Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver
March 14, 2010
Catholics, Health Care and the Senate's bad bill
The following column is scheduled to be published in the March 17, 2010
issue of the Denver Catholic Register.
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. It does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the
Catholic bishops of our country. Nor does the American public want it.
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.
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. By their public actions,
they 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
As we enter a critical week in the national health-care debate,
Catholics across northern Colorado need to remember a few simple facts.
First, the Catholic bishops of the United States have pressed for real
national health-care reform in this country for more than half a
century. They began long before either political party or the public
media found it convenient. That commitment hasn’t changed. Nor will it.
Second, the bishops have tried earnestly for more than seven months to
work with elected officials to craft reform that would serve all
Americans in a manner respecting minimum moral standards. 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. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and a
number of his Democratic colleagues have shown extraordinary 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.” Many Republicans share the
goal of decent health-care reform, even if their solutions would differ
dramatically. To put it another way, 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.
The long, unpleasant and too often dishonest national health-care debate
is now in its last days. Its most painful feature 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.
Do not be misled. The Senate version of health-care reform currently
being pushed ahead by congressional leaders and the White House
despite public resistance and numerous moral concerns
is bad law; and not simply bad, but dangerous. It does not deserve, nor
does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops in our country, who
speak for the believing Catholic community. In its current content, the
Senate version of health-care legislation is not “reform.” Catholics and
other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human
dignity should oppose it.
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