Friday, November 02, 2007

Priests and Politics

At least twice in the past couple of months, our Catholic newspaper has printed articles about Catholic leaders taking sides in political debate. Where morally non-negotiable issues are concerned, all Catholics have a responsibility to speak out. But where the proper course of action is questionable, our Catholic leaders should butt out.

The latest issue involves the expansion of the SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) which President Bush vetoed and the House of Representatives failed to override. According to the published report from CNS, “Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, decried the fact that ‘there were not enough House members willing to stand up for children and vote to override this ill-conceived veto of a bill that would have helped so many children without health insurance.’”

President Bush agrees that some expansion of the SCHIP is necessary, but the Democrats, in a political move probably intended to make the President look bad, offered an increase so drastic that a presidential veto was responsibly necessary. The proposed 25 billion dollar increase would have covered people who can afford their own insurance and considered children to be up to 25 years old.

A further move toward socialized medicine is not going to be in the best long term interest of children or anyone else for that matter. Expanded social programs cost money. They result in higher taxes which means fewer jobs and less self-reliance. Not every problem can be solved by throwing more money at it. Government mandates often create more problems than they solve.

Yes, the United States is blessed with riches. We are also the most generous nation in the world. We can be this way because of our free markets which create incentives for individual success. One does not develop self-worth by depending on others for his basic needs. Of course, when people are unable to care for themselves, we take on that responsibility, and do so gladly.

Father Larry Snyder could be aiding and abetting the Democratic Party strategy of demeaning Republicans in any way possible in order to bolster their chance for regaining control of the White House in the next election. He has every right to speak out on behalf of those who cannot afford health care, but he should be very cautious when becoming involved in the process. By voicing Catholic support for what may be a calculated political ploy, he may unwittingly help advance their entire agenda which includes abortion rights, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, and other morally unacceptable positions.