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Posted by on Mar 12, 2010 in Education, Health, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 44 comments

Under-reported Reasons Catholic Bishops Meet with Stupak and Other Politicians on Healthcare

Hello there, and thanks CStanley for holding the fort by yourself and with good will regarding a debate elsewhere about Catholic Bishops meeting with Stupak. (see one of CStanley’s comments about this matter below in CODA) I teach on occasion at a Catholic hospital and am an oblate/ associate with the Sisters of Charity, Leavenworth, who run many hospitals nationwide. The more realistic characterization of the bishops and their meetings with whomever in government are far closer to CStanley’s insights than to what is put forth by writers who claim the Bishops are against whatever/ Church vs whomever and whyever. Again.

I often wonder why so few seem to realize that the Catholic health care system especially is a jewel in the crown of American healthcare, along with Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish, Adventists, (Mormon, Muslim and Buddhist which are rolling in the US, but are far younger in terms of centuries established, and sometimes not as widely spread in areas outside the domiciles of their own religious groups) etc., and other religious bases, not for profit health care orgs.

If Catholic hospitals were to fail in the US, the entire hospital health care system would cave in. The overload could in no way be taken up by whomever/ whatever was left still standing.

Speaking just as a Catholic who knows full well there are some few bishops who are inflated politicos and there are many other bishops who are true holy men filled with intelligence and compassion, the Catholic Health network holding true health care together for the poor, the indigent, as well as for the uninsured working class, AND the wealthy, cannot do several things in health care and go on existing.

Though some want to hammer abortion issue only, a Catholic hospital, health center, clinic, cannot agree to perform abortions, tubal ligations, or vasectomies.

Doctors who want hospital priviledges at Catholic hospitals cannot do these procedures there.

I hate to say that I am aware that for some, anything Catholic is demonized. And I speak as a person who holds the Life Force from conception onward as sacred, yet I listen to all points of view as I have here at TMV when I’ve written several articles about how I see Life come to earth.

I see over and over, however, that some demonize Catholics in general, without noting in full and in depth what profound social safety nets Catholics have always provided and for centuries. I decry that, not as a plaint, but because those who put such fragmentary and derogatory points forth are, to my mind, seeing with full white cataracts over both eyes; their insights and discourse accordingly, suffers.

Though none of us are immune from ‘not being able to see’ in certain ways… this over and over again patronizing of a huge health care system raised by literally millions of souls dedicated to care for the sick and lonely, and literally for centuries… that diminutizing of the actuality, continues to undercut an able discussion of basic social systems in ‘a pluralistic society’– if I could use that phrase for lack of a better one at the moment.

Those of you who know me, know I grew up just miles from the base of the kkk— We were Catholics and immigrants and refugees. And those involved with kkk were intent on spreading falsehoods about these groups, as well as Jews and blacks, and attempting to harm them, for we were seen as being ‘mud people.’

I refuse to ‘get used to’ this again in modern discourse. I just find it impossible to debate an issue when the facts about Catholics, or other groups, are cherry-picked, when the 2 percent of difference or disappointment, is held out to be the 100% fact only. And all good is conveniently dumped to uphold a thesis that has more holes than the Swiss got cheese.

And dont even think to patronize by saying pat pat, there there, ‘the Catholics have done their duty, but.‘ And then go on to knit up a story about a story about a story about Catholics that fits 1000 Catholics out of 6 Million, but portrays negatively and degrades the whole. It used to be called ‘a balanced article, a balanced inquiry’ to look beyond opinion alone based on something someone read somewhere writtten by someone who read something somewhere.

Forgive me, I am having a little fan-de-wui, as we called it back home. It’s pidgin. It means sort of like having the vapors, only with annoyance at the forefront. The more I see articles online– setting aside Catholic-only matters for the moment– the more longing I have to read first-hand, first witness accounts by people who are dedicated to seeing all sides. I think, in my fan-de-wui state, I am just livid that people– myself and others– are often held in ignorance of many-sided newstories by eye-witnesses and investigators and just fed the same old regurgitated pap each day. I lose my appetite when it’s announced for the ka-jillionth time, Hey guess what, we’re having instant oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Again.

I am not yet sure what to do about this problem, except to question myself about how to strive harder to quote from first sources… and how to find a way to, as the Montessori people say about true education: the child must ‘go out.’ Must go out under the sky and into the world. Cannot stay in the blankness of four walls no matter how highly decorated they are: they are static. And when there is stagnation, sight and insight are formed only by the ‘same old’ view as always.

So back for just a moment to the issue of Catholics and Bishops and health care legislation and policies and the infrastructure of hospitals in the US…. my article is not to say that bishops, churches, people, ought be not criticized. Believe me, as CStanley puts it, many within the larger ‘family group’ of any political, religious, educational, corporate group have ‘mixed feelings’ about various issues that affect others’ lives and their own. But, ‘mixed feeling’s doesnt mean ‘know-nothing’…nor does it mean ‘inability to think.’ Nor does it mean “undecided.”

It means, most often, the issues are deep, the considerations great, and points of view sometimes have to have time to deepen; that ongoing looking, learning, study is one of our traditions as Catholics, as it is of our root religion in midrash.

Are some bishops wanting to play politics? It is possible. But more likely it is that some of the priest-careerists want to gain El Pope’s attention because they want to be Cardinals real bad. Frankly most Popes dont select bishops for Cardinals who are controversial, speaking only to the monied, or fawning to the Pope, but that hasnt filtered down to a few ambitious fellows yet.

Most bishops want the hospitals, clinics, health care centers under their dioceses to be able to function fully and without having to spend more time and money than they already do (our money from Catholic tithing and grants, estates, and weekly donations, popcorn and bake sales, and fund-raising money, and sometimes corporate sponsorship to raise scholarhship money) trying to tiptoe around the latest tulips in health care/ insurance/ etc., dreampt up by people who do NOT spend their days caring for the ill and their families, and all for no profit.

If you had a huge mission of care for others, and an enormous hospital system that covers as much as 25-50% of all care in various cities and in many places is the ONLY health care system in backwaters and smaller towns and rural aras, you too I think would be talking to the often seeming ‘out of touch’ senators and congresspeople. For whatever legislation they make has, as we have seen already with other magnificent legislations plowed through, such as suspension of certain rights, huge ‘unintended consequences.’

I’ll say it again. If the Catholic/ religious hospitals fall, the entire hospital system of the US will fall. All the other religious non-profit health care systems will not be able to power up to take up a terabyte, when they are 1G systems and nearly past capacity as it is.

It is true that abortion/ vasectomy/ tubal ligations are issues re providing services in Catholic hospitals. But religions aside for a moment– a far greater temblon for all who live in the US, is who will rebuild the hospital system if half of it were to suddenly fall?

And especially, ESPECIALLY, where on earth would they find literally tens of thousands of nuns to take salaries that could barely support a dog for a year, those nuns who clean and comfort and care for the sick and the dying. Those who administrate, those who negotiation with suppliers, those who teach 2nd and 3rd year residents (who incidentally are accepted from ALL religious or not religious backgrounds to do residencies in Catholic hospitals). Though some like to say, well, the nunhood is diminishing. It isn’t. Certain orders have diminished in numbers, and many more have taken up the slack, and worldwide, many of whom come to the US for formation.

There is no work force like the good sisters in nursing, doctoring and healing. None. Not for the money. And especially not for the underlying aim, to act in the name of the One they follow, to preserve life in every way possible.


the comment by CStanley (amongst others of hers) that I referred to in opening para>

“Everybody thinks fungibility arguments regarding federal funding are bogus when they involve issues that they side with, and vice versa if it pertains to something they oppose.

“Case in point…I’ve heard lots of liberals argue that separation of Church and state means that churches shouldn’t be able to operate tax free, even for their charitable operating units, because the money they save in taxes would then be freed up for their use for religious purposes. And conservatives who don’t agree with that argument suddenly think along similar lines when it comes to funding for Planned Parenthood, because even though their abortion operations aren’t directly funded they are indirectly subsidized by the money that goes to the organization’s other activities.

“I’m not arguing the point one way or the other (I have mixed feelings myself.) I’m just explaining, for those who might not know, what the objections are about indirect funding, and also pointing out that the main current federal health insurance program for childbearing women is set up in a way that corresponds to the fungibility concern being legit. So, preserving the status quo would mean agreeing with that argument (or if not agreeing, at least agreeing to table that debate until a later time.)
This comment by CStanley