Catholic Bishops President: We Were Right on Abortion, Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 15, 2010   |   6:55PM   |   Baltimore, MD

In his final speech as the outgoing president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis E. George said the nation’s Catholic bishops were right on abortion and health care.

In his talk to open the week-long annual meeting of the bishops, Cardinal George talked about the “wound to the church’s unity” caused by way in which some groups took a divergent position from the bishops favoring ObamaCare.

But the pro-life Catholic leader said “developments since the passage of the legislation” confirmed “our analysis of what the law itself says was correct and our moral judgments are secure.”

The Catholic bishops ultimately took a position opposing the final legislation because language was not added to it to prevent abortion funding, sufficiently stop rationing, and protect the conscience rights of pro-life medical professionals.

Though he did not specifically say what the developments were, the line makes it appear the bishops feel confident those problems were never corrected.

Cardinal George also brought up the matter of “who speaks for the Catholic Church” — a sore spot for pro-life Catholics because groups like the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United and others made it appear Catholics could support the ObamaCare bill despite the abortion funding and they provided political cover for the lawmakers who eventually voted to pass the bill.

“The bishops … speak for the church in matters of faith and in moral issues and the laws surrounding them,” he said. “All the rest is opinion, often well-considered opinion and important opinion that deserves a careful and respectful hearing, but still opinion.”

“We need to be deeply concerned, however, about the wound to the church’s unity that has been inflicted in this debate and I hope, trusting in the good will of all concerned, that means can be found to restore the seamless garment of ecclesial communion,” he added.

Cardinal George also dismissed arguments that the Catholic bishops couldn’t understand the complexities of the ObamaCare bill — a sarcastic, though sometimes genuine, argument detractors have made.

“If you will excuse my saying so, this implies either that no one can understand or judge complicated pieces of legislation, in which case it is immoral to act until sufficient clarity is obtained, or it is to say that only bishops are too dense to understand complicated pieces of legislation,” Cardinal George said to laughter.

The bishops will be voting this week to elect a successor to Cardinal George and the candidates include pro-life champion Archbishop Chaput of Denver, Colorado and other bishops have spoken up about pro-life issues.

The list also includes Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, who presents concerns for several pro-life Catholic bloggers who have noticed his cozy relationships with abortion advocates.