U.S. Bishops Outline Legislative ‘Principles and Priorities’ For New Congress
January 26th, 2011
Respect for the dignity of all human life an underlying principle
Subsequent letter on health care reform reflects bishops’ principles at work
In a letter to Congress dated January 14th, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), outlined the “principles and priorities that will guide the public policy efforts” of the Bishops’ Conference during the new legislature. The letter was mailed to all members of Congress on January 14.
Archbishop Dolan said he “hopes that this newly elected Congress will advance the common good and defend the life and dignity of all, especially vulnerable and poor persons whose needs are critical in this time of difficult economic and policy choices.”
Since Archbishop Dolan sent his letter, the bishop chairs whose committees’ work is affected by health care reform have articulated their concerns as Congress revisits the issue:
“Rather than joining efforts to support or oppose the repeal of the recently enacted health care law, we will continue to devote our efforts to correcting serious moral problems in the current law, so health care reform can truly be life-affirming for all,” wrote Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Coadjutor Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California in a January 18 letter to the House of Representatives. The bishops chair the USCCB Committees on Pro-Life Activities, Migration, and Domestic Justice and Human Development, respectively.
The bishops wrote that any action taken by Congress on health care reform should reflect the following moral criteria:
- Ensure access to quality, affordable, life-giving health care for all.
- Retain longstanding requirements that effectively protect conscience right and that prohibit use of federal funds for elective abortion or plans that include them.
- Protect the access to health care that immigrants currently have and remove current barriers to access.