In his Diocese of Madison, WI, Catholic Herald column, Bishop Robert Morlino answers the question, “Who is called to lead the people in faith?” He states unequivocally that it is NOT the Catholic Health Association nor the nuns who are members of NETWORK.
Bishop Morlino stated in his letter that the bishops are called to “teach, sanctify, and govern.” Even though they, like the rest of us, are sinners, the bishops are the successors to the Apostles, and, as such, have authority to “teach the word of Christ.” It is up to the faithful to accept their authority on Church teaching rather than view it as “opinion.”
The disobedience of the Catholic Health Association and NETWORK nuns to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to stop passage of the health care bill as long as it contained federal funding for abortion was a direct slap in their faces. Since when does a trade organization or a group of liberal nuns, not representing by the way, 59,000 nuns in America, hold more authority over Church teaching than our own bishops?
We can certainly disagree as to whether or not the bishops pushed soon enough or hard enough to ensure federal funding of abortion was removed from the health care bill. But, for organizations like the CHA and NETWORK, who call themselves Catholic, to call the shots is a travesty pure and simple. It was they who opened the door for “pro-life” Catholic Democrats to turn aside from true Church teaching to follow the “falseness” of their own disobedience.
From Jack Smith at the Catholic Key Blog comes an important report on a story from the diocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Remember this is Nancy Pelosi’s diocese and one of the most “progressive” in the country.
Smith writes about a former friend and colleague, George Wesolek, who serves as Director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Wesolek, Smith explains, “is no conservative, but rather that type of thoroughgoing pro-life, Catholic social justice advocate that is much talked about but rarely evidenced.”
Wesolek wrote a column in Catholic San Francisco that Smith describes as dropping “a bomb.” Wesolek writes:
So now we have some nuns accusing the bishops of lying about abortion. Are you shocked? Don’t be because this has been going on for a long time.
For years, most of the leadership of the LCWR and the Catholic hospitals (most of which are owned by these very same LCWR leaders) have been advancing a view of Catholic social teaching that reflects a vision that they learned in the 60s and 70s – a tired feminism that distorts the role of women and has at its center the freedom of women to “choose” to kill the infants in their womb if they so desire.
This view rightly offers deep concern for justice for the poor and vulnerable, but like so many in this age-group, minimizes or trivializes the unborn. “Network,” the Washington, D.C. lobbying arm of the LCWR does not include pro-life legislation as part of its work. If it does at all, it distorts the term “pro-life” to be so ambiguous and far-reaching that it includes everything. Thus, the sisters can say with a straight face that the current health care legislation is “life-affirming.”
Catholics currently occupy more positions of influence in every sector of American society than at any time in the history of our country. Today, 25 U.S. Senators and 130 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives identify themselves as Catholics. A Catholic serves as Vice President, another as Speaker of the House of Representatives, six of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court are Catholic, and several Cabinet members claim Catholicism as their religion.
Coupled with these attainments in the political arena are the gains 68 million Catholic Americans have achieved in business, the professions, the media, education, and other areas of national life. With the degree of influence that follows from this preeminence, one would expect a national temperament that is compatible with Catholic teaching. Yet, our society is more anti-religious in its policies and laws, its views and attitudes, its behavior and inclinations than it has ever been.
America is plagued with abominations of abortion, cohabitation, same-sex marriage, dissolution of family life, destruction of embryonic stem cells, contraception, pornography, and a growing acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia. If professed Catholics truly practiced their faith, this would not be.
Archbishop John Ireland, a leading prelate of his day, in 1899, warned: “[I]f great things are not done by Catholics in America, the fault lies surely with themselves – not the republic.” Today, it is clear that Catholics are failing both the republic and themselves. They are forsaking the nation in not bringing the virtues taught by their religion to bear on issues of public concern. They are faithless to themselves because in their consuming drive for material success they are abandoning fundamental precepts of their religion.
Too many Catholics do not truly live according to their faith, even if they abide by obligatory devotions. Their professed beliefs do not affect their ideas, attitudes, decisions and actions, whether related to matters of public affairs, their drive for monetary success, tastes in entertainment, or the way they set priorities for living. In each of these instances, Catholics as a body are indistinguishable from the general populace. Only by ignoring what they say they believe could 54 percent of the Catholics who voted in the last Presidential election have cast their ballots for a candidate whose positions on abortion, gay marriage, and embryonic stem cell research are in direct opposition to that of the Catholic Church. Nor would the health care bill, which allows federal funding for elective abortion, have passed – symbolically, on Passion Sunday — if Catholic members of Congress had not ignored their bishops.
These people may attend an occasional Mass – only 23 percent attend weekly – but the rest of the time they live as if God does not exist. In pursuit of worldly prosperity, acclaim, or social acceptability, their behavior ceases to be regulated by the principles of their faith. They ignore and even deny the Church’s teachings, and have so compartmentalized their minds that they can say that they are personally opposed to an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, but would not deny others from engaging in it.
This attitude of misguided toleration treats religion as a matter of individual opinion. Nothing is held sacred, resulting in a national culture based on the lowest communal set of morals, made functional through laws and regulations. Religious beliefs are adapted to secular aims, rather than being used to shape societal practices. This frame of mind is appealing because it imposes no obligation on the individual to publicly live the faith, and does not interfere with one’s drive for material success.
The consequence is a divergence between what people profess to believe and how they act. While there are numerous examples of this aberration, it was vividly illustrated in a recent public exchange between Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his bishop, the Most Rev. Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI. The congressman, who has been a consistent and public supporter of abortion, stated, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Bishop Tobin responded, “[W]hen someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church.”
If one does not live by the fixed, unchanging beliefs about God, man’s purpose in the world, how he should live his life, and his ultimate end that the Church has been teaching for over two thousand years, a claim to be Catholic is hollow.
T.S. Eliot, in The Idea of a Christian Society, wrote, “one cannot but suspect that many who call themselves Christians do not understand what the word means.” This certainly is true of Catholics today.
If people do not understand what the term Catholic, or even Christian, implies, how can they be expected to lead their lives by its precepts? What is required is a reinvigoration of the faith, a re-evangelization of the laity. They must be taught what it means to be Catholic, to understand the timeless truth of its doctrines, to develop the moral values and commitment to live in accord with the faith.
Clearly, the clergy have a primary role in this effort. The bishops as stewards of the faith must assure that the laity are appropriately educated and form proper consciences, so that they can lead lives in conformity with the faith. But the responsibility goes beyond the ordained clergy. It is the family that is the first and foremost teacher of the young. Parents must take this obligation seriously, improving their own knowledge and behavior so they can pass the faith to their children. And it is the duty of all of us as laity to take action, in our public and private lives, to change society for the better. It is only when Catholics – indeed all Christians — become well-informed in their faith and fully live by its beliefs that they can hope to change the secular world.
Will we, as a society and as individuals, fulfill our responsibilities? We must! If left unaddressed, the ignorance of the faith among the laity and their laxity in living it will continue to grow, and lead to an increasing exclusion of religion from public affairs and to a decline in the values that underlie this nation.
Lawrence P. Grayson is a Visiting Scholar in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America, and writes a monthly column for the Knights of Columbus in Maryland.
From the earliest battles over health care, Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) has been out on the front lines defending the plan—and attacking those who criticize her tactics. In her most recent offensive, on March 11th, Sr. Keehan wrote a letter to the House of Representatives which urged the Members to “move quickly” to enact health reform by passing the Senate-approved legislation. This, despite the fact that the USCCB continues to reject passage of the Senate bill.
In some ways, Sr. Keehan’s letter to the House on March 11 was simply confirmation of what many of us already knew—that Sr. Keehan’s organization has been supporting the President’s plans for health care reform from the earliest days. And, although her support for health care reform always adds the qualifier that “any health care reform package will provide no federal funding for abortion,” she must know, as the Bishops continue to point out, that unless a “correction” is applied to the Senate bill, the bill she is defending will greatly expand public funding for abortion.
But, during the past year, anyone who even implies that Sr. Keehan’s organization has broken with the Bishops on health care reform, is vulnerable to attack by Sr. Keehan and her staff. Indeed, she has rallied her troops on several occasions during the past year to attack journalists who have pointed out the ambiguity in her press releases, videos, and public statements. For example, when I published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last October claiming that the Catholic Health Association was supporting the President’s plan, Fred Caesar, Sr. Keehan’s special assistant, was not content with simply demanding a retraction, but Mr. Caesar sent letters of complaint to my employers, in a not so subtle strategy, to silence anyone critical of the CHA.
There were several journalists who were similarly “corrected” by the Catholic Health Association. David D. Kirkpatrick, a New York Times reporter, was so convinced that the CHA strongly supported the President’s health plan that he published an article on August 28 declaring just that. But, the New York Timescorrected that article on its website on August 29, claiming that its reporter “overstated the support” of the Catholic Health Association for the President’s plans.”
Much of the media confusion began when the CHA posted a video entitled “I Can’t Wait…for Health Reform.” The video opens with a film clip of President Obama giving a speech in which he declares: “Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.” And, following President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress where he offered reassurance that “no federal funds will be used for abortion, ” the CHA produced yet another puzzling video that again appeared to support the President’s plan. In it, Sr. Keehan states: “I could not help but think of the speech I heard from President Obama last night while sitting in the House Chamber, on how important health reform is for our economy, not just for the poor, but for our middle class, and for our businesses…I was so heartened to hear our President say that no federal funds will be used for abortion.”
But why was she “heartened” by it? Her claim was specious. As Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote in an August 11 letter to Congress addressing defects in the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act,” funds authorized by this legislation would still be eligible to cover abortion since the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal financing of abortion—is not applicable to it. Also, he wrote, the funds authorized by the legislation are “fungible” and “will subsidize the operating budget and provider networks that expand access to abortions.”
When Sr. Keehan’s video statement cited the importance of health care reform “to businesses,” she may have been referring to the health care businesses she represents. As their representative, Sr. Keehan joins the more than 3,000 health care reform lobbyists on the Hill. And although Catholic hospitals and Catholic long-term care facilities were created to serve the poor, and most of them do a fine job of doing so, the Wall Street Journal revealed recently that some non-profit Catholic health care organizations have become very lucrative. In 2008, the Journal published a series on the transformation of non-profit hospitals into what the series’ reporters called “profit machines.” The Journal pointed out that “Ascension Health, a Catholic non-profit health care system that runs 65 hospitals, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, reported net income of $1.2 billion in its fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, and cash and investments of $7.4 billion…more than many large publicly traded companies…more cash than Walt Disney Co. has.”
Some of the top executives at CHA’s member institutions—the Catholic hospital presidents and chief executive officers of Catholic health care organizations—are among the highest paid hospital administrators in the country, and some of them sit on CHA’s board. Lloyd Dean, the CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, became chair of the CHA in the spring of 2008. In 2006, Dean received a salary of $5.3 million from Catholic Healthcare West, a hospital system based in San Francisco. Dean’s salary included the forgiveness of Dean’s $782,541 housing loan. According to Healthcare West, Dean’s compensation “reflects his skill in turning the hospital system around financially.”
These hospitals have much to gain by helping to pass President Obama’s health care reform. On September 8, 2009, Lloyd Dean’s Catholic Healthcare West unveiled a multi-faceted campaign entitled “September for Reform” which marshaled its significant resources to support the President’s health care reform. But concerns about abortion or end-of-life care issues are not mentioned. A June 17, 2009 Catholic Healthcare West blog entry says: “We have been longtime supporters of health care reform. We took our first official position in support of universal access in 1992 and in 2003 we established four principles for reform: universal access, stable financing, and improved quality and accountability.” Catholics might be discouraged to find that respect for life from conception to natural death is not included in these four principles for reform.
Dean is not alone in receiving what most readers might conclude is a generous salary. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ascension Health paid its CEO an annual salary of $3.3 million. Like lobbyists on Capitol Hill, advocates representing Catholic hospitals in the health care reform debate are also paid well. Although Sr. Keehan’s $856,093 salary in 2006 (up from $654,915 in 2005) was paid directly to her religious order, according to the CHA’s 2007 IRS 990 report, several key employees at her organization received salaries of more than $300,000. Michael Rodgers, senior VP of advocacy, was paid $316,806 in 2006. Lisa Gilden, general counsel, was paid $325,206. Rhonda Mueller, VP of finance, was paid $268,873, and even Fred Caesar, Sr. Keehan’s special assistant made $198,212 in 2006. These health care reform advocates know that the single biggest variable for non-profit hospitals is how well insured the patient population is.
Faithful Catholics expect that advocates like Sr. Keehan remain faithful to the Church’s mission of protecting the unborn, the elderly, and those who cannot speak for themselves. Breaking with the Bishops in advocating passage of the Senate bill has created confusion for Catholics and has given lawmakers “permission” to pass a bill that will greatly expand the rates of abortion.
At Catholic Advocate, we are your eyes on Catholics in Congress. Late into the evening, during the final hours of the health care debate, we were impressed by the remarks delivered by Committee on the Budget Ranking Member Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI-01) and wanted to share them with our community.
Transcript of Congressman Paul Ryan’s closing remarks in opposition to the health care bill:
“Madam speaker, there is a lot wrong with this bill.
“We know the problems with its cost. We know it doesn’t really reduce the deficit. We know that it increases health care premiums. The CBO has given us all of this information and it’s clear that what we have is a bill chock full of gimmicks and hidden mandates.
“So I’m not going to get into all of that again.
“But what I will ask is this: why has this decision become so personal to our constituents? Why are so many people swarming the Capitol over this? Why have we received 100,000 calls an hour from all over the country?
“It is because health care affects every one of us. And yet, here we are, debating whether the government should have a bigger role in making those personal decisions.
“So make no mistake about it. We’re not just here to pass a healthcare bill. We are being asked to make a choice about the future path of this country.
“The speakers to my left are correct: this is history. Today marks a major turning point in American history. This is really not a debate about prices, coverage, or choosing doctors.
“This is ultimately about what kind of country we are going to be in the 21st century.
“America is not just a nationality – it’s not just a mass of land from Hawaii to Maine, from Wisconsin to Florida. America is an idea. It’s the most pro-human idea ever designed by mankind.
“Our founders got it right, when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our rights come from nature and nature’s God – not from government.
“Should we now subscribe to an ideology where government creates rights, is solely responsible for delivering these artificial rights, and then systematically rations these rights?
“Do we believe that the goal of government is to promote equal opportunity for all Americans to make the most of their lives – or do we now believe that government’s role is to equalize the results of people’s lives?
“The philosophy advanced on the floor by the Majority today is so paternalistic, and so arrogant. It’s condescending. And it tramples upon the principles that have made America so exceptional.
“My friends, we are fast approaching a tipping point where more Americans depend on the federal government than on themselves for their livelihoods – a point where we, the American people, trade in our commitment and our concern for our individual liberties in exchange for government benefits and dependencies.
“More to the point, Madam Speaker, we have seen this movie before, and we know how it ends. The European social welfare state promoted by this legislation is not sustainable.
“This is not who we are and it is not who we should become.
“As we march toward this tipping point of dependency, we are also accelerating toward a debt crisis – a debt crisis that is the result of politicians of the past making promises we simply cannot afford to keep. Déjà vu all over again.
“It is unconscionable what we are leaving the next generation.
“This moment may mark a temporary conclusion of the health care debate – but its place in history has not yet been decided. If this passes, the quest to reclaim the American idea is not over. The fight to reapply our founding principles is not finished, it’s just a steeper climb. And it is a climb that we will make.
“On this issue – more than any other issue we have ever seen here – the American people are engaged. From our town hall meetings, to Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, you have made your voices heard. And some of us are listening to you.
“My colleagues, let’s bring down this bill – and bring back the ideas that made this country great!”
There was a series of three votes on Sunday, March 21, 2010. Catholic Advocate compiled a list of how Catholic Members of Congress voted on each with special emphasis on H.R. 4872, The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act which is the key piece of the process that will eventually become the law signed by President Obama.
Vote 1 was on H.R. 3590, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also referred to as the Senate version of the health care bill (Passed 219 to 212).
Voting against H.R. 3590 was a pro-life vote.
34 Democrats Voted NO. Included in the 34 Democrats were 9 Catholics:
Representative Jason Altmire (D, PA-04)
Representative Michael Arcuri (D, NY-24)
Representative Tim Holden (D, PA-17)
Representative Dan Lipinski (D, IL-03)
Representative Stephen Lynch (D, MA-09)
Representative Jim Marshall (D, GA-08)
Representative Michael McMahon (D, NY-13)
Representative Charlie Melancon (D, LA-03)
Representative Gene Taylor (D, MS-04)
All Republicans Voted NO including the 37 Catholics.
Vote 2 was on a motion to recommit (MTR) H.R. 4872 and amend the bill to add the Stupak-Pitts House-passed amendment to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions. This MTR would have fixed the problematic language regarding abortion from the Senate bill. The MTR was defeated by a vote of 199-232.
Voting for the MTR was a pro-life vote.
21 Democrats Voted YES. Included in the 21 Democrats were 7 Catholics:
Representative Jason Altmire (D, PA-04)
Representative Jerry Costello (D, IL-12)
Representative Joe Donnelly (D, IN-02)
Representative Tim Holden (D, PA-17)
Representative Dan Lipinski (D, IL-03)
Representative Jim Marshall (D, GA-08)
Representative Gene Taylor (D, MS-04)
All Republicans Voted YES including the 37 Catholics.
Vote 3 was on H.R. 4872, The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (Passed 220 to 211), a package of fixes to the Senate version of the health-care bill passed by the House of Representatives in Vote 1. The reconciliation bill must be voted on by the Senate. The package also included a major overhaul of student loan programs.
Voting against H.R. 4872 was a pro-life vote.
Vote 3 is the MOST IMPORTANT VOTE because it becomes the legislative vehicle that will eventually become law if passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama.
Catholic Advocate has listed out how each Catholic Member of Congress voted on the legislation that will likely become the pro-abortion law.
The votes on health care are changing by the hour. The leadership of Catholic Advocate has learned from our allies in the battle to protect life on Capitol Hill that NOW is the critical time. There are two Members of Congress who especially need to hear from Catholics in their districts. Congressional offices are open in Washington D.C. Please contact them TODAY!
The House of Representatives will convene at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 21, 2010 for final consideration of the health care bill. The leadership of Catholic Advocate has been in regular contact with our connections on Capitol Hill and their offices will be open throughout the weekend.
NOW is the time to keep the pressure on certain Members of Congress who have yet to make their decisions public. If you live in one of the following districts, please contact them TODAY and tell them to VOTE NO on the pro-abortion health care bill.
The Catholic Advocate community knows March Madness started early on Capitol Hill. Every day Catholic Advocate is learning of other Members of Congress who are starting to understand American Catholics DO NOT want them voting for the pro-abortion health care bill. In addition to those we have previously alerted our community to, below is a list of additional Catholics who need to hear from you TODAY!
Thursday, March 18, 2010 the House Committee on Rules will consider Chairwoman Louise Slaughter’s parliamentary gimmick that will allow Members of Congress to vote on the procedure rather than a simple up or down vote on the health care reform bill.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-08 – Catholic) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter are leading this effort to push through a health care bill that includes federal funding for abortion because they DO NOT have the votes. Catholic Members of the House Committee on Rules need to hear from you that this is unacceptable. NO TRICKS – UP or DOWN VOTE!
We have a duty to contact our Members of Congress and tell them to oppose the health care bill. There is a very simple way for the Catholic Advocate community to “Write Your Representative.” Step one select your state; Step two enter your zip code; Step three click on “contact my representative”. You will be taken to your Member of Congress’ website where you can find their phone number in Washington to call or a way to send them an e-mail. It is critically important for Catholics to be heard NOW at this critical moment as Congress is close to passing this major piece of pro-abortion legislation. We cannot let the labor unions and other pro-abortion lobby be the only pressure on Congress.
Special Note from Catholic Advocate:
In addition to contacting your own representative, there are ten Catholic Members of Congress who might become critical votes and need to hear from our community.
According to their website “CHA’s Vision…the Catholic health ministry will be a vibrant presence in enhancing the health of communities and access to quality care for everyone, with special attention to those who are underserved and most vulnerable.”
Let them know it is important to stand for the most vulnerable – the unborn.
The evening the Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed, I expressed the hope that a new era of pro-life politics had begun. For the first time, in a long time, the Democratic Party had an advocate for the unborn around whom others could rally.
That was four months ago. This afternoon the same man – Bart Stupak — who “made Nancy Pelosi cry uncle,” to quote the WSJ’s Bill McGurn, made her shout with glee. The health care bill, filled with funding goodies for abortion providers, was the legislative lodestar for Nancy Pelosi, a self-described Catholic who shrugged off every appeal from her bishop.
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Bart Stupak looked hollow and shame-faced as he made the rounds of cable news shows on Sunday explaining the reasons for his change of mind. For the past 160 days Stupak has become a hero to millions of Americans who believe the right to life is the basis of all other human rights.
Now, Stupak has become a hero to the other side and just another example of why our young people view politics cynically, not as a vocation but as an excuse to put partisan interests ahead of transcendent truths.
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us — if at all — not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
After seeing through the deceptions of Sr. Carol Keehan’s Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and NETWORK, Stupak couldn’t see through the deception of an Executive Order issued by President Obama providing “safeguards” against abortion funding.
“This is the principle we have fought for all these months — I am now comfortable voting for the bill,” Stupak told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News. Stupak admits an executive order can be rescinded at any time, does not have the force of law, and has authority over those implementing the bill in the private sector, but feels vindicated in his decision.
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
It was reported that Stupak relied heavily on support of staff from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in passing his amendment to the House bill barring abortion funding. Today Stupak turned his back on those who sat with him through the turbulence of the November debate and put himself in thrall to the Democratic leadership who want nothing less than abortion-on-demand paid for by the federal government.
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
This executive order is nothing more than a promise from one man to another, from Obama to Stupak. It can be withdrawn at any time, or, more likely, it can be ignored. Stupak should know that the promise of a man who once supported infanticide, and who on his first day in office repealed the Mexico City Policy, is not a man you can trust on the issue of abortion.
Stupak’s decision betrays Catholics and the faith he calls his own. As I said in my press release for Catholic Advocate, “Today’s vote will go down in history as one of the greatest expansions of abortion since Roe v. Wade.”
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
Quotations above are taken from T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men,” Poems: 1909-1925. London: Faber & Gwyer, 1925.
In a last minute attempt to influence enough votes to defeat the health care bill containing abortion funding, the Catholic bishops issued a strongly worded statement.
I fear it will be too little, too late. The bishops have wanted this bill so badly they have played a game of qualified support all along, criticizing the abortion funding and lack of conscience protections in the bill, but not screaming loud enough to endanger the bill’s passage through the legislative process.
Now, the bill is coming to the finish line, and screaming won’t help — the bishops’ timidity, speaking through the USCCB, was skillfully taken advantage of by fake Catholic groups such as Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, along with the Catholic Health Association, a trade association of Catholic hospitals. Those wavering Catholic members of Congress took the cover supplied by the deceptive statements and endorsements of the bill by these groups.
Even in this latest statement, issued today, the bishops spend too much time talking about their support for universal health care and not enough about the evils contained in the bill. It’s easy to see why so many Catholic members of Congress where able to ignore them.
Given all the verbiage devoted to the importance of universal health care coverage, these Catholic politicians probably thought these statements by the bishops gave them a kind of tacit approval to support the bill.
Here is what I am talking about. The bishops’ statement begins:
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops urged the House of Representatives to fix flaws in health care legislation or vote against its passage in a March 20 letter to House members. The letter was signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair on the Committee on Migration. The letter follows:
For decades, the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care. The Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity. Our community of faith provides health care to millions, purchases health care for tens of thousands and addresses the failings of our health care system in our parishes, emergency rooms and shelters. This is why we as bishops continue to insist that health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all is a moral imperative and urgent national priority.
Things get stronger and more pointed, but I wish there were a lot more of the Old Testament prophet and less of the urbane diplomat found here. The bishops write, “We are bishops, not politicians, policy experts or legislative tacticians,” but it is “tacticians” that they have acted like, and sounded like, throughout this debate.
In the last paragraph, they practically apologize for urging Congress to defeat the bill:
With deep regret, but clear in our moral judgment, we are compelled to continue to urge House members to oppose the Senate bill unless these fundamental flaws are remedied. At this critical moment, we urge Representatives to take the steps necessary to ensure that health care reform respects the life and dignity of all, from conception to natural death.
Perhaps a miracle will keep our country from this impending disaster, and perhaps it will be the prayers of all the faithful who know the human cost of this bill that will, in the end, be our strongest weapon.
Catholic Advocate has created “Health Care Reform Central” for our community to have the latest information, along with previous materials, of importance to American Catholics when it comes to the health care reform legislation. Also take time to visit our Daily Action Alert Center to see what you can do today.