Tuesday, November 24, 2009

‘Anti-Catholic bitterness drives some of the loudest voices in the current health-care debate’

'A reality check from the discipleship front'

Denver Archbishop: 'Anti-Catholic bitterness drives some of the loudest voices in the current health-care debate'

(Editor: The following was excerpted from a column published Nov. 18 in the Denver Catholic Register, the official archdiocesan newspaper.) 

By Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput 
Archbishop of Denver 

What the hell don't you understand about the term separatin [sic] of Church and State. Keep your evil hands off of our Health Care Bill. Mind your own business. We don't care about your beliefs, and if you want to meddle in our affairs, we will be coming for you. If that's how you want to play, we will come for your pedophile priests, your ill-gotten money you stole for decades. The Catholic church is just another organized crime syndicate that should be put out of business. Get the f--k away from Congress, or you will regret it… 

That's a real e-mail from a real person. The man who sent it last week was either very candid or very foolish about his anger: he added his real name and e-mail address. I've withheld them here because I like to hope that most people, or at least many of them, are better than the poisonous things they sometimes write. But this e-mail does teach a useful lesson, because it's not just a case of a random bigot getting in touch with his inner bully. Instead, it's a snapshot of the anti-Catholic bitterness that drives some of the loudest voices in the current health-care debate. 

Let's remember that the Founders encouraged an active role for religion in the nation's public life. Let's recall that freedom of speech for Catholics, their leaders and their Church is constitutionally protected, just as it is for all citizens. Let's also finally remember that Catholic-baiting is one of America's oldest and most favored forms of hatred. The irony is that some of today's ugliest bigots posture themselves as socially "progressive" and work in politics or the mass media, or both. 

Catholics entered this year's national health-care discussion with good will and a long track record of public service. Catholic medical care is a national network. Most Catholics, as part of their Christian faith, see decent health care for all persons as a social obligation. They're eager for some form of good health-industry reform. But "reform" isn't a magic word. It isn't an end in itself. The content of the reform matters vitally. 

For months Catholic leaders have worked vigorously with congressional and White House staff to craft sound health-care reform legislation. Service to the poor, the sick and the suffering is part of the Church's Gospel vocation. The bill passed by the House on Nov. 7 was a step toward a goal that is shared, in principle, by most Catholics. Like most bills, it was a mixed success. Critics argue that it lacks adequate conscience protections; that its penalties are extreme and largely unknown to the public; that it's too complex; that it violates the Catholic principle of subsidiarity; and that it's financially damaging and unsustainable. 

To reach the archbishop's column in its entirety, 
Click Here.