Fake Catholic Groups Working Overtime for Healthcare Bill

Deal W. Hudson
December 14, 2009

It’s sad to report, but report we must: The same fake Catholic groups that helped President Barack Obama get elected have rallied to the cause of the health-care bill, abortion funding and all. As reported by LifeNews.com, Catholics United (CU) and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) are warning Catholics not to get too hung up on things like federal funding of abortion.

Interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor, CU president Chris Korzen commented, “The wrong thing would be for anyone to be so firmly entrenched in their positions on federal funding of abortion that they’re not willing to come to the table and talk about a compromise.”

Victoria Kovari, the interim president of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, claimed, “We share all the bishops’ concerns,” adding that the “difference is [our] feeling that we would be morally remiss if we walked away from all of the health care [reform]. We have to take seriously our call to be about what’s good for the whole human family.”

In other words, pass the health-care bill, even if it contains abortion funding. This is precisely the kind of proportionalist reasoning that I fear many Catholics are using to brush aside concerns about abortion funding: The evil of abortion, those like Korzen and Kovari argue, is offset by the many benefits of health-care reform.

Catholic teaching explicitly rejects such self-justifying tactics (see Veritatis Splendor 75), and the U.S. bishops have been unwavering on this point. As Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat, remarks in the same CSM article, “There are moral absolutes that we can’t get beyond.”

Kovari evidently doesn’t believe the bishops would help defeat the health-care bill because of abortion funding. She told the New York Times, “There are certainly some strident voices out there that want to see health care reform abandoned on the back of this issue, but I don’t think that is where the bishops are.”

Kovari, in fact, does rub elbows with people who know the USCCB from the inside. Her predecessor – Alexia Kelley – worked for the USCCB before CACG. (Kelley left when appointed by Obama to work in the faith-based office of the Department of Health and Human Services.) CACG’s treasurer-secretary is Francis Xavier Doyle, who worked for the USCCB for 24 years. Tom Gehring, deputy communications director, was assistant director for media relations at the USCCB.

In a fascinating article on billionaire George Soros’s funding of Catholic groups, Cliff Kincaid notes that Tom Chabolla, now assistant to the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its representative to the CACG board, formerly worked as associate director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) at the USCCB (during the period CCHD was funding ACORN.) While at the USCCB in 2004, Chabolla addressed a statewide meeting in Sacramento devoted to “increasing voter participation in Catholic parishes.” In 2008, after leaving the USCCB, Chabolla served on Obama’s National Catholic Advisory Council. (See Frank Walker’s interesting article on other members of the CACB advisory council.)

Kovari grew up in a working-class Romanian neighborhood in Detroit. According to her CACG biography, “For the last 27 years, Kovari has worked as a community organizer, political consultant, and non-profit housing developer. Prior to her joining the alliance, she worked as an organizer with MOSES, an affiliate of the Gamaliel Foundation, directing campaigns in Michigan for regional mass transit and health care.” The Gamaliel Foundation is the same group where President Obama began his career as a community organizer in Chicago.

Kovari doesn’t agree with the “strident voices” who would oppose the health-care bill if it contains abortion funding, yet after the passage of the House version of the bill containing the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, she was quoted by Catholic News Service calling the House bill “a victory for all people who believe in the fundamental dignity of every human life,” adding:

Catholics across the political spectrum speak with one voice in supporting health care reform that promotes the common good and protects the sanctity of all human life by providing families and children with quality, affordable health care.

If the House bill was a victory, then the Senate bill must be a defeat for everyone who believes in “the fundamental dignity of every human life.” Why not say so – instead of shilling for a piece of legislation that runs directly contrary to a non-negotiable teaching of the Church?

With their close connections to powerful Democrats, labor unions, and funding organizations, both CACG and CU should use their leverage to remove the abortion-funding loopholes from the health-care bills, rather than looking for ways to justify them.

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