US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Should Catholic institutions employ non-Catholics?

By Meghan Murphy-Gill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

This morning I woke up to Sister Mary Ann Walsh's voice on my radio: "Nobody is forced to work for the Catholic Church," she said. That includes the church's many public institutions, such as hospitals, social service agencies, and universities.

Walsh is a spokesperson for the US Catholic bishops and also mentioned that when people take positions at these institutions, whether they're Catholic or not, they should know that their benefits will not include coverage of contraception, sterilization, or any othe family planning care that a non-Catholic university or hospital's health plan likely includes.

But plenty of Catholic institutions already do provide benefits that include contraception coverage and even family health plans for same-sex couples, even in states where it's not mandatory. Why? Because these institutions that represent the public face of the church must compete with other non-Catholic institutions. You want the top doctors at your hospital, the top scholars at your university, you can't hire only Catholics. Sure, there are plenty of very successful Catholics who can and already do serve in these institutions, but they make up a small percentage. Start requiring proof of Catholic identity, and you've narrowed down your selection pool dramatically.

Will the church leadership aever mandate this? Probably not. Likewise, it won't ever completely sever it's ties to the state. With that being the case, we'll just have to see how political, legal, and church leadership work out if and how the church gets exemptions to the rules played by the rest of public institutions.