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Politics

Signals from Rome: engagement and confrontation

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In a two-month period, Rome sent American Catholics two clear signals. One was on engagement -- the historic meeting of President Barack Obama with Pope Benedict XVI on July 10. The other signal was on the resignation of Scranton, Pa., Bishop Joseph F. Martino on Aug. 31.

For the past decade there has been considerable discussion centered around two words: engagement and confrontation.

Bishops on health care: Abortion out, immigrants in

WASHINGTON -- As a Senate committee considered a range of amendments on many of the same issues, bishops representing three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on senators to insist that any final health reform bill exclude mandated coverage of abortion, protect conscience rights, safeguard the health of immigrants and protect "the life, dignity and health of all."

For 'values voters,' health care reform has little value

WASHINGTON -- Health care reform may be Priority No. 1 in Congress and at the White House, but for the 1,825 religious conservatives who gathered here for the annual Values Voter Summit over the weekend, the subject was barely on their radar screen.

"To me, there are so many more important issues than health care right now," said John Leaman, a retired yacht builder from Lancaster, Pa. Added his wife Linda, a waitress: "I don't think it's as urgent as Obama's making it out to be." The real problem, she said, is illegal immigrants "cluttering up our emergency rooms."

The right to health care

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Access to affordable quality health care is a God-given right. Not a privilege or a grant of charity, nor a last resort provided by a “safety net.” A right.

This is traditional Catholic teaching and the first principle by which Catholics should judge the various proposals to expand health insurance to the nearly 50 million of our uninsured neighbors who currently lack the security such coverage provides. Read the encyclicals, read the catechism, read the teachings of the pontiffs, read what the U.S. bishops -- speaking through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- have written.

In reform debate, 'pro-lifers undermine their cause'

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Analysis

"The path to hell is paved with good intentions," goes the proverbial wisdom. No one doubts the good intentions of the pro-life movement in the current debate about health care. They wish to make sure that universal health care reform is at least neutral in its policy ramifications for abortion. But, some of the pro-life movement’s most prominent spokespeople are unwittingly playing into the hands of groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood that seek to skirt around the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion.

Obama on health care encourages Catholic officials

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's pledge to continue the ban on the use of federal funds for abortion and to maintain conscience protections for health care workers in any health reform legislation was welcomed by two officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the president of the Catholic Health Association.

Speaking with Catholic News Service Sept. 10, hours after Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and a nationwide television audience, Kathy Saile, director of domestic social development in the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said the president's address offered an encouraging sign that the administration has been listening to concerns raised by the bishops and pro-life organizations about abortion funding in any reform legislation.

Bishops' Labor Day letter focuses on health reform

WASHINGTON -- It is possible to bring Catholic values to the ongoing debate over health care reform just as it was done earlier this year in forging a four-way agreement on the potential unionization of workers at Catholic hospitals, said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

"Leaders in Catholic health ministry, the labor movement and the Catholic bishops sought to apply our traditional teaching on work and workers and to offer some practical alternatives on how leaders of hospitals, unions and others might apply our principles as an aid to reaching agreements in their own situations," said Bishop Murphy, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The Republican (Catholic church) Captivity

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Last November at their post-election meeting, a vocal minority of bishops lamented the election results, aghast that not only a majority of Americans, but more tellingly a majority of Catholics, had voted to make Barack Obama President of the United States. So extreme were the comments of these few bishops that some could easily have confused them with Republican ward-heelers, and be prone to the fear that a new “Republican Captivity” of our Church was in full force.

A lot of the bishops’ hysteria at their November meeting was over that great Republican bogeyman, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which was not a part of the Democratic platform, and had absolutely no priority among the issues facing the new administration. This did not prevent the public lamentations of select bishops on how FOCA would force Catholic hospitals to close - despite the insistence of the Catholic Health Association to the contrary.

They did not let facts get in the way of their agitation. One bishop, who did not even have a Catholic hospital in his diocese, was so carried away with anti-Obama fervor that he said he would close his fictitious Catholic hospital, if he had one!

Bishop decries 'combative tactics' of a minority of U.S. bishops

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Albuquerque, NM
A majority of U.S. bishops disagree with the loud tactics of some of their peers in opposing President Barack Obama’s May appearance at the University of Notre Dame, but remain silent because they do not want to engage in a public battle over the issue, according to Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM.

In an Aug. 12 interview at archdiocesan headquarters here with NCR, Sheehan took the opportunity to decry the combative tactics of what he described as a minority of U.S. bishops who spoke out against the university’s invitation and issuance of an honorary degree. Many urged the university to rescind the invitation because of Obama’s opposition to criminalizing abortion.

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