LifeSiteNews.com interviews Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, about President Obama's health care legislation:
Vasa noted that he believes "the notion of providing more comprehensive health insurance coverage is a just and right thing to do." However, he said: "that does not mean that THIS health insurance plan, only because it promises comprehensive health insurance coverage, must be supported.
"In effect, should we support giving poisoned water to the thirsty? I think not."
Bishop Vasa's sentiments reflect the words of two other prelates who have spoken on the issue: Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the U.S. Bishops' pro-life office, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. All three have urged opposition to the bills in their current form, insisting that the bills' abortion expansion flies in the face of the Church's advocacy for more available health care.
"The Church is very clear in supporting health care, but these are absolute requirements," Rigali told LSN in a telephone interview last week. "So our message is very clear: support genuine health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all. That has to be made clear ... for it to be acceptable to us."
Chaput criticized the supposed "common ground" abortion language in the House bill as a "shell game," and urged citizens to demand that abortion be taken out of the bill.
To continue with Bishop Vasa's imagery, it's not just that the water is poisoned—every indication is that it is also wildly overpriced, it will be rationed, it won't be delivered on time, and it will be forced down your throat regardless of whether you want it or not. In addition, it is an unproven product that is being badly marketed, to the point that many Americans, including myself, strongly suspect we are being sold a pool of rotten swamp water, not crystal clear stream water from the Rocky Mountains.
One problem with President Obama's health care plan that doesn't seem to be getting much attention among Catholics, is how it squares with the principle of subsidiarity, a key principle of Catholic social doctrine that I bring up from time to time. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says this of subsidiarity:
The principle of subsidiarity was strongly invoked by Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete in a short August 5th essay, "The health care reform and the lack of the value of subsidiarity in Obama's background," for an Italian newspaper:
I think the problem is that the American people almost instinctively feel a threat to one of the most important, defining values of American nationhood, namely the value of subsidiarity. I think it is the President whose background lack of experience of the value of subsidiarity makes it difficult to him to understand the dangers almost instinctively experienced by the majority of the people.
The fact is that the American people pay more to get less health care security than any other industrialized nation in the world. I think most Americans understand this. Most Americans understand that there is need for reform of their present system. The question the ask is: at what cost?
There is definitely something to what Monsignor Albacete says about Americans having a certain instinctive sense about the principle of subsidiarity, even if most of them have never heard of it. But his remark about American having less health care security than other industrialized countries is problematic in itself. How many Americans are actually turned away from treatment at hospitals or clinics? How many Americans have to wait months or even years to have major surgery? (Ironically, just as the debate over nationalized health care is heating up in the U.S., the country to the north is admitting that its "is imploding" and that "there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system".) In reality, most Americans are happy with their health care, and American health care (when life expectancy is adjusted for deaths by homicide and accidents), is the best in the world. This is not to ignore or understate the real problems that exist, but to emphasize that real problems are the same thing as national emergencies.
So, the question indeed is: at what cost? Those who believe that the State is God, or at least a substitute for God, hold as dogma the need to control, direct, and coerce people from the womb to the tomb. Some significant steps to this end have already taken place over the past few decades, most notably with the canonization of compulsory public education, which most people view as being as American as apple pie, even though it is far more Prussian than American, as well as being far more controlling and invasive than Horace Mann, John Dewey, and Co. could have ever dreamed of it being. The bottom line with (greatly expanded) government control of health care is that it equates to control of so much more than just when you should visit a doctor or swallow a pill, as Jonah Goldberg rightly notes:
Whenever the federal government has taken on tasks that should, I think, be limited to families, communities, churches, and other local or state institutions, it has usually done a mediocre to very poor job and has come in
wildly over budget. Public education is one example; another is the so-called "War on Poverty," a product of the so-called "Great Society," which has led to increased poverty, more crime, and more births out of wedlock, all for billions of dollars (not "great" and certainly not good for society). There is also the fragile and largely broke Social Security system. Each of these failures were created by or supported by men—Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ—who believed the State is a sacred entity who rightly demands our full and final allegiance. That belief flies in the face of both common sense and Catholic doctrine, as Pope Benedict XVI explained so well in Deus Caritas Est:
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Links, Articles, and Excerpts:
• What Is Catholic Social Teaching? A Review Essay on An
Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching | Mark Brumley
• "Can Catholics Be 'Real Americans'?" | Mark Brumley
• On Being Catholic American | Joseph A. Varacalli
• The State Which Would Provide Everything | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• Secularity: On Benedict XVI and the Role of Religion in Society | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• Speaking Up For Life | An Interview with Deirdre McQuade, the USCCB's Director of Planning and Information
• On Being Neither Liberal nor Conservative | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• The Role of the Laity: An Examination of Vatican II and Christifideles Laici | Carl E. Olson