Archbp. Nienstedt radio interview on health care reform

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Melania says:

    I listened to this just now. I think the Bishop did an excellent job. He was clearly well prepared. The venue was a lot better than for poor Bishop Tobin. This interviewer let Bishop Nienstedt state his position completely, without interruption. He was not like that verbal buzzsaw, Chris Matthews.

    I like how Bishop Nienstedt made clear how the Church saw its role as a moral leader. I also like his introducing the idea of “subsidarity” a concept that needs more explanation and wider diffusion.

    Well done.

  2. James Locke says:

    I wonder if this is the same Archbishop who asked a liberal [ahem… liberation geo-logian] Franciscan Priest to write the Climate Change guide for the diocese of St Paul…

  3. James Locke says:

    and upon a little research, I discover he was not. it was the previous archbishop Flynn

  4. James Locke: “Think, then post!”?

  5. Jacob says:

    Father Z, I would love to get your thoughts on the larger picture of the health care debate and what its entire paradigm means for Catholics beyond the abortion/freedom of conscience debate.

  6. mfg says:

    Agree with Melania. Love subsidiarity and use the principle whenever helping my grandchildren with homework etc to point out the unconstitutionality of so much that passes for out of control legislation, activist judicial rulings, and executive orders. Subsidiarity based upon the tenth amendment to the constitution could solve many of our problems dating from FDR. I believe we should proceed more along the lines described by Mitch McConnell: no gigantic Obama Care extravaganza with fed funding for abortion, euthanazia and no conscience clause for medical professionals. Instead address, for instance, tort reform the first year, insurance, the second year, and so on. His Excellency was clear and correct. It is a moral and religious issue as opposed to political, and I believe the Church must speak out and act out on religious issues of morality. We must be heard in the public square, or we won’t have any right to complain about the result of govt takeover as in the 1930s in Germany. In the space of barely one year it has happened here in banking, insurance and automobiles. Now they are focused on swallowing up health care and energy. God bless Archbishop Neinstedt and the growing number of bishops speaking out. We need them. I call WDC every day and leave messages for my 2 senators (a waste of time) and a number of other senators whom the press describes as wavering. Before I call senators from out of my state I look up the zip codes from their states and describe myself as being from one of those zip codes. Otherwise, your call is not counted.

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