Vol. 12    No. 6
March 16, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                   Where Is the Outrage?
Be Bold for Change
AFRICAide sponsors 2017 International Women's
Day Celebration
Before I get started on this week’s, I would like to welcome guest columnist Jamala Rogers, a fellow journalist and author from St. Louis who
is serving as a fellow at the UW-Madison Havens Center for Social Justice this semester. Rogers will be giving lectures and participating in
events on and off campus as a part of her fellowship. She will be sharing some columns with us during her stay in Madison. Her first column
can be found on page 15. Welcome Jamala!

***
I remember during the past two presidential elections that Christian churches of the conservative variety began to play a more direct role in
our national political process. During the 2016 election, I remember there was a pastor of a Catholic church in Texas who placed an aborted
fetus on the altar of the church and quite openly urged his parishioners to vote for Donald Trump — who had divorced and remarried how many
times?

Back in 2004, Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis said he would not give communion to 2004 presidential candidate and Senator
John Kerry, in part because of his position on abortion.

There have been all of these expressions of alarm and dismay over the abortion issue — saying that the unborn were being murdered — and
increased political activism by conservative members of the Catholic Church during the 2000s. So where has all of the dismay and alarm gone
when American conservative politicians take measures and advocates for policies that could result in the harm to and perhaps premature
deaths of thousands of people? Where are the cries and the protests over the sanctity of life? The silence has been deafening.

Pope Francis, the current Catholic pope, has been quite outspoken about the issues of poverty. It is, after all, Jesus who urged his followers to
feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned. I was raised Catholic and still adhere to many of its precepts and values. The
concern that Jesus had for the poor and the disenfranchised was always pretty clear to me. “It will be harder for a rich man to get to heaven
than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” Jesus said. The concern for the poor always seemed pretty obvious to me as I was growing
up in the church.

In May 2013, Pope Francis said: “I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint
John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but
theirs.”

In June 2013, Pope Francis said: “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the
gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice,
fairness and respect for every human being.”

And most importantly, last June, Pope Francis said: "Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot
be a privilege."

All of this sounds pretty clear to me.

Now House Speaker Paul Ryan is purported to be a devout Catholic and is a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Janesville. Ryan
represents many a poor folk in the cities of Janesville, Racine and Kenosha as the U.S. Representative for the area.

And yet, he is sponsoring legislation to end Obamacare and institute a health care system that would result in up to 12 million people
immediately losing their health care insurance and eventually up to 24 million losing their health care insurance by 2020.

Now I don’t know about you, but most of the people I know, especially at my age, need health care insurance in order to maintain their health or
even to stay alive. They would not be able to afford the high cost of prescriptions or expensive life-saving surgical procedures if they had to
pay for them out-of-pocket. To put it bluntly, they would be dead. While they may be able to receive some care through emergency rooms and
charitable health care services, many would be suffering premature deaths without essential health care services.

Ryan says that his Obamacare replacement bill will allow Americans to choose their own health care plans. Well that sounds fine in theory, but
the reality of it is that millions of Americans will be forced to choose to have NO health care plan because they cannot afford it. And so, I can’t
help but feel that Ryan’s health care plan will result in the premature death of millions of people in the next 10 years.
And so I have to wonder where the outrage is of the conservative Catholic clergy. Millions of people will die premature deaths and Pope
Francis has stated that health care is a right and not a privilege. So why haven’t any Catholic archbishops threatened Paul Ryan with
excommunication or say that they will refuse to provide Holy Communion to him because of the actions that he is pushing that could result in
the death of millions. The silence is deafening.

It is purported that Paul Ryan is worth somewhere between $2.1 million and $7.8 million. The U.S. government pays approximately 72 percent
of his health care costs. Ryan’s needs are met, but he is loathe to assist other people to obtain that right to health care that Pope Francis talked
about. I can’t help but feel that Paul Ryan is like that rich man who will find it harder to get into heaven than the camel through the eye of a
needle. While Ryan may clothe his actions with the cloth of individualism and free-choice, the reality of it is he may have the blood of
thousands of people on his hands if his version of “health care reform” passes.

Why aren’t the Catholic clergy trying to save Ryan’s soul?