Judie Brown
Catholic Health Association digs a deeper hole
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By Judie Brown
December 23, 2008

Last Thursday, I wrote a commentary http://www.all.org/newsroom_judieblog.php?id=2431 on the Catholic Health Association's http://www.chausa.org/ public praise for president-elect Obama's nomination of pro-abortion Senator Tom Daschle for Secretary of Health and Human Services and pro-abortion Jeanne Lambrew to serve as deputy director of the new White House Office of Health Reform.

I was amazed to find that yesterday an official response had come from Mr. Fred Caesar, special assistant to the president/CEO of CHA, Sister Carol Keehan. In her response she wrote,

    As the President/CEO of CHA, I welcomed the nominations of the two senior health care appointees to the new administration. This welcome was based on the competence and commitment of these two senior people in health policy. They are committed to getting access to quality health care for all Americans, including pregnant women and their unborn babies. Covering the uninsured is a critical area where we have lost ground in the last few years. Increasing access to quality health care for uninsured pregnant women will greatly assist in preventing women from feeling they have to choose abortion.

    While I wish the presidential nominees in the health care field shared CHA's pro-life position, they will be the health policy officials for our country. They are also very competent in health policy.

    LifeNews immediately focused on the appointees' pro-choice positions and criticized my statement and exaggerated its implication. They encouraged their readers to protest.

    Several did contact me by e-mail. A number asked politely for an explanation, some did further research and saw the clear position I have taken and CHA has taken on life issues for years and congratulated me for trying to build bridges. Regrettably, a number of e-mails were disrespectful and abusive, as well as seriously in error. It saddens me to see some people use the beautiful pro-life cause as justification for their abusive behavior.

    Honestly acknowledging an appointment and the competence of the person involved does not imply endorsing all their views on moral issues. Our Holy Father himself congratulated the President-elect and his Secretary of State did as well on his election as President.

    They will work with the President-elect as the leader of this country in a respectful manner, just as CHA will work with the leadership of HHS in a respectful manner.

    It is my belief that we will be more successful in converting hearts by prayer and respectful dialogue and we will prevent more abortions by ensuring tangible health care for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

This letter represents a form of sophistry I did not realize existed within the framework of a prestigious Catholic organization presided over by a Catholic sister. However, prior to pointing out my concern over Sister Keehan's demonstrable effort to excuse her organization's lack of prudential judgment, let me apologize to her publicly for any allegedly pro-life response that was, in any way, disrespectful or abusive. While it is clear to many of us that the CHA endorsement of two pro-aborts is misguided, there is never an excuse for hateful speech or innuendo. The facts speak for themselves, and negative embellishment frequently distracts from the record at hand.

Having said that, I am personally offended by her suggestion that simply because the Holy Father congratulated the president-elect, her organization has the right to celebrate nominees who have shown themselves to be as deliberately in support of child killing as the president-elect is. Far be it from me to attempt to read the sister's mind on this subject, but I have seen no report indicating that the Holy Father endorsed the president-elect. As we all know, the precise content of the Holy Father's personal message to the president-elect was not published, nor should it have been. It was, after all, personal. But we do know that Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told the media this about the Holy Father's message: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0805616.htm

    "He assured him of his prayers that God would help him with his high responsibilities for his country and for the international community"... The pope also prayed that "the blessing of God would sustain him and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity and justice."

Upon reading this, nobody would take away the idea that the Holy Father endorsed or celebrated any of Obama's positions. Remember, the Holy Father, as Christ's vicar on earth, is committed to peace, solidarity and justice. Obviously, he expects Obama, as a man of good will, to pursue those same objectives.

It is more than gratuitous for Sister Keehan to equate the Holy Father's private message with the CHA's public, near-celebratory comments on the nominations of Daschle and Lambrew. This is why I felt compelled to send the following response to Sister Keehan by way of her communications director:

    Dear Mr. Caesar, (FCAESAR@chausa.org) on behalf of Sister Carol Keehan, (ckeehan@chausa.org)

    While I appreciate the statement you have made to clarify your organization's support for Senator Tom Daschle's nomination as well as that of Jeanne Lambrew, I am nonetheless shocked that the Catholic Health Association would publicly use its identity to endorse the nominations of two rabidly pro-abortion individuals, regardless of their alleged "competence and commitment" in and to health policy. You know as well as we do that all these nominees will do, if confirmed, is advance the so-called reproductive rights agenda of organizations like Planned Parenthood, which means equating the direct murder of innocent preborn children with health care.

    Your suggestion that you "wish" the nominees shared CHA's "pro-life" position is ridiculous. CHA did not have to publicly support these individuals and should not have done so, specifically because of their support for aborting children, which, as you know, means murdering them. Your endorsement makes the CHA positions on "life issues" laughable and an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.

    If you wish to carry on "respectful dialogue" with those who stand in direct conflict with Catholic teaching, it would seem to us you would do so privately, rather than publicly giving praise to the very people whom you suggest need conversion of heart and mind.

    Sadly and with all due respect, I express to you my personal regret as a Catholic that you have chosen to dignify supporters of murdering the preborn with your public endorsement. It is a tragic day for the Church.

    Judie Brown, President
    American Life League Inc.
    Member, Pontifical Academy for Life

© Judie Brown

 

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Judie Brown

Judie Brown is president and co-founder of American Life League, the nation's largest grassroots pro-life educational organization... (more)

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