means sought care; and three former or current chairs of the board of the health care network that includes the hospital.

The CHA statement said the editorial was “inaccurate and irresponsible to assert that these wonderful community services are unsafe for mothers in an obstetrical emergency, simply because a Catholic hospital adheres to the ethical and religious directives.”

“There is nothing in the ethical and religious directives that prevents the provision of quality clinical care for mothers and infants in obstetrical emergencies,” it said.

The “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care” guide Catholic health care facilities in addressing a wide range of ethical questions, such as abortion, euthanasia, care for the poor, medical research, treatment of rape victims and other issues. They are now in their fifth edition, approved by the U.S. bishops in 2009. The 43-page document includes 72 directives.

The ACLU lawsuit cites only one directive, No. 45, which says in part: “Abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted.”

Directive No. 27 requires informed consent. Directive No. 47 states: “Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”

Beyond the directives, several independent organizations have oversight responsibility for all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, the CHA said.

“Nationally, for most hospitals it is the Joint Commission (JCAHO) and, in each state, there is a licensing agency. Both organizations have robust standards and inspections,” it said. “They would not accredit or license a hospital that is unsafe for mothers or infants under any circumstance. Add to that the commitment of health professionals caring for these mothers.”

In a Dec. 6 statement, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., USCCB president, said that “the death of any unborn child is tragic, and we feel deeply for any mother who suffers such pain and loss,” but he called the ACLU lawsuit “misguided.”

He said it was “baseless” for the ACLU to claim the directives encourage or require “substandard treatment of pregnant women” because they do “not approve the direct killing of their unborn children.”

The archbishop added that the USCCB will continue to defend the principles of Catholic teaching, including as outlined in the ethical directives, “in season and out, and we will defend ourselves against this misguided lawsuit.”


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Women from diocese join D.C. rally against HHS contraception mandate

November 25th, 2013 Posted in Senior / Health


Not all women believe the government should force health insurance carriers to provide free contraception, and a few hundred of them, including 16 from the Diocese of Wilmington, rallied in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1 to make their position known.

The rally was sponsored by Women Speak for Themselves, a group of mostly Catholic women who are opposed to the mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that contraception be included in health care plans.

The mandate was scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, hence the date of the rally, but it has been pushed back to Jan. 1 of next year.

Delia DeAscanis, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in New Castle who is active in Delaware’s pro-life community, said the idea behind the rally was to put a public face to the movement. The mandate, she said, is an infringement on women’s First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.

“This is not about agreeing with contraception,” she said. “I think the main message is that the women in this group disagree with the government’s assertion that contraception is part of women’s freedom.”

Jessica Ferraro of St. Hedwig Parish in Wilmington said Women Speak for Themselves welcomes women of all faiths, and some of them are proponents of contraception but don’t want to be forced to pay for others to get it. The next mandate might affect another faith like this one hit Catholics.

“We realize that even though Catholics may have felt the blow of the HHS Mandate most acutely, it’s not going to end there. Which religious group is going to be next?” she asked.

Eleven women spoke at the gathering, including Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University Law School and a former pro-life official for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Teresa LoPorto, one of the local attendees, said Alvare was dynamic.

“Helen Alvare kind of summed it up: we are like the new hippies. We are the ones working against the system, and we’re right,” said LoPorto, a parishioner at St. Mary of the Assumption in Hockessin.

Ferraro said Alvare’s talk reminded her that “we as Catholic women are called to be a support for one another, and continue the discussion in our own diocese. Maybe there will be a woman reading this article who is using contraception and doesn’t understand why it is wrong.”

The Obama administration has carved out several exceptions to the mandate for religious employers and their affiliates, such as hospitals and universities, but DeAscanis said the exceptions do not matter. Everyone paying into a health care plan will contribute to contraceptive care, no matter where one stands on the issue.

“That’s where the accommodation doesn’t protect individuals,” she said. “Right now, there’s really no way to remove yourself from it.”

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