Archbishop Chaput on 'Health Care and The Common Good'
Funding killing of unborn children or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs is not 'common ground'.
The growing misuse of Catholic 'common ground' and 'common good' language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism.
The Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado is a shining example of the "New Evangelization" which the late Servant of God John Paul II called for and which his worthy successor, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is now leading. The seminaries are full, the parishes are growing (in fidelity and number)and the ecclesial movements are flocking to find a missionary outpost.
This editorial appears in the August 26, 2009 edition of the Denver Catholic Register. Given its clarity of thought and the urgency of this matter, we present it in its entirety for our global readers:
Health care and The Common Good
Archbishop Charles Chaput
"Last week a British Catholic journal, in an editorial titled "U.S. bishops must back Obama," claimed that America's bishops "have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue - making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion - rather than the more general principle of the common good."
It went on to say that if U.S. Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, "they could play a central role in salvaging Mr. Obama's health-care programme."
The editorial has value for several reasons. First, it proves once again that people don't need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues. Second, some of the same pious voices that once criticized U.S. Catholics for supporting a previous president now sound very much like acolytes of a new president. Third, abortion is not, and has never been, a "specifically Catholic issue," and the editors know it. And fourth, the growing misuse of Catholic "common ground" and "common good" language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism.
No system that allows or helps fund - no matter how subtly or indirectly -- the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as "common ground." Doing so is a lie.
On the same day the British journal released its editorial, I got an email from a young couple on the east coast whose second child was born with Down syndrome. The mother's words deserve a wider audience:
Magdalena "consumes" a lot of health care. Every six months or so she's tested for thyroid disease, celiac disease, anemia, etc. In addition, she's been hospitalized a few times for smallish but surely expensive things like a clogged tear duct, feeding studies and pneumonia (twice). She sees an ENT regularly for congestion, she requires a doctor's prescription for numerous services - occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding, speech, etc. -- and she needs more frequent ear and eye exams.
I could go on. Often, she has some mysterious symptoms that require several tests or doctor visits to narrow down the list of possible issues. On paper, maybe these procedures and visits seem excessive. She is, after all, only 3 years old. We worry that more bureaucrats in the decision chain will increase the likelihood that someone, somewhere, will say, "Is all of this really necessary? After all, what is the marginal benefit to society for treating this person?"
What do we think of the [Congressional and White House health-care] plans? A government option sounds dangerous to us. The worst-case scenario revolves around someone in Washington making decisions about Magdalena's health care; or, worse yet, a group of people -- perhaps made up of the same types of people who urged us to abort her in the first place. In general, we feel that policy decisions should be made as close as possible to the people who will be affected by them. We are not wealthy people, but our current set up suits us just fine. We trust our pediatrician, who knows us very well, who hears from us personally every few months, who knows Magdalena and clearly sees her value, to give us good advice and recommend services in the appropriate amounts.
We are unsure and uneasy about how this might change. We worry that we, and Magdalena's siblings, will somehow be cut out of the process down the line when her health issues are sure to pile up. I can't forget that this is the same president [Obama] who made a distasteful joke about the Special Olympics. He apologized through a spokesman . . . [but] I truly believe that the people around him don't know -- or don't care to know -- the value and blessedness of a child with special ...
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