Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Catholics must be heard on healthcare reform

That is the headline of Bishop Howard Hubbard's column in last week's Evangelist. We could not agree more. As the Bishop notes:
The bishops of the United States have advocated on behalf of universal, affordable and accessible health care for decades. We believe that every person created in the image and likeness of God has a basic human right to those things necessary to sustain life.

The fact that more than 46 million Americans lack healthcare insurance is morally unacceptable. Thus, we support healthcare reform that respects the life and dignity of every person from conception until natural death.

That means the unborn, the disabled, the mentally ill, the addicted, the single mother, the preschooler, the cancer sufferer, the person with HIV/AIDS disease, the immigrant, the frail elderly and the dying.

While the bishops of our country have not proposed a specific reform package or taken a position for or against a public sector option, we have articulated some guiding principles.

He lists those principles in his column, here. Bishop Hubbard also addresses the manner in which we conduct this discussion:
That people have a strong interest in this issue and intense feelings about something that potentially would affect every American in some way is understandable.

Indeed, in our pluralistic democracy, it is imperative that there be extensive consultation and vigorous debate about such a vital concern.

However, what has been disturbing about many of the town hall meetings and other forums for comment is the intemperate rhetoric and threatening behavior which seemed omnipresent.

The shouting over others, the disruptive tactics and the deliberate misrepresentation of opposing perspectives that have been all too frequent are unacceptable in a society committed to mutual respect, tolerance and civil discourse.

It is imperative, then, as the healthcare debate unfolds in Congress, the media, the internet and other public forums that we seek to address this issue in a dignified way that relies on facts, rational analysis and persuasion, not manipulative distortions, fear and intimidation.

These are good principles that we not only should follow ourselves, but share with others.