Skip to comments.THE (Catholic) BISHOPS AND OBAMACARE
Posted on 12/03/2013 3:17:43 PM PST by NYer
This past weekend, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New Yorkwho recently finished his term as President of the USCCBwent on NBCs Meet the Press where he discussed, among other things, the Catholic bishops complicated relationship with the Affordable Care Act. His Eminence was very supportive of the laws goals, pointing out that the Catholic bishops have supported health care reform since 1919. So he laments that the bishops’ initial excitement at the prospect of comprehensive health care reform was ultimately frustrated by the administrations intransigence over abortion funding and the exclusion of immigrants. Then came the concerns over conscience protections:
So that’s when we began to worry and draw back and say, “Mr. President, please, you’re really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we’re not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders.” And that sadly is what happened.
In the end, it was with reluctance, perhaps great reluctance, that the bishops opposed the bill.
As the widening gulf between Obamacare as it was sold to the American people and the laws real world consequences becomes more apparent, Catholics who were, shall we say, less than reluctant in their opposition to Obamacare might be asking themselves, If the bishops concerns over abortion and conscience protections had been addressed, would the bishops really have thrown their support behind the law? And would Catholics be required to follow the bishops lead and support the law, too?
The answer to the first question is quite possibly, Yes. The answer to the second is, with respect, No. There are many policy issues for which the Church has no official position regarding which means are most appropriate to a given end. Discerning the means appropriate to even an admittedly worthy endin this, case expanding access to basic health carerequires the exercise of prudence.
But you dont have to take my word for it. Heres how the bishops themselves put it in Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship:
Prudential judgment is also needed in applying moral principles to specific policy choices in areas such as the war in Iraq, housing, health care, immigration, and others. This does not mean that all choices are equally valid, or that our guidance and that of other Church leaders is just another political opinion or policy preference among many others. Rather, we urge Catholics to listen carefully to the Church’s teachers when we apply Catholic social teaching to specific proposals and situations. The judgments and recommendations that we make as bishops on specific issues do not carry the same moral authority as statements of universal moral teachings.
Even in cases where the bishops collectively support a particular policy, such judgments arewith some important exceptionsnot binding on the consciences of Catholics. (Though Catholics are still obliged to listen carefully to the Church’s teachers.) In such casesand the uber-complex field of health care policy is one of thema well-formed conscience and prudent judgment can lead to legitimate conclusions that diverge from the position of the bishops. Appeals to prudential judgment dont absolve us from responsibility for our decisions. The final measure of our actions and decisions in the political realm remains, as always, the common good.
As the Catechism puts it, Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. (My emphasis in bold.) In this regard, Catholicsincluding bishopswho urge their fellow citizens to alleviate the intolerable situation in which many lack access to basic, even life-saving care, are correct to do so. That end is clearly worthy, and lays a claim on our consciences.
Unfortunately, while the road to Obamacare was paved with good intentions, good intentions are no substitute for good policy. Justified opposition to Obamacare was, and remains, opposition to a bad law, not to the benevolent motives of the laws supporters. And it would be hard to find an example in which major legislation was passed with less regard for prudent evaluation of means than in the case of Obamacare. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosis infamous lineWe have to pass the bill so that you can find out whats in itis the very definition of imprudent approach to policy making.
The litany of Obamacares broken promises is by now familiar: We already know that, even if you like your old plan, you likely wont be allowed to keep it. (Its not just the individual markettens of millions of employer-based plans are likely to be cancelled in the medium term.) Having lost your plan, you may well have to switch doctors, too. As for bending the cost curve downward and lowering average family premiums, thats not happening either. All of this, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will leave 31 million uninsured by 2023, if everything goes according to plan. Of course, not everything has gone according to plan, and the law may well increase the number of uninsured, at least in the near term.
Even if one assumes that each of these promises was made in good faith (an admittedly generous assumption), it doesnt change the fact that by the Presidents own metrics, Obamacare is failing. While it remains difficult to see how any Catholic could in good conscience oppose making healthcare more widely accessible (on what grounds?), it is increasingly easy to see why Catholics (or anyone else for that matter) would oppose Obamacare. To repeat: Good ends are ill-served by ineffectual and counterproductive means.
That said, it is incumbent upon those who oppose Obamacaremyself includedto rally around the cause of health care reform. Fortunately, promising alternatives do exist. Whether any politiciansheres looking at you, Speaker Boehner!will pursue such alternatives, rather than contenting themselves to reap the political rewards of the Presidents policy disasters, remains to be seen.
Which brings us to one last point: The problems with Obamacare extend beyond questions of administrative, bureaucratic, and technical competence. They extend beyond the architecture of the law itself, which supposes, for example, that more young, healthy Americans will buy insurance despite the fact that its cost (for them) has drastically increased while the incentive to have it has just gone down (since waiting until youre already sick doesn’t increase the cost of insurance.)
The deepest problem with Obamacare touches on fundamental questions about the proper role of the state in the lives of citizens. The state bears responsibility for the common good; of this there should be no doubt. But neither should there be any doubt that entrusting the state with ever greater authority over ever greater swaths of civic lifehowever well intentionedopens doors to unwanted, often unjust, intrusions upon the rights and consciences of citizens. To this, the Churchs ongoing battles over the HHS mandate all too vividly attest (to say nothing of the President’s manifest dedication to causes that directly and unequivocally contravene the common good.) Prudence would suggests this is a lesson we can’t afford not to have learned.
Personally, I was embarrassed by Cardinal Dolan's statement: "The Catholic Church could have been one of Obamacare's "biggest cheerleaders" if not for some of its mandates involving contraception." Either the bishops are ignorant of the ramifications of Obamacare on the working class or they are naive, which I strongly doubt.
Follow up, ping!
Obviously a bad translation.
There is a third possibility.
Pius X talked about it quite a bit.
The Bishops were all against it because it warred on life from the womb to the tomb.
Unfortunately, there remains a communistic element in some religious, who have never given up on Vatican II.
Let's face it, they are collectivists who are ignorant of economics.
They still don’t get it. The problem is not that (failed) Obamacare is warring on life. The problem is that the government has been given the power to war on life.
The bishops want the government to have the power to strip American citizens of their freedom. Except for them.
Personally, I was embarrassed by Cardinal Dolan’s statement:
After his remarks about so-called immigration reform, nothing he says surprises me now. He is useless.
There is a third possibility.
And that is....?
IMO a convincing case can be made that the bishops do not look to the Bible for guidance, but IMO you can't say they're naïve.
Personally, I'm embarrassed by Cardinal Dolan's existence as a Cardinal.
When he had Barry to dinner and didn't lay a very public smack-down on him over BarryCare and other things it was obvious to me he's functionally identical to guys Rick Warren or Joel Olsteen.
The only real difference is that while Dolan still claims to believe in Christianity the other two have openly developed their own substitutes for Christianity.
The war goes on. If the time ever comes that there are no guys like Dolan left in the ranks of the Bishops and the Cardinals it'll be a sign that they've finished paving Hell.
Article lets bishops off the hook.
First of all, they were warned.
Second, no warning should have been necessary. The Democrat party has been pro-abortion for forty-plus years. Obama is the most pro-abortion Democrat in history. What did the bishops think would happen to health care?
They didn’t think. They didn’t want to think.
Dolan couldn’t resist the chance to bellow with laughter with Obama at the Al Smith Dinner.
Cardinal Sean couldn’t resist the opportunity to hob-nob with the Kennedys at a big, splashy, televised canonization for Teddy, at which Cardinal Sean got the chance to slobber on Obama.
A little too subtle for me. What you mean to say about Pius X is ..?
Yeah hey were “all against it” at one minute to midnight, after they’d been “all for it” for a jillion years....
I’m embarrassed and nauseated by this. I first read about this yesterday in an e-mail and kept remembering how some people were actually thinking Cardinal Dolan would make a good Pope!! Lord help us. By the way, I don’t think Cardinal O’Malley is much better either.
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