David Gibson puts together a useful analysis of the media's handling of an apparent divergence of opinion between the U.S.C.C.B. and the Catholic Health Association on the health care reform package (see Jim Martin's previous post on this) and the possible use of federal money to pay for abortions it may or may not be allowing. Are the CHA and religious orders which administer hospitals breaking ranks with the bishops or is the NY Times blowing the division out of all proportion to reality? Yes, says Gibson:
So which is it -- division or distortion? . . . There is . . . a bit of the 'good cop, bad cop' routine going on . . . with the bishops tending to pursue the perfect over the good and criticizing any compromise as 'deficient' and unworthy of support from Catholics. . . . On the other hand, the CHA and the religious orders of nuns that generally operate Catholic hospitals tend to be more pragmatic, weighing particular problems with the greater good that can be achieved and focusing on the political process as a way to resolve any problems either now or through future legislation. It is a difference one often sees between pastors who often deal with people where they are and bishops who often deal in abstractions and whose priority is to defend principles from erosion. Both can be effective approaches in political negotiations. But there is also little doubt that Keehan and the Catholic hospitals, like many Catholic activists promoting the church's social justice teachings, are far more supportive than the hierarchy of Obama's agenda and see the prospect of health care reform as representing a major, albeit imperfect, advance in the common good.