According to the Catholic bishop of Phoenix, Catholics should not help people sign on to health insurance via the Affordable Care Act “because of the implications of these actions for cooperation with evil.”
Michael Sean Winters, writing for the National Catholic Reporter, says that this over-concern with moral pristineness at the cost of meeting real human needs is damaging the church.
The issue of cooperation with evil is not trivial. I am not an advocate of moral relativism or moral latitudinarianism. But, what the NCBC opinion says, and what Bishop Olmsted is now saying, is that if you work at a Catholic parish or social service agency, and you encounter someone who needs health insurance and, now, under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, might be able to finally acquire such insurance, you should reply, “I am so sorry, but we can’t help you get basic health care, which the Church considers a human right and an essential prerequisite for human dignity, because we might imperil our moral pristineness.”
He pointed out other situations, such as extending benefits to same-sex partners in San Francisco and in international aid work, where the church had found ways to balance its own theological teachings with meeting the real needs of people.
But, at the heart of that solution was the intuition that we must keep trying to find a way to respect the entirety of our moral concerns, the need to extend benefits and the desire not to have government use benefits to extract a recognition of same-sex unions the Church does not endorse.
Bishop Kicanas noted that in international aid work, it is often necessary to work with people who do not share the Church’s views on a range of issues, and that any and all collaboration was limited to projects that did not violate the Church’s moral teachings. But, the key thing +Kicanas noted was that while it was regrettable that many of our partners in providing foreign aid did not share our teachings, that was simply a fact of life. We can’t allow that to paralyze us, to keep us from our clear moral responsibility to help the poor.
But the problem is that there are many Catholics who don’t want to help the poor and really don’t like the ACA and want it to fail, and thus are not looking to find ingenious ways to solve their problem.
They have been led to believe that president Obama is attacking Catholic beliefs and is thus evil and thus anything coming from him must be opposed. Is it any wonder that with the elevation of Francis to the papacy, they are also beginning to think that the old question “Is the pope Catholic?” may no longer be purely rhetorical?