The Catholic divide over congressional health care legislation has widened. A few days ago as the decisive week began, the U.S. bishops took another stand against the proposed wording. And a large group of Catholic nuns took a stand against the Catholic bishops’. Confusion abounds. Because what people learn about their positions depends largely on what they’re hearing in the media. And that’s getting pretty distorted.
The Boston Globe says ‘Catholic opposition to health bill fades.’ Oh, really? That depends on your definitions.
Let’s look at how they use words…
A coalition of 59,000 nuns released a letter yesterday calling on Congress to approve the overhaul, defying the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the measure. The Catholic Health Association, which represents 1,200 Catholic hospitals, has endorsed the package, as have Catholics United and Catholic groups promoting social justice.
The CHA and CU and ‘Catholic groups promoting social justice’ actually refer to groups who dissent against the teachings of the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Be not fooled.
That split mirrors a division among some antiabortion [read: pro-life] US representatives. In preparing to cast perhaps one of the most important votes on a domestic issue in their careers, they are wrestling with questions that strike at the core of their beliefs and that threaten to embolden voters in November.
Ardently antiabortion Representative Dale Kildee, a Michigan Democrat who once studied in a Catholic seminary, said yesterday he will vote for the package despite language that some believe is not strict enough in ensuring that no federal funds are used for abortions.
One: Note that they call pro-life congressional representatives “ardently antiabortion”, though never do we hear any politician called “ardently pro-abortion” or even “ardently pro-choice”. Two: Note the detail about Kildee’s time in a seminary, intended to add to his Catholic cred as he veers off from the bishops’ ardent plea for Congress to explicitly exclude abortion funding in his legislation.
Another antiabortion [pro-life] Catholic lawmaker, Representative James Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota, said he is likely to vote for it. Several other antiabortion [pro-life] lawmakers are undecided but say they will not let the abortion issue sway their votes.
This is convoluted, both the politics and the reporting on it.
Adding to the confusion, the Catholic Health Assocation came out early in the week in favor of the legislation, choosing to look the other way on its abortion funding and removal of conscience protection for medical providers. Though the “CHA has a major concern on life issues”, according to its president Sister Carol Keehan, it took a naive leap of imagination and said the bill is the best thing going for the greater good of people, really.
Note this comment below the story in that link:
Sister Carol and the board of CHA will need to revise their vision statement which aspires to provide quality care for everyone with “special attention to those who are underserved and most vulnerable.” The statement, found in the CHA Overview, is prominently displayed below an attractive and heartwarming photo of a “underserved and vulnerable” newly born baby being cared for in the hospital by a compassionate nurse while its loving mother looks on from her bedside. They’ll need a new photo too.
Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. bishops conference, issued a statement that same day renewing the bishops’ call for moral health care legislation, and clarifying that this isn’t it, what Congress is about to enact. The Cost is too high, the loss is too great, the statement asserted.
Look, he said (well actually, I added that part….) the bishops have long and consistently advocated for comprehensive, moral health care reform.
They have urged that all who are sick, injured or in need receive necessary and appropriate medical assistance, and that no one be deliberately killed through an expansion of federal funding of abortion itself or of insurance plans that cover abortion. These are the provisions of the long standing Hyde amendment, passed annually in every federal bill appropriating funds for health care; and surveys show that this legislation reflects the will of the majority of our fellow citizens. The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.
Now, Congress is reneging on that promise, with grave consequences.
What is tragic about this turn of events is that it needn’t have happened. The status quo that has served our national consensus and respected the consciences of all with regard to abortion is the Hyde amendment. The House courageously included an amendment applying the Hyde policy to its Health Care bill passed in November. Its absence in the Senate bill and the resulting impasse are not an accident. Those in the Senate who wanted to purge the Hyde amendment from this national legislation are obstructing the reform of health care.
This is not quibbling over technicalities. The deliberate omission in the Senate Bill of the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table and out of play leaves us still looking for a way to meet the President’s and our concern to provide health care for those millions whose primary care physician is now an emergency room doctor. As Pope Benedict told Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel H. Diaz when he presented his credentials as the United States government’s representative to the Holy See, there is “an indissoluble bond between an ethic of life and every other aspect of social ethics.”
Why is that so hard to get?