Friday, November 7, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "'I Love You, I Respect Your Human Dignity, but Damn, I Am Going to Make Sure You Can’t Get Health Care,' Is not Exactly a Convincing Christian Witness"

In response to Rusty Reno's recent essay arguing that Catholic institutions providing benefits to legally married same-sex spouses are signing a concordat with Hitler (I blogged about the essay here), Michael Sean Winters notes that "America is the only place in the industrialized West where health care benefits are conferred through employment." 

And then he goes on to say, 

If the Catholic Church wishes to be believed when we affirm, as the Catechism affirms, that we respect the innate human dignity of all people, including gays and lesbians, then we have to stop fighting tooth and nail to deny people health care benefits. It does not pass the smell test. "I love you, I respect your human dignity, but damn, I am going to make sure you can’t get health care," is not exactly a convincing Christian witness.

And this, of course, was my precise point in my "from the ground" posting yesterday. As someone who had been without healthcare coverage for a number of years now, who cannot afford to buy that coverage, my access to such coverage has depended either on the Affordable Care Act, which has drawn large numbers of citizens without coverage into the network of coverage in my own economically challenged state and elsewhere, or on the possibility of receiving coverage through my spouse's healthcare plan.

The latter possibility was dangled before us when we legally married last May. It was then snatched away. If the recent elections, which one kind, empathetic Catholic reader of my posting yesterday has chosen to call a "necessary correction," now result in my state and elsewhere in reinstitution of bans on same-sex marriage, then that possibility will be foreclosed to me in a definitive way.

I will have married legally, only to have all the legal benefits of marriage taken away from me at the urging of people who claim to represent the Christian gospel and the values of Christ.

And then if those very same people, who spearheaded the "necessary correction" that seeks 1) to deny legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples throughout the U.S., and 2) to yank away healthcare coverage for millions of Americans who have no access to it except through the ACA, then succeed with their goal of torpedoing the ACA, especially in economically challenged states like my own, the second avenue for healthcare coverage for me will be closed, too.

Hence my impatience with the argument of the Catholic bishop of my own diocese that he and his brother bishops who want to deny me rights that other citizens enjoy — rights necessary to my well-being as I reach the senior years of my life — are not motivated by animus against me. If taking away people's access to healthcare benefits is not animus, I don't know what animus is.

I don't often agree with Michael Sean Winters, especially when he rants on about abortion as the premier evil of our times, rhetoric that makes little sense when it's not embedded in powerful analysis of all the threats to the value of life that deserve equal mention if any convincing argument about abortion is to be mounted. But in his response to Reno and the bishops who support Reno, he's absolutely right: "It does not pass the smell test. 'I love you, I respect your human dignity, but damn, I am going to make sure you can’t get health care,' is not exactly a convincing Christian witness."

And you know what else doesn't pass the smell test and is not exactly convincing Christian witness? Greg Bullough's commentary about the "necessary correction" that wants to remove healthcare coverage and marital rights from millions of citizens doesn't and isn't. To hell with your "necessary correction," Greg.

What a way to respond to the sufferings of other human beings.

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