God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

New National Health Insurance Plan

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While South Africa is considering and planing for a new Health care insurance system  which would give its citizens more possibilities to use health care in a dignified and fair way, the same has already happened in the USA. After long battles a new health care  policy is in place and more US Americans are able to get access to health care facilities and the right treatment independent of their financial background.

It is interesting to see, that despite several changes in the act, the US American Catholic Bishops Conference is still fighting the plan, as it includes family planing. To recap: In January 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services issued its mandate as part of the health care reform law that contraceptive care, such as prescriptions for birth control pills, must be fully covered as part of any insurance plan. Some religious organizations are exempt from this rule, but a number of Catholic groups say those exemptions are not enough. While the bishops have continued to oppose the mandate, other Catholic groups, such as the Catholic Health Association, have said the administration has addressed their concerns in the revisions. According to the last version of the federal mandate, which the administration released June 28, any organization that self-certifies as a nonprofit religious group with religious objections to contraceptive coverage can defer coverage of contraceptives to a separate health insurance issuer. The administration “has now established an accommodation that will allow our ministries to continue offering health insurance plans for their employees as they have always done,” the Catholic Health Association’s president,  Sr. Carol Keehan, said after the release of the last version of the mandate. The organization, which describes itself as the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the nation, comprises more than 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care and other health facilities in the USA.
Well, the bishops see it differently:

The Bishop heading the commission dealing with the national health care act, Cardinal Dolan even goes so far that the bishops are concerned that the mandate does not cover for-profit businesses run by individuals who may oppose certain contraceptive services. In essence what he is saying is: If I have a company with hundreds of employees and I have certain religious conviction, then I am entitled to enforce them for all working in my company, even if they don’t share this convictions and they are irrelevant to the work they are doing. It would in practice mean that a Witness of Jehovah Shop owner can exclude blood transfusion for his employees.  It is interesting to see whether such an argument will hold for the future of the bill, and especially on a topic which is since the introduction of Humanae vitae never fully adopted by practicing Catholics and even questioned in its rigidity by Bishops around the world. During the debate phrases like “protecting the freedom of religion” were used and the treat of the end of religious liberty put onto the map.

It has to be seen what the debate in South Africa holds in store when it comes to the point, what services should be included in a new Health Insurance Policy, there are surely interesting times ahead also for us here in South Africa. But it is to hope that at the end, the fundamental right of every citizen to health care according to each and every-bodies conscience prevails. Informed decisions like it has been long introduced in the sector of HIV and AIDS and TB and cancer therapies. The church has a right to enter into such a debate but must also acknowledge that its belief cannot be binding to all citizens regardless of their faith. This trickles down from the nation to single companies where the freedom to choose health care services must be balanced against the conscience of the company owner. We as the church can advocate what we belief is right, but never force democratic nations or people to follow.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24.09.2009 Bishops worried

German Bishops are worried about the increasing numbers of people leaving formally the church, so I read in the news today. And I wonder how the bishops discuss that matter. Do they, as people usually do, search for the blame by the people leaving or do they start soul searching with themselves to find out, what is going wrong in our days. The right-wing Pius brotherhood has a simple solution: Only the way back to the good old times will prevent more people leaving the church – not sure how they really can think like that.  One must be very ignorant to the reality of today and totally living in the past with closed eyes to come to that conclusion. I am sure our bishops are different – and if they really would go out and ask the people why they are leaving the church, one answer will come up more frequently in my opinion:

That church is losing its relevance for the people of our days, that the sermons in church do not match the living circumstances in our days, the announcements of episcopal nature are not matched with how people experiencing church and the representatives of the church in their daily lives. Sunday sermons are followed by Monday blues – power games instead of servants of the faithful – people feel hurt and alienated from us clergy. Obviously we never can generalize it – but in this context the personal experience, the personal encounter is the decisive test for a single faithful. Mess it up and you have lost a soul, so to speak. And there is still the scandal of sexual abuse, the loss of moral stance through the encyclical “humanae vitae”, the dealing with the  Pius brotherhood – so many topics were my church in our days cannot gain points on the score card.

As we accompany people through the times, I guess we always have to reflect on our attitude as professional staff of the church, we always have to ask what is coming first, God’s message of love or church discipline. We might make general rules in the church, but we always have to see the individual standing before God. Not more and not less…

If we do so, maybe people still will leave the church, be it because they found other ways of finding God, may it that the path of the church community is not fast enough for the individual, may it that they even don’t need a church institution anymore because of their direct contact possibilities with God. Whatever it might be – our goal as the Catholic Church should be to serve all good people to be able to connect to God. And when we look into the field of HIV and AIDS, there is even more the need just to bring home the love of God, the unconditional love of God.  Forget about judgement, forget about exclusion – just embrace the person as he or she is – he or she deserves it because he or she is a brother or sister of me and a son or a daughter of God. Embrace the person, make him or her feel home and loved and wanted…

Filed under: Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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