Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
In remarks delivered today to Miguel Diaz, the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI indicated to President Barack Obama that he’s monitoring America’s health-care reform debate closely.
The Pope’s message to the president, though indirect and couched politely in diplomatic phrasing, is identical to the one delivered repeatedly and forcefully by the U.S. bishops: There must be no funding for abortion in the health-care reform initiative, and the conscience rights of pro-life medical personnel must have strong protection.
The Holy Father’s signal about the Church’s position on the matter came in the second-to-last paragraph of the remarks he made to Diaz in accepting the new ambassador’s letters of credence (with the most pertinent passage bolded by the Daily Blog for emphasis).
The crisis of our modern democracies calls for a renewed commitment to reasoned dialogue in the discernment of wise and just policies respectful of human nature and human dignity. The Church in the United States contributes to this discernment particularly through the formation of consciences and her educational apostolate, by which she makes a significant and positive contribution to American civic life and public discourse. Here I think particularly of the need for a clear discernment with regard to issues touching the protection of human dignity and respect for the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, as well as the protection of the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care workers, and indeed all citizens. The Church insists on the unbreakable link between an ethics of life and every other aspect of social ethics, for she is convinced that, in the prophetic words of the late Pope John Paul II, “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized” (Evangelium Vitae, 93; cf. Caritas in Veritate, 15).