Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monsignor Albacete on Health Care Reform...

From Il Sussidiario:

HEALTH CARE REFORM/ Albacete: my real position on Obama's proposals

mercoledì 12 agosto 2009

This week I have decided to interview myself.

Question: Some people have quoted yourlast column to show that you oppose President Obama’s health-care proposals. Is this a correct interpretation of your position?

ALBACETE: No. I do not support or oppose Obama’s proposals. I am waiting for the politicians to finish their compromises and will then judge the final bill. I understand it will be the result of bringing together three bills passed by committees in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.

Question: Do you think there should be a bill? Do you support health-care reform?

ALBACETE: Oh yes indeed! My own health insurance situation is woefully inadequate for my situation, so I am motivated by self-interest (not selfish, I hope!). Furthermore, as a Catholic, I believe the right to adequate health-care protection is a natural right. You can look it up in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. It is the duty of the State to recognize this and do all it can do to create conditions that recognize this right. The State doesn’t grant this right; it recognizes and protects it.

Question: Do most Americans recognize the right to an adequate health-care program as a natural right?

ALBACETE: I think most Americans do so deep in their hearts, and that is why I think most favor some reform of the present system. The problem, however, is that most Americans are skeptical (and rightly so!) about the way the powerful State uses this terminology to impose ideological solutions. That is why it is so crucial to understand correctly the reality of subsidiarity as the Church understands it.

Question: But doesn’t the Church’s social doctrine come from her faith? How can we convince those who do not share the Catholic faith?

ALBACETE: This is indeed the crucial question. The important point is that faith is a way of knowing Reality, that is, the Reality that impacts on the lives of all human persons, not only those with faith. There is nothing we can do to give faith to ourselves or to others, but we can give witness to the Reality that faith allows us to grasp. The question is whether what we witness to can be grasped by those without faith.

Question: Can it be grasped by those without faith?

ALBACETE: I believe that the answer is yes. Faith is the recognition of the presence of Christ and the Life he offers to us. Desire for this Life is engraved in the very structure of our humanity. It is a destiny objectively written into our lives as a desire for infinity. It is this desire, an experience available to all who do not suppress it, that reveals what is “natural” to our humanity as such. Faith is reasonable, as long as we do not narrow the open horizon of reason. It is to this experience of a desire for infinity that we appeal when we offer the witness of what we have grasped through faith. The Second Vatican Council taught us that “Christ reveals man to man” (GS 22), so from our faith in Christ we learn the truth of what makes us human persons, and it is to this truth that we witness to all, asking them to look for it in their own experience of what would satisfy their thirst for happiness. This is how all can discover what it means to say that a given right is a natural right, which must be respected and promoted by the State that serves the common good,

Question: Why do you say this is a privileged moment for those Catholics who advise or support Obama?

ALBACETE: The President is not a Catholic, so he is a kind of “relativist by default,” looking for a certainty compatible with this relativism. The Catholics at his side, I believe, have the opportunity to witness how certainty does not mean intolerance nor an appreciation of diversity. This is provided, of course, that they themselves have had this experience of faith as a way of knowing Reality, in this case the Reality of the dignity of all human persons from the first moment of their existence.

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."