Part I. A Catholic Vision of Health Care
by Eric Brown & DarwinCatholic
The rich body of Catholic social teaching provides the faithful with moral principles to guide their thoughts and actions in political life. All too often, however, discussion of the Church’s social teaching is hijacked by a partisan political agenda — with the elements that seem to agree with one’s own party emphasized and all else ignored in order to give the stamp of Church approval to one’s party of choice. This deprives American Catholics of a meaningful analysis and reflection over the wisdom of the Church. This could not be more true on any subject than on health care.
The American bishops in Faithful Citizenship remind Catholics that “affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority. Reform of the nation’s health care system needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.” The Bishops also state that “religious groups should be able to provide health care without compromising their religious convictions.”
Hattip to our commenter Phillip. When Raymond Burke was Archbishop of Saint Louis he was a tireless advocate of the unborn and also tireless in taking to task those who supported abortion. His elevation to be head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in Rome has not diminshed his zeal for the pro-life cause. In an interview in October of last year he stated that the Democrat party risked transforming itself into the party of death.
Last week I linked to a Deal Hudson article on Inside Catholic where he threw out the claim that 61 bishops had thus far issued “clarifications” of Faithful Citizenship in which they emphasized the preeminance of the abortion issue in this upcoming election.
Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova responded with a post entitled “Misleading numbers, misleading claims” in which he remarked with characteristic restraint:
The most accurate poll from the 2004 presidential election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) poll, shows a phenomenal 20 point switch towards Senator McCain among Catholic voters . In the previous IDB tracking poll Senator Obama once held a commanding 11 point advantage among Catholic voters. In the latest tracking poll Senator McCain now has a nine (9) point lead among Catholic voters over Senator Obama. Senator McCain leads Senator Obama among Catholic voters 48% to 39%.
The dotCommonweal blog links to a Vox Nova post by Mornings Minion reacting to the clarifications which various bishops have issued to their dioceses on the USCCB document Faithful Citizenship and its application in the coming election. However, there are clearly some serious problems with MM’s analysis, and I think it’s worth looking at them in order to try to understand what our bishops are saying during this election season. MM opens provocatively:
In recent weeks, we are seeing something of a backlash against the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship document– the most articulate and theologically sophisticated treatise of these issues by the US bishops ever– mainly by the usual suspects, but also by a small but vocal minority of bishops.
More than sixty bishops have thus far issued letters or statements in which they have provided further guidance on how Catholics should apply their judgement to the principles articulated in Faithful Citizenship — mostly with a mind to emphasizing the important of “life issues”. The Faithful Citizenship document was approved by 250 of the bishops in session, so clearly, the document as it stands represents a wide consensus of the Catholic bishops in the United States. And yet, with more than sixty bishops issuing their own explanatory documents, there is clearly some sort of disagreement going on.
Election fever is catching everybody these days, even bishops, and since it’s so fashionable to issue clarifying statements about the 30+ page Faithful Citizenship document, Cardinal Justin Rigali (chairman of the USCCB* Committee on Pro-Life Activities) and Bishop William Murphy (chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development) have issued a clarification about clarifications of Faithful Citizenship.
Though my tone in stating this is flip, there’s some very good material in the two page letter:
Last week InsideCatholic.com editor Deal Hudson complained about the use of the Bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” to justify a vote for Senator Barack Obama — who as Robert P. George persuasively argued, is “not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket”.
Much has been said of Archbishop Chaput’s statement on pro-choice politics and their standard bearers. Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia now reports that Bishop Joseph Martino of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, made another bold statement for the most defenseless among us.