26 Catholic Priests, Leaders, Scholars and Theologians Join Pro-Life Republican Senator Sam Brownback in Supporting Sebelius for HHS Secretary
Bipartisan group reiterates the Catholic faith’s support for universal health care for all Americans
The statement, posted at Catholics United's Catholics for Sebelius Web site (www.catholicsforsebelius.org), reads as follows:
26 Catholic leaders, scholars and theologians publicly expressed support for the nomination of Governor Sebelius as the next HHS secretary. The statement calls attention to Sebelius successful efforts at reducing abortion in Kansas as well as the Catholic faith’s long standing support for universal health care:
As faithful Catholics we proudly offer our support to Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has been nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Governor Sebelius is a woman of deep faith with a proud family history of public service. We believe Governor Sebelius’ record of building the common good, reforming immigration laws, improving schools, innovating health care solutions, and significantly reducing the abortion rate in Kansas, makes her an excellent candidate for HHS Secretary.
Governor Sebelius has demonstrated civility and a new kind of politics that both earned her the respect and collaboration of Republican allies and delivered results for the citizens of Kansas. In addition to offering our support, we also reject the tactics of those who would use Gov. Sebelius’ faith to attack her. As Catholics, we find such partisan use of our religion regrettable and divisive.
What are the facts? Kathleen Sebelius has made clear that she agrees with church teaching that abortion is wrong and has lived and acted according to that belief. As governor she has worked to reduce the number of abortions by supporting expanded prenatal care and adoption incentives, expanding health services for Kansas families, and providing a variety of support services for families.
Among other actions, Governor Sebelius:
signed the Senator Stan Clark Pregnancy Maintenance Initiative Program, a bill which funded support services for pregnant women and alternatives to abortion;
signed Alexa’s Law, to deal with certain crimes against unborn children, which defines an unborn child as a fetus at any state of gestation from fertilization to birth. As a result, if a pregnant woman was murdered, the offender could be charged with the murder of the unborn child as well;
signed a law doubling the adoption tax credit and oversaw an expansion of adoption support spending in Kansas from $17,566,288 in 2003 to a projected $23,279,623 in 2008;
and oversaw a decline in teen pregnancies between 2002 and 2007
Indeed, because of Governor Sebelius' efforts, abortions in Kansas have declined by 10% during her time as governor.
The governor has had disagreements over public policy with leaders in her Church. Yet their disagreement has never been over the morality of abortion, but over what prudential policy is best in dealing with abortion in Kansas. In the United States, it is the legitimate role of government officials to make the prudential decisions about how to implement moral principles in the public square.
Attention to a range of urgent issues is required in order to build a consistent culture of life. As the U.S. bishops said in their 2007 “Faithful Citizenship,”
Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority. Reform of the nation's health care system needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.
We hope that all Americans will join Governor Sebelius in making this vision a reality. And we hope that people of all faiths will join us in offering our prayers for Governor Sebelius as she prepares to undertake this new leadership role.
Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley
Professor Lisa Sowle Cahill
Nicholas Cafardi (retired Catholic law school dean and FUS board member)
Professor Miguel H. Diaz
Professor Joseph Fahey
Professor Richard Gaillardetz
Fr. David Hollenbach
James P. Joseph
Professor Douglas Kmiec
Kari J. Lundgren
Professor Jerome Maryon
Fr. Thomas Massaro
Professor Vincent Miller
Professor David O’Brien
Fr. Thomas Reese
Professor Stephen Schneck
Margaret O’Brien Steinfels
Dr. Patrick Whelan