VATICAN CITY — The Vatican hasn’t weighed in very much yet concerning the fierce debate in the United States over health care reform. Some of the opposition in the U.S. centers around whether the government should have such a dominant role in providing affordable coverage for all Americans.
Cardinal Renato Martino, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, lived in the United States for 16 years when he served the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations from 1986-2002.
When I interviewed the cardinal today at the end of a Vatican press conference, I asked him what he thought of the current health care debate in the U.S. and whether the government should be offering universal coverage or if it should just be left up to private businesses. Here’s what he said:
The health of their own citizens belongs to the authorities, to the central government. And so I have been 16 years in the States and I was wondering why a big portion of the American people is deprived, have no health assistance at all. I could never explain this…
And you know that everywhere in the world it is a concern of the government first of all, and after there are possibilities also on the private sector, but those who are without anything… the central government must provide to that. So I cannot but applaud this initiative.