September 2, 2009 ( – In an Aug. 28 letter, Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, encouraged members of his flock to promote “genuine health care reform” with the aid of four principles upon which the “moral value and justice” of any such plan should be evaluated.

First of all, wrote the bishop, Health care plans must exclude any “provisions for actions which deny the dignity of human life, especially abortion, euthanasia, whether passive or active, and embryonic stem cell research.”  

“Any attempt to provide greater access to health care without safeguarding human life from the moment of conception is inherently inconsistent,” said Aquila.  “The destruction of human life by abortion and other evils can never be a neutral question or one that is promoted by any faithful Catholic.”

Second, he said, “freedom of consciences” for both health professionals and the general public must be safeguarded, and access to health care “ought to be available to all people.” 

In addition, Bishop Aquila said the principle of subsidiarity must govern any health care plan.

“There is a danger in being persuaded to think that the national government is the sole instrument of the common good. Rather, according to the classic principle of subsidiarity in Catholic social thought, many different communities within society share this responsibility,” Aquila wrote.  “These various strands of community life within society build up a strong and cohesive social fabric that is the hallmark of a true communion of persons.

“States, towns, fraternal organizations, businesses, cooperatives, parishes and especially the family have not only legitimate freedom to provide the goods they are rightly capable of supplying, but often times do so with far greater efficiency, less bureaucracy and, most importantly, with personalized care and love.”

Bishop Aquila noted that conscience protection is important for everyone: health care professionals as well as participants in health care plans. Concerning the general public, he wrote, “In no way should taxpayers or policy holders be forced to participate in plans, whether private or public, which fund procedures that violate the moral precepts of the faith.”

Genuine reform, wrote Bishop Aquila, also means access for all. He noted that “finding ways to provide medical care to those who have none is a perennial priority for the Church,” and that “we must ensure that the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, legal immigrants and the unborn, together with all citizens of our nation, have access to health care.”

Click here to see Bishop Aquila's letter to the faithful on health care reform. 


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