.- In a statement on Wednesday, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) spoke out against a statement from a group of religious sisters in support of the Senate health care bill that made headlines yesterday. CMSWR underscored that endorsement of the bill is “directly” opposed to the U.S. bishop's stance on health care reform.
NETWORK claimed in a March 17 letter to the House of Representatives that it represents 59,000 women religious across the U.S. and urged members of Congress to “cast a life affirming 'yes' vote” for the Senate health care bill.
“The health care bill that has been passed by the Senate and that will be voted on by the House will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans,” the NETWORK letter states. “While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial next step in realizing health care for all.”
The sister's letter continues to say that “despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions.” The letter also claims that the Senate bill “will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.”
In response to these claims, Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan of the CMSWR noted, “In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States Bishops in opposition to the Senate’s version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection.”
“Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Church’s position on critical issues of health care reform,” Mother Mary Quentin asserted.
Citing her support of the bishops stance on health care reform, Mother Mary Quentin stated that “The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the second conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, believes the Bishops’ position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Mother Sheridan concluded her remarks by underscoring that the “Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.”
The CMSWR represents over 103 women religious communities and 10,000 members across the U.S. Though Network claimed to represent 59,000 women religious in their letter, there are in fact only 59,000 total women religious in the U.S, according to CARA.