“In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ.” — Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2014. .
The Church speaks often and loudly about “moral authenticity” and its position on contraception, women’s right to make independent decisions on reproductive health, or on same sex unions. But the institutional church is strangely silent on a day like today that is rich with lessons on what it means to love your neighbor.
First there is Paul Ryan. Conspicuously Catholic. The GOP policy wonk. Determined to push the poor out of the “hammocks” of government subsidies in which they lie in inner cities.The Ryan budget, unveiled April 1, 2014, once again:
- Repeals (as if he could) the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Slashes food stamps by $125 billion over 5 years and imposes work requirements.
- Cuts Medicaid by nearly $800 billion, hurting seniors in nursing homes and children from low-income households.
- Makes Medicare a “premium support system:”—instead of government healthcare, people shop for insurance (good luck with that, seniors)using government vouchers.
- Cuts education by $145 billion;
- Takes $90 billion in Pell grants from students
- Collects $40 billion from university students by charging them interest on their loans while still in school.
- Denies the National Endowment for the Arts and Public Broadcasting any funding. “Cannot be justified,” says Mr. Ryan.
- but …Boosts military spending over the next ten years by nearly $500 billion.
Then there is President Obama and the Affordable Care Act.
As a result of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) introduced by the Democrats in the face of strident opposition, more than 7 million Americans have received coverage through the exchanges set up for that purpose. In addition more than 3 million young people have been able to stay on their parents’ plans because of the new healthcare law. And 4.5 million previously uninsured adults now have Medicaid. This, in the face of a relentless war against the ACA through fake stories of harm, deliberate distortions (death panels anyone?)and law suits. Meanwhile millions more uninsured or under-insured people are denied coverage because their state governments, have refused the Medicaid expansion that was ushered in by the ACA.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently supported litigants –more than 90–who have challenged the law because of the provisions for contraceptive and reproductive healthcare. Meanwhile, here is what Sr. Simone Campbell of Network Lobby thinks about the ACA:“It is so amazing. I keep hearing stories of people who are benefiting from it.”
Today’s remarkable milestone gives millions, many poor and previously uninsured, access to healthcare and one more real aid to climbing out of poverty. Perhaps for the Democratic lawmakers who worked hard to make universal healthcare a reality, the law served as a lens through which to see Christ’s face in those who are in need? Maybe, after all, Jesus is not really in disguise.
Will the Bishops seize the moment to point to the contrast in Gospel lessons offered by today’s announcements in D.C.?
- All Catholic Bishops Must Act on Medicaid Expansion (millennialjournal.com)