Skip to comments.Skinning the ‘Health Care Cat’ (Bishop Johnston of Cape-Girardeau and Springfield, MO)
Posted on 09/20/2009 11:25:14 PM PDT by fabrizio
Skinning the Health Care Cat
Heal the sick Mt 10:8
A very odd and macabre saying that I have always found somewhat disturbing is that theres more than one way to skin a cat. The point of the saying is that in the undertaking of a complex project, there are usually a variety of ways to reach the goal, some better than others. This is true of the current and often passionate debate concerning health care reform.
Needless to say, health care reform is a very complex issue, with many important peripheral issues, such as cost and how to pay for it, economic impact, the role of the federal government, abortion, euthanasia, tort reform, etc. But as such, health care reform is particularly important in that, as Catholics, we understand the principles that should be at the very heart of this delicate work.
To begin, one must recognize that the provision of health care is rooted in our recognition of the basic dignity of every human person, made in Gods image. Individuals and society both have inherent obligations to protect, respect, and promote the human person and his/her good. This basic principle is articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which reads: Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance (CCC #2288).
The Catholic Church has responded to these concerns since the first century. In fact, hospitals have their genesis in the Catholic Church, founded in her desire to respond to the teaching of Jesus enunciated in the parable of the Good Samaritan. One out of every six hospital beds in the US today is in a Catholic hospital. Societies also have an obligation to take a role in assisting in the provision of adequate health care for all. Each person should have access to basic, affordable, adequate health care. This is a goal that should be supported by our nation. However, the goal becomes more complex because there is a variety of opinion as to what basic, affordable, and adequate means.
Safeguarding human life
A basic principle for health care reform is that it must not include policies that deliberately attack human life from conception to natural death. This means that health care reform measures must not include provisions for taxpayer-funded abortion or euthanasia. Inclusion of any procedure which attacks innocent human life would be inconsistent with any truly legitimate health care reform measure. As Pope John Paul II noted in his encyclical, "The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae): It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.
Expounding on this basic truth, the US bishops noted in their statement, Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics: Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. But being right in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the rightness of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community.
Beyond this, there are other procedures/treatments, such as in-vitro fertilization, voluntary sterilization, sex-change operations, and the provision of contraceptives, that some would consider basic health care. There is no right to these, as they too are in violation of the moral law and human dignity; as such, they should not be included in any proposal.
Another concern that must be addressed in any health care legislation is the matter of protecting the freedom of conscience of both patients and health care providers. Recent events show how real is the threat of federal power to coerce health care providers, employers, and individuals into participating in actions contrary to conscience and Catholic teaching, or face sanction and/or dismissal. Earlier this month the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took action against Belmont Abbey College, a small Catholic college in North Carolina, for removing coverage for abortion, contraception, and voluntary sterilization from their employee insurance plan after they were inadvetently included. The EEOC ruled that Belmont Abbey was guilty of discrimination. This action sets a dangerous precedent and highlights the dangers that await if very clear conscience protections are not included in health care reform proposals.
Besides these important principles, other thorny questions must be answered. One might legitimately ask if giving a large, inefficient, but powerful bureaucracy like the federal government control of health care is a wise move. For one, this runs counter to the well-known principle of subsidiarity, so prominent in Catholic social teaching: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." "The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1883,1885). One might consider this the principle of social dignity.
How much of a role the government should have is a matter of prudential judgment, however, there are ethical dimensions to this question. Certainly, it has a role to play, but that does not necessarily mean that it should be the sole provider of health care. The government can act to remove abuses, and to regulate the health care industry so that the markets efficiently serve all the people. Government may also be needed to see that no one, especially the working poor and the most destitute and forgotten, falls through the cracks. But, the essential element of the principle of subsidiarity is the protection of individual freedoms from unjust micromanagement and manipulation by the state.
Though, as your bishop, I would like to support the provision of adequate health care for everyone, I cannot support the bills/proposals that are currently before Congress, for they do not adequately incorporate the essential principles listed above. I offer this brief summary in hope that it will assist you in exercising your role as a citizen. Communicate your concerns and pray for those who must make these decisions, our elected officials. May all those engaged in this issue craft a plan that provides universal health care that is affordable to all, distributes costs equitably, and above all, safeguards human life from conception to natural death and the freedom of conscience. We must never forget as then-Card. Ratzinger stated, There is only one morality
, the morality of Gods commandments, which cannot be temporarily suspended in order to bring about a change in the status quo more quickly.
Very sweet article. Thanks for posting.
That Catholic, and those like him are heard from FAR, FAR, FAR TOO SELDOM!!!!!!!!!!!
One might consider this the principle of social dignity.
One might? One might consider? Social dignity?
How much of a role the government should have is a matter of prudential judgment,
How much, but not "whether?"
... however, there are ethical dimensions to this question. Certainly, it has a role to play, but that does not necessarily mean that it should be the sole provider of health care.
Sure, let's just let the camel's nose in. Or his head. See what happens, ethical dimension-wise.
The government can act to...regulate the health care industry
It sure CAN, and I trust this fine-tuned thinker knows the difference between "can" and "may."
... so that the markets efficiently serve all the people.
The government can do that? Regulate so the markets efficiently serve all? Concede another fraudulent argument to the socialists! Come on, surely there are more?
Government may also be needed to see that no one, especially the working poor and the most destitute and forgotten, falls through the cracks.
Yes! Government MAY also be needed. Or it MAY not! When does this man take a stand: when the Devil needs a chair?
But, the essential element of the principle of subsidiarity is the protection of individual freedoms from unjust micromanagement and manipulation by the state.
Oh, don't worry, the tyrant class would never, ever, do anything unjust, especially micromanagement or manipulation. They're from the government: they're here to HELP us.
Does anyone know of a list of statements by other bishops afainst current health care plans?
Archbishop Chaput of Denver CO:
Bishop Nickless of Sioux City, IO (scroll down a bit):
Arcbishop Naumann of Kansas City KS and Bishop Finn of Kansas City St. Joseph, MO:
Bishop Doran of Rockford, IL:
Bishop Aquila of Fargo ND:
I know that over 40 Catholic Bishops have already spoken against Obamacare, especially as regards abortion, euthnasia and the right to conscentious objection to immoral practices. I can’t search all the links now. Those I linked above are IMHO among the best statements I was able to read so far, as they include the principle of subsidiarity and the dangers of statism as described by the constant teaching of the Church.
Statements from a few isolated Bishops from remote dioceses while welcome, hardly constitute a strong voice in favor of life. The recent and on-going homage to Teddy ‘The Swimmer and Never Saw an Abortion Bill I didn’t Support’ Kennedy as well as refusal by the Catholic Episcopate to ‘instruct’ such outstanding avidly pro-Abortion Catholics as Pelosi, Sebelious, ‘Senator’ Shaheen, etc. speaks much more loudly to the tolerance of pro-abortion sentiments if it advances class-envy-based, anti-free market, divisive ‘Social Justice’. For those who forget, the late Catholic Cardinal Benardin of Chicago - aggressively supported ‘Big Tent’ pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ politicians and policies during his reign as well as government run health care.Bernadin’s name was honored after death by then State Senator Obama with the Bernadin Amendment to mandate universal health care to Illinois.
Even to this day, the Jesuit Magazine- America continues to campaign for muting the voice of pro-life Catholic conservatives and encourages a more tolerant attitude toware the pro-abortion Catholics, pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ Universities, etc. Unfortunately, that appears to be the dominant position in most parishes. ‘Anti-abortion’ campaigns, unheard of in the run-up to a campaign that included the most publicly and aggressively pro-abortion candidate in US history, but begin just after his safe election accompanied by a heavy ‘social justice’ message - hint there is something more than care for the unborn behind the ‘message’.
As far as the sanctity of life goes, I would not say that the pronouncements against Obamacare were from just “a few isolated bishops from remote dioceses”. There were tens of them, and they include several Cardinals, like Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who spoke for the whole USCCB, or Cardinal George of Chicago, or Di Nardo of Galveston-Houston. There were also several Archbishops, like Dolan of NY and Chaput of Denver.
That the American Bishops have been less than effective and loyal in their leadership is certainly true, but it is also undeniably true that we’re seeing a remarkably growing group of solid bishops. Of course it will take decades to fix the damages that were inflicted, but the desperate fury of the loony left within the Church is a reason for cnfidence in the future. I would rather emphasize tha good that is beggining to manifest itself rather than the shortcomings we all know are there. The sole facts that some were able to extend their criticism of Obamacare to the crucial issue of state intrusiveness as described by a constant but conveniently forgotten Catholic teaching is a clear sign of something unthinkable only 10 years ago.
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