Catholic thoughts on Obamacare

May not be what you think:

While Catholic moral teaching has always insisted that evil acts may never be chosen, it also holds that the realization of good ends (such as making healthcare more affordable and accessible) mostly falls into the realm of prudential judgment. Outside those principles that translate into an obligation to support or work towards direct prohibitions of certain acts, the Catholic Church has always recognized that, within some rather broad parameters, faithful Catholics can disagree about matters such as how we achieve the end of more affordable universal healthcare.

But this very basic point seems to have escaped the attention of those Catholics who seem to imagine that an extension of government involvement in healthcare is by definition the Catholic approach to healthcare reform. It’s curious that the same people who are so utterly absolutist about such prudential matters invariably dissent from the truly non-negotiable injunctions of Catholic moral teaching.

This essential incoherence, however, has not stopped them from assailing the increasing number of American Catholic bishops who have questioned, on prudential grounds, those reform proposals that significantly increase the state’s involvement in healthcare. One Catholic magazine described such critiques as somehow out of step with Catholic teaching and even, oddly enough, as “quasi-libertarian” – as if only self-described “libertarians” would question the wisdom of extending government involvement in healthcare.

It might, however, be that these groups have a deeper concern: their realization that the days when American Catholic bishops could be relied upon to accept or advocate extension of the state’s participation in more-or-less any area of social and economic life are long gone.

In part, this trend reflects the collapse over the past forty years of the knee-jerk association of Catholics with the Democratic Party. But it may also indicate that increasing numbers of Catholic bishops are tired of being presumed to adhere to any number of positions on prudential policy issues simply because one or more departments of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops happen to advocate a particular viewpoint.

Fascinating. And for me, a fresh perspective. I suggest reading the whole thing.

And hats off to Wheat and Weeds for the find.


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