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USCCB spokeswoman defends bishops’ role in health care debate

December 11, 2009

In a Religion News Service column printed by at least three newspapers, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has defended the bishops’ role in the debate over health care reform.

“Recent talk about the Catholic Church's role in politics reminds me of two great moments in Church social teaching in the United States: the New Deal and the civil rights eras,” she writes. “Both moments found the Church embroiled in controversy, with strident cries that it did not belong in the public arena. The eventual rewards for the Church's role were huge for society, but came at a cost for the Church.”

She continues:

Accusations against the Church inevitably arise whenever the Church meets its obligation to fight for the weak and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. In recent years, it's become popular to say that the bishops -- even the Church itself -- are irrelevant. Some even believed it, which is why it was shocking to some when a majority of House members shared the bishops' concerns and voted to ensure that health care reform does not expand abortion.

The challenge before us is to make health care affordable for all, both for citizens and legal immigrants, and to ensure that reform does not expand abortion. There is nothing new here. Standing for the poor and voiceless is where the Church always has been.


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  • Posted by: William F. Folger - Dec. 14, 2009 9:44 PM ET USA

    Tuesday, 12/15/09, is when President Obama may well use his Ultimate Ace: let pro-life have their Stupak-type language in the final bill, reasoning that he won’t then get much opposition from the bishops & Catholics thus to get the vital “60” to avoid the Act's repeal in 2010. The USCCB has a PROPER role in the H-C debate BUT ONLY IF they do no harm to the Republic by FACILITATING gradual takeover! If Obama thus acts, THEN does the USCCB suppress or UPHOLD Vital-to-Republic “subsidarity”? Watch!

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Dec. 11, 2009 9:55 PM ET USA

    "No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist." --Pius XI, Quad Anno (1931) The health care bill that the bishops want so badly is pure socialism.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 11, 2009 2:03 PM ET USA

    Just a second. The Gospel teaches we should voluntarily and generously help the poor. Can Christians satisfy this obligation merely by promoting expanded government programs funded by compulsory taxes? How does this constitute voluntary, generous, personal assistance to the poor? Does the Gospel really teach that the only way -or even a good way- to help the poor is to let government -not individuals- increasingly become the channel through which flows assistance to the needy?