February 10, 2015Dear Members of the Faculty and Staff,
Throughout last year, the University celebrated the anniversary of our founding in 1888 by the Diocese of Scranton. We recounted astonishing achievements that made clear that we are not the same institution founded on little more than prayers, dreams and a block of granite. We also remembered, however, that fidelity to our mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution is the abiding theme of our history, regardless of the times and trials.
Remaining faithful to our identity as a Catholic institution calls us to serve the world in unique and inspiring ways. It has also, over the years, led the University to adapt its institutional practices to ensure harmony with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, including adjustments to employee health care plans. I am writing to you all concerning such an issue.
The University’s health care plans include coverage for abortion in cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother. The current coverage was put in place in the 1990s to comply with the limits of Pennsylvania state law for traditional insurance plans. Although the coverage is limited, it is inconsistent with the moral teachings of the Church. Considerable deliberation and research has made clear to me that because the University is self insured we can, and therefore must, offer insurance plans that are free of all abortion coverage.
I recognize that abortion is a painfully divisive issue nationally and that Catholic and Jesuit colleges and universities have not been immune to this divisiveness. Nevertheless, the moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal. Circumstances, “however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,” and “[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined” than the unborn child. (Evangelium Vitae, no. 58)
Because this is a University-wide issue, I have already reached out to the presidents of both the Faculty and Staff senates. Changes to specific coverages must be addressed within the context of our contract with the faculty. I have also spoken to the leadership of the Faculty Affairs Council and will be addressing the union’s negotiating team personally.
Within our respective roles and responsibilities, we are all stewards of the University and its Catholic and Jesuit mission. Regardless of your personal views on this subject, I hope that you can understand the necessity that as a Catholic institution we must behave consistently with the Church’s moral teaching on abortion.
May God continue to bless The University of Scranton.
Kevin P. Quinn, S.J.