Bishop Tobin and Representative Kennedy

Over this past weekend, several people mentioned to me Representative Patrick Kennedy’s blast at bishops for allegedly dividing the nation on the issue of healthcare; you can view the video here. His remarks were sad, uncalled-for, and inaccurate.

The Catholic community in the United States hardly needs to be lectured to about just healthcare. We’ve been energetically into it for centuries. And we bishops have been advocating for universal healthcare for a long, long time.

All we ask is that it be just that — universal — meaning that it includes the helpless baby in the womb, the immigrant, and grandma in a hospice, and that it protects a healthcare provider’s right to follow his/her own conscience.

This is what the President says he wants; this is what we bishops say we want.

Bishop Thomas Tobin, Representative Kennedy’s bishop, has a good point: Mr. Kennedy owes us an apology.

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27 Responses to “Bishop Tobin and Representative Kennedy”

  1. William Fosdick says:

    Your Grace, Maybe your technician can do something about the quality of sound on the link. I think Rep. Kennedy’s appraisal was inaccurate. Only some bishops are opposing health care reform. These men seem to be driven by partisan passions more than anything else. From what I could figure out, the language of the various bills does not open the door to government financed abortions. If it does, we need to know about it. My bishop flatly stated that the legislation did do this, and that got me to studying it. He also made it impossible to play Obama’s speech to school children in our schools. If the legislation does open the door to government funded abortions, demand amendments. There are too many people who need care for churchmen to oppose health care reform. Don’t be too hard on Kennedy. It is not difficult to reach the conclusion that the American Catholic Church has become a political club house for the GOP. That is not the case, but the ardent partisanship of some bishops certainly leaves that impression. Very Respectfully, Bill

  2. Lisa Adams says:

    Mr. Fosdick I disagree with your comment that anyone that is familiar with the majority of the Bishops’ stance on the language of the health reform bill might conclude that they are a political clubhouse for the GOP. It is quite evident that they stand for TRUTH, even if it is in opposition to the secular majority. I for one thank GOD for these courageous souls that are willing to stand up for the Truth in opposition to the many or despite popular opinion. They are in deed in communion with the Holy Spirit. I stand in awe and I praise God. Lisa Adams

  3. Fr. Bob Knippenberg says:

    Your Excellency: Thank you…a clear, concise, cogent re-statement of the Bishops’ teaching. This makes it so much easier for us “in the trenches.” Again, thank you!

  4. Amy Pawlak says:

    Mr. Fosdick: Bishops are not opposing health care on political grounds, even if their positions seem similar to those of the GOP. The current health care legislation proposals all include funding for abortions, as well as dampeners on conscience clauses, and – as we’ve learned from government-run health care programs in Canada, the UK, and other parts of Europe – a tendency to NOT treat the elderly or the chronically ill with the same level of care. Catholics are called to respect life at all stages – from conception to natural death. Government run health care turns people into numbers, statistics. It dehumanizes them to save a buck. And, unlike private insurance, where you have recourse that’s more likely to be successful, how do you fight against the government when they say they aren’t going to provide you care anymore? The best solution is to change laws – like tort reform, mandatory coverages, and the prohibition on selling health insurance across state lines, to name a few – to make it more affordable for people to purchase their own health insurance that fits their individual (or family) needs. Such changes will also make it possible for Catholics and others to run low-cost or free clinics and medical care facilities (as Catholics have done for centuries) to help those who truly cannot afford coverage. P.S. – On a personal note, I send my thanks and prayers from Milwaukee, your Grace. Thank you for your wonderful leadership!

  5. Laura Smrecek says:

    Hello, Your Excellency, from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee! I agree with His Grace and Lisa. Truth is what matters, not political parties and certainly not a sitting president. God’s will before anything else! If there are political leaders in our country who call themselves Catholic, like Mr Kennedy, they should accept the Church wholly and act accordingly, especially not leading others into what is not True. If they want to act outside of the Church’s teaching, then perhaps they don’t really want to be Catholic. It seems their ideas are put first; whatever isn’t convenient or easy is ignored. This is a dangerous road. Who is in charge here? God and His Church or men who defy him? Your solution, Mr Fosdick, of ammending after the bill has past with allowances for abortion, is great ideally, but realistically does not work historically. Once bills have been passed into law, it is hard to pass legislation to ammend. No, the bill has to be right the first time. One of the worst sins we Americans commit over and over is sloth. We are slothful Catholics if we are not actively, openly and aggressively fighting the passing of the Health Care Bill. I want health care for all, too, but there have to standards of care, standards of life (for all and for as long as God desires) – no exceptions! That is the True Catholic way. Don’t give in, Mr Fosdick, to what appears to be True enough! Truth is not Truth if it is not complete!

  6. David Cortens says:

    Thank you for the strong words on life issues. As you say the Church is doing a good job on speaking out on this vital subject but it pales in comparison of what could be achieved if we would only all pull together. We need every Priest, every Bishop and every lay Catholic lay person to be consistent. The Notre Dame issue and the funeral for Kennedy were devastating public relation blows to Catholics in the pro life field. One can say “Lets move On” as we should, but there is nothing in place to prevent it happening again, as I am sure it will. For the unborn we can and must do much better. Also we can’t let anyone get away with accusing us of being an arm of the Republican Party. It is just another method to silence the voices of those against abortion. We support all pro life politicians of any party.

  7. Andy Holland says:

    Your Grace, Thank you for standing up for those who have no voice on this Earth. Universal health care sounds wonderful, and it surely should be promoted – but the universe includes the precious Holy Innocents in the Mother’s womb! Their Angels are before Our Father in Heaven, praying for the souls of their mother’s who forsook them. As Mother Teresa quoted the prophet Isaiah when she spoke against Abortion as the greatest threat to peace today: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Your in good company with Isaiah and Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict and all the Saints… and the Holy Innocents – Please keep it up!

  8. Jeannette Schlicher says:

    Sigh. Mr. Fosdick, nobody is opposing health care REFORM–everyone thinks our country’s health care system needs an overhaul. We just disagree on its parameters and delivery system. I also disagree with your impression that “the American Catholic Church has become a political club house for the GOP.” It seems to me that it may be the other way around, these days. Stand firm, dear bishops! God bless you!

  9. Terry Duerr says:

    If only Kennedy would be as brave and courageous as Rep. Bart Stupak from Michigan. I would vote Democrat everytime if the Democrats would have more people like Stupak. He truly lives his faith and walks the talk. Instead we have Kennedy and Pelosi, and many other cultural catholics who are clueless about their faith, providing voters no choice. Thanks to Archbishop Dolan, for his frank remarks. We enjoyed your interview on ETWN and thank God for your leadership. May Servant God, Fulton Sheen watch over you. Mayor Bloomberg looked very down in the mouth on your instalation day.

  10. Gwen Linde says:

    Your Excellency, I agree with your sentiments 100% and thank you for clearly and strongly stating our position. However, I’m a bit confused by your conclusion; I don’t think that Mr. Obama has ever indicated any desire to protect the helpless baby in the womb. In fact, he has done everything in his power at every level of political office to facilitate the deaths of helpless infants. v/r Gwen

  11. Irene Baldwin says:

    America is deeply divided as a country on abortion. This Catholic believes it is better to try and persuade our sisters not to have abortions, rather than to forcibly impose our beliefs on such a large segment of our citizenry through legislation.

  12. Mary Teresa says:

    Your Excellency, We in the pro life Catholic community would like to thank you for your support for the courageous words of Bishop Tobin. Most Catholic politicians in New York support abortion through nine months gestation and they see no problem with doing so, no down side. Take Caroline Kennedy who brazenly wears political buttons supporting this political platform even when she attends Mass at St. Ignatius. Excellency, your staff in the Respect Life area can brief you on the activities of President Obama when he was a legislator in Illinois, and how he successfully blocked legislation that would have protected the life of a baby who was able to somehow survive a botched abortion and was born alive. The president has also said that if one of his daughters were to have an unplanned pregnancy, he would not want her to be “punished” with a baby. It is very clear that the President’s behavior at Notre Dame and Georgetown (where all the crucifixes were ordered to be covered in advance of the President’s speech) was calculated to enflame and deepen the doctrinal divide in the Church. He succeeded. Some of the most influential and powerful Catholic journalists, billionaires and politicians in the country live and/or work in New York City and the surrounding area, all within your jurisdiction. The vast majority of these power brokers actively promote and participate in the slaughter of the unborn. We pray for you continually, Excellency. May Our Lord give you the courage and fortitude you need to fulfill the critical tasks before you. Be not afraid…

  13. Ruth Schiavone says:

    This is in reply to Irene Baldwin who thinks that we should not “impose our beliefs” through legislation. May I point out that opposition to abortion is not a Catholic belief to which non-Catholics need adhere, but simply the recognition of the moral law which God has mercifully implanted in everyone’s soul, no matter his religious leanings. I’m all for persuasion but sadly only a very few brave souls are willing to take that giant step to stand outside abortion mills. Thank you, your Excellency, for opening up this means of communication.

  14. Irene Baldwin says:

    I completely understand the passion folks have about protecting the unborn. I wish, though, there had also been similar passion around the Archbishop’s blog last week in support of Catholic Relief Services. While I see a great many postings here on abortion, on that earlier blog- supporting life in a different way- there were only two comments.

  15. Jeff Lorig says:

    Would it be possible to set up an RSS feed for the Archbishop’s blog. Google Reader is unable to find it. Thanks.

  16. Paddle says:

    Is there no compassion in this city? In the Church? I’ve been reading all the remarks here about abortion and the staunchly black and white stance of everyone on this issue, and it just makes me want to weep. I can’t believe that no one sees a gray area here. Women who were raped have no choice; women who have life threatening medical complications should allow themselves to die; women who have no resources or support systems are expected to shoulder the responsibility of raising a child they have no love for. I understand that there are alternatives to abortion, but they are not always readily available to everyone. Which is one reason we need a better health care system in this country, and why a comprehensive sexual education program in all schools should be required. The biggest problem here is that the only thing most people see on this issue is the symptom, rather than the cause.

  17. Steve Lajoie says:

    Did anyone else notice that Rep. Kennedy referred to the Church as “they” in his remarks? I thought that was very telling. The man doesn’t think of himself as a Catholic, yet he uses the description for political gain. Bishop Tobin should call him out for that, too.

  18. jennifer says:

    The Catholic church should have excommunicated the whole Kennedy family a long time ago!!!!

  19. Roderic Noonan says:

    Archbishop Dolan, I compliment you for your wonderful support of your brother Bishop of Providence, RI. The Kennedy’s have gotten away with murder (literally)including Ted’s funeral Mass for many many years.As public figures and as Catholics it is good to hold them to task, especially their pro-abortion stance. It is time for them to be held accountable publically for their support of “evil”!!!!Thank you again!!!!!

  20. Don Muench says:

    In reply to Amy Pawlak – he Church’s position on health care reform is NOT the same as the GOP’s!! Even if the bill explicitly bans payments for abortions or explicitky contains a conscience clause, the GOP will oppose the bill, because they think it’s “socialism”.

  21. Mike R says:

    Archbishop Dolan, I note that some 50 other CATHOLIC members of Congress voted against the abortion ban in the bill. Several of them are from NY and part of our Archdiocese. I feel there vote is a blatant disregard, actually even worse an attack upon a central tenent of our faith. How can they continue to get away with this behavior without a similar call to the carpet as Bishop Tobin has done. This vote by members of our local Church harms us all-it leads to discord and confusion. I feel it must be addressed head on individually with each person.

  22. Irene Baldwin says:

    I saw on another website that Bishop Tobin said “If you freely choose to be a Catholic, it means you believe certain things, you do certain things,” Bishop Tobin said on WPRO, a Providence radio station. “If you cannot do all that in conscience, then you should perhaps feel free to go somewhere else.” What an extraordinarily un-Christian thing to say! I thought even excommunicated Catholics were still considered Catholics. I don’t believe the bishop is setting a very good example for the rest of us.

  23. […] some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan […]

  24. […] response, the Archdiocese of New York declared Kennedy’s statement a “blast” and indicated that “Mr. Kennedy owes us an apology.” Rhode Island […]

  25. […] some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan […]

  26. Jane D. says:

    For those people convinced that the state will not “ration” health care, especially for the elderly or those terminally ill, I ask you to refresh your memory concerning Terry Schiavo. The actions of the state are well documented in that case.

  27. […] society do not lead to an increase in the number of unborn children victimized by abortion. In the words of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City, “All we ask is that [universal health care] be just […]