Skip to comments.Schizophrenic Health Care Policy [the right hand of the USCCB works cross purposes to its left hand]
Posted on 11/04/2009 11:50:07 AM PST by Alex Murphy
On the one hand, there is the very welcome bulletin insert disseminated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in October that reads, in part, 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. [10-23-09]
The bulletin insert goes on to refer to a U.S. bishops letter of October 8, 2009. Its a great letter and states again, in part: 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.
It then encourages Catholics to support the Stupak Amendment incorporating longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights by writing their legislators and concluding that, If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.
On the other hand, until the USCCB website was recently scrubbed, it openly praised PICO as helping to lead the struggle for universal health care reform a struggle that intimately effects Catholics who are in PICO affiliate community organizations, Catholics who give money to the annual Catholic collection, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), and Catholics who participate in various Catholic education programs to teach social justice activism which are usually highly secularized and supportive of participation in Alinskyian community organizing like PICO.
Given this level of support for organizations like PICO, its hard to understand why the USCCB website would be scrubbed or almost scrubbed. Though it no longer features PICO as the model for universal health care reform activism, one can still read on the USCCB website that PICOs founder and executive director, Father John Baumann, SJ, received a CCHD award this year in part for PICOs success at obtaining regional, then state funding for health care for poor families along with raising awareness and leveraging federal funding for health care.
Another spot on the USCCB website, an action alert from June 2, 2009 titled Help Health Care Reform, tells Catholics to Partner with a local group funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that is working on health care reform. Some PICO-affiliated groups and others will be organizing Faith and Health Care Sundays throughout June 2009.
Of course, theres no mention that PICOs work for health care reform comes with a price tag in the form of innocent blood, shed. PICO has been notoriously unconcerned that the health care reform it has promoted over the past decade includes abortion and abortifacient family planning components. Further, PICO networks with pro-abortion entities to push health care reform sans life-protective amendments. But, if the USCCB is going to recommend Catholic parishes join PICO anyway and if the CCHD is going to continue to fund PICO affiliates, why suddenly clean up websites references to PICOs work with the USCCB?
Heres another curious bit: one Catholic PICO parish published an October 2, 2009 statement, allegedly prepared by PICOs national office, concerning its work with the USCCB. During 2008-09 the PICO network has worked closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and with dioceses and parishes across the nation to make health care more affordable for American families, with a special focus on the poor, the statement reads. PICO and USCCB collaborated to define a position that would address access for all; and the USCCB and PICO have worked together to press Congress to protect the poor in health reform, including issuing a joint statement with other religious denominations on this issue on July 6, 2009 . The USCCB has invited PICO staff and clergy to brief Bishops on our health care efforts and has encouraged dioceses and parishes to work with PICO affiliates to hold educational sessions on health care. [Parish bulletin, Church of the Most Holy Trinity, October 18, 2009; Church of the Most Holy Trinity RC is a member of PICOs San Diego Organizing Project.]
Now mind you, this joint statement between the USCCB and other denominations isnt readily accessible from the Internet nor are there other documents describing it. However, the Most Holy Trinity bulletin is obviously quoting extensively from something.
I dont fault the USCCB with distancing itself from PICO quite the contrary if thats really what its doing but one does want the distance to be sufficient. End the funding. Stop educating people in the Machiavellian political ideas of Alinskyian organizing. Pull Catholic parishes from fellowship with pro-abortion congregations in ecumenical activism. Embrace authentic social teachings. Now, that would be a sufficient distance.
I hate poorly written articles. Who or what is PICO?
From the USCCB website:
Father Baumann is founder and past Executive Director of People Improving Communities through Organizing (formerly the Pacific Institute of Community Organizing) or PICO, a network of community organizations in low-income neighborhoods. Drawing on his deep commitment to Catholic social teaching, he founded PICO in 1972 as a training institute to help neighborhood organizations empower low-income people in Oakland, Calif.
With the creation of PICO, Father Baumann developed a successful new congregation-community model of organizing that invited Catholic parishioners and other people of faith to work as partners with the poor to address public safety, housing rehabilitation, educational innovation and reform, health insurance for the working poor, employment, and public improvements. In his 37 years with PICO, Father Baumann has been at the heart of a network of more than 1,000 member institutions in 150 cities and towns in 17 states. From his vision and leadership, the PICO network now has begun to grow in Central America and Africa as well.
The success of PICO to obtain regional, then state funding for health care for poor families played an important role in raising awareness and leveraging federal funding for health care for children in low-income families. As PICO's new Director of Special Projects, Father Baumann will continue to work with Catholic clergy and focus on international organizing.
Allow me to clarify what is becoming an extremely muddled situation concerning the Health Care Scam Bill. The only specific part of HR 3962 that the USCCB (Bishops' Conference) ever endorsed was the Stupak Amendment, banning federal funding of abortion.
Otherwise, as USCCB President Cardinal Francis George noted, "[W]e bishops do not claim or present ourselves as experts on health care policy. We are not prepared to assess every provision of legislation as complex as this proposal. However, health care legislation, with all its political, technical and economic aspects, is about human beings and hence has serious moral dimensions."
In other words, the Church has authority to speak out on moral matters (don't kill babies) but not on "prudential" matters (what is the best way to help the sick and needy?)
Though some Catholic spokespeople have obfuscated this point, the USCCB has not endorsed HR 3962.
Moreover, some 50 bishops at this point have come out criticizing the Bill as violating "subsidiarity": the principle that things should be done at the lowest and most local first, not at the level of big government.
I dont blame you, any of you, for not knowing this. The level of communication has been abysmal; there is apparently a Battle Royal going on within the bishops' conference about the statements coming out of the USCCB office --- USCCB delenda est----and the bishops (e.g.Nienstedt of MN) who directly oppose the whole Obama-Pelosi Bill have gotten practically zero publicity.