Let’s Call CHA What It Really Is: A Secular Trade Group

News flash! President Obama now believes that “every human being, made in the image of God, deserves to live in dignity.”

The president said this in a June 9 speech to the annual meeting of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), and he even quoted Pope Francis that we are all called “to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness, and respect for every human being.” 

But apparently, it all depends on the meaning of the term “human being”, for Obama clearly does not believe unborn human beings deserve the right to live. And apparently “justice” does not include employers that have asked to opt out of his administration’s HHS requirement that they must provide employee insurance for “reproductive services” many people consider to be immoral. Nor does it include healthcare workers with conscience objections to immoral services they are expected to provide.

Yet, in spite of his pro-abortion record and in spite of his administration’s refusal to guarantee the freedom of conscience that he had promised before passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — commonly called Obamacare — Obama was invited to be the honored speaker at the 100th anniversary annual meeting of the Catholic Health Association.

It was the CHA, after all, that broke ranks with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when the bishops — who favor making health insurance available to all — did not support the Obamacare law because it funded contraception and abortion and lacked conscience protection.

It was a Daughter of Charity, Sister Carol Keehan, chief executive officer of the CHA, who led Catholic resistance to the bishops’ teaching authority. As Obama told the CHA assembly: “We would not have gotten the Affordable Care Act done had it not been for her.”

Steve Byas noted on The New American website:

Because she is the head of the largest group of nonprofit healthcare providers, Keehan’s public support gave Obama a huge boost to diminish the influence of the Catholic bishops.

By inviting the president to address its assembly at such a critical time, the CHA continued to allow itself to be used for political purposes, as Elizabeth Dias observed in an article for Time: 

President Obama’s decision to speak before the Catholic Health Association on Tuesday about the morality of caring for society’s vulnerable is politically strategic. Coming not long before an expected Supreme Court ruling on national subsidies in his signature health care reform, the speech highlights key supporters in the Catholic community for Obama’s agenda ahead of Pope Francis’ September visit to the U.S.

The president’s pragmatic quick study of Catholic social teaching was a bit lacking, however, for he neglected — or chose not — to learn that social justice applies to all human beings, from conception to natural death.

He also seems ignorant of the Catholic moral teaching that even a laudable goal cannot be achieved by using immoral means. Indeed, the president stressed that he and the CHA had the same goal of guaranteeing “that every American has access to quality, affordable care,” completely ignoring the morality of the means used to attain that goal — an omission apparently shared by the CHA.

How ironic that the CHA’s public support for Obamacare continues, even as dozens of Catholic dioceses, institutions and religious orders are forced to go to court to obtain relief from having to provide insurance for immoral services.

“I just love nuns, generally” Obama gushed after he embraced Sister Carol at the CHA June 9 meeting and credited her for passage of the ACA. His general love for “nuns” unfortunately does not apply to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court to obtain protection from the onerous HHS mandate. Perhaps the Little Sisters were too specific when they bravely vowed not to accept the mandate.

Then Obama went on to tell the assembly: “I’m here today to say thank you for your tireless efforts to make health reform a reality. Without your commitment to compassionate care, without your moral force, we would not have succeeded.” 

So, once again, the CHA offered moral cover by inviting Obama to address the CHA assembly, where he mouthed praise for Catholic social teaching and quoted Pope Francis to advance his own agenda, while totally ignoring the fact that aspects of his agenda defy long-established Catholic moral teaching. 

And the response from CHA was: resounding applause.

Meanwhile, thousands of Catholics in the trenches who care for the sick and vulnerable continue to struggle with the moral problems caused by Obamacare. 

A June 9 press release from the Catholic Medical Association — an association of Catholic physicians — noted that:

The ACA violates the integrity of the practice of medicine in the United States, undermines the dignity of the human person, and compromises the delivery of Catholic healthcare. Conscience protection is being violated as some state regulatory agencies, such as the Department of Health and Managed Care in the State of California, now identify abortion as a basic human right which must be covered by all health insurance companies.

The Catholic Medical Association press release goes on to say: “The Catholic Medical Association seeks to continue to collaborate with the Catholic Health Association to work toward a more just healthcare system that ensures patient access to care without compromising the dignity of the human person or violating the conscience protection of healthcare workers.”

Since the CHA has such “moral” authority in the public square, and since Sister Carol Keehan has such a friendly relationship with Obama, just imagine what a powerful lobbying force Catholics would be if we all stood with our bishops in protecting the human dignity and religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

Perhaps it is time for the Catholic Health Association to change its name to more accurately reflect its modern mission as a secular trade group rather than the original mission established by its founders 100 years ago to be a Catholic entity guided in its ministry by Catholic teaching.