Monday, October 19, 2009

Saint Damien and the Current Health Care Debate

The week has dawned with sun and cool autumn air here in Chicago. Happy Monday to you all.

Our pastor preached a stirring homily yesterday, telling us the story of the life of Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai. I remember, as a kid in Catholic grammar school, being told the story of Damien by the sisters, and being inspired by his selflessness and dedication to the most vulnerable. The pastor linked the story of Damien's extraordinary life with the current debate on health care in the United States. He outlined the US Bishops' three important principles with regard to the debate:
"1. Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion . . . 
2. Adopt measures that protect and improve people's health care. Reforms should make quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable and those who live at or near the poverty level.
3. Include effective measures to safeguard the health of immigrants, their children and all of society. Ensure that legal immigrants and their family members have comprehensive, affordable, and timely access to health care coverage. Maintain an adequate safety net for those who remain uncovered."

The bishops have spoken clearly, taking a Catholic position that seeks to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our society, including the unborn. Our pastor further challenged us to remain open to the possibility that universal health care may mean more money out of our own pockets, but we would need to be generous in order for the health care needs of the most vulnerable to be met.

I must say I was quite moved by the homily and felt proud that our bishops have been so clear in articulating the Catholic position. Just as Saint Damien dedicated himself to care for the poor and the outcast, so, too, must we do the same.

I hope your week is a good one.

Gotta Sing. Gotta pray.

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