There may be a lot of outrage and disbelief in the air at what the House of Representatives just did to make healthcare less accessible and affordable to those who need it most. But that outrage isn’t coming from the leadership of the Catholic church. The church that is very loud in denouncing what it calls “assisted suicide” offers only gentle coaching on the immorality of denying people life-saving healthcare. The bishops point out that “vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act.” Yes, that’s what USCCB thinks Congress is trying to do: fix the ACA. Sure.
After all, the monstrosity that Paul Ryan just got passed in the House protects some lives in the womb. Just not after they emerge from the womb. So, it is unsurprising that the bishops have issued their usual pablum. “Our health care policy must honor all human life and dignity from conception to natural death, as well as defend the sincerely-held moral and religious beliefs of those who have any role in the health care system,” said Bishop Dewane, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. http://usccb.org/news/2017/17-078.cfm
(Really? So the bishops mean for all sincerely-held religious beliefs of any stripe to be honored? Or just sincerely-held Catholic beliefs as the bishops and this committee define them? The President of USCCB did not weigh in.)
“When the Senate takes up the AHCA, it must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the bill that will affect low-income people—including immigrants—as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew,” said the press statement. Ah yes: close the gate after the horse has bolted.
Rough translation of the USCCB statement: “A” for effort on the issues the men of the Catholic church care about most: how to manage women’s reproductive decisions. So, OK to first inflict terrible, life-threatening harm on millions who have no options, but now get to work and try fix the harmful provisions. Do what you can. God bless you.
What does the church say to, and about, the 217, mostly Christian, elected officials who voted to take healthcare away from millions?
The media barely noticed the USCCB statement, if it noticed it at all. Did any media outlet even seek comment from any of the bishops on the issue?
Yet the bishops had no problem getting on camera when it mattered to them. They took to the road under the glare of cameras for a so-called “Fortnight for Freedom” more than once. Everywhere you looked on the Sunday talk shows when the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare was passed, there was Cardinal Tim Dolan expounding on the threats to conscience, and waxing eloquent on subjects he and his fellow bishops understand intimately: birth control, abortion and how to manage those realities emotionally and financially, as a family or as a single mother. These days you can’t find a single crimson bosom adorned with a large gold cross on TV.
What will be said from Catholic pulpits this Sunday? What will the people in the pews think? Will they be called to think about how spectacularly un-Christian it was that a couple of hundred elected representatives who routinely swear allegiance to “one nation under God;” who automatically offer “thoughts and prayers” on TV to the victims of one tragedy after another, decided to deliberately and purposefully do harm to their neighbors?
Will the people in the pews be called to live the Gospel by fighting for the idea so flagrantly betrayed by too many elected officials this week: the idea that every American, rich or poor, in this, the world’s richest country, should have basic healthcare? The idea that we have to love our neighbor, not by dispensing vapid pieties, but by doing as Jesus did: Jesus, who had no trouble hanging out with women of questionable repute, Samaritans and Gentiles. A refugee himself, Jesus welcomed people on the fringes to his table. His advice on how to throw a feast: “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” Maybe even give them healthcare.