In a piece to be released later this morning, Catholic archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver comes out swinging against the health-care push in Washington this week. He writes, in part:
Groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as “Catholic” or “prolife” that endorse the Senate version — whatever their intentions — are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform. By their public actions, they create confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate. They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.
Do not be misled, in other words, by a Speaker’s lies or by anyone claiming to speak for the Catholic Church telling you a Catholic’s conscience will be clear if he supports this legislation.
The long, unpleasant and too often dishonest national health-care debate is now in its last days. Its most painful feature has been those “Catholic” groups that by their eagerness for some kind of deal undercut the witness of the Catholic community and help advance a bad bill into a bad law. Their flawed judgment could now have damaging consequences for all of us.
Do not be misled. The Senate version of health-care reform currently being pushed ahead by congressional leaders and the White House — despite public resistance and numerous moral concerns — is bad law; and not simply bad, but dangerous. It does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops in our country, who speak for the believing Catholic community. In its current content, the Senate version of health-care legislation is not “reform.” Catholics and other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human dignity should oppose it.
And he adds words of praise for Bart Stupak, among others:
the health-care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics. Nor is it now. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and a number of his Democratic colleagues have shown extraordinary character in pushing for good health-care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real “health care.” Many Republicans share the goal of decent health-care reform, even if their solutions would differ dramatically. To put it another way, few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans. But God, or the devil, is in the details — and by that measure, the current Senate version of health-care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.
Gratitude! And clarity! This is what you call shepherding (and he’s not new to any of this, and specifically on health care). And leadership. Someone else to say “thank you” to when you have the chance.
UPDATE: Full text of the column here.