Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says it’s time for the politicians in Washington to listen to the bishops. In a blog post, Sr. Walsh points out that the bishops have a few points that our government servants might do well to heed, reminding the reader that the bishops have no political affiliation:
They are neither Democratic nor Republican positions. They are simply principled.
Consider, for example, an October 1 letter from Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chair of the Committee on Domestic Policy and Human Development, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace. The letter urged Congress to fulfill the role of government and meet the basic needs of people. The bishops told Congress that they “welcomed earlier bipartisan action which averted a federal government shutdown and the hardship that would have come with failure to reach agreement.”
They added that “The Catholic bishops of the United States stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future unsustainable deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity.”
Walsh says that the bishops have been calling for universal health care for quite some time, but that the right of conscience must always be protected. Noting that the bishops have publicly condemned the HHS mandate, Walsh notes:
As the bishops’ October 1 letter pointed out, threats to conscience rights undermine access to needed health care by driving people of faith out of the system.
Some have falsely interpreted this as a call for the government shutdown or a default on our nation’s debts. The bishops have done nothing of the kind. The bishops have been urging Congress to enact legislation like the Health Care Conscience Rights Act for two and a half years. Since July 2012, the bishops have been asking that this protection be included in “must-pass” bills such as the appropriations bills funding the government, which have long been vehicles for a number of important federal policies on conscience rights.
Walsh calls the USCCB a “voice of reason,” and urges Washington politicians to listen to what they have to say.