Where Is The Catholic Right's Outrage Over the S-CHIP Veto?
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:46:03 AM EST
The Catholic Right, Forty-two in a Series

The players of the Catholic Right love to parade their "pro-life" credentials. But judging by their deafening silence over President Bush's veto of legislation that would extend State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) coverage to lower-middle class children, their zeal to protect life apparently ends at birth.

Indeed, the story of this piece of legislation epitomizes the Catholic Right's peculiar priorities when it comes to "life" issues.

Indeed, the story of this piece of legislation epitomizes the Catholic Right's peculiar priorities when it comes to "life" issues.

I ask you -- has anyone seen the Catholic League's Bill Donohue snarling about how children may suffer or even die without the extended medical coverage S-CHIP would provide?  Perhaps Heritage Foundation adjunct scholar was too busy pestering the Miller Brewing Company over its sponsorship of a gay street fair.  

And where was Archbishop Raymond Burke during all this? Threatening to deny Communion to those Catholic members of Congress who vote against S-CHIP?  No, I think we would have heard about that.  

What about Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life?  Did anyone hear of him challenging the president over his veto of the legislation?  Funny, there is no mention of the issue on his web site either.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the infamous theoconsevative trio of Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak or George Weigel to speak out for passage of the S-CHIP legislation. After all, that would conflict with Novak's peculiar spirit of democratic capitalism, the one of every man for himself. There will be no "Father Richard" --the figure George W. Bush often turns to on "issue of faith,"--helping the President  "articulate" support for the legislation. [not sure what you intend by this sentence] And there want be any accusations by Mr. Weigel that only a nihilistic society would deny healthcare to children.

One Catholic organization that has not held it tongue is  Catholics United. On October 11, 2007 the group a press release that targeted the hypocrisy of ten "pro-life" members of Congress who voted against extending SHIP, and  announced it "will launch a radio advertising campaign" to point this out to their constituents.  

What separates S-CHIP supporters such as Catholics United from the embarrassingly silent Catholic Right is that the former holds to a more enlightened form of faith and the latter does not. Enlightened faith, as Garry Wills tells us, is based on benevolence. It is compassion not in the abstract but in the actual. It is the balancing the head with the heart in order to make less painful the all-too-short time we inhabit this world.

But many of the strangely silent Catholic Right are not as much concerned with benevolence as much as vindictiveness. This was on display over the past two weeks as the Right Wing punditry attacked two children who put human faces on the success of the S-CHIP program. The same Catholic Rightists that were AWOL on  S-CHIP -- also failed to condemn these outrageous attacks by Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and others.   For them it is as if faith is a concept to be used to strengthen the temporal authority of those who weild economic and political power rather than what Jesus taught and Pope John Paul II termed the church's "preferential option for the poor."   (That is an option the Catholic Right seems never to take.) What a sad statement on their constricted, self-serving view of faith.

The writer Albert Camus once remarked that we could not make a world where children no longer suffer, but we could create one where fewer children do. Apparently the Catholic Right defines children only as unborn. Only embryos and fetuses need apply for their help. The children who must survive in this world, are on their own.  After all, what good are the children of the poor to the rightwing foundations and Bush administration? For such men as these, faith is a political currency while children are but a line item in a budget they need to trim to finance unnecessary wars and tax cuts for the rich. No matter that their notions of faith do harm to the common good. Even the common good of children. No matter at all.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :

Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five   Part Thirty-six   Part Thirty-seven   Part Thirty-eight   Part Thirty-nine   Part Forty   Part Forty-one

In researching this piece I found this gem from Michael Novak wannabe, hyper-libertarian, Fr. Robert Sirico:

The real question: What are we going to do about suffering children today? It is folly to seek short-term gains at the expense of long-term economic development. Eliminating taxes and regulations that hinder private industry will make greater strides toward universal coverage than any state program can or will. In addition, private efforts to address children's health issue is a major concern of thousands of nonprofits.
What I fear most is that politicians use legitimate issues to gather more power unto themselves and their friends in government. The population becomes more dependent on the public sector and less reliant on the sectors over which they exercise real control.

Contrast Sirico's abstractions with this statement from The Catholic Health Association of the US which goes right to the point:

The President has "just played partisan politics with the lives of 10 million children in desperate need of health-care coverage," said Sister Carol Keehan, the president of the Catholic Health Association. She added that SCHIP "represents a humane and pro-life opportunity ensuring that millions of children-- born and unborn-- receive the health care they need and deserve."

It seems that mammon comes into conflict with flesh and blood children, for the Catholic Right, mammon wins.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:48:09 AM EST

I would not call it libertarianism, but neoliberalism.  That is far more accurate and even more damning.

Neoliberalism is founded on the idea that "Free Markets Fix Everything".  They push it almost as strongly as fundamentalists push religion.  The problem is, like so many of the fundamentalist beliefs, science and research has shown them to be WRONG (in other words, DISPROVED!)

More and more, I see these people (dominionists, fundamentalists, "religious right", or by whatever you want to call them) to be the church of the antichrist, if any organization COULD be that (there have been, and will be many antichrists).  They violate the teachings of the One they claim to follow (while "straining out gnats and swallowing camels").

Neoliberalism is the reason why we have so many people in this country without shelter, health care, decent incomes, and so on.  It is to blame for wrecking the  economic systems of states around the world, as well as creating havoc with the environment of the places where the "Free Market" has been introduced.

SCHIP is just another neoliberal victim- unless enough votes can overturn the veto.

 (By the way- several Democratic candidates are also in reality neoliberals- especially some of the top-runners. ALL of the Republican candidates are neoliberal.   We've actually had neoliberal governance for decades!)

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 11:39:23 AM EST

Neo-liberalism and economic liberterianism are really one in the same thing. Their mantras both arise out the University of Chicago School of Economics mindset. Neo-liberalism is nothing more than a desire to return to the Classical Liberalism of Adam Smith--an unevolved, uncorrected form of  contemporary liberalism.

I'm not so sure I accept your premise that several of the Democratic frontrunners are neo-liberals. Perhaps they hold some tenents of the idea, but they are not the real thing by a long shot.

But in returning to players like Novak and Sirico, it is ironic that to a very large extent it was the infuence of religious figures such as the Social Gospel Protestant and Distributive Justice Catholics  (Monsignor Ryan) that helped made liberal economics much more humane. In essence Novak and Sirico are undoing much of their hard work.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 01:23:19 PM EST

Analysis of the actual activities and statements of some of the front-runners in the Democratic party have demonstrated either solid neoliberalism or neoliberal tendencies.  A telling point is the support of free-market policies and things like NAFTA.

I was encouraged when one front-runner talked about re-evaluating free-trade agreements.   Now, if that really happened (and it wasn't a re-evaluation tainted by neoliberal ideology)- maybe some good could be done- like the dismantling of those agreements and the establishment of ones more fair to ordinary people.

There are a lot of people I'd add to the list of people who tried to make economics more humane- not just Christians.  Based upon my observations (admittedly, only in the last few decades) many of those who proclaim Christ support a heartless and cruel version of economics- Bush. Novak, and Sirico being examples.  Indeed, it is my observation that the louder a person will preach their religion, the more likely they will support the abusive version of economics.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 01:47:38 PM EST

There was a diary at Daily Kos yesterday in which DH inMI detailed Thaddeus McCotter's attack against Catholics United for their ads opposing his SCHIP vote. It makes for rather interesting reading. All of this makes it rather clear that for the theocons, their concern for the fetus ends at birth. The hierarchy is more interested in getting the Catholic laity to toe its theological and sexual line than in listening to what they actually have to say-never mind that their collective sense of morality is rather lacking, as the sexual abuse scandal makes quite clear.

I have no use for Fr. Robert Sirico. His morality begins and ends with theology and sex. Living wages, just working and living conditions and wages are all alien concepts to him. One place I know he's published is the Detroit News editorial page.

I still think the current system of deficit war financing will implode before too long, and many currently middle class citizens will be feeling a much stronger pinch.

You are spot on when you mention:

"For them it is as if faith is a concept to be used to strengthen the temporal authority of those who wield economic and political power rather than what Jesus taught and Pope John Paul II termed the church's "preferential option for the poor." "

That is the Straussian concept of faith and morality in a nutshell.



by khughes1963 on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 08:45:06 PM EST

It's like I said, the Catholic Right (but in fairness, not all anti-abortion folks; Senator Bob Casey being a good example, though I disagree wiith him on the issue) tends to see their positions in abstract terms, not in how living, breathing individal persons are affected.

The embryo or the fetus is to be protected at all costs while the two year-old boderline middle-class child with diabetes should be denied both federally funded health insurance and the possible benefits of embryonic stem cell research. Beyond that, their economic libertarianism simply ignores the fact that a vibrant middle class needs to be first created and then guarded by a vigilant government of the people.

In essence, I believe that these folks are seriously out of touch with the problems of everyday people.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:38:28 PM EST

I wasn't thinking of Sen. Bob Casey at all with this comment. I was thinking more of folks like George Weigel, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Fr. Frank Pavone and Fr. Thomas Euteneuer. By the way, I think Fr. Euteneuer is supposed to show up in Cincinnati sometime this month.

by khughes1963 on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 12:19:31 PM EST

is pretty busy-- today he is over at the values voters' wingding in Washington, helping figure out which Republican candidate(s) may be acceptable to hateful Jeebusites. S-CHIP may just have slipped his mind.
    Thank you so much for another great piece. Any chance you will cross-post it at the Daily Kos?

by nogodsnomasters on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 05:28:07 PM EST
Not only at Kos within the week, but also at Street Prophets and Cross Left.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 08:06:02 PM EST

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