We Cannot Give Scorpions

Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa Medicus Life Legal Conference St Mary Cathedral San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, April 3, 2012 (CA Catholic Daily) -- From March 29 to 31 the Christus Medicus Foundation and the Life Legal Defense Fund presented Make Straight the Pathway: An Integrated and Unified Solution for Catholic Healthcare Reform. The conference was co-sponsored by the dioceses of Oakland and Santa Rosa and the archdiocese of San Francisco and was held at St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco.

Conference leaders expressed three goals: 1) Advocate for state and federal public policy that actively protects and promotes religious liberty and individual right of conscience in healthcare and allows all Americans to select qualified health plans that do not violate their religious liberty. 2) Develop culture of life primary care medical centers. 3) Establish a national Catholic health plan that is Christ-centered and consistent with the ethical and religious directives of Catholic healthcare.

On Friday, March 30, the conference hosted a banquet at the Hotel Kabuki. Speakers included Congressman Jeffery Fortenberry (R-Neb.), who spoke on a big screen via Skype; Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa; and Walte Hoye, founder and president of the Issues4Life Foundation.

Congressman Fortenberry updated the audience on the progress for the Respect for Rights of Conscience act currently moving through Congress. The bill currently has 223 co-sponsors, 13 from California. Fortenberry said that the act addresses “a gaping hole” in Obamacare—namely the respect for the rights of conscience.

The congressman said that the new health care law could be leveraged by certain ideologies as a way to undercut conscience rights—something which seems to have already happened. Fortenberry called that “wrong, un-American, and a false choice.” He continued this theme by stating “don’t make people choose between serving God and going to jail—that’s not American.”

Fortenberry illustrated the government’s overreach by telling of an interview on CNN about the HHS mandate; he had asking the reporter to consider that “this (the HHS Mandate) is comparable to the government telling you that every Wednesday you have to run a particular story.”

Fortenberry said that he was “fortified by the collegiality and unity of the bishops. I have never seen that before. For us in the political arena, that unity creates a force standing behind us.”

The congressman was followed by Bishop Vasa. The bishop began by stating that all Catholic healthcare is Christ-based. He said “Healthcare is always a religious expression for Catholics, regardless of who is the recipient…faith-based or Catholic healing does not mean relying on miracles or supernatural cures, but it is not afraid of doing so either….we have a different view of mankind. While healing bodies we want to excise sin and evil as well. It is primarily about the healing of souls. While we treat cancer we must never forget the person so afflicted.

“The healing ministry of Jesus gives impetus to the Church. We speak the same language through our social service and healthcare. It is a religious expression. The words of Jesus ‘The poor must have the good news proclaimed to them’--that is the message of Catholic Healthcare.”

The bishop contrasted Catholic healthcare with what is considered to be healthcare by much of contemporary society: “There was a time when sterility was seen as a malady to be cured. No longer. There was a time when suicide was seen as a crime and an offense against God. Yet now in our country it is called ‘healthcare.’ It is not.”

The bishop said that abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization, assisted suicide are all now considered healthcare. “It’s upside down,” he said.

“Jesus asked us ‘what father would give his son a stone when he asked for bread, or a scorpion when he asked for an egg?’ People are asking for what is harmful to them, convinced that it is good, and good for them--‘I want a scorpion, you have to give me a scorpion’--how do you argue with that?’ We must be dispensers of what is proper and true. We cannot give scorpions. We cannot do what is evil.

“These things may all be judged by society as good, and good for people, but we know scorpions. Anything that makes us less human diminishes our humanity. We cannot and will not ever participate in any of those things.

“Our view is entirely different. We have the conviction that the human person has a unique worth and dignity, regardless of illness, debility, or senility. These external factors do not define human dignity. That dignity is based on the person him or herself.

“If we are to be effective we must remember to always bring the look of love, of compassion, so that people realize we care about who they are and about how they are. This requires faith in God, and perhaps even more difficult, faith in the person themselves. If someone comes to us and asks for sterilization, we must say ‘You are capable of chastity.’

“We must build up the person rather than remove their biological integrity. We must say ‘you are destined for more than pleasure and a pain-free existence. You are destined for unity with God.’ The world has a message and it’s bad news. But we have a message and it is good news. This world is thirsty and we cannot give them poisoned water. And we must not be compelled to do so.”

The final speaker was the Walter Hoye. He described his arrest, for peacefully standing in front of an Oakland abortion business, and his conviction, now overturned: “That is not the America I grew up in. Obamacare is putting us in a similar situation. We cannot allow this to continue.”

He showed the audience the famous sign he had carried in front of the Oakland abortion business. The sign says “God loves you and your baby. Let us help.” He went on “We may face trials, but we must never turn away from our message. The people must know that the Church will help them.”

Hoye then told how the Church had helped him: “It was the Catholic Church that waved goodbye to me when I went to jail. Bishop Vasa, it was the Catholic Church—Bishop Cordileone—that visited me when I was in jail. And it was the Catholic Church that greeted me when I was released.” At least one priest was seen to be in tears as Hoye finished.

Copyright © 2012 California Catholic Daily, re-posted with permission.



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