April 23, 2010

Bishop Tobin Won't Let Catholicism Just Be a Brand

Justin Katz

As much as it's disappointing to see division among Catholic organizations, unity can't be the core principle of any group that actually believes in anything. That is to say that I think Bishop Thomas Tobin got this one right:

Following a statement issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressing regret that health care reform came with the possibility of expanded abortion funding, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin sent a letter March 29 to Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Organization, requesting that St. Joseph Health Care of Rhode Island be dropped from the organization's membership and expressing his disappointment that the CHA, under her leadership, publicly endorsed the legislation that was signed into law.

Breaking with the position of the U.S. Bishops who support health care reform without federal funding for abortion, Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, said that "while not perfect, the reform law significantly expands coverage, especially to low-income and vulnerable populations, and is a tremendous step toward protecting human dignity and promoting the common good."

Just as Catholicism isn't only an ethnicity, it isn't only an organizational brand.

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Sister is in the trenches, the bishop in the tower.
Where do you think the low-income and vulnerable are?

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at April 23, 2010 5:21 PM

Huzzah for patriarchy!
Send those silly liberal nuns back to the convent kitchen where they belong!
What's next, defrocking any nun who voted for Patrick Kennedy?

Posted by: rhody at April 23, 2010 8:31 PM

Is everything alright, Rhody? You've been even less cuttingly incisive than usual, recently.

The gender of the CHO's CEO has nothing to do with whether the organization is following the religion that it professes. Only for those who take advantage of women as a political chip is it possible to make as great a leap as you have.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 23, 2010 8:57 PM

What a meaningless action by Tobin. As I recall, St. Joseph's sole remaining hospital, Our Lady of Fatima, was recently sold to Charter, the new corporate name of Roger Williams Medical Center. It has ceased to be owned by the diocese. Fatima remains nominally a Catholic Hospital similar to Miriam remaining a Jewish Hospital; neither managed as religious facilities. Fatima would not have been able to remain in CHO; Tobin just saw the opportunity to make headlines.

Posted by: Jack Ash at April 23, 2010 11:37 PM

Justin, if you want to defend Tobin acting more as a plantation owner than leader of a faith community, go right ahead.
It's no longer about faith with this guy. It's about power politics. I knew enough men of the cloth growing up, and they didn't allow themselves to become tools of conservatives like Tobin (and too many other bishops) have.
I can only pray that's not the REAL reason you became a Catholic.

Posted by: rhody at April 24, 2010 9:58 AM

Ah, yes. Liberal religious are stepping forward for truth, speaking truth to power, acting in good faith, and so on. Conservative religious are "tools of conservatives."

Surely, they aren't just, well, conservative themselves, and surely that conservatism doesn't derive from their faith.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 24, 2010 10:19 AM

Rhody-f**k this religious debate-why do you use Tobin as a paradigm on illegal aliens and then denigrate him on everything else?
I just don't like him at all.
I am not Catholic so it means nothing anyway.It's your family fight.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 24, 2010 3:16 PM

Well, gotta give Tobin his props.

I am actually glad of his actions.

Either Catholics are pro-life or...we're not.

Posted by: Roland at April 25, 2010 12:33 AM

Some of these Catholic leaders who wonder why the church isn't as full as it used to be need to look in the mirror.
Somewhere along the line, it became more important to sell conservative politics than faith. Reagan's famous remark about why he left the Democratic Party can certainly apply here, too.

Posted by: rhody at April 26, 2010 11:25 AM

Sometimes you need to get to the point. For sake of argument, we shall assume the Catholic Church is sincerely "pro-life;" i.e. supportive of longevity and quality of life. That would mean supporting better access to quality health care for all people.

No matter the flaws in the Federal health care reform legislation, that was the goal. Even in its flawed form, the ends are achieved for the most part.

However, the Catholic Church opposed the legislation. Not because it increased access to abortion; it does not. Because it did not create new obstacles to abortion. Solely because they had hoped to achieve political mileage on a tangential issue.

The church opposed its own stated natural goals; goals which are part of every major Judeo-Christian denomination. The Church leadership have proved their own hypocrisy.

Posted by: Jack Ash at April 26, 2010 6:48 PM
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