Several more U.S. Catholic bishops, as well as a national association of Catholic medical doctors, have stepped up to rescue the Catholic name from organizations claiming the abortion-laden Senate health care bill is compatible with Church teaching.
The Catholic Medical Association (CMA), a national association of Catholic physicians, has thrown their weight behind the statement of Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, who said that groups supporting the Senate bill “have done a grave disservice to the American Catholic community by undermining the leadership of the nation’s Catholic bishops, sowing confusion among faithful Catholics, and misleading legislators through their support of the Senate bill.”
“Should this political ploy prove successful in persuading some legislators to vote for this flawed bill, these individuals and groups will have done a grave disservice to human dignity and to the common good of this nation,” wrote CMA.
“Given this evidence above, it is difficult to understand how some Catholics could lobby in favor of such legislation,” stated the group. “Given the significance of the issues at stake, and the consistent, compelling policy guidance provided by the U.S. bishops on these matters, publicly opposing and/or undermining the U.S. bishops at this time is imprudent and uncharitable.”
The U.S. Catholic bishops have found themselves at the center of a media frenzy this week, as they have stepped up efforts to fend off dissident Catholic groups endorsing a bill that has been unequivocally condemned by leading pro-life analysts as the worst expansion of abortion in America since Roe v. Wade. The White House has openly admitted that the support of such groups has been “very important” in swaying crucial votes in favor of the bill as the clock ticks down to a final vote scheduled for Sunday.
In a significant display of episcopal muscle, at present count, at least 30 U.S. bishops have specifically condemned the Senate health care bill since its final form was published. Expressing solidarity with the USCCB, many issued letters to lawmakers, and statements to their flock clarifying the position of the Church.
“Make no mistake,” wrote Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo. “If the House passes the Senate version of health care reform, it will be a dark day in the history of the United States of America.”
“We’re not the obstructionists here, since all we’re insisting upon is that the understanding that tax money not pay for abortions, in place since 1975, remains,” emphasized New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who explained his opposition to the Senate health care bill on his website. “It is instead those who have radically altered the debate to open a loophole to eliminate the Hyde Amendment who are risking the very fate of this legislation.”
So far, one prelate has come out in favor of the bill: retired Bishop John E. McCarthy of Austin, Tex., told the Associated Press Wednesday that legislators should not kill the legislation “at this crucial moment,” claiming that the bill’s flaws on life issues could be fixed later.
Meanwhile, more Catholic organizations that are aggressively pushing for the bill despite the abortion expansion continue to crawl out of the woodwork, often emphatically claiming over and against the USCCB, the National Right to Life Committee, and countless top pro-life analysts that the bill in fact does not contain abortion funding.
The National Catholic Reporter wrote in an editorial Thursday that “Congress, and its Catholics, should say yes to health care reform.” “The current legislation is not ‘pro-abortion,’ and there is no, repeat no, federal funding of abortion in the bill,” NCR stated.
The left-leaning lobby group Catholics United has sparked an angry response from some bishops for its active promotion of the pro-abortion bill.
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV ripped Catholics United – which he noted was “in no way affiliated” with the Catholic Church – for having started “secular media campaigns that confuse Catholics with misleading images and messages that are not consistent with the position taught by the Bishops of the United States, including Bishop Michael Bransfield.”
“It is the clear and unchanged position of Bishop Bransfield and the USCCB that unless these flaws are addressed in the legislation, the Senate bill should not be passed in the House,” stated the diocese on its website.
In Michigan, Catholic bishops also slammed Catholics United for taking out advertisements attacking Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) for his pro-life stand against the health care bill.
“In no way does Catholics United represent the public policy positions of the Catholic Church,” stated the Michigan Catholic Conference, which includes the state’s seven bishops on its board. “In fact, the ad campaign and its accompanying news release grossly misrepresents the official position of the Catholic Church on health care reform, and unfairly and erroneously attacks Congressman Bart Stupak for his efforts to prohibit tax-payer funded abortions.”