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Catholic Bishop Defends Health Care Lobbying

BALTIMORE — The nation’s top Catholic bishop on Monday defended his church’s role in shaping the current health care debate, telling an annual gathering of church leaders that it’s their duty to press lawmakers to enact tough restrictions on abortion rights.

“It is our responsibility … to speak with a moral voice, that everyone should be cared for and that no one should be deliberately killed,— said Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

George’s defense of the church’s health care lobbying was the centerpiece of his opening statements Monday addressing the yearly meeting of American bishops. The cardinal’s remarks come amid criticism by some liberals that Catholic leaders are acting improperly by taking such an aggressive stance on abortion provisions in current health care proposals. The bishops strongly backed an anti-abortion amendment included in the House’s health care bill.

George said that “to abstain— from participating in the health care debate “would be to betray the Constitution of our country.—

“The challenge to governing effectively — and pastorally, as bishops and priests — is to be public, without being co-opted,— George said. “And to be who we are, without being isolated.—

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