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Local Catholic leaders reject larger government role in health care

Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn -- of the Kansas City, Kan., archdiocese and the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, respectively -- have issued a pastoral letter concerning health care reform that appears to firmly reject a robust government role in providing health coverage for most Americans.

The key paragraph:

The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the “right” to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of “entitlement.” The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services. Rather, the Church has asserted the rights of every individual to have access to those things most necessary for sustaining and caring for human life, while at the same time insisting on the personal responsibility of each individual to care properly for his or her own health.

As expected, the Catholic prelates say health reform should not include abortion services and aggressive end-0f-life counseling (the full letter is linked here.)

The conclusion:

There is important work to be done, but “change” for change’s sake; change which expands the reach of government beyond its competence would do more harm than good. Change which loses sight of man’s transcendent dignity or the irreplaceable value of human life; change which could diminish the role of those in need as agents of their own care is not truly human progress at all.

A hasty or unprincipled change could cause us, in fact, to lose some of the significant benefits that Americans now enjoy, while creating a future tax burden which is both unjust and unsustainable.

We urge the President, Congress, and other elected and appointed leaders to develop prescriptions for reforming health care which are built on objective truths: that all people in every stage of human life count for something; that if we violate our core beliefs we are not aiding people in need, but instead devaluing their human integrity and that of us all.

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