Yearly Archives: 2009
Archbishop Chaput discusses the authentic Catholic teaching which should inspire health care reform in America at Catholic.org.
“Last week a British Catholic journal, in an editorial titled “U.S. bishops must back Obama,” claimed that America’s bishops “have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue – making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion – rather than the more general principle of the common good.”
It went on to say that if U.S. Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, “they could play a central role in salvaging Mr. Obama’s health-care programme.”
Read Archbishop Chaput’s response and more of this essential piece at Catholic.org.
Justin Cardinal Rigali weighed in specifically on the issue of abortion and health care reform. Specifically, that any plan for reform that openly encourages or funds abortion is not health care at all. Also from Catholic.org:
There is a basic principle of morality which states: “The end does not justify the means.” Just what is the meaning of this statement? Each of us can be faced with an array of problems. Our goal may be to solve those problems. That, in itself, is a good thing. However, simply because we wish to bring about a good solution, or end, as it is more technically called, does not mean that we can use any and every way, or means, to bring that about.
Read more from Cardinal Rigali, who discusses current events in the light of some of the greatest minds in the history of Catholicism: Saints Paul and Augustine and Pope Pius XII. Be sure to read the full article at the link.
Lastly, but most recently, Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Diocese of Orlando discusses how the Bishops have worked to shaped the public debate on health care reform, and why involvement in this debate is essential, as this simple bill has the power to impact the future.
Because health care reform is too important and legitimate a goal to allow it to be hijacked by destructive agendas such as government mandated abortion coverage, we lobbied strongly that any health care legislation be “abortion neutral”. While our opposition to abortion is well known, we recognize the sad reality that abortion is legal, available and offered by insurers as optional coverage which people can purchase if they choose to do so. However, we insist that health care reform legislation under consideration does not become a vehicle for government required payments for abortion or abortion mandates.
Find the rest of Bishop Wenski’s piece, and his weekly column, at the homepage of the Archdiocese of Orlando.
By Deal W. Hudson:
In a statement released today by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, President Francis Cardinal George spoke plainly in response to the defeat of the Nelson-Hatch amendment to the health-care bill in the Senate:
Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent (emphasis added).
Abortion funding is not the only thing wrong with the health care bill, but it is the worst thing, and I admire Cardinal George for his forthright manner in warning Congress. How will all this play out? Will the bishops prevail in getting abortion funding out of the Senate bill, as they did with the House version?
A great deal depends on how much of their political muscle the bishops are willing to use — they pulled out all the stops with their parish inserts on the eve of the Stupak-Pitts vote, and presumably they will do it again, if necessary.
Most Catholics are justly proud of their bishops for taking a firm stand on the non-negotiable teaching of protecting innocent life. Catholics like Kathleen Kennedy Townsend are flying high with rhetoric like this: “As Catholics, are we so laser-focused on the issue of abortion that we are willing to join ‘tea partyers’ and the like to bring down the healthcare reform bill?”
I doubt if many bishops or USCCB staff thought of themselves as belonging to the tea party crowd — especially given their concern for providing immigrants, regardless of their legal status, access to health insurance. In fact, the importance the bishops attach to medical coverage for immigrants has been almost buried by the abortion issue in the media coverage.
One of the main reasons the USCCB supports the public option in health-care reform is immigrants. The Senate version of the bill does not make any provision for allowing immigrants to buy into the insurance plan, while the House version does. Roger Cardinal Mahoney wrote in the New York Times on Tuesday, “To deny our immigrant brothers and sisters basic healthcare coverage is immoral.”
This explains why the USCCB statement on the defeat of the Nelson-Hatch amendment contained a comment from Bishop John Wester, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Migration:
We believe universal coverage should be truly universal, not deny health care to those in need because of where they come from or when they arrive here. The Senate proposal falls short in these areas. Immigrants deserve access to health care for their benefit and the common good of all of society.
Bishop Wester, the ordinary of Salt Lake City, has strongly advocated the House version of the bill, arguing:
Although uninsured immigrants use emergency rooms much less than U.S. citizens, the cost of their care ultimately falls upon American taxpayers, either through higher insurance rates or tax money paid directly to providers. Permitting the undocumented to use their own money to purchase coverage would help alleviate some of this fiscal and financial burden on Americans.
The Senate version of the bill presently requires a five-year waiting period before a legal immigrant who is not a citizen can receive a federal subsidy. It also bars undocumented immigrants from accessing health insurance exchanges, even if they pay with their own private money. (This is subject to change with the modifications being made to the public option.)
The bottom line is this: The Catholic bishops have two good reasons, not one, for turning from “allies into adversaries” on health-care reform. If the bishops won’t countenance a bill with federal funding for abortion, the lack of coverage for immigrants will only increase their resolve to kill it.
As Congress votes on health care reform, its up to dedicated Catholics to take action and ensure that their precious interests are protected. Catholic Advocate has the tools and resources you need to take action and have your voice heard on this important issue. Visit our Voter Guide to learn what Catholic teaching has to say on the issue of health care, visit our blog for information and commentary on the health care debate from Catholic leaders, and sign up to receive our email alerts. Your family’s future depends on it.
By Deal W. Hudson
Last Friday night, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to allow a vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, she may have unwittingly altered the direction of the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party.
For the first time in a long time, the pro-life issue is setting the agenda for the national debate on a major piece of legislation. Even more startling is the fact that the impetus for this inversion results from the courageous efforts of a pro-life leader in the Democratic Party, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI).
Stupak was aptly described by William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal as “The Man Who Made Pelosi Cry Uncle.” He also made the media sit up and pay attention. As McGurn, a former White House speechwriter, commented:
Up until almost literally the 11th hour, Mr. Stupak’s push for a vote was treated as a sideshow. Nor was President Barack Obama ever called to answer for his flatly contradictory public statements on the place of abortion (the preferred term is “reproductive health care”) in any health-care reform.
Democratic Party leaders, aligned with pro-abortion lobbying groups, initially saw Pelosi’s move as an effort to gain passage of the bill out of the House to the Senate and ultimately to conference, where the language barring abortion could be stripped out. But if the 64 anti-abortion funding House Democrats stand their ground, that won’t be possible.
That fact has not gone unnoticed. President Obama himself told ABC News that the legislation was intended as a health-care bill, “not an abortion bill.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised the Senate version of the bill will not contain abortion funding. (It’s no coincidence that Reid is facing a tough reelection in his home state.)
Some pro-life leaders, like the pro-abortion Democrats, viewed Pelosi’s decision with initial cynicism; but under persistent, behind-the-scenes urging from Doug Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, they joined together to urge pro-life members of Congress to support the bill rather than merely vote “present.” As John McCormack at the Weekly Standard has correctly argued:
Bringing down Stupak would have seriously hurt the effort to defeat Obamacare. The minority Republicans need public opinion and moderate Democrats on their side to defeat the health-care bill. Betraying pro-life Democrats and playing the part of cynical politicians for the media would have damaged that effort.
Republicans wisely chose to stand by the 64 Democrats who risked the wrath of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America by supporting the amendment. Pro-abortion groups have already begun their counterattack, collecting signatures of more than 40 members of Congress who would not vote for the bill if it were returned to the House with the amendment intact. The same story from CBS News reports that liberal bloggers have been quick to point out that 62 of the 64 Democrats were men, as if that were sufficient to explain their vote.
The role of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the passage of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment has been widely, and justly, praised. But the fact that the USCCB lobbyists did not give up on members of the Democratic Party as important agents in the pro-life effort is to be especially commended. As a result, a genuinely new space within the Democratic Party for pro-life work has been opened, and the party itself, as well as the Obama agenda in the Congress, is being substantially altered.
It’s because of this successful outreach to House Democrats that I am delighted to admit that I was wrong in predicting last August that Catholics would not succeed in getting abortion out of the health-care bill. It’s far from a done deal, as I argued last Saturday night, but the amendment’s passage puts the pro-life coalition in a strong position to influence the fate of this bill.
Obama’s health-care legislation has been hailed as the flagship effort of his administration. One of his closest advisors, Tina Tchen, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, promised Planned Parenthood in late July that abortion funding would be in the health-care plan. It’s safe to say that the pro-abortion groups who have supported Obama from the very beginning expected the White House and congressional Democrats to fight any effort to remove abortion funding.
Thus, the collective hysteria of pro-abortion advocates is not surprising. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) has called for an IRS investigation of the USCCB — “Who elected them to Congress?” she huffs. Others hurl at the USCCB the same “theocracy” invectives they once threw at George W. Bush. Woolsey and her fellow travelers are only exposing their fear and frustration in the face of a pro-life majority in both houses of Congress.
As for the person who started this ball rolling, Pelosi finds herself in a box of her own making. She can’t weaken the amendment language without losing a good number of Democratic House votes, as well as that of the lone Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA). And the U.S. bishops would consider it a betrayal of the highest order if the health-care bill, containing their much-desired public option, is defeated by a Catholic speaker trying to make good on her promises to the abortion lobby.
At Catholic Advocate, we strive to highlight the moments in our country’s history where faith and patriotism intersect. The two seem to be inseparable, and there are so many inspiring stories of those whose lives were dedicated to serving God and country, past and present.
One of the most notable tales is that of Father Vincent Capodanno, a battlefield Navy chaplain whose bravery during Vietnam rightfully earned him the title of “hero.” Described by the Marines he ministered to as “radiating Christ,” Fr. Capodanno’s story is at once heartbreaking and awesomely inspiring.
Marines affectionately called Father Capodanno the “grunt padre” for his ability to relate well with soldiers and his willingness to risk his life to minister to the men.
It was during heavy fighting outside the village of Chau Lam on Sept. 4, 1967, that Father Capodanno died. Arriving with ammunition, Father Vincent’s chopper had to land in the middle of the battlefield.
First, part of the priest’s hand was shot off. Then a mortar shredded his arm. “Most guys would stop with one wound,” said Hamfeldt. “He kept going. He was willing to risk his life to save ours.” He received the wound that killed him after he administered the sacrament of the sick to a wounded soldier. Hamfeldt said he wishes he could have taken that bullet for Father Vincent.
Fr. Capodanno is the subject of a fantastic biography by Father Daniel Mode, and there are rumors of a feature film about his life. In 2001, EWTN featured Fr. Capodanno in a special presentation on Memorial Day. Fr. Capodanno remains etched in the memories of all who knew him and deeply into history as not only an American hero, but a Catholic hero.
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
By Deal W. Hudson
This week, the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the health-care bill. If it passes, the Finance bill will be reconciled with the bill already passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Then health-care reform will go to the Senate floor for a vote.
The Finance Committee version does not contain the “public option,” government-run insurance to compete with private insurance carriers. The Health Committee version, meanwhile, includes the public option and requires employers to offer their employees health insurance. Both versions leave the door open to abortion coverage. And it’s very likely that any health-care legislation that makes it to the desk of President Obama will ultimately contain the public option, since both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi view it as “essential.”
While the bishops have made it very clear they will not support any reform that includes abortion, they are in favor of a public option, viewing it as the key to meeting two of their three health-care criteria: that it should be affordable and accessible to everyone, including legal immigrants and “those who live at or near the poverty level.” But do they realize that, with a public option, abortion coverage will inevitably follow — if not now, then assuredly later?
Even if the bishops are successful in closing the door on abortion coverage, the presence of the public option in the bill virtually guarantees that it will be added later on. Why? Supporters will make the argument that a government-run insurance program cannot deny its clients coverage being offered by private insurance carriers. If Congress or the White House doesn’t add abortion coverage to the public option, you can be sure the courts will.
The bishops’ first non-negotiable criterion for health-care reform is that it must “exclude mandated coverage for abortion” and include “conscience rights.” But once the government is called upon to provide the coverage for these underserved groups, it’s highly unlikely that abortion coverage can be avoided. Catholics nationwide will then be funding abortion with their tax dollars.
Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute has estimated that “18 to 35 percent of women who would have had an abortion continued their pregnancies after Medicaid funding was cut off.” It follows, then, that the rate of abortion would drastically increase — 240,000 to 420,000 more a year — with more government funding. It would be a terrible thing if support for the pubic option led to federally funded abortion coverage and, as predicted, to a dramatic increase in the taking of unborn life.
The USCCB has promised “to oppose the health care bill vigorously” if it contains abortion coverage. Rather than waiting to act vigorously against an abortion mandate, why not act vigorously in favor of the amendments being offered to bar federal funds for abortion from any health-care legislation?
The problem is that, until now, most Catholics in Congress seemed indifferent to the concerns of the USCCB on pro-life issues. The majority of Catholics in Congress consistently vote in support of abortion. For example, 16 Catholic Senators voted against, while only 9 voted for, the Coburn amendment to the budget bill that would have protected a conscience clause for health-care workers.
Concern about the implications of the public option is, no doubt, a prudential matter. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with government-run medical care, and most other developed countries have it. But most of these other countries have given up on the fight to defend unborn life and have embraced the secularism that comes with that indifference.
Making a call about where the public option will lead shows the importance of prudential judgments. Let’s hope and pray the bishops can prevail in eliminating abortion coverage from any health-care bill that reaches the White House. But if that bill contains the public option, the bishops may soon be facing the law of unintended consequences, as abortion activists immediately ask the courts to put back in what was taken out.