Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Respect Life... at All Its "Borders"

With this weekend seeing the US church's observance of Respect Life Sunday, the national message for the annual event turns to the ongoing debate over health-care reform, calling for the inclusion of "the unborn, the poor, the elderly," and -- regardless of legal status -- "the immigrant" in any proposed Federal package.

Issued earlier today, here's the fulltext of the message from the US bishops' chair for Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia:

The statement is the Philly cardinal's swan-song as holder of the USCCB's most prominent policy portfolio; elected to the pro-life chair late last year, Cardinal Dan DiNardo of Galveston-Houston begins his three-year term at the body's November Meeting in Baltimore.

In a likely preview of his tenure's message-strategy, the South's first cardinal recently said that the church "cannot be used to support sides that have only their own agenda" in the reform debate.

"Instead, we must make clear and repeat the major principles that need to be safeguarded while the various sides of the debate engage in the difficult legislative work of providing what is genuine universal coverage," DiNardo wrote in an August column, summarizing the principles as follows:
[W]e support universal health coverage which protects the life and dignity of each person, a coverage that is thus truly universal, especially for the poor and the vulnerable. This coverage must also be assured for all from conception to natural death. For this same reason, we oppose any efforts to expand abortion funding, mandate abortion coverage or endanger the conscience rights of health care providers and religious institutions. There are long standing current policies on these issues that must be preserved – policies at the federal level that have received wide support. Such policies cannot be compromised now.