Cardinal Dolan, Can You Please Clarify?

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teapartySo I have to admit I’m pretty confused about something one of the leaders of the Church recently said. It seems to be the thing to do lately, so I might as well hop on the bandwagon. I’m not mad about something Pope Francis said, though. I know he’s been in the press a lot lately with all of his comments and interviews, but I’m not ticked off about him. I’m rather astounded and exasperated at the recent comments Cardinal Timothy Dolan made about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, in an interview with Meet the Press. You can see the article and listen to his comments here. Among other things he said, “We’ve been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time.  So we were kind of an early supporter in this.  Where we started bristling and saying, ‘Uh-oh, first of all this isn’t comprehensive, because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and it’s excluding the unborn baby,’ so we began to bristle at that.”

I honestly don’t know where to start. Obviously the issue of health care has been front and center since the passing of Obamacare and the recent disastrous rollout of the official website, The Church is one of the largest health care providers in the United States. (2009 stats) The Church is definitely in a position where it has a say in the health care debate that has swept this country for years. What I don’t understand is why the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) would even hint at the idea that they support something that is going to limit healthcare choices, increase the cost of healthcare, increase the doctor shortage, create a board with broad powers, and increase the national debt to unsustainable levels. Is that something that the Church is supposed to support or am I missing something here?

It’s been said that the healthcare industry is one sixth of the entire economy of the United States. With the painful implementation of Obamacare, the government has now radically altered and stuck it’s grubby hands into the middle of a huge portion of the US economy. I don’t think that you could find many people in the US who thought the pre-Obamacare healthcare system was perfect and in no need of reform, but is the only answer to have the government come into the middle of everything and impose its own multi-leveled bureaucratic nightmare on all of us? The bigger the government gets, the less respect and dignity is given to the individual, and this socialistic outreach from the Obama administration is something the American Cardinals should be speaking against adamantly.

The Catholic principle of subsidiarity is a teaching found in the Catechism, number 1894. It states “In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.”  What it is basically saying is that society should be ordered in a way in which responsibility is kept as close to the local individual as possible. We don’t need big government stepping in and running our lives when we can do it ourselves with greater efficiency. We don’t need the government telling us what healthcare we need, how we access it, and much less a panel that decides who gets health care and who doesn’t.

Obamacare is a monstrosity that should offend the senses of every Catholic in America. It blatantly violates the principal of subsidiarity and gives unprecedented power over many to a few politicians and the non-elected people they appoint. I’m shocked that Cardinal Dolan would indicate that the Church would’ve been just fine and dandy with Obamacare if it weren’t for that pesky abortion and contraception thing. The USCCB shouldn’t be a cheerleader for anybody. They are supposed to be our shepherds leading us to Christ. If there is another version of healthcare reform Cardinal Dolan supports, he didn’t make it clear in that interview.

He also mentioned that the reason the bishops didn’t support Obamacare is because it neglects the illegal immigrants. I have to admit that I struggle with this one. On one hand you have a large group of people who have fled the kind of poverty that most of us in the US are unfamiliar with, and on the other hand, this same group of people has broken our laws and has come in and jumped on every welfare option that we offer. They have been bought off by the Democrat party. It’s kind of sad that living off our government dole is a huge improvement to the lives they were leading in their home countries. As unsustainable as Obamacare is, I don’t see how we could enroll every illegal immigrant in this country and not bury ourselves even more in unsustainable debt. Is that really a service to them? Here, come into our country where we’ll give you really crappy health care. Sure, you’ll be covered, but the care won’t be that great. Is that charitable? Is that what the USCCB should support?

At the end of the day you can say I’m just baffled. From what I heard on that interview, Cardinal Dolan and his bishop buddies would have been just fine with Obamacare if it hadn’t been for abortion, contraception, and the exclusion of illegal immigrants. If he has a different version of healthcare reform that doesn’t involved a big government takeover reminiscent of some two-bit socialist dictator, then he failed to make the point. I really hope the bishops can get themselves together and try to understand that little teaching on subsidiarity. We are way too far down the infamous slippery slope for those funny hat wearing guys to be sending a ton of mixed messages.


Chris Ricketts

Chris Ricketts

Is this where I tell you how amazing I am and list all my impressive accomplishments? I am just a guy. On a daily basis I betray God and the Faith I claim to profess through thought and deed forcing me to beg His forgiveness on an often weekly basis. All of my talents are unearned and all of my accomplishments merit me nothing. I am completely at the Divine Mercy of Jesus the Redeemer who is willing to erase my daily sins when I am sensible enough to confess them.

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8 thoughts on “Cardinal Dolan, Can You Please Clarify?”

  1. Avatar

    What is interesting, too, is that Catholics are responsible for healthcare at all. In fact, one could make a compelling argument that Catholics invented Universal Healthcare.

    What a lot of people don’t know is that when Constantine signed the Edict of Milan in 313, he legalized Christianity, but that was not the Edict’s only purpose. It also charged each Cathedral to provide healthcare services. . Hospitals literally were born from the Cathedral. Of course, this was and still is a charitable ministry, not a business or enterprise But, through the Catholic lense, due vision has to be granted to the “big picture” of healthcare.

    Overall, and my opinion doesn’t mean squat, I agree with everything you said though. Food for thought.

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    love casts out fear

    Chris, I hear your frustration, but I have to disagree with you. There are many things I would like to say regarding the complexity of this, but I would be typing all night. On one level, we cannot conflate issues regarding Obamacare; the mandate to provide insurance for contraceptives, abortifacents and sterilizations is absolutely a problem, however the government intervening in health care is not morally problematic. This, of course touches on the principle of subsidiarity- I will not repeat it because you have stated it above. I would love to have a more textured plan that involves churches, schools, businesses, families, and non-profits- believe me! However, the fact remains there has been a segment of the population that has fallen through the cracks. Subsidiarity protects larger bodies from swallowing up the responsibilities and freedoms of smaller bodies, but with this said, the assumption is the smaller body has the capability. I have to question weather smaller bodies are capable since there has been a segement of the population that has not been provided with access to health care and the task is truly insurmountable for some families. Several years ago, I volunteered on a regular basis in a Christian clinic for the uninsured- it truly opened my eyes to the difficulties of working families. As well along with subsidiarity we must also acknowledge solidarity. I have heard it said that the two together are the goal posts of Catholic Social Teaching. I would imagine subsidiarity alone could slip into the primacy of individual rights wheras solidarity alone could swallow up the life of smaller bodies. I can go on and on but I recommend Pope Benedict’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” which addresses Catholic Social Teaching in light of the world-wide economic recession.

    1. Avatar

      Your true heartfelt compassion is shining through, God bless
      you, and as you say… “However, the government intervening in health care is not morally problematic.” because under normal circumstances that would be correct.

      But the political environment in America today is far different than normal. That would be like saying Roosevelt’s reaction to Pearl Harbor with the internment of Japanese Americans was not morally problematic when we declared war on Japan. It was a time of crisis and was given a pass. Today the war going on here is the result of a small segment of radical secular progressives that have gained
      control in Washington who want to “fundamentally transform America”
      from within and have been able by clever deception with a cooperative media to grant them “legal” privileges which were here to for unconstitutional.
      Not only did Catholics, left leaning of course but also those on the right who were told they would be showing racist or single issue voter characteristics if they voted against “our first opportunity to elect a black president”, help put in place the most anti-Catholic administration in our history but they, laity and clergy, flocked to the side of its leader bestowing honorary degrees and seeking the highest posts possible to assist him with every item on his agenda. The most paramount of all efforts which made this president feel he was invincible, even above his own obvious arrogance¸ came not from devotees Pelosi, Biden, or
      even Sebelius but from Chief Justice (denied) Roberts. As the clamoring crowd of his hero worshiping followers carried the ill begotten AFA to our highest court for legal approval saying the penalties in the law being forced on any unbelievers of the benevolence in his proposed takeover of the best health care
      system in the world were simply “fines” for disbelief, Justice (denied)
      Roberts, using all the judicial wisdom he could muster in an effort avoid
      offending THE ONE anointed the liberal messiah
      in most political circles who was daring anyone to stop the advancement of his quest for historical achievement, stepped to the side of common sense and blind justice based on the facts presented momentarily and advised the presidents lawyers to call the fines a “tax” in order to afford legality to confiscation of the nations health care system.
      Yes, as our Pope Francis has stated, the church is like a
      field hospital and we need to care for all the wounded and suffering out there but it is VERY important that we be sure those running the hospital wear the same uniforms and have the same values for life and morality as those waiting to go under the surgeons knife.

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    Typical “Dolanism”. Not surprising at all. A liberal who has been miscast as a conservative in the Church. Would suggest everyone do their own homework on “Modernism” in the church. Saint Pope Pius X encyclical “Pascendi” is a good start. He said it was the “synthesis of all heresy” in the Church up to that time. Vatican II was modernist culmination and we have been living with this disaster ever since. The “spirit of vatican 2″ has produced empty churches and ex catholics in the millions as it’s fruit. And thats just for openers. Do your homework and you will then begin to understand the Cdl Dolans of the Church and their well meaning but misguided actions. It’s very disturbing at best. However, the RCC is still the one true faith. It’s and God’s Church founded by his Son who is always and ultimately in charge. Therefore, no reason for despair but no excuse not to really know the faith, live the faith or to be uninformed or misinformed as well. The real problems are within the Church. As Pope Leo XIII said..”Catholics were born for combat”. Unfortunately, we have forgotten it and gone from the “Church Militant” to the “Church Nice” with predictable results and mass confusion. The public Pope Francis appears to be adding rather than clarifying the confusion so far. When enemies and haters of the Church start singing the praises of the Pope, that should be a heads up. Although small but telling IMHO was when PFI decided to discontinue wearing the customary Pope’s “red shoes”. He sent a signal for “change” alright and that he was going to be different. The red shoes symbolize the “blood of the martyrs” which the Church was founded…beginning with the greatest one and founder, Christ himself. A decision based on worldly considerations that was a poor choice. Hopefully, a pattern has not been established.

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    To think that this was just of Cardinal Dolan is wrong…the Bishops have been asking for healthcare to be more universally offered for a hundred plus years in our country. Obamacare has some glaring problems, but Dolan and the other Bishops would have been excited when they first saw this because they were the first people to ask for it. Subsidiarity is always important and it’s really great when it works. The Church is not a pioneer for capitalism and democracy, it is a pioneer for people, and that’s the issue here.

    I like Obamacare as little as the next day, but think it’s a tragedy when people aren’t cared for, and just because we think it leans socialist doesn’t mean the government shouldn’t pursue a way to alleviate people’s sufferings.

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