From the transcript of his remarks today to the Catholic Health Association:
My first job in Chicago when I moved after college to work as a community organizer — my first job was funded by the Campaign for Human Development, an anti-poverty initiative of the Catholic Church. And my first office was at Holy Rosary Church on the South Side of Chicago, across from Palmer Park. (Applause.) You’re clapping there — she knows Holy Rosary. (Laughter.) And the task was to work with parishes and neighbors and faith and community leaders to bring low-income people together, to stitch neighborhoods together, clergy and laypeople. And the work was hard, and there were times where it was dispiriting. We had plenty of setbacks. There were times where I felt like quitting, where I wondered if the path I’d chosen was too hard. But despite these challenges, I saw how kindness and compassion and faith can change the arc of people’s lives. And I saw the power of faith — a shared belief that every human being, made in the image of God, deserves to live in dignity; that all children, no matter who they are or where they come from or how much money they were born into, ought to have the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential; that we are all called, in the words of His Holiness Pope Francis, “to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness, and respect for every human being.” And at the time, when I had just moved to Chicago, the Cardinal there was Cardinal Bernardin, an extraordinary man. And he understood that part of that commitment, part of that commitment to the dignity of every human being also meant that we had to care about the health of every human being. And he articulated that, and the Church articulated that, as we moved at the state level in the Illinois legislature, once I was elected there later on in life, to advance the proposition that health care is not a privilege, it is a right. And that belief is at the heart of the Catholic Health Association’s mission. For decades, your member hospitals have been on the front lines, often serving the marginalized, the vulnerable and the sick and the uninsured. And that belief is at the heart of why we came together more than five years ago to reform our health care system — to guarantee that every American has access to quality, affordable care.