By James Tillman

DENVER, Colorado, June 15, 2010 ( – In a video displayed at the Catholic Health Association’s (CHA) annual meeting in Denver on Monday, President Obama thanked the Catholic Health Association (CHA) for their efforts in passing health care reform. The president made particular mention of the “extraordinary leadership” of Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the CHA.

Obama called the legislation a major victory “for our nation, for human dignity, and for the most vulnerable among us.” In another part of the video, the CHA’s own narrator speaks of how in working for health care reform, Catholic health care providers gave a “voice to those without one.”

The CHA came out in support of the health care reform bill at a critical time during the national debate, weakening the pro-life Catholic response and the response of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) by providing a cover for Catholic legislators and others who wished to support it.

Although the video claimed that the legislation contained no federal funding for abortion, numerous pro-life leaders have pointed out that the health care reform does in fact permit federal funding of abortion through a number of different measures. (Click here for more information.)

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has blasted the CHA and similar groups for having performed “a serious disservice to justice, to the Church, and to the ethical needs of the American people by undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops.”

Obama, however, praised CHA’s efforts as making a difference in a way that “protects your long-standing beliefs and the beliefs of so many others across the country.”

The CHA stated in its video that to the Catholic health ministry, health care reform “was an ethical necessity, a building block for the common good of the nation, and the strength of its communities.”

“Drawing on Catholic social teaching, the Church has long advocated for a health care system that protects human dignity and serves everyone,” the narrator said.

The Catholic Sen. Robert Casey states in the video that if the CHA had not been involved then it is unlikely the bill would have passed.

“It was the right thing to do to pass this legislation; it was pro-life legislation,” he asserts.

The USCCB had uniformly opposed any abortion-funding health care bill, and recently called the CHA’s action in endorsing Obamacare as a “wound to Catholic unity.”

Catholic bishops, they explained, exercise a fundamental role guiding their flock: “Making such moral judgments, and providing guidance to Catholics on whether an action by government is moral or immoral, is first of all the task of the bishops, not of any other group or individual.”

It is not true, they said, that “the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy.”

“Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement … with the Bishops themselves.”