True Cross Relic Stolen, Caritas/Cerberus Update

We will cover two different topics briefly today–the theft of the True Cross relic from the Holy Cross Cathedral, and a short update on the sale of Caritas to Cerberus. 

Most people have probably heard about the theft of the relic of the True Cross from Holy Cross Cathedral, first noticed on July 1.  This is one of the oldest and most treasured possessions in the archdiocese, and we need to all pray for its return.  Beyond the troubling reality that a priceless relic like this was stolen, a few other aspects of this should raise eyebrows.  First of all, why 12 days pass after the theft was detected before the Archdiocese said something–and only after Catholic blogger, Kelly Thatcher, (Lady in the Pew) posted about this and spread word asking for prayers.  Maybe the police asked that it be kept quiet for a few days in order to investigate in some secretive manner.  But could someone at the $5.5 million/year communications machine of the Archdiocese let us know what other big things they’re working on we haven’t noticed that left them unable or unwilling to respond to the Globe’s diatribe on Sunday and more importantly, tell Catholics about the theft and ask for prayers?  Is someone asking wealthy Catholics like Jack Connors, who the Globe reported is worth $500 million, to establish a reward for the return of the relic?   Where is the passion and urgency in the communications to try and get this back ASAP?  Another blogger said to us, if the Cathedral had money to spend replacing a beautiful ambo that didn’t need replacement, why couldn’t they have installed a security camera or webcam to protect the relic?  Intelligent, “smart” IP video surveillance systems have become very inexpensive, and can remotely watch a location like this and instantly send an alert when something changes in a scene.  Had something like this been in place–costing on a one-time basis a fraction of what the Archdiocese pays Rasky Baerlein for their public relations retainer every month–the theft might have been prevented entirely, or if not prevented, then recorded AND within a minute afterwards, cathedral and security officials could have been alerted.  In addition, we could not help but notice the unusual theological depth to the statement by Communications Secretary, Terry Donilon, “The relic of the True Cross is an important sacramental that helps Christians contemplate the crucified Savior and the great suffering He endured for the salvation of the world.”  Has Terry been taking a theology course in the MAM program, or did someone feed him the quote?  Lastly, this comment on another blog from “TheLastCatholicinBoston” merits reposting: 

It certainly is a very symbolic loss. To think of the martyrdom who died for such causes, and the archdiocese makes a statement after 10 days. They watch the nickels as the priceless is stolen from under their noses. They capture Internet space with Catholic TV and blogs yet can’t keep a watchful eye on the True Cross. The devil’s undercover blood martyrdom of abortion in America is similar – the thief is in our midst, seeking the ruin of souls. 

On to the next topic, Caritas/Cerberus.  Everyone seems to be piling on the bandwagon finally raising concerns publicly.  The Globe had a column on it last week focusing on the likelihood of competition vs smaller community hospitals from a for-profit Caritas.   A couple of pro-life organizations have weighed-in, and we would like to correct a few errors in what these other organizations have written in recent days. The American Life League, in their post, “CERBERUS, HADES AND THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON” said: 

But we already know that adherence to Catholic moral standards is unlawful for any hospital that participates in the Massachusetts universal health care insurance program (the model for ObamaCare), because the program requires participants to provide abortion, contraception, sterilization, etc. In fact, the archdiocese’s inability to participate in the Massachusetts program is precisely the reason why Caritas is unprofitable and is being sold. So the termination of Catholic standards is inevitable. Why the charade to mislead the public that Caritas will remain Catholic? 

Most of their post is spot-on, the first part of this passage is correct, and there is indeed a charade to mislead the public into believing that Caritas will remain Catholic ahead (as we have reported previously).  But Caritas IS actually profitable, so it’s not the case that the inability to participate in the Massachusetts program is the reason why Caritas is being sold.  

An email from Mass Citizens for Life also gets most of it right, but has a few things wrong or communicates them in a way where people will reach the wrong conclusion.   

The Board of Directors of Massachusetts Citizens for Life has expressed serious concern about a proviso in the sale of the Caritas Christi Health Care system by the Archdiocese of Boston.  The Board urges the Archdiocese to remove this proviso or to work with the buyers to appoint an independent committee consisting of experts in the fields of medical ethics and health care financing, who have proven adherence to the Caritas commitment to life, to fully vet any decision to end compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

 Aside from the fact that MCFL didn’t tell people what the concerning proviso is–namely, an exit clause should maintaining the Catholic identity prove “materially burdensome”–MCFL is basically saying to either remove the proviso, or appoint pro-life people to an independent committee who would review a decision to drop the Catholic identity but have no authority to over-ride it.  Removing the proviso should work  but it does not seem like a commitee with no authority to change anything will be able to change anything. 

MCFL further says the following: 

The Steward Health Care System, a subsidiary of Cerberus Capital Management, will be running the hospitals.  Steward has agreed to abide by the ERDs, thus continuing the pro-life commitment of the hospitals.  If, however, Steward decides that compliance with the ERDs would jeopardize the welfare of its patients, employees, or the community it serves, it can pay the Archdiocese twenty-five million dollars to end compliance. 

 This is partically correct.  The agreement says if Steward decides that compliance with the EDRs would become “materially burdensome” (very broadly defined as anything which would “jeopardize the welfare of its patients, employees, or the communities in which it operates,” the determination of which will be in “the sole discretion of Steward”), the system’s Catholic identity could be abandoned upon payment of a $25 million fee to a charity of the Archdiocese’s choosing.   The rest of what MCFL wrote is correct:

The MCFL Board reasons that this escape clause provides inadequate protection to pro-life physicians and patients and threatens the existence of pro-life hospitals in Massachusetts.  It could result in the Caritas hospitals providing abortion and rationing care, thus ending the systems commitment to pro-life principles.

According to Anne Fox, President of the organization, Massachusetts Citizens for Life has always been grateful for the hospitals in the Caritas Christi Health Care system. While MCFL is a non-sectarian organization, having hospitals where patients can go to receive ethical medical care has been very important whether it be a woman with a problem pregnancy or a person who needs food and hydration administered artificially.  Pro-life medical professionals have been able to practice in good conscience. We feel every effort must be made to ensure continuation of these ethical standards




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