Archbishop Chaput: Health care bill doesn’t meet minimum moral standards

Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Denver
Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Denver

.- In his weekly column for the Denver Catholic Register, the Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., says the Senate health-care bill does not meet minimum moral standards and therefore, doesn’t have the support of the Catholic bishops.

“The Senate version of health-care reform currently being forced ahead by congressional leaders and the White House is a bad bill that will result in bad law,”  says the archbishop in his column titled, “Catholics, health care and the Senate’s bad bill,” published today on the archdiocese’s  website.

“As I write this column on March 14, the Senate bill remains gravely flawed.  It does not meet minimum moral standards in at least three important areas: the exclusion of abortion funding and services; adequate conscience protections for health-care professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants,” Chaput writes.

In reference to pro-Obama Catholic organizations who have been claiming that the bill is “sufficiently” pro-life, the Archbishop of Denver argues 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; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform.” 

Such groups, Archbishop Chaput explains, “create confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate.  They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.”

The archbishop then reminds his readers of  â€œa few simple facts.”

First, the Catholic bishops of the United States began pressing for real national health-care reform “long before either political party or the public media found it convenient.”  Second, the bishops have tried earnestly to craft a consensus “that would serve all Americans,” but the failure of their effort has one source:  “It comes entirely from the stubbornness and evasions of certain key congressional leaders, and the unwillingness of the White House to honor promises made by the president last September.”

Third, “the health-care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics.  Nor is it now.” In this regard, Archbishop Chaput praises Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and “a number of his Democratic colleagues” for showing â€œextraordinary character in pushing for good health-care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real health care.” 

“To put it another way,” the Archbishop says, “few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans.  But God, or the devil, is in the details -- and by that measure, the current Senate version of health-care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.”

Nevertheless, Archbishop Chaput writes that the “most painful feature” in the last weeks of the 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. Their flawed judgment could now have damaging consequences for all of us.”

The Archbishop of Denver reminds his readers that the bill “does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops in our country, who speak for the believing Catholic community.” 

“Catholics and other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human dignity should oppose it,” he says in closing.

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