Catholic bishops: 'Now is not the time to abandon' healthcare reform

Catholic Bishops warned lawmakers that "now is not the time to abandon" healthcare reform, despite having opposed elements of the legislation before Congress.

Top members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged members of Congress to renew efforts to pass healthcare reform legislation after their efforts appeared to have broken down in the wake of the special election in Massachusetts last week.

"Now is not the time to abandon this task, but rather to set aside partisan divisions and special interest pressures to find ways to enact genuine reform," three top bishops wrote to members of Congress. "We encourage Congress to begin working in a bipartisan manner providing political courage, vision and leadership."

The conference of bishops had been active in pursuing language restricting federal subsidies for health plans covering abortions in the House and Senate healthcare bill. The Catholic bishops endorsed the restrictions offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) in the House bill, but condemned the Senate bill's language, drafted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), as insufficient.

The group has also pushed for expanding access to affordable healthcare and removing barriers to access to healthcare for immigrants.

The letter was sent by Rockville Centre Bishop William F. Murphy, the chairman of the conference Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the chairman of the Committee on Pro-life Activities, and Salt Lake City Bishop John Wester, the chairman of the Committee on Migration.