Cardinal Says He Confronted Obama on Abortion, Health Care at Kennedy Funeral

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 4, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Cardinal Says He Confronted Obama on Abortion, Health Care at Kennedy Funeral

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 4
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Catholic bishop of Boston, has drawn fire from pro-life Catholics for attending the funeral of the late pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy. O’Malley says he did so with a purpose — to confront President Barack Obama about abortion funding in the government-run health care bills.

Cardinal O’Malley posted a blog late Thursday in response to criticism of him participating in a funeral honoring the Massachusetts abortion advocate.

“I had the opportunity to speak briefly with President Obama, to welcome him to the Basilica and to share with him that the bishops of the Catholic Church are anxious to support a plan for universal health care," he writes.

O’Malley says he warned Obama that "we not support a plan that will include a provision for abortion or could open the way to abortions in the future."

"The President was gracious in the short time we spoke, he listened intently to what I was saying," the bishop writes.

Obama has come under fire for saying that pro-life advocates are lying about the inclusion of abortion funding in the government health care bills.

Obama said last month that pro-life advocates are making "phony claims" about the legislation.

He said the discussion of the government-run health care plans should be "an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are."

Obama said: "Some are also saying that coverage for abortions would be mandated under reform. Also false. When it comes to the current ban on using tax dollars for abortions, nothing will change under reform."

However, other Catholic bishops have made it clear that abortion funding is present.

Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa issued a message on Tuesday that has pro-life Catholics cheering.

The upshot? No health care "reform" is better than a restructuring that forces abortion funding or mandates.

"First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research," Nickless writes. "We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils."

He says the main bill in the House, HR 3200 "does not meet" the pro-life standards he and his colleagues have set forth.

"As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted," he explained.

The Senate HELP bill "also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage."

Meanwhile, O’Malley also said he did not attend the funeral to support Kennedy’s pro-abortion positions but in spite of them.

"Needless to say, the Senator’s wake and Catholic funeral were controversial because of the fact that he did not publicly support Catholic teaching and advocacy on behalf of the unborn," he writes.

"Given the profound effect of Catholic social teaching on so many of the programs and policies espoused by Senator Kennedy and the millions who benefited from them, there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn. To me and many Catholics it was a great disappointment because, had he placed the issue of life at the centerpiece of the Social Gospel where it belongs, he could have multiplied the immensely valuable work he accomplished," he continued.

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