Not only is Rigali the archbishop of Philadelphia, he also engages in the health care debate in his position as chairman of the Pro-Life Activities Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaking on behalf of all of the Catholic bishops in the United States. He's also far from the only bishop who has taken to writing and speaking out against some of the harmful details that have turned up in some versions of the legislation. Denver's Archbishop Charles J. Chaput put it bluntly: "Killing or funding the killing of unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including these things in any 'health care' proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would simply be a form of lying."
The Catholic coalition against the president and his reckless claque gained an unlikely ally in liberal preacher and Obama collaborator Jim Wallis (author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It") recently. In a CNN interview, Wallis admitted what the president wouldn't: that current iterations of ObamaCare are not clear "yet" on abortion funding. Is Wallis bearing false witness too?
There are many complex, legitimate issues that blur the lines between moral obligations and political choices. But sometimes the choices are crystal clear. For Catholics, any expansion of legal abortion -- and taxpayer-funded abortion --speaks to the most profound obligation: to protect vulnerable human life.
So the president's casual and patronizing invocation of a commandment was the ultimate in unholy political disses. And while the coverage may pale in comparison to the ubiquitous coverage of the Kennedy funeral Mass, it is significant as a practical, moral, and political matter.
If Obama didn't care about the mere moral factor, if he could put aside the political aspect, a very practical facet still remains: there are over 600 Catholic hospitals in the United States. The bishops speaking out against ObamaCare represent the largest health care provider in American history, one that has been vital to the American story. And they are, by the way, on board with the idea of reforming health care. But as another bishop, William Murphy of Rockville Center, N.Y., put it in an earlier communication with Congress, "Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation."
President Obama is treading on multiple commandment violations. And while that is a matter for his eternal and political soul, as a policy matter, it's unconscionable.