Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn, who told me that he and Kansas City, Kan., Archbishop Joseph Naumann were releasing a pastoral letter on health-care reform.

That pastoral letter was released today, and it can be read in its entirety at the The Catholic Key blog. It’s encouraging to see that a rising number of U.S. bishops are speaking publicly, and pastorally, about all that’s right, and all that’s wrong, in the current bill before Congress. It’s the first pastoral letter from U.S. bishops addressing health-care reform.

Their pastoral letter calls not only for the exclusion of “abortion services” from the health-care legislation, but also the exclusion of mandated end-of-life counseling for the elderly and disabled.

“We urge the president, Congress, and other elected and appointed leaders to develop prescriptions for reforming health care which are built on objective truths: that all people in every stage of human life count for something; that if we violate our core beliefs we are not aiding people in need, but instead devaluing their human integrity and that of us all,” write Bishop Finn and Archbishop Naumann.

Bishop Finn and Archbishop Naumann aren’t alone.

Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila has released a letter outlining four principles that should be considered, and Bishop Walter Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, has also released a helpful statement.

In his, Bishop Nickless says, “... the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what ‘health care’ should mean. We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health-care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health-care system we now have.”

You’ll also find brother bishops’ letters to congressional leaders at the USCCB health-care site.