Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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WhiteMass_1257Dr. Judith Mascolo, Father Michael Whyte, Dr. John Brehany

WEST SIMSBURY – It was standing room only at St. Catherine of Siena Church as Archbishop Henry J. Mansell celebrated the first White Mass in the Archdiocese of Hartford on Nov. 20, the solemnity of Christ the King, for physicians, nurses and all health care professionals.

During a brunch immediately following the Mass, John Brehany, executive director of the national Catholic Medical Association (CMA), spoke about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 – the so-called Obamacare – and its impact on health care delivery, the medical profession and fundamental human values.

"We honor in a special way those who take care of the sick," said Archbishop Mansell in his homily. "This is one of the fundamentals of our faith," he said, referring to the Gospel mission to serve others that is conveyed in the corporal works of mercy. "We give thanks for those who provide for our health … those who are called to take care of others from conception to death."

The White Mass – so-named because of the white coats and uniforms health care professionals wear – was co-sponsored by a newly chartered guild of the CMA along with the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell.

Concelebrating the Mass were Father Michael Whyte, pastor of St. Catherine and chaplain of the state CMA guild, and Father Douglas Mosey, president and rector of Holy Apostles College and Seminary, where the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center is located.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate health care as a holy ministry that brings healing not just for the patient but for the entire community," said Father Whyte, later.

Dr. Judith Mascolo, who is president of the local CMA guild and who has a pro-life family practice in West Hartford, agreed. "I’m so pleased that Archbishop Mansell has agreed to sponsor the guild that is growing and building awareness in the health care community," she said.

Participants were enthusiastic about the launch of the CMA guild and first White Mass.

"I take this as a moral and ethical obligation as a Catholic to come and learn more about the legislation," said Denise Trottier, a nurse from St. Patrick Parish in Farmington. "I feel my religious freedoms are being taken away; and it’s important as a Catholic to live by the standards of our faith."

In his remarks, Dr. Brehany said that the PPACA, which was written to reform health care and provide coverage for the uninsured, will cover an additional 30 million people (or slightly more than half of the uninsured) at a minimum cost of $1 trillion in new benefits raised through $500 billion in new taxes and $575 billion in cuts to Medicare.

He noted, however, that the 2,801-page PPACA has already triggered 150,000 pages of regulations needed to implement the bill, and that an estimated 159 new agencies and departments will be created to help administer the bill, adding another $115 billion in projected costs.

Among some of the financial and health care delivery impacts to expect, he said, are the following: costs will be higher, people will lose and/or will change their health insurance, there will be fewer services and less innovation, health care will be more politically driven, people will have more difficulty seeing a doctor and the quality of care will deteriorate. He said that experts estimate that by 2016, insurance policies will cost $2,100 more as a result of the bill.

Looking at trends for physicians, he said that more doctors will leave private practice, opting to become part of larger organizations that can afford the costly overhead expenses created by the bill. "Physicians will not be able to have the staff to keep up with electronically filed records and federal regulations," he said.

Moreover, Medicare reimbursements, he predicted, will decline, putting pressure on physicians to discontinue Medicare patients; and physician satisfaction will decline, prompting more doctors to leave the health care profession.

Turning to conscience protections, which he noted are "vague, missing or not mentioned" in the bill, he said that funding for abortion is now included under the law; and abortifacients are mandated under a category called preventative services for women.



alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.