Scripture, Canada and the health care debate

The U.S. bishops' health care Web site, www.usccb.org/healthcare. (CNS photo)

The U.S. bishops' health care Web site, http://www.usccb.org/healthcare. (CNS photo)

Health care reform in the United States has gone from heated debate to raging firestorm over the past couple of months. The smoke is drifting north of the border into our sister nation, Canada. During the discussions about what universal health care in the U.S. might look like, many have held up the Canadian system for praise as a good model or ridicule as a bad one. Either way, there always has been a lot of  back and forth across the U.S.-Canadian border for medical treatments and medicines. Some are easier to get here or cheaper there, depending upon the one’s illness, insurance and personal needs or desires.

Many viewers of Salt + Light Television, Canada’s largest Catholic media operation, and an excellent one, and readers of The Catholic Register, a national Catholic Canadian newspaper based in Toronto, have wondered how Americans might view the “socialized medicine” available in Canada and if Canadian Catholics might help inform the U.S. debate in a helpful way.

Basilian Father Tom Rosica, a Scripture scholar, theologian and seminary professor, who happens to be president of Salt + Light, penned this piece on the health care debate in this week’s Catholic Register. In it, he reflects on the responsibility of all Christians to care for those in need, as well as for unborn children and the elderly.

Sometimes it helps to see how Catholics in other lands, especially our closest neighbor, see our important struggle and reflect upon their own decision to provide universal health care to their citizens.

(Father Rosica, also based in Toronto, was recently named by Pope Benedict XVI a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.)

10 Responses

  1. In case you missed it, the following video was posted last week to help explain the U.S. bishops’ stance on health care reform:

  2. The sad thing is, we’re not having a debate about health care at all. One side is screaming “Marxist!” while the other side is yelling “Racist!” What does any of this have to do with health care? It’s a bunch of children throwing a tantrum. Let’s hope that both sides wear themselves out so we can actually start discussing these important issues.

  3. Afternoon,
    With the bishops comment per your quote:

    In it, he reflects on the responsibility of all Christians to care for those in need, as well as for unborn children and the elderly.

    How does it follow then that health care should become universal, would it not follow that Christians should care for the unborn and elderly, and not that a whole nation should be forced to ‘care’ about the unborn and elderly?

    I guess my main point is that he’s right in his premise but the proposed solution is in error, for one Canada isn’t all Christian therefore the responsibility falls on the institution of the church (little c, I’m not a Roman Catholic).

    Tell me your thoughts. :)

  4. Just a small observation, but one wonders how wide spread it is.

    When a member of the family went to a event in Canada. One of the U.S. players had a injured (torn tendon). He was taken to a local clinic, in Canada, for treatment. The family were then told that they would get better treatment back in the U.S. The family took the advice and went back home.

  5. While Bishop Murphy is to be lauded for defending the plight of the unborn in urging politicians to exclude abortion from any new Healthcare legislation, he sails into shallow and somewhat rocky shores in his assertion that both legal and illegal immigrants should be given full access to Universal Healthcare as a matter of Justice.
    He states “in the issue of health care, if it leaves out immigrants, it is doing what some people want it to do in terms of the unborn,” He goes on to say
    “How can we say that we’re a country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all who come to our shores if we say, ‘except the unborn.’ Or, if we say,/’except the handicapped.’ Or, if we say, ‘except the new person,'”. “Then we have not lived up to the high ideal of our country. And we have introduced a sense of injustice into a plan that should be just for all.”
    Where the Bishops argument falls apart is when he compares an unborn child and a handicapped person to that of an immigrant. Both the Unborn and the Handicapped have no power to control their destiny and for better or worse are at the mercy of their society. The Unborn do not even have a voice to plead their case but must rely on a tenuous maternal instinct for their very survival. In contrast the immigrant makes a conscious decision to better his life and improve his standard of living by moving to greener pastures and is free to change their situation again if new opportunities present themselves.
    Not only do the Bishops comparisons raise questions but he then proceeds to equate “injustice” to deny illegal immigrants full access to universal health care. If Justice implies fairness, righteousness, honesty and integrity, under the law how can one credibly argue that illegal immigrant activity procures the right to free health care? There is not a country in the world that gives illegal immigrants as much free health care as the US system currently provides. That is one reason why health insurance premiums are so high and we are paying for $10 aspirin in hospital environments. The Bishops argument is a little like saying that because a person is hungry they should have the right to eat as much as they want in a restaurant of their choice (as opposed to a soup kitchen) leaving the bill for others to pay.

  6. Reading Bishop Murphy reminds me of the comments, in the 70’s. The Bishops made many statements, about running business and economic policies. While they were doing this, the child abuse was going on at their feet.

    I think a statement about a noted “Catholic” University specifically “honoring” a political leader’s record on abortion and leaving live aborted children die would be be more appropriate. Or about another “Catholic” University covering up the IHS symbol.

  7. correct web URL for the Catholic Register:

    http://www.catholicregister.org/

  8. Oops. Sorry, Christine — the link’s been fixed.

  9. I agree with Mr. Adler. A bishop should be able to understand the reason for a legal system and for having borders between nations. Perhaps the American bishops should subsidize health care clinics in Mexico, a country permeated by corruption. I cannot see the logic in supporting unlimited immigration. The actions of the Mexican government promoting illegal immigration and evasion of U.S. law in printed pamphlets are indefensible.

    Throwing around the word “justice” without clear definitions reminds me of why seminarians were once supposed to study logic before beginning theology.

    Further,
    today’s news story illustrates that CCHD funding is a mess. We don’t need CCHD to fund ACORN and its affiliates or similar groups.

  10. Before we go to the Cuba and Canadian system, we should try letting insurance companies compete for customers across state lines.

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