Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Thursday, March 18, 2010

If it deserves Abp. Naumann's attention, it certainly deserves ours

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City KS (no stranger to doing the right thing under difficult circumstances) has called out Sister Carol Keehan, Chief Executive of the "Catholic Health Association" for providing "cover for any member of the House who chooses to buckle under the pressure of the President and the Democratic leadership to accept government funding of abortion". Keehan's arguments, says Naumann, are "either incredibly naive or disingenuous". He concludes "I encourage you to contact Sister Carol Keehan and the Catholic Health Association expressing to them your disappointment in their willingness to accept government funded abortion as part of health care reform." Abp. Naumann is backed up by Bp. Robert Finn (KC, MO), and Abp. Charles Chaput of Denver CO.

"Disappointment" is putting it mildly. This move by CHA leadership (one wonders whether Sr. Carol sought support from her board before declaring for Obamacare) is taken in obvious opposition to the USCCB, not to mention that it contradicts the studied conclusions of numerous pro-life groups with long track-records of knowing what they are talking about and who don't tend to make
gi-normous amounts of money for their "philanthropy".

So, yes, do contact Sr. Carol.

But I raise a further point: To whom exactly is the "Catholic Health Association" accountable in the first place? It appears that
they answer only to their own board.* But, if they aren't accountable to a given bishop, or to the USSCB, or to Rome (1983 CIC 216, 300, and 312), then how does the CHA justify, say, using the word "Catholic" in their title? They apparently claim Catholic identity (and tax-exempt status) in virtue of their inclusion in the Kennedy Directory (see Archdiocese of Saint Louis), but do they deserve such accommodations from the hierarchy?

Groups that want the perks that come from being called "Catholic" need to conduct themselves in accord with the obligations of being Catholic, no? It's time, I think, to take a closer look at the Catholic Health Association. + + +

* The CHA Board lists one bishop as a member (out of 23 slots), Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg FL--sharply criticized for his stance on the Terri Schiavo travesty--and an "episcopal liason", Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth TX, who probably has no vote on CHA policies.

Important background reading: Anne Hendershott, "Mixed Signals: the strategy of powerful Catholic health care advocates in the debate over reform has left many confused", Special to Catholic World Report.