Here are some highlights from Cardinal George’s address to his brother bishops this morning.
He tackled a variety of issues: immigration, the economy, sexual abuse and safe environments. Perhaps his strongest words were reserved for discussing the the healthcare reform legislation.
“Once political leaders and health care experts decided to use government subsidized insurance as the vehicle for providing more universal health care, it was our moral obligation as teachers of the faith to judge whether the means passed moral muster, whether or not the proposed legislation used public funds to kill those living in their mother’s womb,” Cardinal Francis George told the bishops. “Consistently, and ever more insistently since the sin and crime of abortion was legalized in the United States, our voice has been that of the bishops of the Catholic Church ever sicne the first Christians condemned the abortion practices of the ancient Romans. The act is immoral; and the laws that have permitted now fifty million children of our country to be killed in their mother’s womb are also immoral and unjust; they are destroying our society.”
Cardinal George said that there are three basic issues in the debate: empirical, ecclesiological, and practical.
“Who speaks for the Catholic Church?” he asked. “We speak for the apostolic faith, and those who hold it gather round. The bishops in apostolic communion and in union with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, speak for the Church in matters of faith and in moral issues and the laws surrounding them. All the rest is opinion.”
“For too many, politics is the ultimate horizon of their thinking and acting. As we know, fidelity to Christ in his body the Church calls for two responses on the part of those who would call themselves his disciples: orthodoxy in belief and obedience in practice…. Orthodoxy is necessary but not enough; the devil is orthodox. He knows the Catechism better than anybody in this room; but he will not serve, he will not obey. There can be mistakes in our thinking, but there can be no self-righteousness in our will, for this is the sin against the Holy Spirit. We should not fear political isolation; the Church has often been isolated in politics and in diplomacy.”
“The voice of Christ speaks always from a consistent concern for the gift of human life, a concern that judges the full continuum of technological manipulation of life, from the use of artificial contraception to the destruction of human embryos to the artifiical conception of human beings in a Petri dish to genetic profiling to the killing of unwanted children through abortion,” he said. “If the poor are allowed to be born, then the voice of Christ continues to speak to the homeless and the jobless, the hungry and the naked, the uneducated, the migrant, the imprisoned, the sick and the dying.”