For New White House, the Wuerlpool Is "Open"
The bishops support some of Mr. Obama's goals, such as universal health insurance. But they are alarmed by his promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would abolish restrictions on legal abortion and require health providers -- including Catholic ones -- to offer the procedure.When Wuerl's predecessor arrived in the capital in 2001, alongside him came a new administration. And it just so happened that the newly-inaugurated President Bush's first Washington dinner outside the White House was hosted by the city's archbishop.
"We are particularly concerned with the freedom of conscience of health-care workers and the Catholic health-care system," [Cardinal George] said, saying Catholic institutions provide at least one-third of all health care in Illinois. "They stand as witnesses to the world that there is someplace in our society where no one is deliberately killed."
The Obama team has indicated that he may quickly overturn the Bush administration's ban on the destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., urged caution. "I would hope that on issues as significant as defending and protecting human life, there would be no precipitous action to change where we are in public policy. That should really be something that reflects a great deal of thought, conversation and reflection," he said.
The archbishop, who has been a guest at the White House several times since his 2006 appointment, said it is the task of bishops to address public policy, but that he was open to talk with the new administration.
Bishop David Zubik, Archbishop Wuerl's successor in Pittsburgh, praised Cardinal George's speech for what it said about positive change in race relations and for drawing the connection to abortion. Shortly before the election, Bishop Zubik had written that opposition to abortion should be the paramount issue.
Since Mr. Obama won, he said, "I'm hoping that there will be more of a middle ground," rather than winner-take-all on the issue.
Maybe, just maybe, it's a tradition worth continuing... just this time, with the Veep in tow.
Alongside Bishop Jerome Listecki of LaCrosse, the DC prelate stands for election to the chairmanship of the bishops' Committee on Doctrine in tomorrow's public session.