CHARLOTTE, NC, February 15, 2008 ( – Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina has amended the health insurance plan provided by its carrier to remove coverage for abortions, voluntary sterilizations and contraception. The provisions allowing these practices were recently discovered and the college moved quickly to rectify the situation. The college has since been faced with complaints from a few employees to state and federal agencies, but remains undaunted.

President William Thierfelder said, “As a Roman Catholic institution, Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church. There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic college.”

In a letter to staff and faculty, Thierfeder answered the question: Were any faculty, staff or committees consulted on this change?  He said, “No. The teaching of the Catholic Church on this moral issue is clear. The responsibility of the College as a Catholic College sponsored by the monks of Belmont Abbey to follow Church teaching is equally clear. There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic College. Therefore, consultation was not an option. However, Abbot Placid and I have publicly and repeatedly expressed a willingness to discuss the matter at any time with anyone who would like to talk to us.”

According to Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) president Patrick J. Reilly, “Belmont Abbey is a faithful Catholic college, and this action reinforces it. We applaud the steadfastness of President Thierfelder and Abbot Placid Solari, the college chancellor, in keeping fidelity to Catholic teachings a clear priority of the institution.”

Reilly noted that the college was undaunted by complaints filed by a few personnel with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the North Carolina Department of Insurance. He said, “We hope that these few disgruntled employees will be rebuffed in their efforts to use the power of government to intervene in a matter of faith.”

Belmont Abbey College, located a few miles from Charlotte, N.C., is one of 21 Catholic colleges recommended in CNS’s highly acclaimed 2007 publication, The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College: What to Look for and Where to Find it.

Joseph A. Esposito, editor of The Newman Guide and Director of the CNS’s Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, added, “Belmont Abbey is a good role model in this area for other Catholic colleges and universities. We urge all institutions to look carefully at their insurance coverage and determine whether similar changes need to be made.