I am always wary when Churches get too close to political issues. But sometimes the political issues get too close to churches, and they are forced to respond.
The Democrats seem hell bent on funding abortions in their new plan. They tried many different ways to disguise it, but it is still plainly there. As long as they are going hell bent for leather, I suppose they figure they might as well go all the way.
The Catholic Bishops have always taken stands on legislative issues. When these stands coincide with what the MSM wants, there is no trouble. In fact, they are constantly praised for their anti-death penalty stance. “A much needed moral force” is how one editorial in the NYT put it, if I recall correctly.
In the 1980’s when they issued their famous stance in favor of nuclear disarmament, and specifically a nuclear freeze, Democrats thought it was peechy keen. Again, they were hailed as men of much wisdom and consequence. However, that decision by the Bishops was poorly taken. While the bishops can legitimately take positions against war, and the threat of use of war, they went too far down in the weeds and started trying to dictate nuclear policy. Whether a freeze was the most likely policy to lead to real peace was very, very questionable, and I think that most people now understand such a posture would have been disastrous. In many areas, Bishops are best when they explain the grand principles behind Catholic thought and let the secular leaders make the nitty gritty tactical decisions.
However, the debate over abortion and the Health Care bill is different. Here, the Democrats want to launch a missile directly at the heart of Catholic doctrine. Quite rightly, the Bishops are objecting. The fundamental right to life of every baby, in the womb or not, is not bargainable. It is not the kind of thing where they can say “Let the secular authorities figure it out, we will stay with the overall principle that human life in all its aspects is deeply important.” They cannot say “we aren’t experts in health care doctrine, therefore we have to leave the prudential decisions to the politicians.” They are experts in the morality of abortion, and the Democrats seek to subsidize it.
And so they have issued a statement. I think they are spot on:
As long-time advocates of health care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to make the moral case that genuine health care reform must protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Health care reform should provide access to affordable and quality health care for all, and not advance a pro-abortion agenda in our country. Genuine health care reform is being blocked by those who insist on reversing widely supported policies against federal funding of abortion and plans which include abortion, not by those working simply to preserve these longstanding protections.
Again, the Bishops were great when the MSM thought they could be counted on to help pass Health Care reform; now they are treated as evil pariahs who are wielding undue influence behind the scenes. Watch the MSM response.
The Bishops have asked that their message be distributed in every church on Sunday.