U.S. Catholic bishops are defending their direct involvement in congressional deliberations over health-care reform, saying that church leaders have a duty to raise moral concerns on any issue, including abortion rights and health care for the poor. Do you agree? What role should religious leaders have -- or not have -- in government policymaking?
Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham on November 17, 2009 8:54 AM
The religious may be expert in convoluted arguments to explain why a god who demands you kill your son for answering back is actually loving and compassionate, but this does not confer on them any special insight when it comes to matters of government.
Posted by Paula Kirby, on November 21, 2009 9:30 AM
All Christians, including those of us who are not Catholic, must be thankful for the present stand of the bishops against this abuse. They favor health care for all, but they do not favor death for any.
Posted by John Mark Reynolds, on November 20, 2009 4:54 PM
Religious leaders have always had a right, and indeed from their faith perspective an obligation, to speak out on issues of morality and social justice. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a long track record of doing do so.
Posted by John Esposito, on November 20, 2009 9:16 AM
The U.S. bishops are not just another special interest group fighting for its share of the legislative pie. Instead, they are trying to act as a voice of conscience, a moral witness. Like anyone else they have a right to speak, and it would serve our country well to pay them respectful attention.
Posted by Thomas G. Bohlin, on November 19, 2009 2:57 PM
Unfortunately, as the situation currently exists, far too many of our politicians base their approaches to the laws they attempt to pass on partisan politics and personal gain, not on what is ethical or moral. As a result, many of our laws ignore what is ethically sound for what is politically beneficial and expedient.
Posted by Ramdas Lamb, on November 19, 2009 1:59 PM
The halls of Congress are choked with lobbyists paid to defend the wealthy and their powerful interest groups. We desperately need more voices defending the common good. Bravo to the Catholic bishops for their heroic efforts to protect immigrants, the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the unborn as the current health-care debate unfolds.
Posted by Galen Carey, on November 19, 2009 7:54 AM
Do "church leaders have a duty to raise moral concerns?" Yes, in three spheres: their own members, the general society, and government. Secular forces would like to see religion confined to the private sphere, but Christianity teaches that churches should care - as God does - about all of human life.
Posted by Willis E. Elliott, on November 18, 2009 1:31 PM
American Catholic bishops, like religious leaders everywhere, are 100 percent right to raise their voices about an issue of moral concern to them. Genuine faith is not simply a once a week thing designed to relieve tension and give us something to do before a shared meal with family and friends. But the bishops are not only raising a voice of moral conscience, they are attempting to dictate policy. And between those two, lies a world of difference.
Posted by Brad Hirschfield, on November 18, 2009 10:35 AM
I can't imagine a society absent a spiritual and moral perspective. Wait, yes I can. Totalitarian governments unrestrained by a power higher than the reigning politician, monarch or dictator have contributed to untold misery for their own people and the world.
Posted by Cal Thomas, on November 18, 2009 10:25 AM
I believe that church leaders have a right to express themselves on moral issues. This does not mean that all religious persons will agree. And those of us who do not agree with Catholic Bishops have a right to express our opinion.
Posted by Gardner Calvin Taylor, on November 17, 2009 9:22 PM
The United States Roman Catholic Bishops always have a hidden agenda, which is to impose their faith and value systems on the rest of the nation. They also operate out of a conviction that they possess the only true faith. I am not impressed by either of those principles.
Posted by John Shelby Spong, on November 17, 2009 9:00 PM
Though religious people debate moral priorities and the source of their authority, such is not the responsibility constitutionally imposed on the U.S. Congress, regardless of the individual religious preferences of its members. Religious leaders cannot be allowed to use one particular interpretation of scripture-based morality to compel Congress to legislate sectarian morality.
Posted by Welton Gaddy, on November 17, 2009 6:43 PM
Of course the Catholic bishops have both a right and a duty to raise moral concerns, on any issue in their sphere. They have a right because they are citizens. They have a duty because they are stewards of a great moral tradition in our country.
The Catholic faithful may choose to live their lives based on pronouncements by priests, bishops, and the pope, and I support their right to do so. But bishops have no right to impose their sectarian beliefs on the rest of us.
Posted by Herb Silverman, on November 17, 2009 2:48 PM
The Catholic bishops have the right to be as deeply involved in these deliberations as the Congress will allow -- just like any other special interest group in the U.S. does. Although they might bristle at words like "special interest group" (or even more that they would use "lobbyists") -- the fact is they represent one dimension of a very large group of Americans that identify themselves as Catholic.
Posted by Leo Brunnick, on November 17, 2009 2:02 PM
There's a big difference between witnessing to your faith in the public square and lobbying behind the scenes to cut a deal. The care of those who are sick and injured is the paramount moral obligation, even for those of different customs and beliefs. Good Samaritans don't judge the poor. They help them.
Posted by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, on November 17, 2009 11:24 AM
Of course the Roman Catholic Church, like every other institution, has a right to uphold and fight for its moral beliefs in the public life of this nation. What the church is doing, however, is attempting to hold Americans who do not agree with its views hostage.
Posted by Susan Jacoby, on November 17, 2009 9:52 AM