Friday, October 30, 2009

You can't be serious?!

From "Calling Democratic health care bills "seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging priests around the country to speak out against the legislation from the pulpit this Sunday."

I am wondering how a bill attempting to create more access to affordable, reliable health care could possibly be deficient on the issue of 'conscience'? With so many in the Catholic community on the fringes of the socioeconomic divide, I just cannot fathom how their religious leaders are focusing on such a narrow issue found within the healthcare debate. It is as if they are forgetting the needs of their constituency. I'm not saying there is not room for healthy debate on the issue of abortion, but in this case, what the Bishops are proposing appears to run contrary to their own religious heritage. They are rejecting the notion of universal healthcare in its entirety because they reject a provision of it that actually is not a provision at all.

As I recall, Jesus himself tended to those that society ignored, the widows, orphans and lepers. Isn't there a mandate within Catholic tradition to help all those who are most in need to be able to receive quality health care? Or am I missing something here?

Within Jewish tradition, our rabbinic heritage argues that it is the obligation of society as well as the responsibility of individuals to ensure everyone, regardless of need, religion, wealth, poverty, have access to healthcare. To learn more I recommend reading Matters of Life and Death by Elliot Dorff who quite cogently explains the intricacies of this issue from a Jewish perspective.

Religion certainly does have a role to play in the healthcare debate. I just think it should be focused on speaking on behalf of the masses and the moral and religious obligations involved. And not co-opted by a select few who speak on behalf of narrow ideological concerns rather than on behalf of the broader community.

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