On the website of the Pioneer Press, a newspaper of my native place, Minneapolis and St. Paul, I found with the help of Stella Borealis that the new Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, His Excellency Most Rev. Lee A. Piché had written a letter to the editor.
The Church and health care
Updated: 09/05/2009 04:59:22 PM CDT
On Wednesday afternoon I drove from St. Paul to Duluth for a 30-minute meeting with Congressman Jim Oberstar, members of the staff of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, representatives of two other Catholic dioceses, a Lutheran pastor, and an Orthodox priest. We discussed with Mr. Oberstar our shared concern as Christians about the current version of the health insurance bill. Yes, we did make our point with him about our opposition to mandatory coverage for abortion – about which he, a Democrat, agrees with us – but we also shared with him our conviction that health care is a human right and should be accessible to all, and our hope that the reformed program will give special consideration to those people who live below the poverty level. Even before the current debate began, the Catholic bishops of this country have consistently called for reform of the health care system and have championed the cause of the poor. Because we include unborn citizens among the poor and most vulnerable, we are deemed obstructionists by those who have another agenda.
[Now, folks, watch this! And put your coffee mug down...]
I returned to St. Paul, picked up the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and read the letter to the editor "The Church and health care." In an uninformed rant, the writer castigated the Catholic hierarchy for opposing health care reform (they do not), for being a "vital unit of the right wing of the Republican Party" (they are not), for using the abortion issue as a cover (a cover for what?), and for being another "wealthy group that opposes change" (I challenge the writer to examine my bank account and then call me wealthy). The writer ends by saying that he is, or used to be, a Catholic. If he is a Catholic, he should be ashamed of himself for shaking a fistful of falsehoods at his own leaders, leaders who are working as hard as they can to promote positive change. If he is no longer a Catholic, it is too bad because he stood a better chance of seeing his hopes realized by pitching in with the bishops and other members of the very institution he has abandoned. Either way I will pray for him. [OORAH!]
Most Reverend Lee A. Piché
The writer is Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
Now that, dear WDTPRSers, is how a bishop should write in the newspaper.
The original, silly letter to which Bp. Piche is responding:
The church and health care
It does not surprise me that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church opposes health care reform ("Bishops taking stand against health plan," Aug. 28). They have become a vital unit of the right wing of the Republican Party. They use the abortion issue as a cover, but really they are just another wealthy group that opposes change.
It is unfortunate that a church that used to support the lower and middle classes has changed into a group that is against giving 40 million poor a chance of joining a health care plan.
I am a Catholic, or at least I was before I wrote this letter.
Jim R. Miller, Winona