Thursday, September 17, 2009
I think all of us on this blog agree that everyone should have access to affordable quality health care regardless of economic status, age, or condition of health. The devil, as usual, is in the details. What I fear is that Congress will expend a large amount of time, energy, money, and political capital putting a bandaid on a skinned knee while ignoring the chest wound threatening our nation's health care.
If they have the courage, the nation's Catholic bishops are in a unique position to play a constructive non-partisan role in the debate. Here is what I propose. 1) The bishops invite all Catholic members of Congress (and other members who wish to particpate) to a health care dialogue. 2) The bishops use the opening of the conference to teach on the principle expressed in the first sentence of this blog. 3) They get the assent of all present to the propostion that "everyone should have access to affordable quality health care regardless of economic status, age, or condition of health." 4) They facilitate an in depth discussion across party lines of the preceived problems with health care today. 5) They facilitate an in depth discussion across party lines of the potential solutions to those problems. 6) They offer mass each day of the conference. 7) They have communal meals during the conference.
At the end of the process, I expect that vast disagreements will still exist because "how" to fix the health care system is a matter of prudential judgment. But, hopefully, some barriers will have been broken, a better understanding of the other side's positions will have been achieved, maybe each side will be less suspicious of the other, hopefully some new and creative ideas will have emerged, and these Catholic Democrats and Republicans will have modeled a badly needed format for engaging in vigorous debate in a civil and loving manner.
I can think of no other person or group in the United States other than the United States bishops who can play this role.