The Bishops and Health Care – Looking Back, Looking Forward

The Bishops and Health Care – Looking Back, Looking Forward April 16, 2010

Nicholas Cafardi has written one of the best post-mortems yet related to the role of the bishops at the healthcare bill. He goes over ground that is very familiar to Vox Nova. The bishops opposed the final bill because its treatment of abortion was different from the original Stupak approach it had supported, but — as was patently clear from reading the two bills side by side — the differences on abortion were not great. One could argue that the original Stupak language was better and cleaner, but it was also clear the final bill also did a good job in protecting public funding from paying for abortions, and it also (for the first time) began to regulate what private companies could and could not do when it came to abortion. It was much more than many of us expected at the beginning of the process.

When Congress finally passed the healthcare bill, I was delighted. When Bart Stupak supported it, I was even more elated. Sadly, my happiness was tempered by the rapidly failing health of my mother at the time, something which in itself brought home the importance of universal healthcare without any insurance rationing based on cost or pre-existing conditions. I was slightly disgusted, though not too surprised, at the venom directed against Stupak by the right. Stupak voted his Catholic conscience, but was denounced by the denizens of laissez-faire liberalism. Invoking the stark language of Calvinist-inspired dualism, Stupak was a traitor, a fresh Judas for Holy Week.

Up until this point, these people were Stupak’s biggest fans. He was the hero of the unborn. What they failed to understand was that Stupak was a consistent Catholic – he was vigorously pro-life in protecting the unborn and in advancing healthcare to those left behind. Unlike his critics, but like the Church, he saw that healthcare was a human right. Of course, he preferred the language he had successfully incorporated into the House bill. But at the end of the day, he was persuaded that the guarantees were sufficient, and he supported the bill. In his passionate statements after the event, he was well aware of the hypocrisy of his erstwhile supporters. In no way did he deserve the viciousness directed against him.

If we look back at the right-wing criticism of healthcare reform, abortion was always front and center. But these arguments were always suffused by other, darker, arguments – arguments stemming from a tradition alien to Catholic social teaching, from an undistilled Enlightenment -era liberalism that glorifies the supremacy of individual freedom in the economic sphere and pours cold water over notions of solidarity. In this context, they opposed the individual mandate and the concept of the healthy subsidizing the sick, either directly through community rating, or indirectly through budgetary appropriations. Just look at the arguments made. I saw this clearly with comments on the USCCB facebook site. I saw this with the prominent Catholic opponents of healthcare, who mixed moral issues with arguments from American liberalism. You will find arguments related to abortion. You will find hyperbola about rationing and death panels. And you will find liberal opposition to so-called “socialized medicine” and “government-run healthcare”. It’s all part of the same corpus.

Forget that most of these arguments had scant basis in reality. But that is not the point. For these people, killing healthcare was primary, arguments were secondary. Nowhere was this clearer than with the euphoria over the election of pro-abortion and pro-torture Scott Brown. He might be a big fan of Roe v. Wade, but hey, he opposed healthcare reform, and might even cause the whole project to collapse, so he is a hero. 

And what about the bishops? As I’ve written before, I think the bishops were duped by the professional pro-life movement, a movement animated as much by liberalism as by life. And here, Nicholas Carfardi hits the nail on the head:

“The bishops were not fighting the real Senate bill. They were fighting a distortion of the bill. Where did these distortions come from? Not from the bishops or their staff—although they were complicit in repeating them. Rather, they came from the far-right groups with whom the bishops in their pursuit of political power found themselves aligned. But unlike the bishops, who truly wished to get the best health care bill possible, their allies wanted no health care bill at all. They wanted, as they have often repeated, to see President Obama fail.”

He cites as proof a USCCB response to the analysis of Prof. Jost that was posted first on the NRLC website. Carfardi sees this as evidence that the USCCB staff was working hand-in-glove with the NRLC. If true, this is serious, and deeply problematic. The NRLC is practically an arm of the Republican party. They are open about their pro-Republican strategy. They have opposed universal healthcare for years on ideological grounds (they have a bizarre notion that rationing is only a problem when the government plays a role!). During the healthcare debate, they made all sorts of crazy allegations about rationing and death panels. And, in possibly the worst instance of all, the NRLC actually endorsed the Republican-supported Medicare Advantage program with its laughably weak pro-life protections. This program allows the government to pay private insurers to deliver a government healthcare program, with barely any restrictions on abortion – and private insurers are today offering “elective abortion” under this program.

I find it extremely disappointing that the US bishops backed themselves into this corner, in the end standing not with Bart Stupak but with those who wanted to torpedo the whole reform process. While I was in Ireland attending my dying mother, I had ample opportunities to talk to some wonderful priests – chaplains at the hospital and Dominicans attached to the priory where my mother’s funeral took place. The American healthcare debate was raised. Like most Europeans, the priests I talked to were impressed by Obama. They were puzzled by the stance of the American bishops, though, as they thought they were focusing far too much on the abortion issue. In Europe, it is hard to imagine how an affluent country like the United States could deny health insurance to millions, and how so many people could rally to vigorously defend the status quo. They didn’t get it. Archbishop Burke once complained that people in the Vatican only supported Obama because they were European. In a sense, he was right. American Catholics are too readily influenced by the prevailing secular theologies, especially the theology of rampant individualism and individual autonomy.

I wish the American bishops would exert a stronger leadership stance in pointing out the errors of this culture, and pushing for a stronger understanding of Catholic social teaching across all dimensions. They have done this before, from the 1919 Program for Social Reconstruction to the 1986 Economic Justice for All pastoral. But today, Catholics are barely familiar with the treasure of Catholic social teaching, especially across its economic dimension. It is ignored, downplayed, and (in some cases), distorted. The response of so many Catholics to this healthcare debate should have been a wake-up call to our shepherds. The fact that so many Catholics are getting their economic views from Glenn Beck instead of Gaudium Et Spes should a cause of great concern.

The bishops are doing very little about this. Faithful Citizenship was a wonderful document, a succinct statement of the role and responsibilities of Catholics in the public square. But after Obama was elected, the bishops let themselves be swayed by the worst elements – Catholics associated with a secular partisan ideology mis-named “conservative”. First was the faux-FOCA frenzy. Then came the Notre Dame debacle. While so many bishops interjected themselves in these debates, they were far more muted during the previous eight years of war and torture. Even today, not a single bishop has spoken against the wilful and scandalous distortion of Catholic teaching on torture by Marc Thiessen and Raymond Arroyo on EWTN.

These bishops are good, decent, men. I have real problems with only two or three of them. But they lack courage. They are failing at leadership and at catechesis. They are failing to speak consistently to all who are misled and misguided, across the ideological spectrum – not only secular humanists but American individualists and Calvinist-inspired dualists. They are going with the prevailing currents, rather than trying to navigate. And since the prevailing currents are increasingly violent and tempestuous, I fear shipwreck in the near future.

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  • I wish the American bishops would exert a stronger leadership stance in pointing out the errors of this culture, and pushing for a stronger understanding of Catholic social teaching across all dimensions. They have done this before, from the 1919 Program for Social Reconstruction to the 1986 Economic Justice for All pastoral. But today, Catholics are barely familiar with the treasure of Catholic social teaching, especially across its economic dimension. It is ignored, downplayed, and (in some cases), distorted. The response of so many Catholics to this healthcare debate should have been a wake-up call to our shepherds. The fact that so many Catholics are getting their economic views from Glenn Beck instead of Gaudium Et Spes should a cause of great concern.

    This is true not just of social justice, but of all Catholic teaching. How many Catholics have read Humanae Vitae? Very few.

    What is the answer to this? It is to re-emphasize the importance of Catholic teaching wholistically; we need better catechesis on what the Church teachings based on the Catechism & the encyclicals.

    How to do this? The only place to start is by showing a humble attitude to what the Church teaches. People will listen to the pope & bishops if they see Catholics listening.

    And so what do you do? You mock the bishops, portraying them as silly old men who just didn’t understand the bill or how great Obama is. They’re out of touch with the Irish priest I talked to!

    By your own stubborn refusal to acknowledge the bishops, you have set out the very path for opponents of Catholic social teaching to follow. If they can be duped by the pro-lifers, why can’t they be duped as George Weigel suggested they were in Caritas in veritate?

  • M.Z.

    Regrettably the response to Cafardi and you will be the response that we’ve seen over and over: our authorities (who often don’t claim authority but just intuition, but this crowd has never been big on details) claim that health care reform has the government funding abortions. By claiming otherwise you are stupid and evil. QED.

    It was quite a bit frustrating in the debate, and it has been equally frustrating since the bill’s passage. Where I disagree with Cafardi is that the bishops really did need to engage details and not just speak in generalities. It does no good for one side to claim it funds abortion and another side to claim it doesn’t. The USCCB should aim to be an honest broker and show an understanding of the counterargument and show where they find fault with it. Instead, some bishops propped up weak opponenets like Network, and with CHA, they simply claimed the CHA wasn’t competent to understand Catholic teaching or legislation that were central to the organization’s raison d’etat. It was quite frankly an embarrassing display.

  • Michael,

    I completely agree with the first part of your comment – poor catechesis is a broad problem. But, please, I’m not mocking bishops as “silly old men”, I am (or I hope I am) following Lumen Gentium which sees the role of the laity “to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church”, with due respect to the pope and the bishops. I think we are seeing poor leadership on a variety of fronts – I would place the abuse scandal at the top of the list. I don’t want to see any American bishop either cozying up to or damning any one particular party or leader at the expense of another. I want to see teaching articulated clearly, in an encompassing philosophical framework, that challenges all Catholics on the left and right of the political spectrum. Is this too much to ask? Does this entail disrespect?

  • MM:

    It is one thing to disagree with the bishops. When you use the language of “duped” you go beyond disagreement into mocking, with the idea being that they were too stupid to really understand the issue. I think disagreement with the bishops is something that requires a lot of prudence-prudence you’re not showing.

    Maybe they’re wrong, but I’m going to guess they made that decision on an informed and reasonable basis. Discounting that basis and instead asserting that they were duped is not charitable, especially when they’re your bishops.

    You can’t persuade people to listen to the bishops when they talk about healthcare and immigration reform unless you also listen to them when they talk about abortion and such. From my own experience, I didn’t start looking at social justice stuff until I met people who actually listened to the bishops on both.


    You are not stupid & evil. But you are making a highly implausible argument: there is no reason to think that the bishops on the main issues they’re promoted over the course of an entire year long debate did not engage in the intimate details. In fact, I would bet that other than MM (who I think puts a lot of time into this issue) there is no one at the this blog with better knowledge of the details of this bill that the USCCB (not every bishops, but the guys at HQ). You may disagree with their decision, but the idea that they weren’t informed is not going to hold water.

  • ctd

    Really, I think until someone provides a thorough explanation of why USCCB’s legal analysis ( is incorrect, I don’t see how they can claim that the bishops were misguided, much less duped. Nor can it be said that the bishops’ view of the senate bill was distorted.

    Carfardi does not directly dispute the conclusions of the memo and I have not seen anything from Jost since it was issued. So far as I know, no one has provided a legal critique of that memo.

    The memo makes it very clear that the bishops were well informed. The issue is not whether they were misinformed or duped, but whether the problems – which at this point are still indisputable – was “enough” to justify opposing the bill in the face of a long history and teaching in support of universal health care.

    What is “enough,” however, is not a legal or political question, but a moral one. While some may disagree with the bishops’ conclusion, determining what is moral certainly is the role of a bishop.

  • ctd

    I have to add something else.

    How is the fact that something showed up on NRLC’s website before the USCCB site proof that the analysis was written by NRLC? What about the possibility that USCCB is notoriously slow at getting its own messages out? I have often got information about USCCB from other organizations before I got it from USCCB.

    What about the possibility that the analysis was identical because it was accurate?

    Carfardi seems to be grasping in an attempt to convince himself that USCCB’s staff was actually right.

  • ctd

    Of course I meant “Carfardi seems to be grasping in an attempt to convince himself that USCCB’s staff was not actually right.”

  • However well informed the bishops may have been (let’s stipulate that they were), I would have appreciated more candor from certain bishops regarding the distinction between moral and prudential judgments. If a bishop does not understand the distinction, that is scandalous. If one does but then blurs it or mischaracterizes it, that is scandalous. The irony is that so much of the clergy abuse problem was apparently mishandled because of an inordinate focus on avoiding … scandal. Good grief!

  • David Nickol

    Really, I think until someone provides a thorough explanation of why USCCB’s legal analysis . . . . is incorrect, I don’t see how they can claim that the bishops were misguided, much less duped.

    Since the main complaint is that there will be lawsuits resulting in federal funding for Community Health Centers being used to pay for for elective abortions, we will know the bishops were right if that prediction comes to pass and that they were wrong if it doesn’t. My question is, when are these lawsuits going to happen, and when are we going to get the pro-abortion decisions. Will this argument against the legislation continue to be valid, one year from now? Two years from now? Five years from now? For someone to be considered correct about a prediction, we can’t wait forever for it to come true. What is the timeframe we are looking at here?

  • David Nickol

    Whether subsidizing the purchase of policies that cover abortion, but without subsidizing abortion itself, meets the test of the Hyde Amendment seems to me a minor point. The Hyde Amendment is not the Eleventh Commandment. The bishops chose to make a very large part of their argument that the principles of the Hyde Amendment must be implemented in health-care-reform legislation. While not unreasonable, it was a political position, not a moral one. From a Catholic point of view, the Hyde Amendment is already a compromise, since it allows federal dollars to be used in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother. In elevating the principles of the Hyde Amendment to a nonnegotiable states, it is almost as if the bishops are approving abortion under those circumstances. They chose to blur their moral position by taking a political one, and I don’t believe that is what bishops are supposed to do.

  • I know this is coming from more of a political insight than Catholic but how can anyone, Catholic or otherwise, even begin to form an opinion of the recent Health Insurance Bill? I don’t see how anyone can have an opinion of the positives and negatives yet. Only two days ago the US Congress commissioned the Congressional Research Committee to investigate whether the new law would void the current Congressional Health Insurance Plan.

    The cost of the plan for “low income” earners has yet to be determined. The penalties for those who did not carry insurance until illness has also yet to be determined. It is still unclear what the cost to enroll in the government plan will be. It is even more unclear whether the IRS will be conducting collections of premiums or if it will be sent to collection agencies. There is no clear language in the bill that mentions deductibles for the poor, middle income, high income, or anyone between.

    We already know that Congress misunderstood the start date for uninsured children by four years. Even more ambiguity exists as to whether the parents of the uninsured will be liable for unpaid premiums and deductibles. As of now, the politicians don’t really know what is going on. How could we possibly know? As of now all indications are that the new law somehow modifies current insurance plans so that lower income citizens will pay about half of what they would have without the law. This is still not affordable to someone not making money.

    Until the people who wrote and passed the law can figure it out how can we expect to be able to analyze it? Quite literally, the people who passed the law just this week employed a team of attorneys and accountants familiar with Congress to make heads and tails of what they just passed. It seems premature for us commoners to begin to analyze it.

  • Austin Ruse

    Welcome back Minion. I wish you well as you heal from your recent sorrow.

    About your post, and i take a deep breath as i once more wade into the Vox Nova waters; i wonder if Americans are not more individualist, sure, but also in fact more in solidarity with their fellow man than Europeans.

    It seems to me that you and other Europeans measure the common good mostly by governmental outlay and not be personal effort. Example: America gets derided internationally for our comparatively low overseas assistance. The problem with that is that the measure is generally only that of governmental outlay. It does not measure personal grants and donations. It does not measure NGO grants and assistance. It doesnot measure grants from foundations and universities. If those are included America, I believe, shoots to the top.

    Americans have a long tradition of charitable giving that Europeans do not have. [It should be noted that, according to Arthur Brooks, conservatives give far more than liberals in personal charitable giving. This is likely because liberals believe these things in the name of the common good should be handled by teh government.] Europeans do not give, i think, because they are used to the government taking care of things, including supporting the Church. Teh Church is helped governmentally in many European countries such that people do not believe they have to give.

    All of these American attributes have been recognized since the time of our founding (Tocqueville wrote about our inveterate joining).

    So, while we are an individualistic lot, we are also very big into joining clubs and associations in order to advance the common good and we are also among the highest charitable givers in the world. What this means is that we worry about governmental intrusion into the affairs of what properly should be civilian enterprises. We worry precisely because the commonweal should not be taken over by the government but should be left to the people.

    Welcome back.

  • David Nickol

    We worry precisely because the commonweal should not be taken over by the government but should be left to the people.


    What about the notion that at least in the United States, the government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people”?

  • Kurt

    It should be noted that, according to Arthur Brooks, conservatives give far more than liberals in personal charitable giving.

    But religious liberals give more than religious conservatives according to the same study.

  • Kurt

    My best to you and your family, MM.

    I can say with great confidence, the bill was enacted BECAUSE of Catholics and not despite of Catholics. The bishops put forward volumonus arguments for universal care and against abortion funding. In the end, they determined the bill did not meet the second test. But it is because they put forward convincing arguments for universal care and unconvincing arguments that the bill funded abortion that the votes were there for the bill.

    The moral position outlined by the bishops — not their conclusions or analysis but their moral position — played a critical role in winning enactment of this bill. The efforts of CHA, Catholics United and many others developed from this moral position and advanced the support needed for the congressional majority.

    And, whatever negative judgment the administrative committee of the USCCB may have made on the final bill, it did not even come close to the support the bill won from Catholics whose consciences were nourished by years of reception of the sacraments, worshipping at Mass and hearing the Gospel preached.

    And we must thank the bishops for what they have done to make the sacraments, the Mass, and the Gospel available to the People of God. By doing so, they made enactment of this bill possible.

  • Wj

    “We worry precisely because the commonweal should not be taken over by the government but should be left to the people.”

    Austin’s description is a fine one in the abstract. However, the reality is that “the people” are already dominated by an oligarchic elite comprised of the finance industry, the military industrial complex, and other large and powerful international corporations. It was Tom Daschle after all who admitted that wall street “owns” congress. One of the problems, to be sure, is that this complex has so entangled itself with “the government” that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. But the notion that all that is standing in the way of “the people” exercising their care for the commonweal in 21st century America is “the goverment” is patently false. So I would suggest that the apposite opposition is not that between the people and the government, but between a government that is beholden to the interests of the few and a government that is not. Neither political party is much interested in the second option; Tocqueville is, of course, but then he was writing at a time when the actions of civil society had a kind of autonomy they no longer possess

  • Kurt

    I have a slightly more positive view of American democracy than Wj, but still find Austin’s assertion weak.

    The present health care system has little in the principle of subsidarity or personal control. Distant, bureaucratic, unaccountable and large insurance companies and with a person’s employer make the decisions on health insurance. The only mitigation on this is when workers have a union that can negotiate over health care.

    Under the new legislation, consumers and workers still have the basic system of commerical health insurance but with greatly expanded consumer rights and options. Most importantly the new option of purchasing pro-life policies, now denied to millions.

    Subsidarity is advanced, not hindered, under teh new law.

  • Kurt, I disagree that mitigation is only possible through union negotiations. After becoming frustrated by my employer’s plans I started research on what my options were. Eventually, I hired an agent to walk me through the process but there are a lot of good insurance plans outside the normal notions of insurance.

    For example, I purchased a high deductible plan that is a sort of catastrophic insurance of sorts. I pay only a small fraction of what I would have paid within my employer based plans. Of course I lose the tax deduction but the money I’m saving now more than covers the tax benefit. Additionally, thru instruments like health savings accounts people like me are able to put money into a savings account. The money entering this account is tax deductible and builds nicely over time, allowing me to raise the deductible over time in exchange for lower monthly premiums. This account can only be used to pay for medical expenses. I use it to pay for annual check ups, medicine, etc. I pay for all medical expenses until I reach that high deductible. Eventually, I can use this account for retirement as well.

    I don’t write this to bore anyone with my personal decisions. I write this to demonstrate that I/we do have a lot of choices for insurance under the current system. Families have a lot more control than they realize. I think the employee based system has atrophied our ability to think about other options since it is so simple to just have the money come out of our checks and people would just assume let their HR people sort thru the ugly details of an insurance plan. And although as I stated in a previous post, no one really knows how this law is going to play out (Congress is still researching if their plans will be found unsuitable), it looks like my current plan is going to be doomed since there were a lot of politicians touting how immoral high deductible plans are; it was normally pitched as a way for insurance companies to get money out of the poor while giving them horrible plans with deductibles so high the poor could never pay it.

    If my assumption is correct and plans like mine are no longer available then I will be forced into an exchange or back to my employers plan. I don’t see how we can claim this law doesn’t hinder subsidiarity.

  • M.Z.

    The employer subsidy would have had to have been well south of 50% for the numbers to match, and that is taking into consideration your choice of an inferior substitute good. Regardless, one and one’s family have to be healthy going into underwriting to make this even conceivable.

  • By state law the employer subsidy must be at least 50%, which it is. For my son and I, my contribution would be just north of $600/month. This gave me a $3k deductible with low copay for office visits and scripts. My new policy is $220/month with a $3k deductible, higher copay on scripts and essentially $100 office visits (I had to negotiate that one with a Dr.).

    Using the median income tax rate of 9% my former tax benefit would have been $54/month. I’ve been putting the $300+ I’m saving into an HSA (all these deposits are tax deductible). A year later I have enough to cover the deductible in that account should I need it. Essentially, I believe this product has yielded better results for me than the so called superior good.

    What I really like is that if I don’t need it this year I’ll be able to raise my deductible to $5k next year and $10k the year after. This will lower my premium significantly. But now it looks like all my research, planning, saving, and staying healthy was a big waste of time. It is more than frustrating that the government can come in and take away a product that has worked out so well for me and my family.

    One interesting point you made M.Z. was that you have to be healthy. One’s health certainly effects the premium and in some cases this product won’t be available. Last year when Congress began talks I was really praying that the would start working with insurance companies to tweek these types of insurance products to make them more availbable as these plans promote not only health but saving. It pushes down demand which would likely push down costs. Unfotunately, it seems as if we will all soon have expensive, low co-pay insurance plans that will neither encourage healthy living or saving and will most likely increase demand and prices.

  • Austin,

    I don’t thin that personal charity and the responsibility of the state should be separated. I believe it was in Deus Caritas Est that Benedict noted they were entwined. I think too many in the American liberal tradition argue for an essentially privatized religion. But Catholic social teaching always sees a role for the state, and this was spelled out clearly in the body of teaching that began with Leo XIII. I think it was John XXIII who explicitly referred to health care as a right of each person, and the responsibility of the authorities.

  • Sean Michael:

    The problem with HSAs and other similar forms on insurance is that they are a great deal for young, healthy people. But setting premiums based on individual risk is a huge problem, and I believe it violates the principle of solidarity. The reason is simple – those who need healthcare most are priced out of the market. In a sense, this is what happens on the individual market today, and it is what the reform is designed to fix. And you fix it with two reinforcing policies: (i) not letting insurance companies discriminate; (ii) forcing all to buy insurance. If you have (i) without (ii), then the healthy would simply opt out, pushing up prices. With (ii), you expand the risk pool and lower costs. That’s the idea. That’s how it works in other countries that rely on private insurance markets, such as Germany, the Netherlands, or Switzerland.

  • Minion,

    I completely understand the reasoning behind the new law and why they want young healthy people in. The precise reason my employer’s premium skyrocketed was that we had to lay off about 50% of our employees over the last couple years. Lose a couple hundred young, healthy workers from your pool and you are in big trouble.

    My problem is that I don’t understand what principle allows any entity to tell an individual they cannot legally enter into a contract that benefits both parties without hurting anyone or anything. I am further confused as to what principle is being followed to allow a government to force an individual to purchase a product and punish them if they do not. I mean no disrespect but I find these notions to be mind boggling, especially under American law.

    I also don’t understand why it is a problem to set premiums based on individual risk. I really thought that was the essence of insurance. I thought a company evaluated individual risk in every form of insurance; whether it be auto, home, business, life, disability, or any other form.

    If one believes it is the government’s role to insure every citizen’s finances from being damaged due to medical expenses that is understandable. There seems to be ways of doing this without voiding contracts that people like me have and then making the product illegal. Why not just raise taxes and pay for the medical expenses of those who can’t afford it, thereby protecting their assets from collections? That seems to accomplish the same thing without getting into the murky legal and ethical waters of forcing people to purchase something or voiding legally made contracts where both entities wish to continue the contract.

  • Austin Ruse


    I am trying to explain a part of the opposition to health care and other governmental intrusions. Are we different from Europeans, yes. But that does not mean that Americans are so individualistic that they oppose the common good. In fact, Americans join and otherwise volunteer at non-profits efforts and financially support charitable efforts at levels far higher than Europeans. When European NGOs that work on life issued get together a huge part of the conversation is how they cant get any financial support and “how do we get teh EU to give us money.” this is a conversation that American prolifers would never have. Are some American NGOs supported by teh government? Sure. But most American NGOs rely on the inherent giving spirit of Americans, something that is largley missing in Europeans. It is my opinion that Europeans do not support charities precisely because teh government takes care of so many things. I personally believe there is greater merit in working with your friends, family and neighbors in fixing a problem that relying on the government. I personally think this is a purer expression of Catholic social teaching than relying on the government. This explains a profound misunderstanding between Europeans and Americans.
    About health care. I wish to high Heaven that big Amercan donors like Gates and Soros and others would have ponied up many billions to create a nonprofit insurance company that would have covered those who were uncovered or hard to cover. That would have been the American way.

  • Austin Ruse

    BTW, I think it is remarkable that businesses large and small actually provide healthcare for their workers. Through my little non-profit I pay for the health insurance for three families, soon to be five and more. In all my years in business i have always been covered by my employer. They did not have to do this. They did it though. I do it. Businesses large and small should be applauded that they have done this for so long and continue to do so. Are they not part of the commonweal?