On New Year’s Eve the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) announced its “2010 Person of the Year,” an honor not previously bestowed on anyone and one that may or may not continue. The format of the announcement follows the now annual TIME Magazine “Person of the Year.”

The editors of the magazine reflected on the significant events of this past year and considered a variety of people that have shaped the ecclesial and social landscape of the United States. The editors of NCR explain that they “felt the need to single out one American Catholic who showed extraordinary leadership and courage this last year.”

The editors go on to describe why Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), was given this honor.

In the spring of 2010, as the national debate on health care reform seemed deadlocked, Sr. Carol Keehan, the Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, led her organization to endorse the legislation and thus helped pass it through Congress. The move put health care coverage within the reach of an additional 32 million Americans.

In a video message delivered to the Catholic Health Association convention in June, President Obama praised Keehan: “Your work, your passion, your commitment helped make the difference, and you did so in a way that protects your long-standing beliefs and the beliefs of so many others across the country.”

The NCR editors continue to note that in light of the recent controversy surrounding Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix and his withdrawal of the designation “catholic” from their title, the leadership of Keehan has been nothing less than praiseworthy.

At times like these, moments when both the public square and the ecclesial sanctuary are often environments hostile to disagreement and serious debate (even faithful and respectful debate), the courage of a religious leader like Keehan is worth acknowledging. Keehan and the CHA supported the Arizona hospital despite the fact that so few others, whether individually or corporately, demonstrated the courage to do likewise.

While there has been much misinformation circulating among certain political and ecclesial circles about the incompatibility of the 2010 healthcare legislation and Catholic teaching, it is important to realize that such claims are patently false. The unequivocal endorsement of the CHA, which has on staff and in consultative positions some of the most outstanding moral theologians (including my franciscan confrere from the Sacred Heart Province Tom Nairn, OFM), of the healthcare legislation is just one example that counters the misinformation by speaking the truth to those who would perpetuate an alternative perspective.

Keehan’s CV and background is too extensive to rehearse here in its entirety (you can read more about her here), but among her many honors are counted an award given by Pope Benedict XVI and an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of America — certainly not radical leftist sources. Her professional accomplishments are indeed noteworthy and her leadership is laudable.

I’m delighted to share this encouraging news with the readers of Dating God and wish to extend my own congratulations to Sr. Carol and all of those who work at CHA! Peace and all Good!


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