BALTIMORE The nations top Catholic bishop on Monday defended his churchs role in shaping the current health care debate, telling an annual gathering of church leaders that its their duty to press lawmakers to enact tough restrictions on abortion rights.
It is our responsibility ... to speak with a moral voice, that everyone should be cared for and that no one should be deliberately killed, said Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Georges defense of the churchs health care lobbying was the centerpiece of his opening statements Monday addressing the yearly meeting of American bishops. The cardinals remarks come amid criticism by some liberals that Catholic leaders are acting improperly by taking such an aggressive stance on abortion provisions in current health care proposals. The bishops strongly backed an anti-abortion amendment included in the Houses health care bill.
George said that to abstain from participating in the health care debate would be to betray the Constitution of our country.
The challenge to governing effectively and pastorally, as bishops and priests is to be public, without being co-opted, George said. And to be who we are, without being isolated.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.