Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend issued a statement on Thursday criticizing the University of Notre Dame’s recent decision to provide “simple contraceptives” on its insurance plans for faculty and students.
The university is located in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
In the Feb. 8 statement, published on the diocesan website, Rhoades said that he “strongly disagree[d]” with Notre Dame’s decision to provide funding for contraception, and that the school is now “even more directly” contributing to immoral behavior.
“The Catholic Church clearly teaches that contraception is an immoral action that contradicts the truth of marital love,” Rhoades wrote.
Previously, the university worked with a third-party administrator to provide contraceptives without the involvement of the school, but Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. announced in a letter last week that this relationship would be ending. Jenkins said he was concerned that the types of drugs covered by the third-party plan included contraceptives that could potentially cause an abortion, so he made the decision to drop this plan altogether. Instead, the school will now pay for a limited range of contraceptive drugs.
In the letter, Jenkins cited a concern for respecting the religious beliefs of others who use contraception after prayerful discernment as for why the school would be providing the drugs. Bishop Rhoades rejected this line of thought as misguided, and said that it was wrong for those people to expect the school to fund things contrary to Catholic teaching.
“Members of the community who decide to use contraceptives, however, should not expect the university to act contrary to its Catholic beliefs by funding these contraceptives,” said Rhoades. He said Notre Dame may have missed a chance to be a witness of Catholic faith and teaching, even if this would not have pleased everyone.
“Not providing funding for contraception would not be popular with some, but it would truly be a prophetic witness to the truth about human sexuality and its meaning and purpose.”
Bishop Rhoades said that he understands that not everyone fully understands or appreciates what the Church teaches about contraception.
“I encourage all who struggle with this teaching to study prayerfully this teaching of the Church, and I especially recommend the study of the encyclical of Blessed Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, during this 50th anniversary year of the encyclical, as well as the rich teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II in his catecheses on the ‘theology of the body.’”
“I hope and pray that the University will reconsider its decision,” Rhoades concluded.
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