U.S. Bishops Renew Resolve on Health Care Reform

Laud House Decision, Prepare to Work With Senate

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BALTIMORE, Maryland, NOV. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As the U.S. bishops closed the first session of their fall general assembly today, the president introduced an item not on the agenda, but «critical:» the country’s health care reform.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, underlined the health care debate as «one of the most critical issues» of the country and the conference.

He read a statement and asked for the approval of the conference in order to release it on behalf of all.

The statement, dated Nov. 17, thanked those congress members who voted against including the federal funding of abortion in the health care reform plan of the House of Representatives.

Cardinal George clarified that the conference is not approving specific means to be employed in the proposed health care policy, but rather is emphasizing principles such as universal access and the right to life of every human person.

He underlined the conference’s commitment to work now to persuade the senate to follow similar principles, to also exclude abortion funding from their reform proposal.

Health care is «about human beings,» the prelate said, and hence it has «serious moral consequences.»

Principles, not politics

In a press conference after the session, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the bishops’ Domestic Justice Committee, affirmed the conference’s desire to emphasize «principles, not politics.»

The prelate, who has been overseeing the conference’s health care efforts, said of the House of Representative’s decision, «We have a sense of a job well done by staff who have made a principled stand.»

The bishops do not do politics, he said, but «we’re in a world of politics,» so we had to deal with those who have the responsibility to make the laws.

The bishop underlined the conference’s desire to look for a «principled position» that will continue a law to prevent the use of taxpayer money for abortion.

«Killing a child in the womb is not health care,» he stated.

There were members of congress who agreed with the Church on these ideals, he noted, and «we were able to work with them.»

Bishop Murphy underlined the conference’s continued commitment to this effort: «We are pleased to have come this far, but we know that we have a road ahead of us.»

It is a «different situation in the senate,» he noted, underlining the need to see who is «committed to the same ideals that we are.»

The prelate stated that U.S. President Barack Obama «made it clear» that he was committed to remain «abortion neutral.»

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