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Posts Tagged ‘catholic health association’

About 3 weeks ago, we wrote criticizing how Fr. Bryan Hehir helped reinforce a “wound to Catholic unity” by praising the Catholic Health Association’s leadership as they celebrated the passage of CHA-backed “Obamacare.”  Now we see the first federal funding of abortion, and the concerns of the Catholic bishops and millions of other Catholics and pro-lifers alike have proven true. We hope Fr. Hehir and his supporters in the Archdiocese like Vicar General Erikson and Cardinal O’Malley are pleased with the result.

As you will recall, the CHA backed Obamacare in direct opposition to the Catholic bishops, and Bryan Hehir  later commended the head of the CHA, Sr. Carol Keehan for her “intelligent and courageous leadership of this organization.  Hehir also said there “multiple voices” in the debate (the CHA, the U.S. bishops, and others) as though all of the voices had equal merit and the teaching authority of the Church had no more weight than any other voice.  And amidst those multiple voices, “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”  Multiple readers excoriated Hehir for his statements, and our post prompted a response from the Vicar General, who said our blog posts were disrepectful, inappropriate, and inaccurate in criticizing Fr. Hehir.

Now we hear that the first $160 million in taxpayer  money is going to support insurance plans that cover abortions.  That would further validate that our posts were respectful of life, appropriate in reinforcing Church teachings and need for unity with the bishops, and accurate in the criticism  of Fr. Hehir for backing the CHA.   Here are exceprts from the  Lifenews report in “Obama Administration OKs First Tax-Funded Abortions Under Health Care Law

The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill. The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March.  It has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of pro-abortion Governor Edward Rendell under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

 The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.

The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we’ve discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. Johnson told LifeNews.com: “This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama’s assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion — but it will not be the last.

President Obama successfully opposed including language in the bill to prevent federal subsidies for abortions, and now the Administration is quietly advancing its abortion-expanding agenda through administrative decisions such as this, which they hope will escape broad public attention,” Johnson said.

The abortion funding comes despite language in the bill that some pro-abortion Democrats and Obama himself claimed would prevent abortion funding and despite a controversial executive order Obama signed supposedly stopping abortion funding.

The pro-life community strongly opposed the executive order and said Rep. Bart Stupak and other House Democrats who voted for the pro-abortion health care bill in exchange for it were selling out their pro-life principles. This first case of forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions under the new law appears to prove them right that the bill language and executive order were ineffective.

Proving the point further that the abortion funding comes from federal taxpayer dollars, Johnson explained that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has emphasized that the high-risk pool program is a federal program and that the states will not incur any cost.”On May 11, 2010, in a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on implementation of the new law, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that “states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government.”

Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection,” said NRLC’s Johnson. “The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection — and the Obama Administration has now approved this.”

There you have it folks.  Fr. Hehir, the trusted “strategic advisor” to Cardinal O’Malley who brings “fidelity to the work of the Church” and ”clarity to our message and mission” backed the organization that was critical to passing this abortion-funding healthcare overhaul legislation, and the bloggers who expose and complain about this and are the ones who are criticized by the Archdiocese.   Go figure.

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As you all probably know by now, at a June 15 meeting
of the U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  President Cardinal Francis George condemned Catholic Health Association President Sr. Carol Keehan for her role in helping pass President Obama’s abortion-funding national healthcare legislation. The USCCB called the CHA’s actions a “wound to Catholic unity.” At about the same time, the CHA was meeting for their annual conference (June 13-15), where President Obama offered his praise via video to Sr. Keehan and the CHA for their role in passing the legislation.  Who was at the CHA’s conference to praise Sr. Keehan in-person right after Obama’s video, give her air-cover, and reinforce that fissure or “wound”? Naturally, Fr. Bryan Hehir. What is the Archdiocese of Boston doing about his ongoing comments that bring division and scandal to the Church?  As usual, nothing.  You can listen to some of Hehir’s comments via the YouTube clip linked to below.

Here are excerpts of the article by Catholic News Agency, “Cardinal George: Sr. Keehan chose Obama over Catholic bishops“:

The bill which was passed is fundamentally flawed. The Executive Order is meaningless. Sr. Carol is mistaken in thinking that this is pro-life legislation.
The cardinal also expressed disappointment with CHA “and other so-called Catholic groups” because, “in the end, they have weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S.”
the USCCB and CHA’s positions on Obama’s health care are not just “two equally valid conclusions inspired in the same Catholic teaching,”
“As Bishops, we disagree that the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy. Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement, not just with our staff as some maintain, but with the Bishops themselves.
As such it has resulted in confusion and a wound to Catholic unity.

The problem is a serious one. What did Fr. Bryan Hehir say about all this? First, he praised Sister Carol’s “experienced, hands-on care for the poor and ministry to all, and her intelligent and courageous leadership of this organization,” which was followed by thunderous applause. But the worst came later when he said there were “multiple voices” in the debate, the CHA, the U.S. bishops, and others. Amidst those multiple voices, he said “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”

What?!! So, Fr. Hehir is saying that the U.S. bishops have no more authority to speak on this important issue than other “voices,” like the woman dubbed the “million dollar sister” for her eye-popping near seven-figure salary leading the $16M CHA. Reader LastCatholicinBoston commented:

Duh, Catholics through history have been proven to be right and wrong. What Hehir always leaves out is that the Church and Magisterium are never wrong.  They are the authority.

A reader attending the conference sent us her audio recording  of Hehir’s talk at the conference, and here are short selected clips:

Fr. Hehir’s undermining of the bishops and obfuscating the real concerns is obvious when you look carefully at the Catholic News article about his talk, reprinted in The Pilot. Thanks to blog readers Chantel and LastCatholicinBoston for their insights and comments of rebuttal, which we have expanded on below.

Time to move forward after differences on health reform, priest says

By Catholic News Service (posted June 16 in Rochester Catholic Courier)

DENVER (CNS) — Differences within the Catholic community during the health reform debate were not about the objectives to be accomplished but about the “degree of assurance” provided by the bill on those objectives, Father J. Bryan Hehir told the annual convention of the Catholic Health Association June 13.
That’s massively downplaying and sanitizing what happened, as it became clear toward the later part of the debate, and certainly with the final bill, that there wasn’t really any assurance on federal funding of abortion and conscience protection

“It is time to face the future, not replay the past continually,” said Father Hehir, secretary for health and social services for the Archdiocese of Boston, in a keynote talk on the opening day of the June 13-15 convention in Denver.
How? Hehir gave no answers.  Not once did Hehir give a specific suggestion on how to move forward, especially toward the goals of defending life and conscience protections.

“Understanding that debate — its process and its product — is a necessary task, but far more urgent is the need to answer the question of moving forward from where we are to where we need to go to provide health care which is morally grounded, legally protected and provided with compassion and competence,” he said.
Sounds nice in principle, but no specific suggestions were given. (And Fr. Hehir, how exactly can you have morally grounded legislation that funds abortion?)

Father Hehir, said the debate was complicated by “a disturbing characteristic of the American political process — polarization that is both intellectual and political.”
Yes, the debate over killing the unborn is polarizing. We’re sorry that you find it “disturbing” that Catholics are standing up to protect life. Maybe you should not have oversight over the Archdiocese’s Pro-Life Office or Catholic healthcare in Boston if you have a problem with this.

But he said the end result of the debate “has the proportions and the potential” of such legislative landmarks as the Social Security Act of the 1930s, the civil rights reforms of the 1960s and welfare reform in the 1990s.
Sure does, and it’s scary….

As the debate began, there was widespread agreement in the Catholic community about four objectives to be accomplished by the legislation, Father Hehir said. Those objectives were basic health care for all; no federal funding of abortion; expanded access to health care for immigrants; and conscience clause protections for religiously based health care, he said.
With passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, “the four objectives are partially met,” Father Hehir said. “It will take continuing work on each (objective) to meet the potential of a just health care system protective of human life and human dignity from life’s inception along the spectrum to its natural end.”
How do you “partially meet” a goal of not killing the unborn? Either it’s met and the unborn are protected, or it’s not met and the unborn are aborted with federal funds. (When Obama signed the legislation on March 24, Lifesitenews reported: “The executive order claims “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services,” but adds it is to “ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.”That’s merely a restatement of the Nelson language in the Senate bill that allows some taxpayers to be forced to pay for abortions as long as an accounting scheme is used to cover up the funding.”)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops insisted, however, that the final bill and the executive order did not adequately guarantee conscience rights or guard against expanded federal abortion funding.

Father Hehir said debate over the “meaning, status and significance” of the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, “became one of the primary fault lines in the secular and Catholic debates” about the health reform bill. “The final judgment on this bill is not about Catholics inside and outside the permissible range of Catholic moral teachings.”

LCIB: Apparently Fr. Hehir is an authority speaking when he makes declarative statements about the essence of the bill. Perhaps he should speak to Fr. Frank Pavone about the permissible range of Catholic moral teaching on abortion.

Father Hehir quoted the late Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray in distinguishing between mistakes and errors. Father Murray said mistakes are “deficiencies of intelligence,” while errors are based on a “deficiency of good will…His point was not to assume mistakes are errors. His conclusion was that the Christian community is not in error, no matter how many mistakes are made.”
What the heck does that mean? If multiple voices are babbling with radically different conclusions, somebody has to be wrong, and in the Catholic Church, there is an authoritative voice.  Are the U.S. Bishops and the CHA just both equally right? Is there somehow a Bryan Hehir version of the Magisterium?
LCIB: What Murray described and I suspect Hehir knows is what is known as Hanlon’s Razor…and I summarize – never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.  Or, the Christian Community (as defined by Hehir) never acts maliciously (as an enemy of the Church) they are only prone to mistakes. Hehir’s conclusion on Murray’s conclusion is a complete bluff.
What Hehir is saying is that the Christian Community (as defined by him) is never motivated by malice. That is, the wolf in sheep’s clothing does not exist.  We know differently.

Do check out Fr. Z’s blog post, “Who Speaks for the Catholic Church in the U.S.” for more insights into the controversy.

If the history this blog has exposed on Fr. Hehir isn’t enough to get him silenced, one would think his public disagreement with the U.S. Conference of Bishops (where he worked for 15 years) and his endorsement for the CHA and the abortion-funding Obamacare legislation would do it. But not here in Boston under Cardinal O’Malley.

ps. Guess who presided over the opening Mass at the CHA conference?  Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can read our posts about Bishop Lynch and his recent Eucharistic Conference where Bryan Hehir spoke here and here.

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A quick read of this weekend’s edition of The Pilot
and a look at recent news from the Boston Archdiocese confirms the sad state of affairs for Boston Catholics.  The Cardinal Archbishop of Boston seems to have even less backbone than the traces of it we glimpsed earlier in his Boston tenure.  He is continuing to make questionable personnel decisions and let dissident cabinet members and advisors run amuck, and it’s becoming evident that he is failing in his episcopal responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern.  (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?)  Here are a handful of examples:

Fr. Bryan Hehir at the Catholic Health Association. Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke at the Catholic Health Association conference on June 13, where he heaped praise on Sr. Carol Keehan for her leadership of the organization, and separately said that “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”  That is yet another Bryan Hehir fabrication. Shortly before Hehir’s talk, a video by President Obama also praised Sr. Keehan for her role in getting the bill passed.  The Pilot reported on Hehir’s talk and the Obama comments, but never covered that about the same time, the President of the U.S.C.C.B, Cardinal George was slamming Sr. Keehan for defying repeated attempts by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to get her to not endorse the abortion-funding Obama healthcare legislation.  We’ll have an in-depth blog post on this in another day or so.  It’s a mystery why The Pilot did not report the full story–do they want to avoid criticizing Fr. Hehir perhaps?  That Cardinal O’Malley keeps Fr. Hehir around has become an embarrassment and scandal to the Church.  The kindest explanation would be that it’s a reflection of Cardinal Sean’s ongoing poor judgment.  Is anyone in the Holy See paying attention to this?

Letters to the Editor of The Pilot. I’ve been reading The Pilot for a lot of years, and never would have imagined that the newspaper had such a strong gay and lesbian readership as the letters of the past 2-3 weeks suggest.  This week all 6 of the letters to the editor published were about Michael Pakaluk’s recent column that talked about the consequences of a Catholic schools admitting children of gay parents. 4 of the 6 were critical of The Pilot or of Pakaluk—one from a Catholic lesbian woman who expressed “hurt and betrayal” by the Pilot’s decision to publish Pakaluk’s column, one was from a gay man who also has a gay sister raising twins, one is from a “devout Roman Catholic” who was “appalled,” and another from someone who felt if children of gay couples were not admitted to Catholic schools, then why not also reject children of soldiers (thou shalt not kill) or a parent who had pre-marital sex.  The absence of good catechesis on the part of these writers is very clear.   Cardinal O’Malley merely issued a short statement in mid-May to placate everyone, and his trusted advisor, Bryan Hehir, forcefully delivered the message  a day later that they are moving forward with creating policies to admit children of gay parents. More than a month has passed, and the Cardinal has done zero teaching on this issue about the reasons why the Church sees homosexual relationships as immoral and disordered.  That lack of any public teaching by him on this issue since 2005 has led to this free-for-all of poorly-informed opinion-spouting.  His own cabinet team and many priests are following a very different direction than the Cardinal’s own 2005 letter.  It’s yet is another clear indication he is failing in his responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern. He has the time every week to dictate or write the blog of his global travels and his networking with priests, religious, and laity, but apparently no time to teach or govern here in Boston.  Thankfully, two letters were published from lay people who helped set the record straight–one who said that Michael Pakaluk was “absolutely correct about the insidious nature of the gay agenda being implemented in schools with impressionable children,” and another who said, “the truth is, Mr. Pakaluk is just stating what the Bible states…he’s being vilified for accurately representing his religion.”  We are going to ask the Pilot to re-run the Cardinal’s 2005 letter on homosexuality next week.  Let’s see if they do it.

Cardinal O’Malley names Jack Connors, Jr.
to head Cabinet Secretary search.
While we are in the poor judgment department, here’s another example.  After power-broker, Jack Connors, played a key role in the ouster of Secretary of Institutional Advancement, Scot Landry, and after it was reported that Connors has also given a quarter of a million dollars to pro-abortion political candidates in recent years, who does the Cardinal put in charge of the search for his replacement?  Naturally, Jack Connors. Seems to me  that “like attracts like”  in this world.  So, if you want to build a leadership team that will help you evangelize the truths of the Catholic faith and preach the Gospel in-season and out of season, you’d probably start by having search committees for key roles headed by people who are comfortable with those same truths.  Not around Boston, where our Cardinal continues the pattern of acting in a way like he is unable to understand this–or worse still, he understands it and rejects that as important.  How much do you want to bet that whomever is picked for the position has also supported pro-abortion politicians or has dissented from Church teachings in some way?

Cardinal O’Malley praises Dean Garvey appointment as President of Catholic University. Much has been written about how the outgoing president of CUA helped solidify the Catholic identity of the university during his tenure.  On his blog, Cardinal writes, “Dean Garvey has been an important figure at Boston College and has done so much to strengthen the Catholic identity of Boston College.”  Your Eminence, could you give some examples? Um, as reported previously, how did Dean Garvey’s honoring pro-abortion politician Edward Markey in violation of the USCCB’s guidelines help solidify the Catholic identity of Boston College?  How did Dean Garvey giving $1,750 of his personal money over two years to the pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry help solidify the Catholic identity at BC?  How did his signing a statement touting BC Law School’s being “one of the first law schools in the country to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination pledge…and reaffirming their commitment to being a welcome place…for LGBT students” help solidify the Catholic identity of BC?

Based on what he writes on his blog, the Cardinal seems to relish traveling all over the country and around the world schmoozing with people and networking, while we hear next to nothing about him teaching or governing in Boston. Even when the Cardinal blogs something important, it’s often overshadowed by his failure to lead according to what he writes.  For example, he writes about attending the Mass for the anniversary of married couples, and he wrote:

It’s always a wonderful event and an opportunity for us to showcase the centrality of the Sacrament of Marriage in the life of the Church in today’s world, a world where more people are postponing marriage or foregoing marriage, where marriage is under attack because of the divorce mentality, the prevalence of cohabitation and even attempts to redefine what marriage is. The Church must be a very clear voice in defending traditional marriage and holding this up as an ideal for our people, which for us is a sacrament, a sign of the love and the unity that unites Christ and His Church, His bride.

Sounds great, but HELLO!?!  How can the Church have a clear voice defending traditional marriage and hold that up as an ideal for our people in the face of attempts to redefine marriage, while you, Mary Grassa O’Neill, Jack Connors, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and the rest of your administration are holding-up “gay marriages” or gay partnerships as an ideal for Catholic school children making them look equivalent to traditional marriage?

Folks, stay tuned for our detailed post about Bryan Hehir’s CHA talk.  Also, keep reading for additional news from the archdiocese this coming week, including sad news word due any day now about significant Pastoral Center staff layoffs and the naming of new auxiliary bishops.

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