UPDATED: list of US bishops who have spoken about health care reform

The young Papist has been doing us a service.  He is listing the American Bishops who have made strong statements about "Obamacare" and what would – from a Catholic perspective – need to be considered in any debate about health care reform.

Here is the list so far.  He will post updates. 

UPDATE 5 Sept 1735 GMT

  1. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, PA
  2. and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY
  3. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO
  4. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, CO
  5. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, NY
  6. Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA
  7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND
  8. Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, IA
  9. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS
  10. and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
  11. Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
  12. Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, VA
  13. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, SC
  14. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, OH (PDF)
  15. Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, NC
  16. and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, NC
  17. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, WI (PDF)
  18. Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, SD (PDF)
  19. Bishop Donald Trautman of Eire, PA (PDF)
  20. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, PA
  21. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT
  22. Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, IL
  23. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ (part II here)
  24. Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, AR
  25. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI
  26. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS
  27. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, TX
  28. and Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio, TX
  29. Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, NE
  30. Bishop Alex Sample of Marquette, MI
  31. Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, FL
  32. Bishop David Choby of Nashville, TN
  33. Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, CA
  34. Bishop Peter Sartain of Joliet, IL
  35. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, TX
  36. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, IL
  37. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Lousville, KY

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  1. Mike Morrow says:

    The important characteristic of these outspoken bishops is their opposition to BO-Kare.

    One wishes that at least a majority in the USCCB would *also* take this stand for morality, in accordance with their professed (instead of just professional) religion!

    Not a chance.

  2. irishgirl says:

    Still nothing from the Upstate NY bishops-Albany, Buffalo, Ogdensburg [yeah, I know they only have an ‘administrator’ right now-no new bishop] or Syracuse. Sigh….

    I echo your ‘wish’, Mike….

    But thank God for the shepherds who are speaking up-bravos and kudos to them!

  3. MichaelJ says:

    I have not looked at what these good Bishops have stated specifically, but from what I have seen, a big piece missing from what “need[s] to be considered in any debate about health care reform” is:

    “Is a refome needed?”

    Can anyone tell me, from a Catholic perspective, what is wrong with the current system and where it inadequately addresses a legitimate need?

  4. padredana says:

    I think we have to be careful about these lists. Just because a bishop doesn’t publish something doesn’t mean that he isn’t on the right side of things. I say this because recently I was speaking to a bishop I know (I won’t say who). He is a fine bishop who is orthodox, solid, and genuinely holy. He spoke to me, with a little frustration, becuse he was getting a lot of letters asking him why he didn’t write a letter to such and such a person about some public scandal. His response was that he did indeed write a very strong letter to the person in question. He just chose not to publish it.

    I think that we have to be careful about judging bishops because they don’t make a public statement, or make public a private letter. Some of them are doing very good work behind the scenes, and that doesn’t make them a bad bishop at all.

  5. adamwelp says:

    God Bless these brave Bishops. Let’s see how much time passes before the Indiana Bishops speak out. I was proud that they were near the top of the list during the Notre Dame crisis. I hope they jump on board soon.

  6. With a few exceptions in the list, it is getting easier to read where the line is within the USCCB.

    Just think, it wasn’t too many years ago that the only bishops speaking out would be Bruskewitz and Burke. Now, we get to have long lists on a regular basis.

    It gives me great hope for the future of our Church.

  7. Hidden One says:

    With all due respect to the Papist, Bp. Trautman is bishop of Erie, not Ireland (Eire – well, Éire).

    Also, I note (after reading the comment from Diane) that Bp. Bruskewitz doesn’t have a statement on this list yet.

  8. Melody says:

    MichaelJ: There’s nothing specifically Catholic about it, except that many liberal proponents of health care reform also support abortion and euthanasia.
    Studying the current health care system, it actually meets most needs, but the bureaucracy is terribly disorganized and is truly in need of reform. However, this ought to be done through small changes to promote efficiency.
    For example: If you ever have to apply for Medicare, SSI, or SSDI, don’t do it over the phone or over the internet. Go in person and/or find someone to help you decipher the legalese.

  9. MichaelJ says:

    I am quie certain that the current, mostly private “health care system” here in the US can be improved, but I have seen no evidence that *reform* is needed. Perhaps this is a matter of semantics but “reform” implies that there are serious problems with the current system and I do not buy it.

    It is also interesting and somewhat ironic to note that the one example you cite (I am sure there are others) comes from the government managed portion.

  10. Traductora says:

    I was very heartened to read this; I read a few of their statements, and many of them seem to realize that even leaving aside the moral issue of abortion and euthanasia, a massive government-run “health care” program is not a good thing in itself and is not necessarily good from the point of view of classical Catholic social philosophy (it violates the principle of subsidiarity, for one thing) and is always going to be open to grave dangers because of its power to coerce people at a very deep level.

    That was why I was particularly disgusted with the part of Cdl O’Malley’s self-serving explanation of his actions at the Kennedy funeral where he states that he wanted “to share with [Obama] that the bishops of the Catholic Church are anxious to support a plan for universal health care…” This is by no means the case, and it was particularly dishonest of him to make it sound as if he speaks for all the bishops and to imply that they are all in favor of such a plan.

  11. BenFischer says:

    Bishop Kevin Ferrell of Dallas, TX posted this in the diocesan newspaper

  12. BenFischer says:

    Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, TX posted this in the diocesan newspaper

  13. Melody says:

    Michael: I’m a college student studying the health care system. The public portion of it is abominable and does deserve the word reform according to your definition. Public health care has the complexity of the IRS but with wide inefficiency and disorganization. Many people have trouble getting care simply because they can’t navigate the bureaucracy. Which is why I don’t support Obama’s health care plan.

  14. mpm says:

    Comment by padredana — 4 September 2009 @ 12:37 pm


    You make an very good point. The bishops have no obligation to speak out every time something goes wrong. The existence of bishops is different from the concept of the “Greek choir”.

    And I would add that it is more important to read and consider what the bishops who have written on health care, say, than keeping tabs on how many have said something. (It is the former which I assume and hope is the purpose for publishing this list.)

  15. mpm says:

    Can anyone tell me, from a Catholic perspective, what is wrong with the current system and where it inadequately addresses a legitimate need? Comment by MichaelJ — 4 September 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    a) Read what the bishops think is wrong with it.

    b) In my opinion, there are several things wrong with it, that could be reformed using only a few pages of paper:

    a) outlaw the use of “pre-existing conditions” to exclude medical insurance coverage. That injustice represents corporate “cherry picking”, not insurance;

    b) reform how malpractice is governed. Outlaw lawsuits, and subject the process to judge-supervised peer-reviewed boards of inquiry. Reasons: a) Eliminating the expensive practice of “defensive medicine” which results in strictly unnecessary tests, etc., will bring down medical expenses, and free up resources. b) Awards will be more timely, and address the harm done (if found to be truly negligent), and suing will cease to be profitable to ambulance-chasers.

    c) allow purchasers of medical insurance policies to purchase from anywhere, rather than from just within their own states. Competition nationally will a) give the insurers a greater pool from which to pay the more expensive procedures; b) lead to more standardized “packages” which will make choosing the package easier for consumers.

    d) Remove “health care insurance” conceptually as a benefit provided by the Employer, and make it a duty on the part of citizens. This will allow the design of “portability”, meaning that you remain insured, even if you lose your job, or take another job. This should involve a kind of tax like FICA/Medicare. Unlike FICA/Medicare some portion of the tax is vested to the individual as a medical savings account which can be used to pay for future premiums (taxes) or to pay for medical deductibles. By law, stipulate that companies must pass through as income to an employee whatever they calculate to be the cost to them of “medical benefits” at the outset of the program (so that no company could just eliminate the benefit and the burden be placed on the employees at program initiation).

    There are other aspects of (d) which could be mentioned, and I would be open to hearing of other ideas relative to the consumer-side of the problem, but that’s my starting point.

    e) Make some provision that the Federal Government will cover immigrants (especially legal immigrants) and will not pass the mandate to the states (since the Feds control immigration policy).

    f) Exclude specifically such things as abortion, euthanasia, etc., from being paid for by governement funds.

    None of these, nor all of them taken together, require anything like the “takeover” of medical insurance amd practice that the current administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress seem to favor, and they address real deficiencies which many folks recognize as such.

  16. Federico says:

    How come, in a federal nation, not one of the bishops is mentioning the very Catholic value of subsidiarity?

    mpm, you have my general agreement, but I’m baffled by this sentence: a) outlaw the use of “pre-existing conditions” to exclude medical insurance coverage. That injustice represents corporate “cherry picking”, not insurance;

    Consider this: my house burned yesterday, so I tried to get homeowners insurance to cover it, but the insurance company told me it was a pre-existing condition and refused to build me a new one.

    Why should health insurance be any different? If I knew I could get coverage at any point for my family with no exclusions, I’d just cancel my insurance and buy a policy only when we had a catastrophic illness. It’d save me a bundle and drive the insurers bankrupt.

    I could see an extension of the current HIPAA rule (that if you have certain kinds of insurance continuously you can switch carrier with no exclusions). That is very different from what is being proposed today.


  17. MichaelJ says:


    Other than “c” and “f”, I have some serious concerns about what you propose. That is beside the point though. I was speaking of health *care* not health *insurance*

  18. mpm says:


    First, if you read the documents, you will find that your assertion that “not one of the bishops is mentioning the very Catholic value of subsidiarity” is false. Sometimes they mention it by pointing to other statements that mention it very explicitly.

    WRT “pre-existing conditions”. Your example is a poor one. You are proposing FRAUD. If you are obliged to have house insurance from the time of closing onward (not untypical), you cannot do what you describe. But the analogy is not a good one anyway, since there is a probability of 100% that each human being will have either a sickness event or a death event over the period of a lifetime.

    What is insurance? I pay a premium regularly over a stipulated time frame, and if an enumerated event occurs I am reimbursed up to whatever limit has been contracted. Premiums are established so that actuarily (“statistically”) the expected events can be paid for from the pool of premiums collected (and perhaps invested).

    What we currently have in the USA is non-portable health insurance. This was not an intentional national policy but an accident of wage and price controls on industry during WWII. To attract executive talent, large corporations began to “sweeten the kitty” by offering other benefits, including “health insurance”.

    Why should having coverage (whoever pays for it) be a function of a job or lack thereof, and not a function of being human and a citizen? For there to be truly portable medical insurance, this “relic” of the past must change, there’s no other alternative.

    The question, from the standpoint of a Catholic, is not what is being debated in Congress or espoused by the Obama administration, but the much deeper one, of what moral principles should govern ANY health insurance system that protects the GOODS that the Church finds entailed by the moral duty to take care of one’s health.

    That gives us, and others, a perspective from which to “negotiate” politically a better, cheaper, and less intrusive “reform” to rid ourselves of true abuses in the current (and proposed) systems.

  19. mpm says:


    If you think the current debate is about health “care” and not health “insurance” you are not paying attention to it. The Democratic bills are all about health insurance — that’s what the “public option” is all about.

    The “reforms” they want to bring about in health “care”, or the practice of medicine, are not stipulated in these bills, only ENABLED by laying down markers, to be implemented by Federal employees, agencies, or commissions sometime down the road.

    That’s why, though the bills do not stipulate “death panels” by name, they do make it possible for “death panels” to exist via regulation in the future. Etc.

    “I have some serious concerns about what you propose.” SO DO I! I’m not an expert in this matter, but I have been following it, more or less closely, for 20+ years, especially from the standpoint of moral theology and economic feasibility.

    So try and enunciate your concerns: you may be on to something.

  20. MichaelJ says:


    The point I was trying to make is that health insurance is a means (one of several) to an end. So far, nobody proposing changes to the current “system” has identified the ultimate goal. This is akin to giving driving directions without knowing or identifying the destination.

    So, as Catholics, what goal should we be striving for in regards to health care? How far does the current health care in this country stray from that goal? Only then can we have an intelligent discussion about how to best arrive at our destination

  21. Federico says:

    mpm — nobody is requiring me to buy homeowner’s insurance. I do it to make sure that, should something happen, I won’t lose all its value.

    Nobody is making me buy health insurance either. I do it so if something happens, I can deal with that catastrophy. If I were rich, I might consider self-insuring (which I do for other, minor, risks).

    It’s my choice in mitigating risks.

    And no, catastrophic illness is not a certainty in life. A friend of mine was quite healthy until the bullet of a gun went through his heart.

    You write: What is insurance? I pay a premium regularly over a stipulated time frame, and if an enumerated event occurs I am reimbursed up to whatever limit has been contracted.

    Exactly. You pay a premium over a time frame and if something occurs during the time frame covered by the policy, if it’s part of the terms, it’s covered.

    Try buying any kind of insurance for something that’s already happened. Good luck with that.

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