In 1999, then-State Senator Barack Obama invoked the late radical Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who passed away in 1996, to promote a universal health care law he co-sponsored and which Illinois voters had overwhelmingly rejected.
The bill incorporated language directly from the late cardinal’s 1995 pastoral letter, “A Sign of Hope,” which argued for a “fundamental right” to health care, reading, in part: “Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity, and there is an obligation for society to ensure that every person be able to realize that right.”
Supporters of single payer health care, like Dr. Quentin Young of Physicians for a National Health Program, understood Bernardin to be calling for a government takeover of health care. “Cardinal Bernardin wrote on the moral questions we’re talking about,” Dr. Young told the Palm Beach Post on January 4, 1998. “His concept was that human dignity requires an ethic that assures health care to all people in a society.”
Supporters of the so-called “Bernadin Amendment” quickly roped in Dr. Warren Furey, the cardinal’s personal physician and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Mercy Hospital.
The law, had it passed, would have forced the state to enact a plan that, in the Orwellian words of the Chicago Tribune, “permits everyone in Illinois to obtain decent health care on a regular basis by 2002.”
Obama’s co-sponsor in the state House of Representatives was State Representative Mike Boland. In campaigning for universal health care, Boland told the Chicago Tribune that “he is writing to every labor union local and every church in the state in search of endorsements.”
Both Boland and Obama received endorsements for the Bernadin Amendment from some radical priests, including Father Michael Pfleger, who backed Obama in his failed congressional bid in 2000; and Father George Clements, the Black Panther-supporting priest who housed then-Black Panther and future member of Congress, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).
Other supporters of the Bernardin Amendment included the then newly elected Congresswoman Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and her husband, Robert Creamer, the head of the Illinois Public Action Council (IPAC), who would go on to do federal time for check kiting and write the playbook for passing Obamacare from prison.
Did Obama and Creamer learn their lessons from the fight over the Bernardin Amendment?
Clearly, they did. In 2010, Obama invoked another patron saint of liberal Catholicism in his next stab at universal health care–the late Ted Kennedy, whom Obama eulogized in a September 10, 2009 address to a joint session of Congress. Obama cited Kennedy, stating, “‘What we face,’ he wrote, ‘is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but the fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.'”
When the Affordable Care Act passed, Obama finally delivered on the dream of liberal Catholics–that the state would deliver “social justice” on health care. But he broke his promises to Catholic leaders as his government imposed birth control mandates on religious institutions.
Catholics–both liberal and conservative–now know the price of faith in Obama: the destruction of the religious liberty in which all Americans, especially Catholics, believe.