COMMENTARY: Election Quandary for Catholics, Part Two: Health Care
Dr. Robert Stackpole of Redeemer Pacific College and the Divine Mercy Institute continues his examination of the two candidates for the U.S.Presidency.
With less than 100 days to go until the important Presidential election, the focus turns to a close examination of the positions of the two presumptive nominess for the Presidency of the United States. Dr. Robert Stackpole considers in this installment the candidates positions on health care policy for the United States.
Normally, while I certainly listen (and often learn a thing or two!) from your feedback, I don’t respond to it: it’s your chance to share your thoughts, reflections, and constructive criticisms without provoking a debate with me! However, this time I will break my rule of silence because I think there is a point that needs clarification. One of our readers wrote that it was inappropriate to put this “political stuff” on the Divine Mercy website at all.
I must beg to differ, and explain.
Strictly “political” issues would be things like who has the best experience to be the next president, who has flip-flopped more on key issues, who is beholden to which special interest groups, whose tax and spending policies would be best for the economy as a whole, who is right about offshore oil drilling, and who has the most sensible proposals for dealing with global warming. Such questions are purely political, matters of factual analysis and prudential judgement about which Catholic Social Teaching and the Divine Mercy message can have little to say. Those kinds of questions come into any campaign, and would indeed be inappropriate to discuss on a website devoted to The Divine Mercy.
But I did not discuss such issues.
I limited myself in this column only to discussing three allegedly life-and-death issues of moral urgency (abortion, health care, and war and peace in the Middle East) and on such matters Catholic Social Teaching can shed considerable light. Indeed, as I explained last time, the US Catholic bishops have taken great pains to give us documented guidance on how to approach issues of moral significance at election time, and how to prioritize our moral values when we consider how we should vote. Thus, not only do I think this is an appropriate subject to address in this column, I think it is my duty to address it: as someone who teaches Catholic Moral Theology at a Catholic College, if I cannot shed a bit of light on these matters when asked to do so by inquiring Catholics, I had better “throw in the towel” and give up writing this column altogether!
Besides, it is our principal duty as lay members of the Church, according to the Catechism, to do all that we can to “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will…. The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves… permeating social, economic, and political realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life” (Catechism, 898-899). In other words, we are to let the Merciful Jesus be the Lord of every aspect of our lives: personal and social, including everything that pertains to family life, work life, economic and even political aspects of our lives. Where Catholic Social and Moral Teaching affects any aspect of our lives, we need to sit up and take notice!
So my last column on this matter was something of a “wake-up” call to Catholics, who (all too often, I’m afraid), like to keep the “religious” side of their lives in a nice, safe, pious corner, where it cannot be disturbed, and cannot inform, anything other than the personal and private realm. Sorry, but that’s just not Catholic enough!
On the other hand, I claim no infallibility for my own attempts to try to view the moral issues involved in this upcoming election in the light of Catholic Social Teaching. So, as always, you are welcome to disagree, and to send in your comments to that effect, as the Spirit moves you.
Now, because the first column in this series appeared several weeks ago, I will reprint below some essential passages from it, to remind you of where we are in this discussion. I wrote:
As a faithful Catholic, if you are contemplating a vote for Sen. Obama, you are morally bound to consider whether or not Sen. McCain advocates intrinsic moral evils — that is, life-destroying violations of the inherent dignity of the human person — on par with Obama's support for legalized abortion. Unless you can demonstrate at least a moral equivalence between the policies of the two candidates with regard to such intrinsic evils, then you cannot, with a clear conscience, vote for the pro-abortion candidate. Do not bicker about whose policies on balance are better for the economy or will help to bring down the price of oil. Those issues are important, but not nearly as important as the moral priority of opposing intrinsic evils in our society….
Hypothetically, there are two ways to make a moral defense for Obama. Some people might make an argument that goes something like this. Please note that I said “hypothetically” and “some people might argue” what follows. I did not endorse it all myself; I was simply ...
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