Stephan Phelan, communications director for Human Life International, has written a thoughtful article at Catholic Advocate on the recent scandal at the Catholic Health Association and its impact on “the future of Catholic unity.”
Phelan’s concern is underscored by the statement of three Cardinals on behalf of the USCCB, referring to CHA’s “rogue” support of the health care bill with funding for abortion.
The assertion of support by the media, Congressional leaders, and the Obama administration went unchallenged by Sr. Keehan, and, as a result, the Church suffered immeasurable damage. Once again, the Church appeared divided even on the question of the value of the life of the most vulnerable Americans. Indeed, Cardinals DiNardo, Murphy, and Wester, speaking for the USCCB, issued a statement on May 21 singling out the CHA for its responsibility for sowing “confusion” and opening a ‘wound to Catholic unity.’ This statement does not bode well for CHA’s future, but suggests the meaning of being Catholic in America will be readjusted by the bishops as a result of the controversy.
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Phelan believes this public rebuke of Sr. Keehan and the CHA will lead to further action.
But, it isn’t only the authority of the bishops that is at stake, although one would think that alone would be cause for severe sanctions against the CHA. The very possibility of unity on the clearest teachings of the Faith is at stake, not to mention the very definition of the word “Catholic.” Great violence has been done to the Church by the actions of the CHA, not to mention the violence that many expect will be increased against the most vulnerable Americans once this law takes full effect.
The Catholic bishops will be meeting in June, and we can be sure that the health care debacle and CHA’s role in it will be discussed. The May 21 USCCB statement descrying “the wound to Catholic unity” in the health care debate was merely the opening salvo in that debate. Without doubt, there are difficult hurdles to doing what needs to be done to this rogue organization – problems having to do with its independent status and the possibility of collateral damage.