Sisters versus bishops

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First Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, as head of the Catholic Health Association, comes out in favor of the health reform bill now pending in the House of Representatives. Now 60 heads of women's religious congregations, representing 59,000 sisters, have done the same according to the Associated Press. UPDATE: Here is the text of the letter.

This endorsement comes on the heels of a statement from USCCB President Cardinal Francis George yesterday that judges the language about abortion funding in the Senate bill as insufficient, and an even more strongly worded column by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput that rejects the legislation in plain terms.

One wonders which group has more clout: bishops or sisters? Given that the sisters provide the lion's share of health care--few dioceses run their own hospitals--many would vote for the sisters. They certainly have a deeper well of goodwill to draw upon.

At the same time, with women's religious communities under investigation, one wonders what this public divergence will do to what many see as an already tenuous relationship between the sisters and the bishops.