Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) – The letter signed by 59 Catholic nuns sent to members of Congress yesterday endorsing the pro-abortion Senate health care bill has been dismissed by several pro-life advocates and organizations saying it doesn’t represent an authentic Catholic or pro-life position.
The letter says that "despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions."
The letter says the legislation also will help support pregnant women and "this is the real pro-life stance."
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has already refuted that claim with his own letter opposing the bill.
George pointed out the slew of flaws that the U.S. bishops find “deeply disturbing” in the Senate health bill, including its lack of conscience protections, [lack of] Hyde-amendment protections against federal abortion funding, and the millions in new funds for Community Health Centers which will be available to fund abortions.
“It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures,” he explained. “In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.”
Congressman Bart Stupak also responded to the letter and refuted it.
"When I’m drafting right to life language, I don’t call up the nuns," he said, adding that he relies on truly pro-life groups like "leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee."
From a more Catholic angle, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life tells LifeNews.com that the Catholic nuns have forgotten that pro-life concerns are at the heart of the pursuit of social justice.
He also questioned the authenticity of the Catholic thinking behind the letter.
“First of all, contrary to its claim, this statement does not represent 59,000 nuns; it represents the approximately 59 nuns who signed it," he said. "Secondly, while the bishops’ analysis of the health care bill relies on the expertise of legal analysts, it is not clear what expert analysis these signers have relied on."
"Third, it is absurd to advocate social justice while risking the expansion of a holocaust. The right to life is at the heart of social justice. We can’t pursue one by sacrificing the other,” Pavone added.
Earlier this week, Priests for Life called upon all clergy and religious to visit the local offices of their members of Congress and to echo to them the bishops’ call to reject the bill in its present form.
In the light of this letter from women religious, Priests for Life will redouble its efforts to bring the voices of millions of Catholics to this debate in the days ahead, Pavone promised.
Catholic writer Deal Hudson also weighed in on the controversy about the nun’s letter.
"The sisters call the bill ‘pro-life,’ in spite of the fact that the door is wide open for the $7 billion of federal money slated for community health centers to be used for abortion," he says.
"The 60 sisters, and presumably the orders they represent, thus join organizations like the Catholic Health Association, NETWORK, Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics for Choice, Catholic Democrats, and publications like Commonweal, America, and the National Catholic Reporter in dismissing the Catholic bishops’ publicly stated position that federal funding for abortion is still permitted in the Senate health-care bill," he continues.
"There are thousands of women religious at this very moment who are no doubt deeply embarrassed and troubled by the publication of this letter," he said. "Catholics in the pews are being made more and more aware that something has gone wrong in many of our venerable Catholic institutions and religious orders."