Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Catholic Health Association and the Future of Catholic Unity

An interesting piece posted at Catholic Advocate:
... We now know the story: After months of public statements alternating between passionate endorsements of Obama’s “universal health care” legislation, sometimes qualified by calls for the bill to respect the right to life of all persons, CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan had a chance to show exactly where the CHA stood.

Negotiations had stalled in Congress as Democratic leaders’ flagrant bribing and arm-twisting of hesitant colleagues had failed to achieve clear majorities in favor of passage. The bill was held up by a small cadre of “pro-life Democrats” who, like the majority of the American people, claimed to find the bill’s expansion of federal funding for abortion unacceptable.

This small group threatened to bring down their own party’s largest domestic policy initiative in generations rather than consent to the largest expansion of abortion since Roe. In the end, however, all but a handful caved in to party pressure to support the bill, and the backbone of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), their erstwhile leader, simply crumbled into dust.

Although feverishly denied by its increasingly desperate proponents, every serious analysis of the Senate bill (the version that would eventually become law) found that it would in fact expand federal funding of abortion. Through an accounting loophole at the level of individual “care,” and through a seven billion dollar appropriation to community health centers, including Planned Parenthood, the law would circumvent Hyde amendment restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

That fact is what led the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to oppose the bill, even after the bishops had made it clear that many would have supported almost any version of the bill that didn’t expand abortion coverage. The bishops have been publicly supportive of government-funded universal health care since 1996.

Yet the controversial law ended up earning Sr. Keehan’s and CHA’s 11th-hour endorsement which, along with those of a coalition of female religious and various “Catholic” leftist groups, were cited by the bill’s proponents as proof that it had Catholic support.


The bill of course passed, and Sr. Keehan, for her efforts and on behalf of the CHA, received a “signing pen” from President Obama, one that was used put into law a bill that was opposed by every bishop, and every Catholic organization faithful to the Church.

So the CHA’s historically unprecedented power affected neither the legislation itself, nor the highly questionable means of its passage—it merely made its being signed into law possible by giving cover to a small handful of wavering Catholic Democratic congressmen...

[Read the whole thing]
Heavily quoted in this piece is a story from Catholic News Agency on a joint statement issued on May 21 by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Bishop William Murphy, and Bishop John Wester that reprimanded the CHA for wounding Church unity in acting as what I refer to as an "alternative magisterium" set up against the teaching authority of the Bishops:

"Catholic bishops: CHA wounded Church unity with health care endorsement".

Well worth the read.

(Hat tip: Deal Hudson)

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Sister Carol Keehan Misrepresents Her Support of the Health Care Bill

The Bishops Strike Back Against Dissenting Women Religious [UPDATED]

Sister Carol Disinvited from D.C.-Based John Carroll Society Speaking Gig

Establishing the "Alternative Magisterium"

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