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Archive for Saturday, September 12, 2009

Faith Forum: Does faith have a role in the health care debate?

September 12, 2009

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Faith a grid for interpreting events

The Rev. John Allen, senior pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:

One’s faith is revealed in debate but even more clearly in one’s actions. Faith informs how each of us functions within society. Faith provides a grid through which one may interpret events, from leaky faucets to relational crises, from war to natural catastrophe, and, yes, health care. Cultural anthropologists have for 150 years called this grid “world view.”

Author David Naugle comments that, unfortunately, with the rise of modernism and subsequent secularization of society, “theistic perspectives were squeezed out of public life, and the essence of life was reduced to matters of personal piety.” However, he continues, “The explanatory power, intellectual coherence and pragmatic effectiveness of the Christian worldview not only make it exceedingly relevant for believers personally, but also establish a solid foundation for vigorous cultural and academic engagement.”

For the Christian practicing faith on more than just Sunday, caring for the poor is a “no-brainer.” “He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, the wicked does not understand such concern” (Proverbs 14:21, 29:7).

The Bible further declares, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

Christian individuals and churches have been caring for the poor for millennia. The current debate over health care provides another arena in which we may involve ourselves. Solutions to problems in the system are being debated by persons far more knowledgeable than me. Christians follow the discussion, pray and communicate with civility (I hope). Whatever the outcome, however, followers of Jesus Christ will continue offering the concerned generosity exemplified by their Lord.

— Send e-mail to John Allen at john@1inchrist.org.

Jesus Christ was interested in sick

The Rev. Monsignor Vincent Krische, former director, St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road:

This is a most timely question, as the debate regarding health care continues.

Faith truly has a role in his debate. As Catholics, we are proud of the church’s health care contribution to the world. This follows directly upon the example of Jesus Christ, who himself was deeply interested in the sick, the handicapped and the poor who were in need of care. The Gospels are full of the accounts of people who “brought the sick to him.” The church has continued his ministry following his admonition in Matthew 25, verses 35-36, “For I was ... ill and you cared for me.”

In our country today, one in four hospitals is run by a Catholic agency. Our primary interest is in certain principles which must be included in any health care plan which is finally adopted. The inadequacies of our present health care policies are evident: The many people — typically cited as 47 million — without medical insurance, the rising cost of health care (which constitutes 17 percent of the gross domestic product), individuals with pre-existing conditions who most need medical care are often denied the means to acquire it and many other situations.

From the perspective of faith, just and effective health care policies must be built on a foundation of proper moral principles. These principles would guarantee the protection of all of our citizens, not just persons of faith. Some of these principles are:

1. The principle of subsidiarity, by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives. This requires personal responsibility.

2. The principle of the life and dignity of the human person which would exclude abortion and protection of conscience rights of health care providers.

3. Any health care policy must exclude mandated end-of-life counseling for elderly and disabled.

4. The principle of the obligation to seek and promote the common good.

These are a few of the many reasons why faith must be respected in the health care controversy.

— Send e-mail to Vincent Krische at vkrische@petrusdevelopment.com

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