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Southern Religion

Catholic right drifts into troubled waters

Today’s NYT piece by David Kirkpatrick led both Grant Gallicho and Mark Silk to note how the Catholic right has put itself at odds with the church’s social justice position.

Gallicho, himself Catholic, analyzed the comments of Bishop Nickless of Sioux City. Nickless told the NYT:

Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined ‘best procedures,’ which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses.

Gallicho responded:

Government monopoly?
Patient choice?
Does the bishop understand that in several states insurers operate virtual monopolies?
Or that many Americans have no choice when it comes to health insurance? That they take what they can get or else they go broke–or they can’t get it, suffer a catastrophic illness, and break the rest of us?
Are we to believe that the profit motive is better than “bureaucratic standards”?
Is that church teaching too?

Silk summarizes church teaching as recently reflected in Pope Benedict’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Silk writes:

As I’ve pointed out here, the pope’s encyclical teaches that food, drinkable water, “basic instruction and elementary health care” are all “elementary and basic rights.” Sure there’s politics and prudential judgment involved in determining the best way to provide people with health care, but so is there in determining the best way to provide people with food and drinkable water and breathable air.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a Web site where it takes a stand for the broad, generous health care reform which church social policy implies. And against abortion. Which the Christian Right is attempting to use as a wedge issue by arguing there is unequivocal support for abortion in the various health reform proposals.

Carefully sorting abortion out produces equivocal results that do not support towering rhetoric from either side of the health reform debate. Consider the recent work of Beliefnet’s Steve Waldman on that issue.

As a result, Conservative Catholic bishops who are joining the Christian right on that may find themselves at odds with both church policy and reality.

August 28, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Health, Medical Care, Obama, Religion | ,

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