In a First Things column on Friday, Archbishop Chaput of Denver commented on how certain “Catholic” groups are working to undermine the U.S. bishops' stance on health care reform. Should the morally deficient Senate version of health care reform be passed into law against the will of the American people, he said, the dissenting “Catholic” voices will be among those responsible.
“On March 18, the advocacy group Catholics United, which worried so earnestly about Republican faith partisans controlling Catholic thought in the last election, rolled out an attack-ad campaign against Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak in his home state,” began Archbishop Chaput.
“Why?” he asked. “Because Stupak insists – along with the U.S. bishops and every major national prolife group – that the Senate version of the reform bill now being forced ahead by congressional leaders and the White House fails to exclude abortion and its public funding from the legislation.”
On that same day, the prelate continued, writer E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post “claimed that the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Cardinal Francis George, had distorted the views of the Catholic Health Association, which voiced support of the legislation last week.” According the archbishop, Dionne then warned of a “moral opprobrium that would rightly fall” on the bishops if they succeeded in preventing the health care bill from passing.
“Dionne’s column came just days after Network, a Catholic 'social justice' lobby founded by women religious, also broke ranks with the bishops and endorsed the fatally flawed Senate version of health-care reform,” he added.
In consideration of the examples given by these three Catholic groups, said Archbishop Chaput, “what lessons can we draw...?”
“First, the captivity of some Catholics to the agenda of current congressional leaders and the White House proves that faith partisans are not a monopoly of the political right, and that some Catholics have an almost frantic unwillingness to see the abortion issue for what it is – a foundational matter of social justice and human rights.”
“It can’t be avoided in developing our public policies without debasing the whole nature of Christian social teaching. No rights are safe when the right to life is not,” he stressed.
“Second,” the archbishop continued, “people who claim to be Catholic and then publicly undercut the teaching and leadership of their bishops spread confusion, cause grave damage to the believing community and give the illusion of moral cover to a version of health care 'reform' that is not simply bad, but dangerous.”
“Third, for supporters of health care reform at any cost, facts don’t seem to matter when a coveted goal seems within reach. The American bishops have repeatedly shown their support for good healthcare reform. They’ve worked tirelessly and honestly for more than seven months to help craft acceptable legislation.”
“But they’ve also shown – and posted readily on the web – how and why the current Senate version of reform fails in at least three vital areas: abortion and its public funding; conscience protections for medical professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants,” he underscored.
“Congressional leaders have no one to blame but themselves for the opposition they’ve had to face. And this makes the arguments of columnists like Dionne – whose March 18 article was little more than a mixture of emotion and disinformation – all the more baseless.”
“Blaming the bishops is a cheap and useful way to divert attention from one’s own embarrassing partisanship,” he charged.
Archbishop Chaput concluded his remarks on Friday by saying that “If the defective Senate version of health-care reform pushed by congressional leaders passes into law – against the will of the American people and burdened by serious moral problems in its content – we’ll have 'Catholic' voices partly to thank for it. And to hold responsible.”