Parochial Vicar, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside
The last couple of weeks prior to Easter were difficult times of the cross for our believing people. We were facing a political-economic-moral issue that cut to the heart of the cherished identity as patriots and Catholics: the Health Care Reform Law.
Many practical questions are being raised on the law itself, written on some 2,700 pages, benefiting some 32 million uninsured Americans, estimated to cost some $938 billion and which will be gradually implemented for years. Disagreements seem to focus on the following:
(a) the insurance system - banks and private insurance companies are stripped of their profits from student loans, in favor of direct government lending;
(b) the impact of the costs on the poor, the middle class and the rich, the sick and the elderly - families with annual incomes of up to $88,000 will be assisted to pay for insurance; small businesses will also be subsidized as incentive to cover their employees, and insurance company practices denying coverage for sick people will be banned; and
(c) federal funding for abortion – an accompanying executive order has been signed disallowing the use of federal funds for abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
Behind these disagreements are ideological issues like the role of government in a free enterprise system, and the definition of the relationship between individual freedoms and government regulation. Some have raised the issue on a more fundamental level as a choice between Democracy and Republicanism, Capitalism and Socialism, and between the Spirit of the Founding Fathers of America and the European Welfare State or Social Democratic models.
The situation has been agonizing for U.S. Catholics, because the U.S. Catholic Church has joined the public arena. With its Social Doctrine, and inspired by the Second Vatican Council, she enters into the U.S. modern and post-modern society to preach the Good News and to offer an ethical and moral alternative based on the values of the Gospel. The next social arena where the Church will be involved in is on the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
This has led outstanding and sincere Catholics to a troubled conscience and a divided loyalty: loyalty to the State or to the Church, to Society or Religion, to Ideology or Faith in Jesus the Christ and Kingdom of God!
Yet we know that our journey towards newness is an experience of the Cross and Easter! And we live as a Confident People of Joyful Hope in the Resurrection.
Happy Easter to all!