Beliefnet
Steven Waldman

Terry Mattingly makes the fascinating point that the U.S. Catholic Bishops seem to be non-players in the health care debate, if press coverage is any gauge.

“Are the journalists ignoring the bishops or are the bishops (and their gatekeepers) ignoring the journalists? This is one of the biggest religion-news stories of the year, especially in terms of its potential impact on Catholic health-care facilities and the people who work there. The church’s views on health-care reform are consistent and articulate and, I might add, rather centrist. If the White House wants health-care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops are a strategic force.
Did you hear that silence? What was that?”

Good question. Terry notes that many independent Catholic groups have been quite active. Earlier this week, Saint Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association urged support.
But what about the Bishops? It may be that they’re holding back until they see how the abortion issue plays out. Yesterday, for instance, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement, “Cardinal Rigali Urges House Committee to Support Pro-Life Amendments to Health Care Reform Bill.”
It’s certainly something the Obama administration should consider: having neutral abortion language could theoretically result in enthusiastic support for health care reform from the Catholic Church — though if I were the White House, I’d want to know: how much energy will the Bishops really put into helping pass health care if they’re satisfied on the abortion provisions?
So far, the Bishops have reiterated their support for the concept for national health care (as long as it’s not promoting abortion)but have not done a major campaign. Counting press releases by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is not the best measure of activity but, still, of the Bishops’ 69 most recent press releases, three were on health care reform:


Cardinal Rigali Urges House Committee to Support Pro-Life Amendments to Health Care Reform Bill
Archbishop O’Brien Calls for ‘Path to Zero’ Nuclear Weapons in Talk to Deterrence Symposium
Auxiliary Bishop For Ukrainian Archeparchy Of Philadelphia Named Apostolic Administrator For Parma, Ohio, Eparchy
Atlanta Vicar General Named Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta
U.S. Bishops Urge Congress to Observe Respect for Life, Access for All in Health Care Legislation
U.S. Bishops Express Solidarity with the Church and People of Honduras; Support Peaceful Resolution of Current Political Crisis
All Four Pending Liturgical Items Pass; Work On The Translation Of The New Roman Missal Continues
USCCB Staff Member Encourages Catholics to Read the Bible with Ten Points for Fruitful Scripture Reading
Pope’s Encyclical Available For Purchase July 20
Statement by the Holy See on the audience of Pope Benedict XVI with President Barack Obama
When the Pope Meets the President
Cardinal Rigali Criticizes Final NIH Guidelines for Destructive Stem Cell Research
Cardinal George Welcomes Caritas in Veritate, Says Message on Global Economy, Politics, Environment is Helpful Guide for Today
Five U.S. Prelates Receive the Pallium
Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Examines Note on Covenant and Mission
Cardinal Rigali Protests Move to Fund Abortion in District of Columbia
Orthodox-Catholic Consultation Studies Nature of Communion, Authority
U.S. Bishops, Catholic Relief Services Call for Greater Commitment to Help Poor around the World in Climate Change Legislation
Methodist-Catholic Dialogue Explores Eucharist, Environment
San Juan Archbishop’s Workshop on ‘Continental Mission’ Part of US Bishops’ Spring Meeting
BISHOPS OF G8 COUNTRIES URGE THEIR LEADERS TO PROTECT THE POOR AND ASSIST DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AT JULY G8 SUMMIT
CATHOLIC BISHOPS, CATHOLICS HEALTH CARE, UNIONS FIND COMMON GROUND ON RESPECTING RIGHTS OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS
2009 CATECHETICAL SUNDAY MATERIALS BEING OFFERED ENTIRELY ONLINE
U.S. Bishops Express Support for Bishop D’arcy and His Pastoral Concern for the University of Notre Dame
Bishops Approve Text, Inclusion Of Mass In Thanksgiving For The Gift Of Human Life, Spanish Lectionary; Other Liturgy Votes Inconclusive
Cardinal George, Bishops Ask President Obama, Congress To Enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform Before End Of 2009
USCCB Clarifies Key Points From Reflections On Covenant And Mission Statement
Liturgical Items Will Dominate Spring Bishops’ Meeting Agenda In San Antonio
Cardinal George Congratulates Archbishop -Elect Di Noia, Former Head Of USCCB Doctrine Office
USCCB’s Refugee Children’s Program Wins Award For Advancement Of Child Maltreatment Prevention And Intervention
Pope Names Bishop Gregory Aymond as Archbishop of New Orleans
CARDINAL GEORGE CALLS VIOLENCE AT HOLOCAUST MUSEUM APPALLING;
CITES NEED FOR EDUCATION AGAINST RACIAL, RELIGIOUS PREJUDICE
Advisory: The annual Spring General Meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be June 17 through 19
Bhutanese Couple Resettled by U.S. Bishops’ Program to Speak at United Nations’ World Refugee Day Event
Catholics, Anglicans Meet on Debt Relief, Contraception
‘Callings’ Documentary Featuring Baseball Player, Dancer, Social Worker Available for Airing on NBC
Sikh-Catholic Retreat Scans Common Theology, Youth Outreach
WEST COAST MUSLIM-CATHOLIC DIALOGUE EXPLORES MIGRATION IN LIVES OF JESUS, MUHAMMAD
YEAR FOR PRIESTS WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS INTERNATIONAL CELEBRATION
CATHOLIC BISHOPS, OTHER CHRISTIAN LEADERS APPLAUD OBAMA SPEECH, RESPOND TO HIS CALL TO WORK FOR HOLY LAND PEACE
OFFICIAL CATHOLIC DIRECTORY STATISTICS SHOW CATHOLICS STILL 22 PERCENT OF U.S. POPULATION
Pope Accepts Resignation of Omaha Archbishop, Appoints Bishop Lucas of Springfield, Illinois, as Successor
The announcement was made June 3 in Washington by the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi.
Bishops Support Family Reunification Senate Bill, Not Able to Support Similar House Legislation
U.S. Bishops Express ‘Profound Regret’ about Shooting Death of Abortion Doctor
Pennsylvania News Anchor, Educator, Lawman Named to Bishops Child, Youth Protection National Review Board
Peter’s Pence Collection, an Invitation to Cast the Light of Christ upon the World
Bishops Praise Decision by California Supreme Court to Uphold Definition of Marriage as “Between One Man and One Woman”
Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Appoints Successor; Names Auxiliary Bishop in St. Paul-Minneapolis
CARDINAL GEORGE PRAISES PRESIDENT OBAMA’S PROMISE TO SUPPORT CONSCIENCE CLAUSES, SEEKS TO WORK WITH ADMINISTRATION ON GOAL
USCCB SUBMITS COMMENTS TO NIH ON PROPOSED GUIDELINES FOR STEM CELL RESEARCH
BISHOPS RENEW LONG-TERM AND URGENT CALL FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM THAT BENEFITS ALL IN STATEMENT TO SENATE COMMITTEE
NEW USCCB-SPONSORED WEB SITE HIGHLIGHTS CATHOLIC TEACHING ON ECONOMIC LIFE
Solidarity Fund for Church in Africa Posts New Promotional Materials
Pope Names Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Cistone To Saginaw, Michigan
PUT ON HOLD? STUCK IN TRAFFIC? MAYBE GOD’S CALLING YOU TO PRAY, SAYS SHEILA GARCIA, USCCB FAMILY LIFE OFFICIAL
CATHOLIC-MUSLIM DIALOGUE EXAMINES INTERRELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Ignatius Wang, Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco
May 22 Is National Day Of Prayer And Remembrance For Mariners And People Of The Sea
JEWISH-CATHOLIC DIALOGUE SUPPORTS POPE’S WITNESS IN ISRAEL
CARDINAL RIGALI APPLAUDS SENATE RE-INTRODUCTION OF ‘PREGNANT WOMEN SUPPORT ACT’, URGES PASSAGE
CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCES ANNUAL AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP, ART CONTEST FOR YOUTH
Bishops Issue Statement on First Anniversary of Postville Enforcement Actions, Continue Call for Immigration Reform
Pope Accepts Resignation of Winona Bishop, Coadjutor Succeeds
BISHOPS URGE CATHOLICS TO CONTACT CONGRESS AND NIH: OPPOSE DESTRUCTIVE STEM CELL RESEARCH
POPE IN HOLY LAND WILL PROMOTE INTER-RELIGIOUS COOPERATION
USCCB MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE ENHANCES ITS MESSAGE BY EMBRACING NEW MEDIA
HAVING BOTH BRIDE, GROOM ESCORTED DOWN THE AISLE WITH PARENTS EXPRESSES EQUALITY, SAYS LITURGIST
Justice For Immigrants Campaign To Hold Regional Training In Colorado, May 19-20
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver will preside the opening Mass for the convening, and Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs will concelebrate.

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