Washington D.C., Mar 20, 2010 / 05:58 am
The Catholic bishops’ conference has better policy expertise on the health care bill than any other Catholic organization, Richard Doerflinger has said. He warned about “reassuring” claims that prevent “honest and candid debate” on abortion provisions that Congressmen have a moral responsibility to change.
Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that the present Senate version of health care reform frees up “billions” of dollars for abortion. It also creates a “stunning” problem by forcing health plans that cover abortions to collect a separate monthly payment from enrollees to pay for others’ abortions.
“This actually bans conscientious exemptions. It makes the situation worse than it is now,” he continued.
His remarks came at a Friday press conference with several pro-life leaders. Multiple questions centered upon Catholic groups which support the legislation despite the well-known opposition of the USCCB.
CNA asked him about a letter endorsing the Senate bill which was wrongly reported to represent 59,000 religious sisters.
Doerflinger said many of the signatories, organized by the group NETWORK, were religious superiors who later clarified they didn’t necessarily speak for all the sisters in their orders.
“59,000 is the total number of nuns in the US. There’s already another major organization, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which represents many orders, that has put out a statement defending what the bishops are doing on this bill.”
In long run, he continued, Catholics have to have “a lot of discussions in the Church about how to stand together on these things, rather than trying to neutralize each other. Especially when one organization in particular has the role of speaking for the moral voice of the Church in these matters.”