dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

"False claims"

E. J. Dionne's latest column is up on our Web site. When it comes to the Senate bill and its prolife provisions, he takes the side of the Catholic sisters who support it. Dionne points out something that strikes me as important, especially in light of accusations that the Catholic sisters have disrespected the bishops by publicly questioning their conclusions about the Senate bill:

Rather astonishingly, the bishops' statement misrepresented the view of the CHA, whose members include 600 Catholic hospitals and 1,400 nursing homes.Cardinal George acknowledged that the bishops' "analysis of the flaws in the legislation is not completely shared by the leaders of the Catholic Health Association." Then he said: "They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill."But Sister Carol, as she is known, said the latter assertion was flatly not true. "We're not saying that," she said. Her organization believes the bill as currently written guarantees that there will be no federal funding for abortion and does not need to be "corrected." Why the bishops would distort the position of the church's major health association is, to be charitable, a mystery.

At least one bishop has had to correct himself after relying on that inaccurate summary from the USCCB. St. Petersburg's bishop, Robert Lynch, is also on the board of the CHA. But he was in the hospital as a patient when the CHA released its statement. Catching up with the debate, he backed the USCCB on his blog -- until Sister Carol ("a good woman of the Church, no liberal trouble-maker by any stretch of the imagination," he avers) contacted him to set the record straight. He did so, much to his credit, in another blog post.The CHA did have some specific suggestions for what might be included in the reconciliation package, which they expressed in a letter (pdf file here). But they weren't about abortion. However you may respond to Cardinal George's "Midwestern parlance," his line about "a pig in a poke" is based on a completely inaccurate understanding of what the CHA (and others) actually said.Given what's at stake, it is vitally important to get this right. If you're inclined to give the bishops' interpretation more weight simply because it comes from the bishops, this sort of thing should give you pause. Even bishops can make mistakes. But this is a matter about which we can't afford to be careless.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Thanks for posting this, Mollie, and I think Bishop Lynch's follow-up blog post has some very wise comments in it, to wit:

"Passions run high in this matter, sometimes at the expense of rational analysis. I will try and keep myself informed of the developments throughout this week and continue to share my thoughts with you here."

Speaking of which, a signal development via Ezra Klein:

CBO: Health-care reform bill cuts deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years, covers 95%Washington has spent the past week or so waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to release its preliminary estimate of the Senate bill with the reconciliation fixes. Not only are those numbers important for the debate, but Democratic leaders refuse to release the actual text of their changes until CBO releases the specifics of its analysis.According to a Democratic source, CBO has finished its work and will release the official preliminary score later today. But here are the basic numbers: The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years -- so, 2020 to 2029 -- it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.To put this in context, that's more deficit reduction than either the House or Senate bill, and more coverage than the Senate bill.How they got these numbers, and whether there are important qualifiers, will be easier to say once CBO releases its analysis. But the bottom line is that this is the exact sort of score that Democrats wanted, and is in fact considerably better than some had come to expect they would receive. Coverage is better than the Senate bill, which will reassure liberals, and deficit reduction is better than either bill, which will reassure conservatives.

Mollie, I agree that it is to Bishop Lynch's credit that he corrected himself. Cardinal George should do the same. The rest of his analysis seems an accurate summary of the Pro-Life Secretariat's work.David G - That is a major development, and great news. It should also be mentioned that those CBO numbers would depend on the Senate passing the House's reconciliation fixes. The House vote, by itself, won't deliver those CBO savings, but will present the President a bill to sign into law without those fixes.

This is pretty remarkable from Stupak to FoxNews:

Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich, responded sharply to White House officials touting a letter representing 59,000nuns that was sent to lawmakers urging them to pass the health care bill.The conservative Democrat dismissed the action by the White House saying, "When I'm drafting right to life language, I don't call up the nuns." He says he instead confers with other groups including "leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee."

Sounds like you're in favor of deem-and-pass, Jim?George should correct his statement, yes, but it would take more than a quick correction to fix this mistake. The whole argument would need to be reshaped. You can't say your take on the bill is correct "Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters..." if you then go on to demonstrate that you may not have even considered the substance of those denials and explanations. There's at least one other big slip along those same lines in the USCCB statement. Paragraph four, emphasis theirs:

The status quo in federal abortion policy, as reflected in the Hyde Amendment, excludes abortion from all health insurance plans receiving federal subsidies. In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs.

No. The bill doesn't provide that only one plan will be available that does not cover abortion -- it says that there must be at least one plan available that does not cover abortion. The whole point of this provision is to make sure that everyone has a health-insurance option that doesn't require them to buy abortion coverage -- so that they will not be "forced to choose" a plan that covers abortion (as many are now, at least if they consider forgoing health insurance altogether an impossibility). This wording makes it sound like the Senate bill is taking away options, when in fact it's protecting them. (As for the rest of the assertions based on this, well, I refer you again to our editorial.) The bishops' take could be right despite these errors. But, as I said, given what's at stake, they ought to be very vigilant about the possibility of error. David, that quote from Stupak is remarkable in many ways. Not least because it suggests that the nuns haven't based their opinion on consultation with experts. Although they quite plainly stated otherwise in their letter. And I haven't found gaffes like the ones mentioned here in their take.

The bishops statement is based upon the 'trust but verify' reasoning that is often mentioned by the health reform opposition. That they use this Reagan quote about his dealings with 'the evil empire' I guess we should take away from their rhetoric, the USCCB deems the Dems and Obama are the new evil empire.I happen to belong to a HMO ,Kaiser Permenente that performs abortions. If I leave wont my pre-existing conditions exclude me from a non abortion insurance program? What do you people on the anti health reform side do about your own health insurance plans if they insure abortions? opt out? Quit your job? let's hear what you do. What leverage do you have if your plan now does not cover abortion and the private administrators of the plan include it?.

"What do you people on the anti health reform side do about your own health insurance plans if they insure abortions? opt out? Quit your job? lets hear what you do."I do not know what "anti health reform" means exactly, but I will take that position ad arrguendo. What I do is not buy health insurance.

I notice that the Network Sisters' letter and Mr. Yost both cite the figure of 45,000 as the annual number of deaths that are due to a lack of insurance. Im not claiming they are committing a gaffe but I hope supporters of the Obama legislation do not put too much credence in that figure, despite its widespread use. Its usually cited as though a Harvard study has firmly established the conclusion. There are clearly other reasons to pass this legislation but more caution about the reduction of deaths to be expected would be wise.The 45,000 figure is disputed in the March Atlantic by Megan McArdle (and in many of her blog writings.) It should be mentioned that Ezra Klein and the New Republic have responded to McArdle, though I dont believe they defend the 45,000 number. Others cling to an earlier study claiming 18,000 deaths would be avoided, i.e., delayed.Heres McArdle:http://www.theatlantic.com/business/print/2010/02/how-many-people-die-fr..., an organization that tries to sort out conflicting claims, similarly concludes:once you compare death rates in an apples-to-apples fashion comparing insured smokers to uninsured smokers, for instance the likelihood of dying evens out. This, in turn, would mean that IOM's estimate of 18,000 deaths would drop essentially to zero. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2009/aug/20/second-opini... interesting is Richard Kronicks study which reaches a conclusion he didnt want to reach:The Institute of Medicine's estimate that lack of insurance leads to 18,000 excess deaths each year is almost certainly incorrect. It is not possible to draw firm causal inferences from the results of observational analyses, but there is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.http://www.hsr.org/hsr/abstract.jsp?aid=4470695438

MATAnd I don't know what ad arrguendo is. MAT the answer is .. health reform is what will happen this weekend. Wow .. no insurance... even Buffet has insurance.. what's your plan for the hoi polloi?you really go bare?.. what will you do about the mandate?

Bravo, Bishop Lynch.

Not all Nuns are in dying congregations. Some are in growing and happy and faithful congregations. Those Nuns issued the following letter. i assume these Nuns do not count for you.[The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious CMSWR represents over 103 communities and 10,000 members.]Council of Major Superiors of Women ReligiousP.O. Box 4467 Washington, D.C. 20017-0467Telephone: (202) 832-2575 FAX: (202) 832-6325 E-mail: cmswr@ix.netcom.comMarch 17, 2010In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States Bishops in opposition to the Senates version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection. Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Churchs position on critical issues of health care reform.The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the second conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, believes the Bishops position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church.Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, R.S.M.PresidentOn behalf of the Membership of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

Also this from The Corner about Carol Keehan and the CHA, from the former chief pro-life spokesman for the USCCB:Catholic Health Association Cant Be Trusted on Obamacare The Catholic Health Association recently endorsed the Senate version of the health-care bill, giving President Obama cover to push pro-life House Democrats to vote for it.But the CHAs statement is deceptive, and its history on the issue of life is highly suspect.The statement issued by Sr. Carol Keehan, CHAs president and CEO, reads: We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions, followed by a description of how people who want abortion coverage in their government insurance will be required to write a separate personal check for the cost. Clearly the implication is that the separate check an abortion surcharge cures the abortion-funding problem. Nothing could be further from the truth.What Keehan ignores, intentionally or otherwise, is section 1303, which provides federal subsidies for health plans that cover abortions and requires everyone to pay for others' abortions through taxes and the abortion surcharge; section 1334, which authorizes the government-run multi-state plans to cover elective abortions; and section 10503, which provides millions of dollars to community health-care centers who will be free to use those dollars for elective abortions. The presidents proposal to amend the Senate bill leaves these sections in place.The notion that the Catholic Health Association would float a straw man to cover President Obamas abortion problems is not surprising, given its sketchy history on sanctity of life issues.For example, in 2004 CHA took issue with Pope John Paul II when he spoke of the obligation to feed and care for the most helpless of patients. The popes pronouncement at the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State was clear: The provision of water and food, even by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life and is morally obligatory. The CHA called this plain language ambiguous and instructed its members not to change their approach an approach, according to USA Today (4/01/04), which considered tube feeding as medical treatment which could be discontinued in light of burdens on a patients family, among other reasons.Later when the Vatican re-affirmed that the pope had, indeed, meant what he said, the CHA demurred again through its bioethicist Fr. Kevin ORourke who mischaracterized the Vaticans position. Not incidentally, ORourke is the same bioethicist who signed a legal brief against Terri's Law, telling the Miami Herald: For Christians, it is a blasphemy to keep people [like Terri Schiavo] alive as if you were doing them a favor.The CHA has also endorsed the use of the morning-after pill in Catholic hospitals, which can cause the death of a human embryo. In 2002, it defended its position in its journal, Health Progress, through a series of breathtakingly cavalier claims, including that the risk of pregnancy resulting from rape is very small and the probable effect of the pill is prevention of conception rather than causing the death of a conceptus. In other words, there might be a baby, but he probably wont die, so Catholic hospitals should provide the pill.It is important to remember what the Catholic Health Association is, and what it is not. It is a voluntary association of Catholic hospitals, but not the only voice from the Catholic health-care community. The Catholic Medical Association is the largest professional association of Catholic physicians and has been strongly critical of the Senate bill.The CHA has no official jurisdiction over any Catholic health-care institution, and it is not The Bishops not by a long shot. On Tuesday, the Vatican newspaper LOsservatore Romano underscored this point, saying, The CHA's position does not reflect in any way the convictions of the United States Bishops Conference.Also on Tuesday, CHA board member Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg publicly disagreed with Sister Keehan, describing the Senate bill as a vehicle that expands abortion rights [and] weakens conscience clause protection. Bishop Lynch wrote on his blog: I side with the USCCB on this one.The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, issued a stinging indictment of the Senate bill after the CHA endorsement, saying the bill forces all of us to become involved in . . . the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born. It must be opposed, wrote Cardinal George, unless its serious moral problems are addressed.Congress is poised to approve a bill that would force Americans to pay for the largest expansion of abortion in America since Roe v. Wade. Let no one be fooled by the Catholic Health Associations folly. Cathy Ruse is senior fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council. She was formerly the chief spokesperson on human-life issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"you really go bare?.. what will you do about the mandate?"Yes. Health insurance has no value to me so I do not pay for it. What about the mandate? I assume I will be forced to pay a tax, right? So what else is new. Stinks for the five immediate family members I have who lost their jobs since 21 Jan 09 and who I have to date been helping out financially.

Icontinue to beleive that the one issue right to life folks, like Egloff and MAT, are their own worst enemies continuing the same arguments and attackin ganyone who doesn't see it their way.I reference the balance comment of Bill Collier on the previous thread about this.

Eggloff, Will you relate to the blog by Peter Nixon on this matter rather than speak in generalites and unsupported assertions.

I am going to stop commenting, because it's getting harder and harder not to discuss the great unmentioned in the debate -- we are in a position where arcane statutory interpretation of federal law is a teaching of the Catholic Church but placement of priests who committed monstrous crimes against children was a matter of prudential judgment. I think I'll reread La Chute this weekend.

My nomination for the understatement of the century:"Even bishops can make mistakes."Mollie's tongue must be bleeding intensely. I hope she has good health insurance.

"Sounds like youre in favor of deem-and-pass, Jim?"Darn it, now you've called me out. :-)I stand with the bishops.But ... if it does pass, *and* the package of revisions passes the Senate and is signed into law, *and* the CBO financial projections are right, *and* the abortion best-case-scenarioism being touted here turns out to be true, then - I'm ecstatic. A lot of stars have to align, though.Or do you mean I'm in favor of the deem-and-pass process? Yuck. But it's like reconciliation - if it's one of the rules of the House, then I don't have a principled objection to the rule per se. But I think it's an incredibly, unbelievably weaselly move by the House leadership. As Kathleen Parker said, " If health-care reform as proposed were so good for the nation, why wouldn't legislators prefer to run on rather than away from that record? If you can't run on the strength of the laws you pass, then either you shouldn't be running or you shouldn't be passing."

"George should correct his statement, yes, but it would take more than a quick correction to fix this mistake. The whole argument would need to be reshaped."Not at all. The section about the CHA is a small part of the statement and not at all the central message.

If Sr. Carol Keehan can send an email to Bishop Lynch, then she can do the same to Cardinal George. Has she? We don't know. But direct, private communication seems preferable to dueling press releases.

Eggloff: Please provide a link when you're copying-and-pasting something from elsewhere.Unfortunately, this is incorrect:

Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Churchs position on critical issues of health care reform.

Those statements explicitly affirm the Catholic Church's position. They disagree with the USCCB's assessment of the Senate Bill based on that position. Jim, I think they ought to just vote on the bill. I think they should have done it long before now. But the whole reason they're considering the self-excuting rule is to avoid having to vote for the bill without the reconciliation fixes that improve it.

Speaking of regrettable and deplorable, what are we to make of Dionne's lead paragraph?It's not "astonishing" that the USCCB may have mischaracterized the CHA's statement. I didn't find it a model of clarity, either. It never actually says, "we endorse the Senate bill", and the last paragraph seems to hedge on whatever she's saying. (Her email to Bishop Lynch was much better in this regard). There could be an innocent and forgiveable explanation for the USCCB's mischaracterization. Did Dionne ask anyone? Why the rush to assume the worst?

I read or heard somewhere that the whole point of the ramp-up this week is to get it done before Representatives leave for spring break (or whatever they call it) - the implication being that once they get back to their home districts and feel the heat first-hand, their feet will quick-freeze. Originally today was to be the last day to vote before everyone scatters. Does anyone know if that is still the case?

The great unmentioned? How much longer will the abuse situation be the answer to every issue in the Church?

Jim, I'm just repeating myself, but you don't seem to be taking this in.The central message of the bishops' statement is that the Senate bill must be opposed. Given what's at stake (boy, I'm feeling like a broken record), it's imperative that the bishops not be wrong about this: it has to actually be true that there is no way a prolife person can in good faith support this bill. Now, there are other, credible interpretations that say otherwise. George's statement asserts that the USCCB has considered and dismissed those interpretations as invalid. And yet he goes on to indicate that the USCCB has dismissed those interpretations without comprehending them. It's a major problem, not a minor slip. I wouldn't share Dionne's hunch about the bishops' motives, but "astonishing" is not too strong a word. At all.

From the USCCB statement:"In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. "... which Mollie critiqued: "No. The bill doesnt provide that only one plan will be available that does not cover abortion it says that there must be at least one plan available that does not cover abortion. The whole point of this provision is to make sure that everyone has a health-insurance option that doesnt require them to buy abortion coverage so that they will not be forced to choose a plan that covers abortion (as many are now, at least if they consider forgoing health insurance altogether an impossibility). This wording makes it sound like the Senate bill is taking away options, when in fact its protecting them. "Hi, Mollie, I think you might be over-reading in this case. Had the statement said, "all other plans ... *must* do so", then I'd agree with your critique. But my understanding, and what you've described, does seem to mean that all others "can do so". I agree that the statement could have been worded more artfully.

Jim, the problem is the "only one plan will be available that does not cover abortion." I wish I could say that, if they just crossed out the "only," the rest would be correct, but in fact fixing that mistake would (again!) require a more drastic revision.

Hi, Mollie, let's agree to disagree about the point of the USCCB statement.

Jim, I am happy to agree to disagree with you personally about what "only" means. But I can do that because no one's calling my opinion, or yours, a "teaching of the Catholic Church," or suggesting that disagreeing with either one of us is disloyal and un-Catholic. If the bishops are wrong about this, we need to know it. And the people who are now saying the bishops are wrong are doing a pretty important service to the rest of us, if they're correct. That's why this matters.UPDATE: I just want to reiterate this. Part of the reason it is so "astonishing" that the USCCB statement mischaracterizes the position of the CHA is that they're conflating two things -- the statement of Sr. Keehan explaining that she's satisfied the Senate Bill doesn't include federal funding for abortion, and the letter in which the CHA lays out its recommendations for improvements not related to abortion that could be made during reconciliation. I linked to both in the post above. It takes a lot of carelessness to jumble all that up into "the CHA agrees that the abortion provisions are not quite good enough, but wants us all to believe they can just get fixed later."

Here's the reconciliation bill, in case anyone wants to read it!http://www.politico.com/static/PPM153_reconciliation.html

"Icontinue to beleive that the one issue right to life folks, like Egloff and MAT, are their own worst enemies continuing the same arguments and attackin ganyone who doesnt see it their way."I do not believe I attacked anyone. I could be mistaken however, and if I did I will gladly apologize to the offended party. On the other hand, I am quite certain I am not one issue.

I want to know WHY the bishops have come to this conclusion.Dionne says they are more influenced by the right-wing. Does this mean that they are partisans, who want to kill the bill for any reason? I don't think that is true. Is it because there advisors are partisans? Is the Pro-life Secretariat partisan? Dionne says that in their hearts they know they are wrong. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

"Part of the reason it is so astonishing that the USCCB statement mischaracterizes the position of the CHA is that theyre conflating two things the statement of Sr. Keehan explaining that shes satisfied the Senate Bill doesnt include federal funding for abortion, and the letter in which the CHA lays out its recommendations for improvements not related to abortion that could be made during reconciliation. I linked to both in the post above."Ah! I missed that letter!

The abuse is not the only issue. Being in bed with the Republican party is. Showing shallow concern for millions of people without health care is another big issue. Living in lavish life styles while showing little concern for the downtrodden is another. The mandate of Jesus is to serve all the faithful and to choose the lowest place. The bishops choose the highest places. They are constantly allied with the wealthiest in every nation. They even compete to get the attention of the rich. This is no secret. They do not serve. They dominate. It is time for Catholics to demand a reckoning from every bishop in every diocese? Seriously.

Ok, read the letter. The last bullet point of CHA's recommendations for the reconciliation bill is that it ensure that there is no Federal coverage for abortions. Could that be what the USCCB was referring to in its "pig in a poke" comment?

"Jim, the problem is the only one plan will be available that does not cover abortion. I wish I could say that, if they just crossed out the only, the rest would be correct, but in fact fixing that mistake would (again!) require a more drastic revision."Substituting "at least" for "only" would fix the problem. Or, "as few as"

Jim - you're right about the CHA's letter. That last bullet point probably did contribute to the USCCB's confusion about the CHA's position. Perhaps they came to understand the acceptability of the Senate bill and/or the impossibility of adding more abortion-related "protections" via reconciliation between March 11 (the letter date) and March 15, when they made their statement of support for the Senate bill on a prolife basis.As for the second point -- "as few as" would solve the problem with that sentence, but the argument there would still rest on the suggestion that the Senate bill is designed to limit people's options, rather than to ensure them.

" There could be an innocent and forgiveable explanation for the USCCBs mischaracterization. Did Dionne ask anyone? Why the rush to assume the worst?Jim P. --Why not? Cardinal George has been known to suppress what is true before. See his record on priest abusers. Why do you persist in automatically trusting such people?Face it, Jim, your AB has little credibility left.

While Comonweal blog (from a putatively Catholic magazine according to Jim) focuses on the heralth care debate and Israeli-Us relations, CNN has spotlighted those topics along with the continuing Church sex abuse mess, including Chicago earlier this week.Ann is right. "Where your treasure is...."

" as few as would solve the problem with that sentence, but the argument there would still rest on the suggestion that the Senate bill is designed to limit peoples options, rather than to ensure them."Re-readinng the paragraph in question - I admit I'm not sure what they mean. To the best I can tell, it's something along these lines: the exchanges will offer many different insurance options; but they won't all be alike. Different offerings will suit different customers, depending on their needs and circumstances. As few as one of those offerings will not include the option for an abortion add-on. So the limitation would be, What if the only insurance option in the exchange that meets my family's needs is one that does include an abortion rider? The big picture, from the bishops' point of view, is in the first sentence: "The status quo in federal abortion policy, as reflected in the Hyde Amendment, excludes abortion from all health insurance plans receiving federal subsidies."

Sorry, in the interest of precision, I should have said, "What if the only insurance option in the exchange that meets my family's needs is one that does incude the *option of* an abortion rider?"

... and "incude" s/b "include"

A retired Catholic Bishop has also stepped up to the plate. Retired Bishop John E. McCarthy of Austin is satisfied with the anti-abortion protections of the bill and he supports it. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/03/17/1819654/retired-catholic-bishop-end...

"Sorry, in the interest of precision, I should have said, What if the only insurance option in the exchange that meets my familys needs is one that does incude the *option of* an abortion rider?Don't exercise that particular option. Most current health plans cover abortion.I don't think that's the bishops' complaint. Their complaint, as I understand it, is that federal funds would pay for abortions, not that "Catholics" are prohibited from obtaining insurance from private insurers that also happen to cover abortions.

The nuns are even getting bashed by the evangelicals -- courtesy of Tony Perkins of the FRC, one of Stupak's allies in the fight:

Breaking Some Nuns' Bad HabitsStatements from nuns are flying around Capitol Hill as the health care debate moves toward a final vote. A small group of unorthodox nuns, no doubt at the urging of Democrats who are seeking divine intervention, re-issued a statement on Capitol Hill wrongly claiming that the Senate bill doesn't cover elective abortions. In response, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, an order of more traditional nuns, issued a statement in support of the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Vatican was so disturbed by the sisters' letter that it released one of its own, warning America that the only group who speaks on the Church's behalf in Congress is the USCCB.

Anybody know about this Vatican statement?

Anybody know about this Vatican statement?I assume they are referring to this, although I don't know that a story in LOsservatore Romano counts as a statement from the Vatican.

Maybe it refers to a Catholic News Agency article: "Vatican Paper: US Bishops speak For Catholic Church on healthcare reform". http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican_newspaper_u.s._bishops_sp...

Thanks very much -- it's going in the story now! I owe you both a cocktail after deadline.

Where is Kathy K. when we need her?Need a thread on Fr. Martin on Colbert about Glen Beck.Listen up, Sean, MAT et al. Sounds like your Church.

"The Vatican was so disturbed by the sisters letter that it released one of its own, warning America that the only group who speaks on the Churchs behalf in Congress is the USCCB."Now that is hilarious. But I am sorry to see that -- at least per the CNA's report -- the story in L'Osservatore Romano repeats the USCCB's mistake about the CHA's position.

According to the Vatican newspaper, Cardinal Francis Georges Monday statement, clears the field of some misconceptions springing from the position taken by the Catholic Health Association (CHA,) which, by the words of Sr. Carol Keehan, had called for support of the Senate version, postponing for later the changes related to the most controversial issue the federal funding of abortion.

Much easier to dismiss the CHA's position as morally wrong when you misstate what their position is. But hey, the paper did make sure their Italian readers would understand the "pig in a poke" expression! "'The fear, obviously, is to later find out that it is a cat,' the article says in explanation of the saying." Good to know they're careful about clarifying the really important details.Here's David G's article at Politics Daily: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/03/18/abortion-language-in-health-bill... here's Melinda Henneberger's take:http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/03/18/its-the-priests-vs-the-nuns-again/

Pages