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04 / 09 / 2009 - Bishop outlines four principles for genuine health care reform
Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota Samuel J. Aquila has written a letter encouraging priests, deacons, vowed religious and laymen to become engaged in promoting “genuine health care reform.” His letter presents four principles on which to evaluate legislative proposals for health care plans.
He said health care plans must exclude any provisions which deny “the dignity of human life,” such as abortion, passive or active euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research. It would be “inherently inconsistent” to expand access to health care without safeguarding human life from conception onward, Bishop Aquila wrote. “True health care begins with the unborn child in the womb,” he explained. “When a given plan to provide care fails to protect that life, it is no longer animated by a source of truth and justice, thus it will not, and cannot, flourish.”
Killing unborn children, he continued, has “nothing to do with promoting health.”
The bishop listed conscience protection as another important facet of health care for health care professionals, participants in health care plans, and society in general.
“The doctors, nurses and health care professionals who possess such medical expertise are prime candidates for coercion from those who would destroy the most vulnerable human lives. The right to follow one’s conscience, as informed by God, must be guaranteed,” he stated.
“In no way should taxpayers or policy holders be forced to participate in plans, whether private or public, which fund procedures that violate the moral precepts of the faith.”
Another principle of reform is access for all, Bishop Aquila added.
“Finding ways to provide medical care to those who have none is a perennial priority for the Church,” he wrote, adding that access to health care must be ensured for the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, legal immigrants and the unborn.
The bishop invoked the concept of subsidiarity as his fourth principle. He quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s description of subsidiarity, which holds that a “higher order” of society should not needlessly interfere with or displace a “lower order.”
“As a society seeks to bring about any good such as health care, there are many organic and intermediate groups which cooperate together to reach the desired goal. There is a danger in being persuaded to think that the national government is the sole instrument of the common good,” he continued.
“Many different communities within society share this responsibility,” Bishop Aquila explained, naming communities such as the state, towns, fraternal organizations, businesses, cooperatives, parishes and the family as contributors to the social fabric.
The bishop encouraged readers of his letter to visit the web sites of the North Dakota Catholic Conference and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, located at http://www.usccb.org/healthcare.
He also exhorted Catholics to be joined by the Holy Spirit in “fervent prayer” to God the Father with Jesus Christ.
God is “the Lord of history who continues to guide and direct our world with the power of his truth and love. May we trust in him who continually inspires us to arduously work for the health, well-being and flourishing of all human life from the moment of conception through natural death.”