Friday, March 27, 2009

Bench: Conscience Rights = Human Rights

Fresh off the Mothership wire: comments from the US bishops' domestic-policy czar, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, equating the Obama administration's intended rollback of conscience protection provisions for healthcare providers with a rollback of human rights.

Implemented after the November elections, the rules were a "midnight gift" from the Bush administration to its pro-life base.
Taking back the regulations “raises a real issue, because the statutes are intended to protect human rights – rights of conscience and rights of freedom of religion,” Bishop Murphy said. “So why should everyone be concerned about this? Because if one person's rights can be compromised, everybody's rights can be compromised.”

Bishop Murphy called it a fallacy that any government gives rights.

“There's a real problem in that kind of thinking” said Bishop Murphy. “The government did not give us rights and the government is acting wrongly if it attempts to try to regulate rights in the sense of compromising anyone's rights. All the government can do is foster and guarantee and defend rights. Otherwise it's a false government.”

Bishop Murphy also noted that it is important for lay people to be informed about conscience protection and recognize the need to make their voices heard.

“The bishops by themselves cannot do it,” said Bishop Murphy. “The lay men and women of our churches, of our parishes and dioceses across the country have to be the voices of the Catholic Church today. Their voice is stronger than ours in many instances because they are the constituents, because they vote and because the politicians know they need the votes to be re-elected.”
The comments were originally made in an extended interview Murphy gave Tuesday to CNS.

The conscience protection push has garnered heavy investment from the bench's top ranks, including a video message from the Chief, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George: