Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of Health and Hosts

As the 64th UN General Assembly opened in New York with the city's archbishop calling for the global body to "recognize the human person as the heart of all institutions, laws and works of society," the Vatican's former lead hand at the Manhattan mission said he "cannot but applaud" the current Democratic push for health-care reform.

Given in an interview with Catholic News Service, Cardinal Renato Martino's comments came earlier today at the close of a Vatican press conference:
"The health of their own citizens belongs to the authorities, to the central government. And so I have been 16 years in the States and I was wondering why a big portion of the American people is deprived, have no health assistance at all. I could never explain this….

"And you know that everywhere in the world it is a concern of the government first of all, and after there are possibilities also on the private sector, but those who are without anything… the central government must provide to that. So I cannot but applaud this initiative."
The morning briefing at which Martino appeared was held to talk up the Van Thuan Prize, named for the Italian's predecessor as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vietnamese Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who spent 14 years as a political prisoner before being exiled and landing in the Roman post. Van Thuan died in 2002.

This year's award will be given to Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, whose pledge to veto a bill legalizing euthanasia on grounds of conscience last year led to his being stripped of executive power in the mini-state.

As USCCB officials "welcomed" President Obama's pledge last week that any reform measures would include no Federal funding for abortions, the administration's lead mover on the project made her first public comments about the "pastoral action" that saw her publicly called out of the Communion line over her support for abortion rights in defiance of church teaching.

Now Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius told the Washington Post that Archbishop Joseph Naumann's request that she refrain from the Eucharist was "one of the most painful things I've ever experienced in my life."

Naumann took the step early last year after the then-Kansas governor vetoed a bill that would've mandated information on alternatives to abortion and an unborn child's development in advance of the procedure.

Deflecting a question over whether she personally agreed with Obama's stance on abortion funding, the HHS chief likewise declined comment when asked if she continued to present herself for Communion.