Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision June 28 on the government’s health-care reform legislation, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia spoke with the Register’s Edward Pentin about his reaction to the news and what this now means in the Church’s battle to overturn the law’s requirement that all health-care insurance programs must include coverage for contraception.
Archbishop Chaput received the pallium this morning at a Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
What does the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care reform legislation now mean in the struggle to defend religious freedom?
I think it’s a disappointment on the part of many of us in the Church because we had hoped the decision would make our lawsuits unnecessary. But a decision of the court is a decision of the court, and we have to accept it in a generous kind of way. We have to do all we can to make sure the position of the Church on religious freedom is clearly articulated and that the challenge to religious freedom, as embodied in the mandates from the Health and Human Services agency,… are overturned.
The U.S. bishops have spoken in favor of a universal right to health care.
The bishops really do believe it. Health is a basic human right; we have a right to be healthy. There’s no declaration on the part of the Church that that has to be accomplished through government intervention.
There are many ways of approaching health care, and I think it’s very important for Catholics to understand the fact that the Church, seeing health care as a basic human right, does not mean [to say] there’s a particular method of obtaining that [right that’s] better than another.
How will this decision affect your work, and what should the faithful be doing in response?
It’s a lesson to us. [The battle for] religious freedom is going to continue; it’s going to be a long fight. We have to never let down our guard. We have to be calling our people to be engaged on this issue. We thought it was going to be easily obtained … but that’s obviously not the case, so it just requires more day-to-day work on the issue in our own locations.
On the positive side, the policy has been a unifying factor?
In some sense, there has been a surprising unity, at least among the bishops, if not among all Catholics. God always gives us opportunities. The message of Christ is to obtain grace and do good things.
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