If President Obama and the Congressional leadership truly wanted health care reform, they would maintain the 33 year precedent of not forcing those who do not agree with abortion to pay for it with their tax dollars. If they respected the consciences of individuals and truly sought common ground, health care would now be law. But they see an opportunity–perhaps their only one–to expand and solidify into law what they perceive to be an absolute right, abortion. The following article is an excellent analysis:
Throwing the Bathwater Out With the Baby?
by Pat Archbold
In all the discussion about whip counts it is easy to lose sight of what really counts and what the health care debate is really all about. It should come as little surprise that this is all about abortion, or more specifically about the federal funding of abortion.
However, conversely to what the media would have you believe, it is not primarily about Bart Stupak and a handful of pro-life Democrats holding up health-care reform. Rather, it is about the leadership of the Democrat party’s willingness to sacrifice their electoral livelihoods and/or health-care “reform” in order to make sure abortion is covered.
The real truth is that if health-care reform were the true overriding objective of President Obama and the Democrat leadership in Congress, then they could have passed this bill months ago. Instead, Democrats in the Senate refused to compromise on keeping the status quo—an over three decade prohibition on federal funds for abortion. If they had crafted language similar to the Stupak amendment in the House, which merely reflects the status quo, Obamacare would now be the law of the land.
They refused. Now again in the House, Nancy Pelosi has struggled for months to find votes for the bill. Even now, the Democrat leadership would rather risk their careers and blatantly violate the Constitution rather than give in on abortion and the Stupak language. This gives proof to the lie that Obamacare does not change current law on abortion and makes inexplicable the willingness of some Catholics to blindly accept this falsehood.
This bill is all about funding abortion. The Democrats understand that this may be the one chance in the next decade to get this done and they will not sacrifice it. They will sacrifice the Constitution and their own jobs, but not federally funded abortion.
I am not the only one who thinks so. Bart Stupak appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show last night and stated that the Democrats know this is their opportunity. The Democrats have made clear they intend to throw out the baby, the only question is whether they are willing to throw out the bathwater to do it. It seems the answer is yes.
The following column by the Archbishop of Denver succinctly articulates–from a Catholic perspective–the deficiencies of the health care legislation as it stands today:
The following column is scheduled to be published in the March 17, 2010 issue of the Denver Catholic Register.
Catholics, Health Care and the Senate’s bad bill
Now that the dust has seemingly settled over the public debate between Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Bishop Thomas Tobin, several things have become quite clear.
- The cause and nature of the initial debate got lost in a sea of peripheral issues and spin.
- Congressman Kennedy irresponsibly throws bombs, distorts facts and retreats.
- Bishop Tobin is very articulate and goes where most bishops fear to tread.
- US bishops have failed to send a clear, consistent message to the faithful.
- The Church is reaping the fruits of forty years of catechesis devoid of substance.
1. Rep. Kennedy put the ball in motion when he chided the bishops’ “so-called” pro-life position for their insistence on health care reform without public funded abortion or an abortion mandate. The debate evolved when the congressman stated he was no less a Catholic for his pro-choice position or disagreement with the hierarchy. Bishop Tobin was compelled as a faithful pastor to stave off scandal by correcting this erroneous claim. This issue had nothing to do with the separation of Church and State or punishing a politician on his vote on a particular piece of legislation, but everything to do with who defines authentic Catholicism. Roman Catholic Identity.
2. Congressman Kennedy fanned the flames, escalated and perpetuated this controversy. Let’s see…from his incendiary remarks which prompted this public debate, his erroneous claim to authentic Catholicism despite his contradictory convictions, his accusation that Bishop Tobin betrayed confidences, his ‘private’ meeting with the bishop at a busy ‘public’ restaurant at Noon, his interview indicating he would no longer discuss his private faith in a public forum, to his public disclosure of a two and a half year old letter from the bishop requesting him to refrain from presenting himself for reception of Holy Communion–all prompted Bishop Tobin to respond. Where is he now? It is evident that Rep. Kennedy’s handlers failed him on this latest controversy.
3. On the few occasions I have heard Bishop Tobin speak I have been very impressed and I would even say “inspired”. “Now THAT was a bishop.” The sad fact is that the majority of bishops would have let Congressman Kennedy’s remarks slide without any comment, or perhaps no public comment. Bishop Tobin said he felt an obligation to address the public statements and misinformation for the sake of Kennedy himself, and to prevent others from being led astray. Bishop Tobin’s press releases, public statements, radio interviews, Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly appearances all demonstrated his intelligence, poise (even during Matthews’ disrespectful, condescending, lecturing filibuster) and measured approach in articulating the Church’s teachings. There is a small list of the ‘usual suspects’–bishops who respond publicly (Abps. Burke, Dolan, Chaput, Nienstedt) . It was encouraging to see Bishop Tobin join the ranks of bishops not afraid to defend the Faith and use such public scandal as a moment of instruction.
4. Reaction to Bishop Tobin’s response ran the gamut from those who thought he never should have interfered or went too far, to those who shook fists in the air demanding he excommunicate the congressman. There is no episcopal handbook on how to deal with such issues, therefore it is up to the discretion and devices of each individual bishop who has the authority over his diocese. Confusion arises when there are different responses or even public infighting seen among the bishops on how to handle such issues. There are numerous recent public scandals to cite as examples: President Obama at Notre Dame, Nancy Pelosi on Meet the Press, Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral, and now Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s scuffle with Bishop Tobin. Is a Catholic politician’s public voting record on abortion cause for public scandal? Remember that scandal is defined as “conduct causing or encouraging a lapse of Faith or religious obedience in another”. Public scandal requires a public correction and a public repentance. The inability of US bishops to reach a consensus on dealing with public scandal is divisive and the inconsistency or lack of response can itself become scandalous.
5. Why do people have the erroneous impression that they can be proponents of abortion and still remain faithful, devout Catholics? Or how is it possible that people don’t see a fundamental flaw in their reasoning when they espouse the “I’m personally against abortion but would not impose my belief on another” argument? Why is the belief so widespread that it is acceptable to compartmentalize one’s religious beliefs from public conduct, or hold Faith as not only personal but also private. And why is that not seen as contrary to the very heart of Catholicism? Why do people mistakenly cite their consciences to justify dissent from central teachings of the Church, and just about everything for that matter? Why wouldn’t faithful Catholics approach personal disagreements with Church teachings from a disposition of humility and a fundamental assumption that “if I find myself at odds with the Church, I must not have a clear understanding of what the Church is teaching”? There is genius and centuries of wisdom in the Church. As Abp. Fulton Sheen once said, “There are only about 100 people that truly hate the Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Church is”. The answer to all these questions is simple: lack of education (catechesis). Where is the substance in catechetical education for children and young adults? Where is the adult education? Where is the continuing formation for the clergy? Where is the reinforcement from the pulpit?
So, thank you Congressman Kennedy for unwittingly bringing much needed discussions to a national audience. Thank you Bishop Tobin for having the courage and taking this opportunity to instruct the faithful and challenge the unfaithful. Public scandal requires a public response, lest complacent inaction creates scandal itself.
- Unintended pregnancies account for almost half of all pregnancies.
- Four out of ten unintended pregnancies end in abortion.
- Out of the total number of pregnancies (intended and unintended), 24% are terminated by abortion.
- For women ages 15-44, two out of every hundred have an abortion. Of these, 48% have had one or more abortions previously.
- For women choosing abortion, 52% are under 25. Teenagers account for 19%, and women 20-24 account for 33%.
- As compared to white women, black women are almost four times as likely to have an abortion. For Latino women, the number is 2.5 times.
- Women who have never been married account for 2/3 of all abortions.
- The majority of women choosing abortion are already mothers who have had one or more children. They make up over 60% of all abortions.
- Women who have never used any method of birth control account for 8% of all abortions.
- For women having abortions, 43% describe themselves as Protestant and 27% identify as Catholic.
Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States. Guttmacher Institute May 2006
The Left opposes the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion provisions in healthcare reform. So why doesn’t it oppose the YWCA, United Methodist Church, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis for favoring abortion?
Original post by William Donohue
Getting Nancy Pelosi to accept a health care bill that bans federal funds for abortion was the greatest victory scored by U.S. bishops in a generation. It also unleashed an unprecedented attempt to censor them. Their latest enemy is Geoffrey Stone writing in the Huffington Post.
Stone finds it troubling that the bishops are so vocal. He yearns for a time when JFK was president, a time when separation of church and state met his approval. Perhaps the Chicago law professor forgot about Rev. Martin Luther King, the minister who took to the pulpit and lobbied for civil rights in the name of free speech and religious liberty. Should King have been muzzled as well? Or just today’s bishops?
As the following list discloses, Stone is hardly alone in trying to censor the bishops: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Frances Kissling, Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority, Catholics for Choice, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Organization for Women, and many others favor a gag rule. On Nov. 12, Nancy Snyderman of MSNBC spoke for many when she said that “This is going to be a Pollyannaish statement. The Catholic bishops appearing and having a political voice seems to be a most fundamental violation of church and state.” Brilliant.
The following is a partial list of religious groups that want abortion coverage in the health care bill: Rabbinical Assembly, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Episcopal Church, Society for Humanistic Judaism, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, North American Federation of Temple Youth, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Presbyterian Church (USA), Women of Reform Judaism, Society for Humanistic Judaism, Church of the Brethren Women’s Caucus, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Lutheran Women’s Caucus, Christian Lesbians Out, YWCA.
So why don’t Stone and company want to gag these groups as well? Let’s face it: they don’t have a principled bone in their collective bodies.
This letter to the editor of the Providence Journal was submitted by a Rhode Island Pastor and was not printed. It gets press here:
To the editor,
It is easy for a Congressman to make bravura statements. It is much more challenging for a Congressman to make principled statements that not only attend to immediate issues but also reveal a deeper understanding of the true issues that confront our country.
Unfortunately Congressman Kennedy chooses the bravura in making critical statements about the Catholic Church. In doing so he completely overlooks the Catholic Church’s rich tradition of both respecting and championing the rights of all individuals …. from conception until natural death. Few organizations can rival the Catholic Church’s dedication and support for the health needs of all members of our society. And because of the Church’s dedication to the rights of all, it cannot support assistance to a part of society while compromising and overlooking the rights of another group.
Bishop Tobin is quite correct. The Congressman owes us an apology. It is no mark of achievement that one can champion the health needs of some members of our society when the life-needs of the unborn are trivialized.
Congressman Kennedy should know better. After all, he is a Catholic.
Rev. Ronald E. Brassard
Immaculate Conception Church
File this in the “I can’t believe my eyes” category. It is encouraging to see a bishop lead and not mince words. From the Rhode Island Catholic:
Dear Congressman Kennedy
BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN
Dear Congressman Kennedy:
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” (Congressman Patrick Kennedy)
Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don’t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn’t do that – that is speak about someone’s faith in a public setting – but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue. I also share these words publicly with the thought that they might be instructive to other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.
For the moment I’d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.
For example, the “Code of Canon Law” says, “Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine.” (Canon 229, #1)
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says this: “Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles, ‘He who hears you, hears me,’ the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.” (#87)
Or consider this statement of the Church: “It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002)
There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”
But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?
Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.
Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?
In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?
Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.
Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.
Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so.
Thomas J. Tobin
Bishop of Providence
It has been reported that the meeting between Bishop Tobin and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, which was scheduled to take place this Thursday, has been ‘mutually’ postponed. No rescheduling has been announced, though Bishop Tobin has published a public letter in response to Rep. Kennedy’s October 29 letter.
“If someone is clearly and consistently and obstinately opposed to the church on something as serious as abortion — which again is a grave and intrinsic evil — then they really have to question their membership in the church and their participation in the life of the church.” So says Bishop Tobin directed at Lawmakers. Bam!…there it is!
In an interview two weeks ago Rep. Kennedy attacked the church’s opposition to current health care legislation and accused the bishops of ‘fanning flames of dissent and discord’: “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time…You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life. If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are [sic] going to keep people alive.”
Bishop Tobin responded: “Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.”Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”
After Bishop Tobin extended an invitation to meet and discuss the “Catholic Church’s longtime support of comprehensive health care legislation and measures that protect and defend life”, Rep. Kennedy responded in a letter, falling short of an apology: “[my remarks] were never intended to slight the church…“that the church has always stood for health-care reform.”
Kennedy said he hopes that “our Church will be true to its millennia-old mission of feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and caring for those less fortunate than ourselves. My Catholic faith is based on these foundation principles.” But his disagreement with “the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” “We all have our own morals and religious views, but in the end women have to have their health protected. Back alley abortions and so forth will happen if there isn’t a safe, legal means to have that medical procedure.”
And the hits keep coming. It seems Congressman Patrick Kennedy is feverishly digging himself a deeper hole as he spars with Bishop Tobin of Providence. They plan to meet at 12:30 on November 12th at a yet to be disclosed location.
btw: Chirothecœ = episcopal gloves
Comment: “I’m against abortion, but I still think it’s something that must be decided between a doctor and patient. You never know if because some poor women couldn’t afford an abortion her and the baby died. I think the focus should be and should’ve always been the forming of conscience, not the forcing. Even if it is an objective evil I believe the antidotes we create, most of the time is worse than the poison.”
Response: “True we need to form consciences – in the dignity of the human person from the moment of conception until natural death. Consciences need to be formed so as to understand that human life is a gift from God and that any doctor or woman has no right to destroy the life of another human being. There is no “forcing”. Abortion destroys and is one of the greatest injustices we have seen in our own day – any law which allows it to take place (or forces others to pay for it in the case of the proposed Health Care bill) is unjust. Laws must protect the baby and help the mother.
Unfortunately the law of the land becomes the morality of the “little” ones, those who are unable to make the right decisions by not having help from the right people or any religion/faith. We might think this to not be significant, but it is HUGE when we consider the number of people who have no direction for their lives in regard to such a monumental decision (like destroying the life of your own child!) – the law becomes their morality.
At the very foundation of all laws there must be the dignity of the human person – without which there is no justice. Many people have been duped into such thinking that it all comes down to a personal choice. How about the choice of the child?
I believe one way to resolve such poor reasoning is to have an “all out” effort to help women to understand the love and the mercy of Jesus in their lives after an abortion. The more this is made known to post-abortive women (and men), the more the Good News of Christ will spread and the truth of abortion (and faulty thinking) will be made known.”
1. I have difficulty understanding the argument “I’m personally against, but support your right to decide for yourself”, unless the debate is for vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Take the following statement: “I am personally opposed to sticking a needle in my wife’s eye, but I respect your right to make that decision for yourself”. Hopefully we are in agreement that this is absurd.
2. Any law that omits an entire class (unborn in this instance), even if the intention and foreseen outcome produces a good, is an unjust law. How can you be against health care? This is the Patrick Kennedy argument. Suppose such legislation provided the finest of comprehensive care for all…except African Americans. The vast majority of Americans would be covered and the law would accomplish a tremendous good. How could you not be in favor of health care reform? Quite easily. How are the examples different? They are not. Such a law is unjust and cannot be supported.
I cannot recall an historic precedent for this. The USCCB launched a sudden campaign to rally all Catholics to contact their representatives in an effort to prevent the passage of present health care legislation which funds abortion. (The vote in the House may occur this Wednesday or Thursday.) The campaign provided pulpit “talking points” and a bulletin insert. Unfortunately, by the results of some polling in the blogosphere, word didn’t get out to the country’s 19,000 parishes. The vast majority neither made any mention of the issue nor provided the bulletin insert.
The US Council of Catholic Bishops has issued a nationwide bulletin insert asking all faithful to demand their government representatives remove abortion funding and mandates from health care reform legislation. The USCCB website on health care has valuable information on the Catholic perspective on proposed legislation. Sure to draw fire from critics and debate regarding the Church’s role in the public square, here is the text:
Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding & Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform
Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation on the House and Senate floors. Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. The U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committee approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor. The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them.
Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come. None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care.
As the U.S. bishops’ letter of October 8 states:
“No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test…. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”
For the full text of this letter and more information on proposed legislation and the bishops’ advocacy for authentic health care reform, visit: www.usccb.org/healthcare.
Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration. Please contact your Representative and Senators today and urge them to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments noted below. Otherwise much needed health care reform will have to be opposed. Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them.
ACTION: Contact Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.
- To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.
- Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
- Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.
MESSAGE to SENATE:
“During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to
incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”
MESSAGE to HOUSE:
“Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”
WHEN: Both House and Senate are preparing for floor votes now. Act today! Thank you!