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ObamaCare and Catholic social teaching
The American Thinker ^ | 9/6/2009 | Mark Wauk

Posted on 09/06/2009 5:13:50 AM PDT by IbJensen

he 9/2/09 issue of the Wall Street Journal, in its Notable and Quotable feature, calls attention to an important article that Roman Catholic Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, published in his diocesan newspaper on the subject of health care and health care reform. The article is important for two reasons: first, because there has been and continues to be a certain amount of confusion regarding Catholic social teaching as it affects health care; second, because Bishop Nickless goes to great lengths to base his discussion on principles, and not merely on tactical considerations.

Bishop Nickless begins by noting the importance of the ongoing debate over proposed reforms of our health care system:

"There is much at stake in this political struggle, and also much confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around. My brother bishops have described some clear "goal-posts" to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected. First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research."

After further noting particular concerncs for Catholic hospitals and health care professionals -- the possibility that the Government would attempt to force them to act in violation of Catholic teaching as well as in violation of their consciences--Bishop Nickless concludes:

"A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have."

However, Bishop Nickless doesn't stop here. He goes on to enunciate several additional considerations of great importance. The bishop's second point gets to the heart of the role that government should play in health care:

"Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that "health care" as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The "natural right" of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under "prudential judgment."

In other words, provision of health care must ultimately rest on prudential considerations that affect an entire society. Broad assertions of generalized "rights" without reference to underlying prudential considerations are not helpful. The relevant considerations include need, but also cost. Another important prudential consideration, however, is this: who should be the main provider of health care, government or the private sector? Bishop Nickless insists that health care provision is not only not a central concern of government as such, it is also likely to introduce harmful economic and policy distortions:

"Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good - it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible - health care should not be subject to federal monopolization. Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined "best procedures," which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect."

Clearly, there is much that could be said on this score. Nevertheless, Bishop Nickless' reflections are an excellent starting point for any constructive discussion of these important issues. Bishop Nickless places his own considerations in the context of demographic considerations:

"The best way in practice to approach this balance of public and private roles is to spread the risks and costs of health care over the largest number of people. This is the principle underlying Medicaid and Medicare taxes, for example. But this principle assumes that the pool of taxable workers is sufficiently large, compared to those who draw the benefits, to be reasonably inexpensive and just. ... Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems. In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable."

I, personally, would suggest that further consideration needs to be given to the entire notion of taxation to redistribute costs. Obviously, this occurs in many areas of our politics: national defense, public works, etc. Just as obviously, when joined to false notions of "natural rights," and a failure to consider the human dignity that and emphasis on individual responsibility fosters, the redistributive use of taxation has led to many controversial and even "unjust" abuses of the government power to tax (my quotes refer to Bishop Nickless' words, above). The power to tax is, after all, the power to destroy, and that destruction can have not only economic consequences but moral consequences as well. Bishop Nickless appears to assume that Medicaid and Medicare were, initially in any event, established on a sound principle. Without getting into the the particulars, which are far beyond my expertise, I think that is an area that would needs to be closely reexamined before moving on to adoption of any new reforms.

That Bishop Nickless is open to such discussions, and that the considerations involved are central to Catholic social teaching, becomes apparent from the bishop's final point. That point addresses the whole issue of preventive care which, as several recent studies have shown, can actually greatly increase health care costs. Bishop Nickless places the primary responsibility squarely on the individual:

"Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free - good diet, moderate exercise, and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise, and therefore cost; and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible."

The caveat "as far as possible" is a strong indication that Bishop Nickless, in the context of Catholic social teaching, does indeed recognize that cost is an important part of the entire health care equation. No society can morally devote an endlessly increasingly portion of its resources to a poorly structured health care system, while ignoring the long term financial health of its future generations.

Having enunciated these four principles and their related goals, Bishop Nickless asks the all-important question: "Will the current health care reform proposals achieve these goals?" His answer is a firm: No. Not only would all current House and Senate proposals introduce government subsidized abortion (and likely several other morally objectionable features), but these proposals would strike at the heart of private sector health care provision. The House proposal

"provides a "public insurance option" without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements."

And the Senate proposal would also "impinge on the vitality of the private sector" through various provisions.

Bishop Nickless' resounding conclusion:

"I encourage all of you to make you voice heard to our representatives in Congress. Tell them what they need to hear from us: no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform. Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion health care proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn. And above all, pray for them, and for our country.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: catholic; healthcare; nickless; socialteaching
...no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform.

No government meddling in health care and no government involved in education!

1 posted on 09/06/2009 5:13:50 AM PDT by IbJensen
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To: IbJensen

It is not a Christian ethic to compel people to give money to any cause by threat of force.

In 2nd Corinthians 9:7, the Apostle Paul says, “Every man as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

Paul must’ve forgotten the part where the collectivist state has to force people to give by threat of violence and then take 90% for itself to defray “Administrative Costs”.

While a genuine Christian will feel compassion and gladly give when he sees a need that he can meet, only a THIEF and a CHARLATAN would want to extort people by force or by guilt-tripping them and threatening them.


2 posted on 09/06/2009 5:18:22 AM PDT by Westbrook (Having more children does not divide your love, it multiplies it.)
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To: IbJensen

Thank you for this very informative post. The good bishop has offered a much-needed response and set of principles which will be a big help to me in explaining my objections to universal health care.

I’m indebted to him for this.

Before I read this, I knew that the proposed health care reform was way off the mark, but I didn’t know exactly how to explain it effectively. Now I do.


3 posted on 09/06/2009 5:25:36 AM PDT by Running On Empty ((The three sorriest words:"It's too late"))
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To: Running On Empty; IbJensen

Bishop Nickless has done what is probably the best of the explanation by a bishop of why the idea of government health care doesn’t reflect Catholic social teaching, why it’s dangerous, etc. Others have also stated this, with some of them referring to the fact that it also violates the important Catholic political principle of subsidiarity (that is, things should be handled by the lowest, most immediate entity, and not dictated from the top by a giant authority).

The somewhat dishonest Cdl O’Malley did a great disservice when, in addition to the scandal of his presiding of the Kennedy funeral fest, he said he had told Obama something to the effect that all the bishops support universal [government] health care. This is not true by any means, and I’m glad that word is getting out.


4 posted on 09/06/2009 5:46:01 AM PDT by livius
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To: IbJensen

Good find.


5 posted on 09/06/2009 5:46:39 AM PDT by Eagles6 ( Typical White Guy: Christian, Constitutionalist, Heterosexual, Redneck. (Let them eat arugula!))
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To: IbJensen

From the heartland of our country comes the voice of reason! Sioux City is very blessed to have such a man as Bishop Nickless. May he influence other men and women of faith, Catholic or Protestant, and Jewish, too, to speak out against the current health care reform bill.

It’s not reform if it includes abortion and forces medical personnel to conduct abortion against their religious principles, or encourages ill patients to seek termination of life, or taxes the middle class beyond capability, or delves into privacy via access to personal finances...etc.

As the Bishop says at the end, pray for our country!


6 posted on 09/06/2009 5:48:09 AM PDT by sassy steel magnolia (USAF life and Navy wife...God Bless the USA!)
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To: IbJensen
Thank you Bishop Nickless...many in my Catholic Parish take a socialistic view of this debate, but his clearly offers those of us some moral arguments against government health care.
7 posted on 09/06/2009 5:55:20 AM PDT by mr_hammer (Gold is the money of kings, silver is the money of gentlemen, debt is the money of slavery)
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To: IbJensen

I hate the term “Social Justice”, as it is almost always misapplied. It is wonderful to practice Mercy, but Mercy is not Justice.

A person who is poor in the United States more often than not has made some really bad decisions. To state that they are a victim of injustice, which is the absolute implication of the term “social jutsice” is to turn the world on its head.

People have a right to demand justice. Indeed, they have the natural right to fight for justice. They do not however have the right to demand Mercy.


8 posted on 09/06/2009 5:56:34 AM PDT by SampleMan (Socialism enslaves you & kills your soul.)
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To: IbJensen

bump


9 posted on 09/06/2009 6:00:07 AM PDT by Tribune7 (I am Jim Thompson!)
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To: IbJensen
Voice Your Concerns Over Healthcare Reform

The current national debate about health care reform should concern all of us. There is much at stake in this political struggle, and also much confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around. My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected. First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research.

We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have.

Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under “prudential judgment.”

Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good – it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible – health care should not be subject to federal monopolization. Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined “best procedures,” which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect. Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected, because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor.

The best way in practice to approach this balance of public and private roles is to spread the risks and costs of health care over the largest number of people. This is the principle underlying Medicaid and Medicare taxes, for example. But this principle assumes that the pool of taxable workers is sufficiently large, compared to those who draw the benefits, to be reasonably inexpensive and just. This assumption is at root a pro-life assumption! Indeed, we were a culture of life when such programs began. Only if we again foster a culture of life can we perpetuate the economic justice of taxing workers to pay health care for the poor. Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems. In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable.

Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free – good diet, moderate exercise, and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise, and therefore cost; and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible.

Within these limits, the Church has been advocating for decades that health care be made more accessible to all, especially to the poor. Will the current health care reform proposals achieve these goals?

The current House reform bill, HR 3200, does not meet the first or the fourth standard. As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted. It also provides a “public insurance option” without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements. The Senate bill, HELP, is better than the House bill, as I understand it. It subsidizes care for the poor, rather than tending to monopolize care. But, it designates the limit of four times federal poverty level for the public insurance option, which still includes more than half of all workers. This would impinge on the vitality of the private sector. It also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage.

I encourage all of you to make you voice heard to our representatives in Congress. Tell them what they need to hear from us: no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform. Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion health care proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn. And above all, pray for them, and for our country. (Please see the website for the Iowa Catholic Conference at www.iowacatholicconference.org and www.usccb.org/healthcare for more information)

Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

10 posted on 09/06/2009 7:19:44 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: All

I feel that nationalized health care like communism cannot
be administered in a godly fashion by govt. No govt. can afford the
personal decisions that bankrupt a family in choice of an
all out assault on beating death. These are personal decisions and when the govt. makes them, and would frequently make them in the name of cost cutting, they are playing God. Certainly given the cultural and political movement towards things like euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell exploitation, cloning and abortion, government
sponsored health care is a non-starter.


11 posted on 09/06/2009 8:31:54 AM PDT by Beeline
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To: IbJensen

for reading later


12 posted on 09/06/2009 2:50:19 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("It's no exaggeration to say that the undecideds could go one way or the other." George Bush)
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To: socialismisinsidious


Socialized Medicine aka Universal Health Care daily digest PING LIST

FReepmail me if you want to be added to or removed from this daily digest ping list.




13 posted on 09/06/2009 4:26:30 PM PDT by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
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To: NYer

ping


14 posted on 09/06/2009 4:37:09 PM PDT by aposiopetic
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


15 posted on 09/06/2009 4:42:50 PM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer; IbJensen
It is not part of the Gospel or a revealed doctrine that the secular state
should control the medical system and health care.
Or that cold, arrogant, impersonal dorks should run it.
16 posted on 09/06/2009 4:52:46 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: IbJensen
Bingo.

I was struggling with this question here a week or so ago -- how to deal with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity in the context of health care.

Three cheers for this bishop, who has hit the nail right on the head.

Also, last week Abp. Naumann & Bishop Finn of KC issued a similar statement in the KC/St. Joseph diocesan newsletter. You can read it here. It was SO good, I forwarded it to my archbishop. I hope to goodness he actually READS it.

17 posted on 09/06/2009 5:25:30 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: IbJensen

ping


18 posted on 09/06/2009 5:37:48 PM PDT by Juana la Loca
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To: IbJensen
More bishops are standing up AGAINST the Obamacare bill.

Some Catholic bishops question gov't health care
Boston’s Roman Catholic Cardinal Says He Confronted Obama about Abortion in Health Care Plan....

Iowa Bishop: Don’t Be Railroaded into the Current...Health Care Proposals
in a message issued by the Diocese of Sioux City (The Church on Universal Healthcare)
Nazi Health Care A Catholic Bishop Speaks Out Against "End of Life Care" (Germany, 1941)
Bishop Nickless: "No Health Care Reform is Better than the Wrong Health Care Reform"
Cardinal Rigali, Abp. Chaput Intensify Warnings Against Obamacare's Abortion Expansion

19 posted on 09/06/2009 6:06:46 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: IbJensen

Catholics are the sharpshooters in the battle of ideas. Especially within the church, which has been infected with with some bad ideas.


20 posted on 09/07/2009 7:17:40 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand (hang the Czars.)
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To: socialismisinsidious

You only pinged yourself:-)


21 posted on 09/08/2009 1:31:23 PM PDT by La Enchiladita (My faith consoles me. St Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus, pray for us.)
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