Wednesday March 17, 2010

Vatican Newspaper: U.S. Bishops Speaks for Church on Health Bill

By Kathleen Gilbert

VATICAN CITY, March 17, 2010 ( – An article in L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, has weighed in on the side of U.S. bishops in the debate over the abortion-expanding Senate health care bill. The article by L’OR’s Marco Bellizzi helps explode efforts by Democrats to hold up support for the bill from the Catholic Health Association (CHA) as evidence of the measure’s moral acceptability.

Bellizzi pointed to a statement by USCCB president Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, in which he directly disagreed with CHA’s support. Over the weekend, CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan had thrown the weight of her organization behind the Senate version of the bill – despite the fact that pro-life leaders having condemned the measure as the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

“[George’s statement] clears the field of some misconceptions springing from the position taken by the Catholic Health Association,” wrote Bellizzi, as reported by the Catholic News Agency Tuesday. “The CHA’s position does not reflect in any way the convictions of the United States Bishops Conference.”

“The health care bill approved by the US Senate is not acceptable,” he noted. “It cannot be supported and the moral objections raised by the project cannot be postponed for a later moment.

“While the congress, pressed by President Obama, is at a crucial moment for the destiny of the reform, in which the White House has invested lots of energy and lots of political credibility, the bishops of the US clarify again the position of the Catholic Church, repeatedly explained with frequent messages addressed to the senators and the congressmen, as well as to Obama himself.”

The article also quotes Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who said the “most painful feature” of the health care debate “has been those ‘Catholic’ groups that by their eagerness for some kind of deal undercut the witness of the Catholic community and help advance a bad bill into a bad law.”

Bellizi concluded with Chaput’s warning that “groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as ‘Catholic’ or ‘prolife’ that endorse the Senate version – whatever their intentions – are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community.”

See related coverage:

USCCB President Slams Catholic Health Association Support for Health Bill

CHA Board Bishop: ‘I Side With USCCB’ against Health Bill

Catholic Health Assoc. Health Bill Support ‘Utterly Un-Catholic’: HLI President