Missouri bishop objects to hospital’s same-sex benefits

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau says he is “deeply concerned” about a decision from a Catholic-based hospital group to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

The Mercy Health System, which has about 9,000 employees in Springfield, said last week that it plans to offer benefits to legally married same-sex spouses beginning this spring. The hospital said it made the decision because of recent changes in government regulations for same-sex couples.

Bishop James Johnston said in a statement to the Springfield News-Leader that the hospital didn’t cite what regulations required the change.

And he accused the hospital system of ignoring the church’s stand against same-sex relationships because of “regulations, government funds, and fear of public ridicule.”