Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

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Cyril Ignatius
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Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:15 pm

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Kansas City Bishops Issue Joint Health Care Reform Pastoral Statement

Following is a joint pastoral statement by Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn:

Principles of Catholic Social Teaching and Health Care Reform

A Joint Pastoral Statement

of

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop Robert W. Finn

Dear Faithful of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph,

To his credit, President Barack Obama has made it a major priority for his administration to address the current flaws in our nation’s health care policies. In fairness, members of both political parties for some time have recognized significant problems in the current methods of providing health care.

As Catholics, we are proud of the Church’s healthcare contribution to the world. Indeed, the hospital was originally an innovation of the Catholic faithful responding to our Lord’s call to care for the sick, “For I was…ill and you cared for me.” (Matthew 25, v. 35-36). This tradition continues today in America, where currently one in four hospitals is run by a Catholic agency. We have listened to current debate with great attention and write now to contribute our part to ensure that this reform be an authentic reform taking full consideration of the dignity of the human person.

Some symptoms of the inadequacy of our present health care polices are:

1) There are many people – typically cited as 47 million – without medical insurance.

2) The cost of health insurance continues to rise, with medical spending in the U.S. at $2.2 trillion in 2007, constituting 17% of the Gross Domestic Product, and predicted to double within 10 years. (Source: Office of Public Affairs, 2008: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthEx ... oj2008.pdf).

3) The Medicare Trust Fund is predicted to be insolvent by 2019.

4) Mandated health insurance benefits for full-time workers have created an incentive for companies to hire part-time rather than full-time employees.

5) Similarly, the much higher cost to employers for family health coverage, as compared to individual coverage, places job candidates with many dependents at a disadvantage in a competitive market.

6) Individuals with pre-existing conditions who most need medical care are often denied the means to acquire it.

There are also perceived strengths of our current system:

1) Most Americans like the medical care services available to them. Our country, in some ways, is the envy of people from countries with socialized systems of medical care.

2) It is important to remember that 85% of citizens in the U.S. do have insurance. Forty percent of the uninsured are between 19-34 years old. (Source: Current Population Survey 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement) A 2007 study by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and Uninsured found that 11 million of those without insurance were eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP but were not enrolled. Those eligible but not enrolled include 74 percent of children who are uninsured. (Source: Characteristics of the Uninsured: Who Is Eligible for Public Coverage and Who Needs Help Affording Coverage?)

3) The competitive nature of our private sector system is an incentive to positive innovation and the development of advanced technology. Medical doctors and research scientists are esteemed. Doctors and other scientists immigrate to our country because of the better compensation given to those who provide quality medical care or produce successful research.

4) Medicare and Medicaid, while they have their limitations, provide an important safety net for many of the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

What Must We Do?

The justified reaction to the significant defects in our current health care policies is to say, “Something must be done.” Many believe: “We have to change health care in America.” Despite the many flaws with our current policies, change itself does not guarantee improvement. Many of the proposals which have been promoted would diminish the protection of human life and dignity and shift our health care costs and delivery to a centralized government bureaucracy. Centralization carries the risk of a loss of personal responsibility, reduction in personalized care for the sick and an expanded bureaucracy that in the end leads to higher costs.

A Renewal Built on Principles

We claim no expertise in economics or the complexities of modern medical science. However, effective health care policies must be built on a foundation of proper moral principles. The needed change in health care must therefore flow from certain principles that protect the fundamental life and dignity of the human person and the societal principles of justice, which are best safeguarded when such vital needs are provided for in a context of human love and reason, and when the delivery of care is determined at the lowest reasonable level. The rich tradition of Catholic social and moral teaching should guide our evaluation of the many and varied proposals for health care reform. It is our intention in this pastoral reflection to identify and explain the most important principles for evaluating health care reform proposals. No Catholic in good conscience can disregard these fundamental moral principles, although there can and likely will be vigorous debate about their proper application.

I. The Principle of Subsidiarity: Preamble to the Work of Reform

This notion that health care ought to be determined at the lowest level rather than at the higher strata of society, has been promoted by the Church as “subsidiarity.” Subsidiarity is that principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives. (See: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ## 185ff.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1883) The writings of recent Popes have warned that the neglect of subsidiarity can lead to an excessive centralization of human services, which in turn leads to excessive costs, and loss of personal responsibility and quality of care.

Pope John Paul II wrote:

“By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus #48)

And Pope Benedict writes:

“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est #28)

While subsidiarity is vital to the structure of justice, we can see from what the Popes say that it rests on a more fundamental principal, the unchanging dignity of the person. The belief in the innate value of human life and the transcendent dignity of the human person must be the primordial driving force of reform efforts.

II. Principle of the Life and Dignity of the Human Person: Driving Force for Care, and Constitutive Ground of Human Justice

A. Exclusion of Abortion and Protection of Conscience Rights

Recent cautionary notes have been sounded by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chair of the U.S. Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Murphy of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development, against the inclusion of abortion in a revised health care plan. At the same time, they have warned against the endangerment or loss of conscience rights protection for individual health care workers or private health care institutions. A huge resource of professionals and institutions dedicated to care of the sick could find themselves excluded, by legislation, after health care reform, if they failed to provide services which are destructive of human life, and which are radically counter to their conscience and institutional mission. The loss of Catholic hospitals and health care providers, which currently do more to provide pro bono services to the poor and the marginalized than their for-profit counterparts, would be a tremendous blow to the already strained health care system in our country.

It is imperative that any health care reform package must keep intact our current public polices protecting taxpayers from being coerced to fund abortions. It is inadequate to propose legislation that is silent on this morally crucial matter. Given the penchant of our courts over the past 35 years to claim unarticulated rights in our Constitution, the explicit exclusion of so-called “abortion services” from coverage is essential. Similarly, health care reform legislation must clearly articulate the rights of conscience for individuals and institutions.

B. Exclude Mandated End of Life Counseling for Elderly and Disabled

Some proposals for government reform have referenced end of life counseling for the elderly or disabled.

An August 3, 2009 Statement of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses on Health Care Legislation, in addition to calling for the exclusion of mandates for abortion, the protection of abortion funding prohibitions, and the assurance of conscience rights, insists that the mandating of end of life consultation for anyone regardless of age or condition would place undue pressure on the individual or guardian to opt for measures to end life, and would send the message that they are no longer of value to society.

The nurses’ statement concludes, “We believe those lives and all lives are valuable and to be respected and cared for to the best of our abilities. Care must be provided for any human being in need of care regardless of disability or level of function or dependence on others in accordance with the 1999 Supreme Court Decision in Olmstead v. L.C.” (www.nursesforlife.org/napnstatement.pdf)

Recently, Bishop Walker Nickless of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, commented on the dangers inherent in the establishment of a health care monopoly, drawing a comparison to the experience of HMO plans in our country, where individuals entrusted with keeping the cost of health care at a minimum may refuse to authorize helpful or necessary treatment for their clients. (See Bishop Walker Nickless, Column in The Catholic Globe, August 13, 2009)

C. The “Right to Acquisition of Health Care” in the Teaching of the Church

The “Right to Health Care” as taught by the Church is a companion to the fundamental right to life, and rights to other necessities, among them food, clothing, and shelter. It may be best understood as a “Right to Acquire the Means of Procuring for One’s Self and One’s Family these goods, and concomitantly, a duty to exercise virtue (diligence, thrift, charity) in every aspect of their acquisition and discharge. This language of rights, coupled with duties toward those who ‘through no fault of their own’ are unable to work, is present throughout papal teaching, and only reinforces the idea that, in its proper perspective, the goal is to live and to work and ‘to be looked after’ only in the event of real necessity.” (Source: Catholic Medical Association, 2004 document, Health Care in America. – bold and italics our own)

The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the “right” to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of “entitlement.” The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services. Rather, the Church has asserted the rights of every individual to have access to those things most necessary for sustaining and caring for human life, while at the same time insisting on the personal responsibility of each individual to care properly for his or her own health.

Indeed part of the crisis in today’s system stems from various misappropriations within health care insurance systems of exorbitant elective treatments, or the tendencies to regard health care services paid for by insurance as “free,” and to take advantage of services that happen to be available under the insurance plan. Such practices may arguably cripple the ability of small companies to provide necessary opportunities to their employees and significantly increase the cost of health care for everyone.

D. The Right to Make Health Care Decisions for Self and Family

Following both the notions of subsidiarity mentioned above and the sense of the life and dignity of every human person, it is vital to preserve, on the part of individuals and their families, the right to make well-informed decisions concerning their care. This is why some system of vouchers – at least on a theoretical level – is worthy of consideration. Allowing persons who through no fault of their own are unable to work, to have some means to acquire health care brings with it a greater sense of responsibility and ownership which, in a more centralized system, may be more vulnerable to abusive tendencies.

When the individual has a personal, monetary stake or a financial obligation to pay even a portion of the cost of medical care, prudence comes to bear - with greater consistency – on such decisions, and unnecessary costs are minimized. Valuing the right of individuals to have a direct say in their care favors a reform which, reflecting subsidiarity, places responsibility at the lowest level.

E. Obligation of Prudent Preventative Care

All individuals, including those who receive assistance for health care, might be given incentives for good preventative practices: proper diet, moderate exercise, and moderation of tobacco and alcohol use. As Bishop Nickless reminds us in his statement, “The gift of life comes only from God, and to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong.” (Ibid.)

Some categories of positive preventative health care, however, may not easily be procured apart from medical intervention. Pre-natal and neo-natal care are particularly crucial and should be given priority in any reform. Because of the unique vulnerability of the unborn and newly born child, such services ought to be provided regardless of ability to pay.

In addition to the primordial Principle of the Life and Dignity of the Human Person delivered in a way which respects subsidiarity, we might look briefly at two other principles which promote justice in the consideration of health care.

II. Principle of the Obligation to the Common Good: Why We Must Act

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the obligation to promote the common good as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily.” (CCC #1906)

It is very clear that, respectful of this principle, we must find some way to provide a safety net for people in need without diminishing personal responsibility or creating an inordinately bureaucratic structure which will be vulnerable to financial abuse, be crippling to our national economy, and remove the sense of humanity from the work of healing and helping the sick.

The Church clearly advocates authentic reform which addresses this obligation, while respecting the fundamental dignity of persons and not undermining the stability of future generations.

Both of us in our family histories have had experiences that make us keenly aware of the necessity for society to provide a safety net to families who suffer catastrophic losses. Yet, these safety nets are not intended to create permanent dependency for individuals or families upon the State, but rather to provide them with the opportunity to regain control of their own lives and their own destiny.

Closely tied to the Principle of the Obligation of the Common Good is the Principle of Solidarity.

III. The Principle of Solidarity: The Way We Measure Our Love

The principle of human solidarity is a particular application – on the level of society – of Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. It might also be seen, in other terms, as the application of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Solidarity is our sense of “connectedness” to each other person, and moves us to want for them what we would want for ourselves and our most dear loved ones.

In regard to health care this might require us to examine any proposal in terms of what it provides – and how – to the most vulnerable in our society. Dr. Donald P. Condit in his helpful treatment of the principle of Solidarity in “Prescription for Health Care Reform” reminds us of the proverb attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

For example, legislation that excludes legal immigrants from receiving health care benefits violates the principle of solidarity, is unjust and is not prudent. In evaluating health care reform proposals perhaps we ought to ask ourselves whether the poor would have access to the kind and quality of health care that you and I would deem necessary for our families. Is there a way by which the poor, too, can assume more responsibility for their own health care decisions in such manner as reflects their innate human dignity and is protective of their physical and spiritual well being?

Conclusion: We Can Not Be Passive

These last two principles: Solidarity and the Promotion of the Common Good cause us to say that we cannot be passive concerning health care policy in our country. There is important work to be done, but “change” for change’s sake; change which expands the reach of government beyond its competence would do more harm than good. Change which loses sight of man’s transcendent dignity or the irreplaceable value of human life; change which could diminish the role of those in need as agents of their own care is not truly human progress at all.

A hasty or unprincipled change could cause us, in fact, to lose some of the significant benefits that Americans now enjoy, while creating a future tax burden which is both unjust and unsustainable.

We urge the President, Congress, and other elected and appointed leaders to develop prescriptions for reforming health care which are built on objective truths: that all people in every stage of human life count for something; that if we violate our core beliefs we are not aiding people in need, but instead devaluing their human integrity and that of us all.

We call upon our Catholic faithful, and all people of good will, to hold our elected officials accountable in these important deliberations and let them know clearly our support for those who, with prudence and wisdom, will protect the right to life, maintain freedom of conscience, and nurture the sense of solidarity that drives us to work hard, to pray, and to act charitably for the good of all.

We place this effort under the maternal protection of our Blessed Mother, Mary, who was entrusted, with Joseph in the home at Nazareth, with the care of the child Jesus. We ask Our Lord Jesus Christ to extend His light and His Mercy to our nation’s efforts, so that every person will come to know His healing consolation as Divine Physician.

Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann - Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas

Most Reverend Robert W. Finn - Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

August 22, 2009

Memorial of the Queenship of Mary
Cyril Ignatius

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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:56 pm

The statement of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on this topic was previously posted by RebLem on another thread.

Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)

Who Speaks for the Bishops on Health Care?

NCR Editorial

What is the first principle Catholics should consider when thinking about the current health care reform debate? Three Midwestern bishops recently offered two conflicting responses to this question.

In a joint pastoral statement [2]issued Sept. 1, Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Kansas City–St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn point first to the concept of “subsidiarity” – which they define as the “principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives.” (See NCR’s coverage [3]of the pastoral statement here.)

Meanwhile, Rapid City Bishop Blaise Cupich in a statement [4]released last week says “reform efforts must begin with the principle that decent health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person.” He continues, “All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care, the costs of which must be controlled so that all can afford it. All should be able to receive health care irrespective of their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born.”

Finn and Naumann believe that centralized government healthcare is a greater threat to human dignity than the current US health system, which leaves nearly 50 million of our neighbors without health insurance. (Several other bishops, as The New York Times reported [5] Aug. 27 , seem to share this view). “Our country, in some ways, is the envy of people from countries with socialized systems of medical care,” write Naumann and Finn.

To what countries are the two bishops referring? As T.R. Reid noted [6]in the Washington Post recently (“5 Myths About Health Care Around the World” ) there isn’t a whole lot of “socialized medicine” in the world – at least outside the US.

Wrote Reid: “Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others -- for instance, Canada and Taiwan -- rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans.

“In some ways, health care is less ‘socialized’ overseas than in the United States. Almost all Americans sign up for government insurance (Medicare) at age 65. In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, seniors stick with private insurance plans for life. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the planet's purest examples of government-run health care.”

It seems there is something larger at play here.

Says Cupich: “Our healing apostolate is rooted in a belief in the dignity of each human person, realizing, as did Jesus, that one’s ability to live a fully human life is greatly affected by health. In a word, we consider health care a basic human right [emphasis added]. For this reason, the Catholic bishops have consistently advocated for comprehensive health care reform that leads to health care for all, including the weakest and most vulnerable.”

Do Naumann and Finn believe, as the American bishops and the universal church have taught for many decades, that health care is a right?

Rather than embrace the language of “rights,” the two bishops narrow the scope, turning a quite practical teaching – everyone should receive quality health care regardless of their station in life or ability to pay – into a theoretical discussion.

“The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it,” they write. “Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the ‘right’ to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of ‘entitlement.’ The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services.”

Now, in the current debate, only those interested in scuttling universal access to health care talk about “government socialization of medical services.” All of the proposals under consideration envision a robust private sector insurance system which can be transformed – through oversight, regulation and expanded public competition – into a provider of universal coverage.

Meanwhile, Naumann and Finn imply that the concept of subsidiarity not only prefers a local solution to societal problems, but requires it. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The principle, rather, requires that societal programs that address legitimate needs be conducted at the level where they will be effective. So, for example, only a national Social Security system can provide income support to the elderly (For more on this, click here [7]). Likewise, national defense requires national efforts, lest we all be walking about with M-16s or joining local militias.

It seems Naumann and Finn are not at all comfortable with Catholic teaching on the “right” to health care. Instead, in their statement, they make five references to “safety nets” – a bare bones system under which the poor and uninsured would not be allowed to fall below. That is very different from a “right” to quality health coverage.

In a strange non-sequitur, the two bishops note that “some system of vouchers – at least on a theoretical level – is worthy of consideration.” Would these be vouchers the uninsured could use to purchase insurance? Or like Food Stamps or housing vouchers, a program where the government would subsidize individual procedures – everything from antibiotics for a kid’s ear infection to chemotherapy. The bishops don’t say.

There is, it seems, one group of people who have an absolute right to health coverage and for whom the principle of subsidiarity is trumped by universal care. “Pre-natal and neo-natal care are particularly crucial and should be given priority in any reform,” Bishops Naumann and Finn write. “Because of the unique vulnerability of the unborn and newly born child, such services ought to be provided regardless of ability to pay.” (At what point we wonder – a six-month-old-baby, a one-year-old toddler – should “such services” be subject to an ability to pay?)

In a July 17 letter [8]to members of Congress, Bishop William Murphy, chair of the bishops committee concerned with health care, offered a different point of view: “Reform efforts must begin with the principle that decent health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person. All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. The Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable [emphasis in original].”

So, who speaks for the U.S. church at this critical hour in the health care debate? Cupich and Murphy, who forcefully present the traditional teaching of the universal church, or Naumann and Finn, who offer their idiosyncratic observations as pastoral advice?

The answer to this question may yet prove decisive as Congress returns from its recess and considers whether there is public support for revamping our broken health care system.



Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company


America: The National Catholic Weekly


Kansas City-style Health Care Reform
Posted at: 2009-09-03 09:13:53.0
Author: Michael Sean Winters

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri issued a joint pastoral letter on health care reform yesterday. The text has caused quite a bit of controversy already because it deviates so starkly from the statements coming from the Bishops’ Conference. A similar letter from Bishop R Walter Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa caused a similar stir. Our friends at National Catholic Reporter posed the question "Who Speaks for the Bishops?" in an on-line editorial yesterday.

But, that is not the most important question or the truly interesting one. The most important question is – who is right? The Naumann/Finn document suffers from two deficiencies that are fatal: First, it misapplies the doctrine of subsidiarity and, second, it fails to take account of the available policy alternatives at this moment.

Subsidiarity is a Thomistic notion that seeks to answer the question that all public policies must face, namely, what level of society should treat a given issue. Further, subsidiarity suggests that issues be treated at the lowest level possible, that is, at the level closest to the individual. So, families should do what they can, neighborhoods should pick up the slack, the free market should adjudicate the distribution of goods and services, local government should take the lead on most issues and the federal government should only get involved when its unique reach and power, specifically the taxing power, is required. This part of subsidiarity is ably repeated in the Kansas City text. But, the text does not grasp the moral obligation of the higher levels of government. As Pope Leo XIII wrote in his 1892 encyclical Rerum Novarum, "Whenever the general interest or any particular class suffers, or it is threatened with evils which can in no other way be met, the public authority must step in to meet them."

I think it goes without saying that the current entirely private method of delivering health insurance is not working. In addition to those whose pre-existing conditions are not covered, there are some 47 million Americans who are not covered at all. Mind you, it is good business practice not to cover a pre-existing condition, so when you read warning that "The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services," be advised that you are reading a GOP talking point and not an application of Catholic social doctrine to the circumstance the nation faces. In this regard, both bishops were ill-served by their advisors in failing to distance themselves from the inflammatory language about "socialization" that has tapped such a reservoir of anxiety in the nation.

The political reality is that unless one of the proposals currently before Congress passes, there will be no health care reform in the foreseeable future. The 47 million uninsured will see their numbers grow, the cost of Medicare and Medicaid will continue to spiral out of control, people with health insurance will continue to see insurance companies deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions or for any treatments the company can dodge paying for, etc. The stance of the Conference, of Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Murphy, chairmen, respectively, of the USCCB committees on pro-life activities and domestic policy, has been pitch-perfect and simple to understand: We want health care reform that achieves universal access and abortion coverage is a deal-breaker.

The most interesting question posed by this document is not who speaks for the bishops but whether or not the USCCB should bother to do its work if it is merely going to be undermined by some bishops who disagree with the proposals adopted by their brothers. It is undoubtedly true that every bishop is the supreme teacher of faith and morals in his own diocese but in this media age, where dissent is lionized and disagreement makes a good read, a teaching document from any one bishop that is at odds with the statements of the Conference is sure to muddy the waters and confuse the faithful nationwide. That is to say, that in their efforts to present the principles and insights they thought most important to their flocks, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Finn have unwittingly undermined their brother bishops in two ways. First, it appears to the average reader of the news that the U.S. bishops are divided about health care, and this at a critical moment in the negotiations with the administration and congressional leadership, negotiations that are delicate and can easily be de-railed when outliers throw a wrench into the works. Second, it appears to the average reader of the news that the long tradition of consensus and collegiality by the American episcopate is threatened by a small group of bishops who appear more intent on achieving ideological victories than in preserving the ecclesiological unity of the various local churches in the United States.

The tradition of consensus and collegiality goes all the way back to the decision to elect the first bishop of the United States, and continued through the provincial and later plenary Councils of Baltimore, then the annual meetings of the archbishops, and finally, in 1922, the founding of what was then the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the forerunner of today’s USCCB. In one of the archbishops’ annual meetings, an issue was put to a vote. Cardinal Gibbons voted last and he cast his ballot in opposition to his own preferred views and that of his close friend Archbishop John Ireland. He did so because he understood that it was more important to maintain the peace and unity of the archbishops than it was to win a particular vote.

That American tradition was not only vindicated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but the storied example of collegial action by the U.S. bishops became something of a model for other countries. The value of collegial action is obvious: Many issues are national in scope, and complicated and difficult to penetrate. By establishing a Conference with a professional staff to help the bishops understand the real world consequences of the issues involved, the bishops can speak intelligently in the public square about a host of issues, giving witness to the Church’s teaching which make her, in Pope Paul VI’s words, "an expert in humanity." That expertise is now questioned because people do not know who to believe. The problem with the document coming from the twin cities of Kansas City is not medical. It is ecclesiological.


© 2009 America Press Inc. All Rights reserved

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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:07 am

jbuck919 wrote:The statement of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on this topic was previously posted by RebLem on another thread.

Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)

Who Speaks for the Bishops on Health Care?

NCR Editorial

What is the first principle Catholics should consider when thinking about the current health care reform debate? Three Midwestern bishops recently offered two conflicting responses to this question.

In a joint pastoral statement [2]issued Sept. 1, Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Kansas City–St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn point first to the concept of “subsidiarity” – which they define as the “principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives.” (See NCR’s coverage [3]of the pastoral statement here.)

Meanwhile, Rapid City Bishop Blaise Cupich in a statement [4]released last week says “reform efforts must begin with the principle that decent health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person.” He continues, “All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care, the costs of which must be controlled so that all can afford it. All should be able to receive health care irrespective of their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born.”

Finn and Naumann believe that centralized government healthcare is a greater threat to human dignity than the current US health system, which leaves nearly 50 million of our neighbors without health insurance. (Several other bishops, as The New York Times reported [5] Aug. 27 , seem to share this view). “Our country, in some ways, is the envy of people from countries with socialized systems of medical care,” write Naumann and Finn.

To what countries are the two bishops referring? As T.R. Reid noted [6]in the Washington Post recently (“5 Myths About Health Care Around the World” ) there isn’t a whole lot of “socialized medicine” in the world – at least outside the US.

Wrote Reid: “Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others -- for instance, Canada and Taiwan -- rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans.

“In some ways, health care is less ‘socialized’ overseas than in the United States. Almost all Americans sign up for government insurance (Medicare) at age 65. In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, seniors stick with private insurance plans for life. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the planet's purest examples of government-run health care.”

It seems there is something larger at play here.

Says Cupich: “Our healing apostolate is rooted in a belief in the dignity of each human person, realizing, as did Jesus, that one’s ability to live a fully human life is greatly affected by health. In a word, we consider health care a basic human right [emphasis added]. For this reason, the Catholic bishops have consistently advocated for comprehensive health care reform that leads to health care for all, including the weakest and most vulnerable.”

Do Naumann and Finn believe, as the American bishops and the universal church have taught for many decades, that health care is a right?

Rather than embrace the language of “rights,” the two bishops narrow the scope, turning a quite practical teaching – everyone should receive quality health care regardless of their station in life or ability to pay – into a theoretical discussion.

“The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it,” they write. “Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the ‘right’ to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of ‘entitlement.’ The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services.”

Now, in the current debate, only those interested in scuttling universal access to health care talk about “government socialization of medical services.” All of the proposals under consideration envision a robust private sector insurance system which can be transformed – through oversight, regulation and expanded public competition – into a provider of universal coverage.

Meanwhile, Naumann and Finn imply that the concept of subsidiarity not only prefers a local solution to societal problems, but requires it. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The principle, rather, requires that societal programs that address legitimate needs be conducted at the level where they will be effective. So, for example, only a national Social Security system can provide income support to the elderly (For more on this, click here [7]). Likewise, national defense requires national efforts, lest we all be walking about with M-16s or joining local militias.

It seems Naumann and Finn are not at all comfortable with Catholic teaching on the “right” to health care. Instead, in their statement, they make five references to “safety nets” – a bare bones system under which the poor and uninsured would not be allowed to fall below. That is very different from a “right” to quality health coverage.

In a strange non-sequitur, the two bishops note that “some system of vouchers – at least on a theoretical level – is worthy of consideration.” Would these be vouchers the uninsured could use to purchase insurance? Or like Food Stamps or housing vouchers, a program where the government would subsidize individual procedures – everything from antibiotics for a kid’s ear infection to chemotherapy. The bishops don’t say.

There is, it seems, one group of people who have an absolute right to health coverage and for whom the principle of subsidiarity is trumped by universal care. “Pre-natal and neo-natal care are particularly crucial and should be given priority in any reform,” Bishops Naumann and Finn write. “Because of the unique vulnerability of the unborn and newly born child, such services ought to be provided regardless of ability to pay.” (At what point we wonder – a six-month-old-baby, a one-year-old toddler – should “such services” be subject to an ability to pay?)

In a July 17 letter [8]to members of Congress, Bishop William Murphy, chair of the bishops committee concerned with health care, offered a different point of view: “Reform efforts must begin with the principle that decent health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person. All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. The Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable [emphasis in original].”

So, who speaks for the U.S. church at this critical hour in the health care debate? Cupich and Murphy, who forcefully present the traditional teaching of the universal church, or Naumann and Finn, who offer their idiosyncratic observations as pastoral advice?

The answer to this question may yet prove decisive as Congress returns from its recess and considers whether there is public support for revamping our broken health care system.



Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company


America: The National Catholic Weekly


Kansas City-style Health Care Reform
Posted at: 2009-09-03 09:13:53.0
Author: Michael Sean Winters

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri issued a joint pastoral letter on health care reform yesterday. The text has caused quite a bit of controversy already because it deviates so starkly from the statements coming from the Bishops’ Conference. A similar letter from Bishop R Walter Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa caused a similar stir. Our friends at National Catholic Reporter posed the question "Who Speaks for the Bishops?" in an on-line editorial yesterday.

But, that is not the most important question or the truly interesting one. The most important question is – who is right? The Naumann/Finn document suffers from two deficiencies that are fatal: First, it misapplies the doctrine of subsidiarity and, second, it fails to take account of the available policy alternatives at this moment.

Subsidiarity is a Thomistic notion that seeks to answer the question that all public policies must face, namely, what level of society should treat a given issue. Further, subsidiarity suggests that issues be treated at the lowest level possible, that is, at the level closest to the individual. So, families should do what they can, neighborhoods should pick up the slack, the free market should adjudicate the distribution of goods and services, local government should take the lead on most issues and the federal government should only get involved when its unique reach and power, specifically the taxing power, is required. This part of subsidiarity is ably repeated in the Kansas City text. But, the text does not grasp the moral obligation of the higher levels of government. As Pope Leo XIII wrote in his 1892 encyclical Rerum Novarum, "Whenever the general interest or any particular class suffers, or it is threatened with evils which can in no other way be met, the public authority must step in to meet them."

I think it goes without saying that the current entirely private method of delivering health insurance is not working. In addition to those whose pre-existing conditions are not covered, there are some 47 million Americans who are not covered at all. Mind you, it is good business practice not to cover a pre-existing condition, so when you read warning that "The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services," be advised that you are reading a GOP talking point and not an application of Catholic social doctrine to the circumstance the nation faces. In this regard, both bishops were ill-served by their advisors in failing to distance themselves from the inflammatory language about "socialization" that has tapped such a reservoir of anxiety in the nation.

The political reality is that unless one of the proposals currently before Congress passes, there will be no health care reform in the foreseeable future. The 47 million uninsured will see their numbers grow, the cost of Medicare and Medicaid will continue to spiral out of control, people with health insurance will continue to see insurance companies deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions or for any treatments the company can dodge paying for, etc. The stance of the Conference, of Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Murphy, chairmen, respectively, of the USCCB committees on pro-life activities and domestic policy, has been pitch-perfect and simple to understand: We want health care reform that achieves universal access and abortion coverage is a deal-breaker.

The most interesting question posed by this document is not who speaks for the bishops but whether or not the USCCB should bother to do its work if it is merely going to be undermined by some bishops who disagree with the proposals adopted by their brothers. It is undoubtedly true that every bishop is the supreme teacher of faith and morals in his own diocese but in this media age, where dissent is lionized and disagreement makes a good read, a teaching document from any one bishop that is at odds with the statements of the Conference is sure to muddy the waters and confuse the faithful nationwide. That is to say, that in their efforts to present the principles and insights they thought most important to their flocks, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Finn have unwittingly undermined their brother bishops in two ways. First, it appears to the average reader of the news that the U.S. bishops are divided about health care, and this at a critical moment in the negotiations with the administration and congressional leadership, negotiations that are delicate and can easily be de-railed when outliers throw a wrench into the works. Second, it appears to the average reader of the news that the long tradition of consensus and collegiality by the American episcopate is threatened by a small group of bishops who appear more intent on achieving ideological victories than in preserving the ecclesiological unity of the various local churches in the United States.

The tradition of consensus and collegiality goes all the way back to the decision to elect the first bishop of the United States, and continued through the provincial and later plenary Councils of Baltimore, then the annual meetings of the archbishops, and finally, in 1922, the founding of what was then the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the forerunner of today’s USCCB. In one of the archbishops’ annual meetings, an issue was put to a vote. Cardinal Gibbons voted last and he cast his ballot in opposition to his own preferred views and that of his close friend Archbishop John Ireland. He did so because he understood that it was more important to maintain the peace and unity of the archbishops than it was to win a particular vote.

That American tradition was not only vindicated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but the storied example of collegial action by the U.S. bishops became something of a model for other countries. The value of collegial action is obvious: Many issues are national in scope, and complicated and difficult to penetrate. By establishing a Conference with a professional staff to help the bishops understand the real world consequences of the issues involved, the bishops can speak intelligently in the public square about a host of issues, giving witness to the Church’s teaching which make her, in Pope Paul VI’s words, "an expert in humanity." That expertise is now questioned because people do not know who to believe. The problem with the document coming from the twin cities of Kansas City is not medical. It is ecclesiological.


© 2009 America Press Inc. All Rights reserved
The National Catholic Reporter is the infamous newspaper of the "anti-church" within America. It played an important role in the corrupting of the Catholic Church in America. And it was an important forum for those within the Church in America who hijacked Vatican Two and who placed a Lavandar Mafia within many seminaries driving out almost two generations of vocations to the priesthood. It's credibility on Church issues is somewhere akin to the National Inquirer.

By contrast, the statement from the Kansas City Bishops is fully in accord with longstanding, well-established Church teachings. You will also find the very issues they raise in foundational texts on Catholic Social Teaching: In particular the Subsidiarity principle, the role of the Church in society and the role of the individual in his or her own wellbeing. Their statements will be criticized by people within the Church in America, because the sad fact is that the Church in America is highly corrupt and intensively dissent-ridden.
Cyril Ignatius

jbuck919
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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:01 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote: By contrast, the statement from the Kansas City Bishops is fully in accord with longstanding, well-established Church teachings. You will also find the very issues they raise in foundational texts on Catholic Social Teaching: In particular the Subsidiarity principle, the role of the Church in society and the role of the individual in his or her own wellbeing. Their statements will be criticized by people within the Church in America, because the sad fact is that the Church in America is highly corrupt and intensively dissent-ridden.
You can't define dissent as that which does not follow church teaching with regard to one topic and that which does follow the teaching but not your own opinions with regard to another topic and expect to be taken seriously. That's cafeteria Catholicism, which you profess to dislike.

When individual bishops express their own opinion which is not consistent with the pastoral statement that all bishops of their conference issued in collegio and in conformity with long-established social justice teachings of Rome, and then pass that opinion off as pastoral instruction, that is dissent, and it is more--it is deception and a form of sabotage. You just happen to have gotten lucky to stumble on a couple of loose-cannon bishops with right wing politics who broke consensus and wrote an opinion piece that agrees with your views.

As for the organs I cited being traditionally to the left within the Church, there is no denying that. But on this topic they are the ones with the enduring teaching of Rome on their side. It is the Kansas bishops who are, as it were, the devils quoting scripture for their own purpose.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:24 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote: By contrast, the statement from the Kansas City Bishops is fully in accord with longstanding, well-established Church teachings. You will also find the very issues they raise in foundational texts on Catholic Social Teaching: In particular the Subsidiarity principle, the role of the Church in society and the role of the individual in his or her own wellbeing. Their statements will be criticized by people within the Church in America, because the sad fact is that the Church in America is highly corrupt and intensively dissent-ridden.
You can't define dissent as that which does not follow church teaching with regard to one topic and that which does follow the teaching but not your own opinions with regard to another topic and expect to be taken seriously. That's cafeteria Catholicism, which you profess to dislike.

When individual bishops express their own opinion which is not consistent with the pastoral statement that all bishops of their conference issued in collegio and in conformity with long-established social justice teachings of Rome, and then pass that opinion off as pastoral instruction, that is dissent, and it is more--it is deception and a form of sabotage. You just happen to have gotten lucky to stumble on a couple of loose-cannon bishops with right wing politics who broke consensus and wrote an opinion piece that agrees with your views.

As for the organs I cited being traditionally to the left within the Church, there is no denying that. But on this topic they are the ones with the enduring teaching of Rome on their side. It is the Kansas bishops who are, as it were, the devils quoting scripture for their own purpose.
And just where have I engaged in "cafeteria Catholicism"? The sad reality is that the American Church is so full of dissent that the Kansas City Bishops in taking a fuller and broader perspective on health care (than the statement this Summer from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) are actually much closer to the Church. The American Bishops do not have authority beyond what the Church proper teaches. A large number of Bishops and clergy will need to retire before the long process of rebuilding the Church in America can really commence.
Cyril Ignatius

jbuck919
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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:40 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote: By contrast, the statement from the Kansas City Bishops is fully in accord with longstanding, well-established Church teachings. You will also find the very issues they raise in foundational texts on Catholic Social Teaching: In particular the Subsidiarity principle, the role of the Church in society and the role of the individual in his or her own wellbeing. Their statements will be criticized by people within the Church in America, because the sad fact is that the Church in America is highly corrupt and intensively dissent-ridden.
You can't define dissent as that which does not follow church teaching with regard to one topic and that which does follow the teaching but not your own opinions with regard to another topic and expect to be taken seriously. That's cafeteria Catholicism, which you profess to dislike.

When individual bishops express their own opinion which is not consistent with the pastoral statement that all bishops of their conference issued in collegio and in conformity with long-established social justice teachings of Rome, and then pass that opinion off as pastoral instruction, that is dissent, and it is more--it is deception and a form of sabotage. You just happen to have gotten lucky to stumble on a couple of loose-cannon bishops with right wing politics who broke consensus and wrote an opinion piece that agrees with your views.

As for the organs I cited being traditionally to the left within the Church, there is no denying that. But on this topic they are the ones with the enduring teaching of Rome on their side. It is the Kansas bishops who are, as it were, the devils quoting scripture for their own purpose.
And just where have I engaged in "cafeteria Catholicism"? The sad reality is that the American Church is so full of dissent that the Kansas City Bishops in taking a fuller and broader perspective on health care (than the statement this Summer from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) are actually much closer to the Church. The American Bishops do not have authority beyond what the Church proper teaches. A large number of Bishops and clergy will need to retire before the long process of rebuilding the Church in America can really commence.
May I suggest that if you have not done so already, you join one of those watchdog groups that send complaints to the Vatican when the bishops aren't behaving. Otherwise, poor Benedict XVI will labor under the false impression that the pastoral teaching of the American bishops' conference is in conformity with his. :roll:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Cyril Ignatius
Posts: 1035
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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:50 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote: By contrast, the statement from the Kansas City Bishops is fully in accord with longstanding, well-established Church teachings. You will also find the very issues they raise in foundational texts on Catholic Social Teaching: In particular the Subsidiarity principle, the role of the Church in society and the role of the individual in his or her own wellbeing. Their statements will be criticized by people within the Church in America, because the sad fact is that the Church in America is highly corrupt and intensively dissent-ridden.
You can't define dissent as that which does not follow church teaching with regard to one topic and that which does follow the teaching but not your own opinions with regard to another topic and expect to be taken seriously. That's cafeteria Catholicism, which you profess to dislike.

When individual bishops express their own opinion which is not consistent with the pastoral statement that all bishops of their conference issued in collegio and in conformity with long-established social justice teachings of Rome, and then pass that opinion off as pastoral instruction, that is dissent, and it is more--it is deception and a form of sabotage. You just happen to have gotten lucky to stumble on a couple of loose-cannon bishops with right wing politics who broke consensus and wrote an opinion piece that agrees with your views.

As for the organs I cited being traditionally to the left within the Church, there is no denying that. But on this topic they are the ones with the enduring teaching of Rome on their side. It is the Kansas bishops who are, as it were, the devils quoting scripture for their own purpose.
And just where have I engaged in "cafeteria Catholicism"? The sad reality is that the American Church is so full of dissent that the Kansas City Bishops in taking a fuller and broader perspective on health care (than the statement this Summer from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) are actually much closer to the Church. The American Bishops do not have authority beyond what the Church proper teaches. A large number of Bishops and clergy will need to retire before the long process of rebuilding the Church in America can really commence.
May I suggest that if you have not done so already, you join one of those watchdog groups that send complaints to the Vatican when the bishops aren't behaving. Otherwise, poor Benedict XVI will labor under the false impression that the pastoral teaching of the American bishops' conference is in conformity with his. :roll:
Surely you aren't under the impression that the Pope isn't well aware of this!!!!!!!!!??????

Pope Benedict, when he was then Cardinal Ratzinger, played a central role along with John Paul II in writing many key documents that the American Church quietly ignored.

The last Pope, John Paul II knew full well that the American Church was very sick. The American Church pained him terribly, and he noted this.

Let me add this to illustrate the general point:

Tuesday September 1, 2009
EWTN's Arroyo Takes Cardinal McCarrick to Task over Kennedy & Pope Letters

By John-Henry Westen

BOSTON, September 1, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - EWTN News Director and host of the popular EWTN program 'The World Over,' Raymond Arroyo, has written a compelling commentary on retired Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's part in Saturday's burial of Senator Ted Kennedy. Arroyo begins by calling McCarrick's reading of portions of Kennedy's letter and a Vatican response a "marvelous bit of political theatre (as so much of Senator Kennedy's funeral was)."

The renowned EWTN show host, who is seen each week in more than 100 million homes around the globe on the Catholic network, then reflects on McCarrick's controversial history.

"First of all, it must be recalled that Cardinal McCarrick has a rather unfortunate history involving the delivery of letters, particularly those from a certain Vatican official by the name of Ratzinger," says Arroyo. "In 2004, when the Bishops of the US were anguishing over whether to allow communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion laws, Cardinal McCarrick concealed a letter from his brother bishops. The missive was from the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal (now Pope) Joseph Ratzinger. Had the bishops received the letter intended to help guide their debate, things might have gone very differently. The contents of that letter are still relevant, particularly now when dissenting Catholics have made grandiose pronouncements about what it means to be a Catholic in public life."

Arroyo says that he and other faithful Catholics are "not upset about Chappaquiddick or the huge lapses in the Senator's long and storied life," knowing that forgiveness is possible. "The problem here," he said, "is one of public witness and appearances - the corrupting example."

Arroyo's central thesis is that the story of the Kennedy funeral had less to do with Kennedy than with an attempt to falsely portray what it means to be a Catholic and a Catholic politician. "What most in the media and the public fail to recognize is that this entire spectacle - the Catholic funeral trappings and the wall to wall coverage - was only partially about Ted Kennedy," he wrote. "It was truly about cementing the impression, indeed catechizing the faithful, that one can be a Catholic politician, and so long as you claim to care about the poor, you may licitly ignore the cause of life."

Arroyo also had very pointed words about the liberal Catholic "social justice" emphasis in remarks praising Kennedy during the funeral. He wrote, " The “Common Ground” argument was reinforced this weekend—the notion that supporting a host of “social justice” initiatives somehow cancels out or trumps the “grave”, “intrinsic” evil of abortion and the Catholic commitment to the life issues. As the Pope has described in his letter of 2004, and subsequently, this is an untenable position no matter how many “pro-choice” Catholics on the right or the left attempt to make it."

The renowned and trusted EWTN broadcaster clearly laid the responsibility of this corrupting example not so much with Kennedy as with the prelates who orchestrated the showcase funeral. Said Arroyo: "As a final desperate attempt to stamp the imprimatur of the Pope upon the funereal proceedings, Cardinal McCarrick read what he called the 'Pope's response' to Senator Kennedy. Actually it was a note, very likely from the Secretariat of State. This is the sort of thing any member of laity receives when they send a prayer request or a Christmas card to the Pope. Cardinal McCarrick made it seem as if it had the weight of a new encyclical."

See Arroyo's full commentary on EWTN here.
URL: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/sep/09090107.html
Cyril Ignatius

jbuck919
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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:43 am

My point is that, while in matters of church discipline the American Church is a thorn in the Vatican's side, in matters of basic teaching, including teachings on social justice, the American church is in the vanguard of conformity. Your problem is that the "official" church is, as Paul VI said, "tenaciously conservative" in matters of discipline, but for the last century at least it has been at the forefront of progressivism on matters of social justice. (Many non-Catholics would point to the absolute nature of the teaching on abortion as an inconsistency, but if abortion as a clinical procedure falling under the heading of treatment were the only issue holding back health care reform, I daresay it would be a very acceptable compromise). It is just too darn bad for you if in one important aspect the Church won't toe your line instead of the other way around.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:36 pm

jbuck919 wrote:My point is that, while in matters of church discipline the American Church is a thorn in the Vatican's side, in matters of basic teaching, including teachings on social justice, the American church is in the vanguard of conformity. Your problem is that the "official" church is, as Paul VI said, "tenaciously conservative" in matters of discipline, but for the last century at least it has been at the forefront of progressivism on matters of social justice. (Many non-Catholics would point to the absolute nature of the teaching on abortion as an inconsistency, but if abortion as a clinical procedure falling under the heading of treatment were the only issue holding back health care reform, I daresay it would be a very acceptable compromise). It is just too darn bad for you if in one important aspect the Church won't toe your line instead of the other way around.

You are confusing progressivism on social issues with the Church's actual teachings on social issues. That many people within the American Church have hijacked the Church by glossing over these distinctions and pushing progressivism under the Church's banner does not change the reality. Eventually, Church teaching seeps out again. I daresay, the better part of two generations of Catholic laity in America are not equpped to make these basic distinctions, so pervasive is the rot in the American Church. The Kansas City Bishops went back to that body of teaching. God bless them for doing so. But it will place them outside the circles that have dominated the American Church.
Cyril Ignatius

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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:13 pm

Cyril Ignatius wrote: The Kansas City Bishops went back to that body of teaching. God bless them for doing so. But it will place them outside the circles that have dominated the American Church.
And, I strongly suspect, though of course I can't prove it, firmly in the circle of the right-leaning donors who "suggested" this project to them. It is difficult to imagine a Catholic bishop, no matter what his own predilections, motivated solely by the Spirit and out of a heartfelt need to address a pastoral issue, drafting a quasi-partisan document addressing the issue that just happens coincidentally to map point-by-point onto the agenda of the anti-reform crowd.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Kansas City Bishops' Statement on Health Care

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:16 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote: The Kansas City Bishops went back to that body of teaching. God bless them for doing so. But it will place them outside the circles that have dominated the American Church.
And, I strongly suspect, though of course I can't prove it, firmly in the circle of the right-leaning donors who "suggested" this project to them. It is difficult to imagine a Catholic bishop, no matter what his own predilections, motivated solely by the Spirit and out of a heartfelt need to address a pastoral issue, drafting a quasi-partisan document addressing the issue that just happens coincidentally to map point-by-point onto the agenda of the anti-reform crowd.
Because among the many reasons to object to Obamacare are some very basic and fundamental considerations of great importance to the Church.
Cyril Ignatius

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