I want to direct your attention to an interview on Minnesota Public Radio with the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, His Excellency Most Rev. John Nienstedt. He is interviewed about health care reform and the increasingly audible role of Catholic leaders in the public square.
This is a very good interview. I particularly like the way that Archbp. Nienstedt addresses the hot button questions which are surfacing as liberal opposition rises against the Catholic voice.
Among the things you should listen for are his connection of health care reform and, as a result, public funding of abortion, and who we are as a society. He references the dignity of the human person. He makes a distinction between "feel" and "believe" (thank you thank you thank you). The Church is involved because of moral issues, not because of political partisanship. This is not "political muscle". This is the "moral voice of the Church".
He also says that if what is proposed for health care reform has elements that are morally unacceptable to the Church, then he would have to ask the flock to get involved in the democratic process and voice their concerns. Do I hear an "Amen!"?
When asked about Catholics who want health care reform for the common good but don’t want to draw a line in the sand over abortion: "It seems to me that abortion, the taking of a human life, is not in the best interests either of individuals or of us as a society. … [When] you say ‘Draw a line in the sand’, you’re making this into a political reality as opposed to taking a hard look at what are the moral repercussions of a policy that includes something like abortion."
That said, clearly Archbp. Nienstedt does draw a line in the sand, not as a politician, but more along the lines of a bishop, whose job it was to draw lines in the sand, alphabets, when consecrating churches.
At the end he returns to the necessary distinction about politics and moral issues.
That is a point which must be constantly stressed in this debate: when Catholic bishops voice their opinion in the public square, they are not thereby being "political". Liberal democrats are sticking to their talking points on this. We must counter them.
The audio piece is about 5 minutes long.