U.S. Nuns Take Issue With Health Care Bill

Say It's Not "Ethically Sound"

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WASHINGTON, MARCH 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious is asking for "ethically sound" legislation on health care, which it says isn't found in the bill currently being debated on Capital Hill.



The council sent out a statement today saying it supports the position of the president of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who opposes the "Senate’s version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection."

The council's president, Religious Sister of Mercy Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, signed the note.

The statement comes on the heels recent statements from groups such as Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who "oppose the Catholic Church's position on critical issues of health care reform."

The note of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious added that it "believes the bishops' position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church."

"Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation," the communiqué concluded.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which represents more than 100 religious communities and 10,000 members, is a canonically approved organization founded in 1992 to promote religious life in the United States.

Network

The U.S. bishops took direct issue with the endorsement from Network, which touts itself as a national Catholic social justice lobby.

"We write to urge you to cast a life-affirming 'yes' vote when the Senate health care bill comes to the floor of the House for a vote as early as this week," Network said a letter to Congress this week. "We join the Catholic Health Association of the United States [...] in saying: The time is now for health reform and the Senate bill is a good way forward."

The letter stated that the organization represents 59,000 Catholic sisters, a number the U.S. bishops said was "grossly overstated."

"Network’s letter, about health care reform, was signed by a few dozen people, and despite what Network said, they do not come anywhere near representing 59,000 American sisters," said a communiqué issued today by the conference.

"The letter had 55 signatories, some individuals, some groups of three to five persons. One endorser signed twice," it added. "There are 793 religious communities in the United States.

"The math is clear. Network is far off the mark."

Colorado

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver sent a letter to the Catholics of Northern Colorado to not be fooled by endorsements from organizations that oppose the U.S. bishops' conference.

"In the past two days, congressional leaders and the White House have brought tremendous pressure on pro-life Democratic members of Congress to support a fatally flawed Senate version of health care reform," the note said.

It continued: "Regrettably, groups like Network and the Catholic Health Association have done a grave disservice to the American Catholic community by undermining the leadership of the nation’s Catholic bishops, sowing confusion among faithful Catholics, and misleading legislators through their support of the Senate bill.

"Do not be fooled.  Nothing has changed. The Senate bill remains gravely flawed on the issues of abortion funding, conscience protections and the inclusion of immigrants.  

"Unless seriously revised to address these issues, the Senate version of health care is unethical and should be firmly opposed."