Did You Know That the Archbishop of New York Has a Blog…

…and that he’s not happy with Rhode Island First District Congressman Patrick Kennedy

Over this past weekend, several people mentioned to me Representative Patrick Kennedy’s blast at bishops for allegedly dividing the nation on the issue of healthcare….His remarks were sad, uncalled-for, and inaccurate.
The Catholic community in the United States hardly needs to be lectured to about just healthcare. We’ve been energetically into it for centuries. And we bishops have been advocating for universal healthcare for a long, long time.
All we ask is that it be just that — universal — meaning that it includes the helpless baby in the womb, the immigrant, and grandma in a hospice, and that it protects a healthcare provider’s right to follow his/her own conscience.

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Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Does the Archbishop support publicly funded health care for illegalimmigrants as well?
This is a serious question. I don’t know the answer.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Yeah, I don’t understand why he put the word “immigrant” in there. I would have thought that immigrants are covered by some means, if they choose to. If you’re an immigrant, chances are you probably have a job, no? Unless you were recently laid off, and then you had the option of COBRA. Because that’s what immigrants come here for isn’t it, to start a new life and work?
Isn’t grandma in hospice covered by Medicare after her own money runs out?

Hendrymack
Hendrymack
11 years ago

Patrick are you an abortion survivor or just a knucklehead? The naming of Grandma and immigrants along with the unborn is to emphasize the Church’s position on healthcare for everyone. Since this bill will potential change coverage for all groups including those that already have it from Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance, it makes sense that the Church make their position known – that it should be UNIVERSAL coverage for EVERYONE…

brassband
brassband
11 years ago

It is not easy to provide a clear answer to the question whether the Catholic Bishops favor a program of publicly funded health care for illegal immigrants.
True, the “Letter to Congress” states that the Bishops support universal coverage for legal immigrants; does this imply that they would accept something less for illegal immigrants?
And the 2003 joint statement of the U.S. and Mexican Bishops, Strangers No Longer, certainly advocates measures that protect the human dignity of all immigrants, regardless of their legal status.
I doubt very much that you’d find an official statement of the U.S. Bishops that openly advocates universal coverage categorically extended to illegal immigrants, but my sense is that most Bishops would favor such coverage regardless of immigration status.
Presumably, of course, the Bishops would take some guidance from Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 25:

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. ‘And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

But the Bishops have the advantage of making policy pronouncements without having to become too deeply involved in the government’s implementation of those policies from a fiscal or practical perspective.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

{M}y sense is that most Bishops would favor such coverage regardless of immigration status.
I would think that the verses of Matt. 25 that you quote compel that position, but I understand that this text, like others, is subject to interpretation.
Whether or not those who cite the Bishops to support their political positions when the two coincide will follow them on this issue remains to be seen.

brassband
brassband
11 years ago

Well, since the U.S. Bishops have not spoken with an authoritative voice on the subject of taxpayer-supported coverage for illegal immigrants, I’m not sure how one could discern whether one is “following” them on this issue.
One need look no further than the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) — in which Jesus illustrates the obligation to “Love your neighbor as yourself” — to understand one’s obligation to come to the aid of a neighbor in need. And Jesus certainly makes clear that one’s neighbor is not limited to near relatives or fellow countrymen; the selection of a Samaritan as the primary actor in the story could scarcely have been more clear to Jesus’ contemporaries as setting forth an unbounded definition of the term “neighbor.”
But does the command to love one’s neighbor compel adoption of a particular program or legislative method for activating such love?
I think not.
And if providing unlimited free medical care to a particular class of individuals threatens the stability of a particular hospital or the health care system as a whole, then prudence must be exercised in the administration of such generosity, lest the system collapse.
This is why you will see Bishops distinguishing in their teaching between “prudential” matters and issues that fall within the authoritative teachings of the Church.
Media accounts, of course, have a tendency to blur these distinctions.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

The teachings of the Bishops are not clear. Are the teachings of Christ likewise unclear?
“love your neighbor as yourself, unless certain prudential considerations caution against this course of action”.
Or, there are certain teachings that are subject to prudential considerations and others that are not? Which ones, and who decides? I don’t recall that the Bible specifies this.
It is apparently, as I said, a text open to interpretation
And no, I’m not accepting an invitation to a debate on biblical interpretation. I’m simply noting that there are some people (names withheld) who find it convenient to follow the church when it supports their views and inconvenient to follow when it does not.
Anybody who cites the church for their positions and is thorough-going in their positions has my admiration, if not my agreement. Anybody who cites the church but picks and chooses, does not have either.

brassband
brassband
11 years ago

there are some people (names withheld) who find it convenient to follow the church when it supports their views and inconvenient to follow when it does not.

Ah yes, and there’s a word for such people.
They’re called “Human.”
In my faith tradition, we believe that there are only two people in history who have managed to execute impeccably the greatest commandment.
So far as I can tell, the rest of us — Popes, politicians, professors and prostitutes alike — have not done quite so well. On the other hand, if you’ve encountered folks so admirable that they’ve faithfully and impeccably adhered to all of the Church’s commandments . . . well I’d love to know who they are!

thomas Schmeling
thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

There’s a huge difference between human failing and refusal to accept the teachings of the church.
If the church teaches that adultery is immoral and I commit adultery, that’s a human failing. If I reject the churches’ teaching on adultery, that’s defiance.
If the church teaches that the death penalty is immoral, and I reject that, that’s not human failing, that’s defiance.
If the church teaches that abortion is wrong and I have an abortion, that’s human failing. If the church teaches that abortion is wrong and I support abortion rights, that’s defiance.
If the church teaches that we should care for ALL of our brothers and sisters and I reject health care for illegal immigrants, is that not defiance?

brassband
brassband
11 years ago

If the church teaches that we should care for ALL of our brothers and sisters and I reject health care for illegal immigrants, is that not defiance?

Well I think anyone who would “reject health care for illegal immigrants,” would certainly be rejecting the teachings of Jesus.
But the issue is not whether illegal immigrants should get health care at all — Does anyone advocate prohibiting an illegal immigrant from paying a doctor or hospital for treatment? — the issue is taxpayer provided free health care.
You are conflating the commandment to love one’s neighbor with a particular policy option, and this is something that the Bishops attempt to avoid in their teachings.
And as we have discussed elsewhere, the teaching on the death penalty is different from the teaching on abortion; one (the death penalty) is permissible under certain circumstances that are not present in most of modern society; the other (abortion) is categorically impermissible.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Andrew says: Your statement in response to Brassband of “I don’t recall that the Bible specifies this” shows a serious ignorance of Catholicism as the Bible is not the sole source of Catholic doctrine.
I am happy to confess that I am fairly (if not “seriously”) ignorant of the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church, but I’m always ready to learn. (Perhaps I may be forgiven because, in the faith tradition in which I was raised, the relation between the individual and the deity was not quite so mediated).
Andrew says: could [you] explain to us again why your policy preferences should outweigh a letter from the U.S. Conference of Bishops, when it comes to the consideration of Church teachings on this issue?
I’m not sure what my policy preferences have to do with this. I have never mentioned them, and I don’t think you know what they are. But, since you seem to think that my policy preference contradict the Bishops, I assume that means that the Bishops think that, as the letter quoted above suggests, health care should be limited to “legal immigrants”. Fine with me.
Brassband says, Well I think anyone who would “reject health care for illegal immigrants,” would certainly be rejecting the teachings of Jesus.
So….I’m now trying to reconcile the Bishops’ letter with (Brassband’s version of) the teachings of Jesus. I’ll tell ya…it’s kinda hard, but Brass tries to help me out:
— the issue is taxpayer provided free health care. You are conflating the commandment to love one’s neighbor with a particular policy option, and this is something that the Bishops attempt to avoid in their teachings.
As is frequently the case (as with the death penalty), Brass’ distinctions are rather too subtle for me.

brassband
brassband
11 years ago

Do you think that the only way to comply with Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor is to endorse a particular version of universal health care?
Is it really so difficult to grasp that there could be a variety of ways to execute the command, and that selection of one method over another is not necessarily within the Bishops’ teaching role?
Let’s go back to the Good Samaritan.
In the account in Luke, the foreigner picks up the injured man, takes him to an inn, and pays the innkeeper to care for him, an example of neighborly love.
What if the Samaritan had taken the injured victim home and cared for him directly?
Wouldn’t that also be an example of love of neighbor?
Is one method superior to the other?
And what of the priest and the Levite?
If they had passed by the man and then clucked that the poor devil was suffering because there was no taxpayer-mandated universal coverage . . . would that be an adequate execution of the command for love of neighbor?
If you are truly interested in educating yourself on the U.S. Bishops’ teaching on these matters, you should visit their website, navigate around, and familiarize yourself with their social teachings.
Some you will disagree with, some you will embrace.
Most of the U.S. Bishops hold doctorates in theology and/or philosophy. Some of their writings are subtle and do require some analysis in order to be understood.
But you might find the effort worthwhile.

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