We interrupt our Cronyism I, II, and III blog series for a day or so to revisit issues of Trust first touched on a month ago around the sale of Caritas to Cerberus. At that time, the issue was whether we could believe statements that the Catholic identity of Caritas would be preserved “permanently” and “forever” because of the $25 million exit clause. Now we find the ability to trust what we are being told even more tenuous.
Two days ago we shared that apparently the picture of Cardinal O’Malley had been removed from the lobby of St. Elizabeth and reports indicate that removal of other religious symbols is in process. A photo posted on another Catholic blog confirms the first part. So, it feels like it would be prudent for Caritas and archdiocese officials to start acknowledging “the emperor has no clothes” in terms of preserving the Catholic identity in this acquisition agreement. That does not mean the sale should be blocked–it just means it would be appropriate for officials of the Catholic Church to tell the truth.
Yesterday we learned that the Caritas spokesman, Chris Murphy, apparently falsified his identity to attend a press conference by the newly formed Coalition To Save Catholic Health Care. Here are highlights from their press release of yesterday.
CARITAS CHRISTI CHARGED WITH DECEPTION
“An entity within The Archdiocese of Boston is openly distorting the picture the laity is receiving on what surely will lead to the end of their Catholic involvement in health care,” said R. T. Neary of Medfield, Chairman of the Coalition To Save Catholic Health Care. “Furthermore, it is severely damaging the reputation of the Archdiocese itself.” Neary said that the trickery being used in pushing negotiations with a controversial venture capital firm is bringing the continuing lack of ethical/moral public relations to a new low.
A Boston Globe article the following day reported: “Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy, who attended the event at the Omni Parker House in Boston, said most of the group’s complaints were unfounded”. The Globe article quoted Murphy: “The wild speculation engaged in today is absurd.” Neary responded to the article by saying: “Murphy has flagrantly mischaracterized the Coalition, but this is far from the end of the story.”
“What was particularly egregious is that Mr. Murphy had signed in by using a false identity, under a pseudonym,” Neary stated. “And worse still, when greeted by Coalition leaders at the start of the event, he identified himself as a Catholic layman who worked for the Bank of America, and he had come because of his interest in the subject. Mr. Murphy, under his alias, was welcomed”.
“To make matters even worse than that, with regard to his accusatory quote in the Boston Globe, he never asked a single question nor did he challenge any part of our presentation during the one-hour event,” Neary stated. “Not a solitary question, although it was made clear that we were there to be sure our stance was transparent and fully understood. Handouts included letters of strong objection to the Caritas negotiations with Cerberus Capital Management L.P. and its subsidiary Steward, which have been sent to Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Archdiocese, through this Cerberus connection, has embarked on a misguided course, but also it is causing further serious damage to its reputation”, Neary concluded.
So apparently we cannot trust what archdiocesan or Caritas officials are saying. It seems we cannot trust the Caritas spokesperson, Chris Murphy, to truthfully represent his own identity when he attends an event. Then Murphy said the concerns about loss of Catholic identity and possible sale of Caritas properties in the future were “wild speculation” and “absurd.” Mr. Murphy, is the removal of symbols of Catholic identity and Catholic imagery still “wild speculation”? And can you comment on rumors that Caritas has recently brought on a high-powered real estate/property expert from New York with expertise converting non-profit healthcare properties to highly profitable seniorcare housing facilities? Catholic observers would like to know if the rumor is “wild speculation” and “absurd” that this person has been asked to look at virtually every Caritas property with an eye toward making any unprofitable ones profitable, including by means of converting their use and/or selling them off? Maybe our sources were wrong.
Oh, one last thing. Mr. Murphy said “most of the group’s complaints were unfounded.” Which complaints does Caritas agree were well-founded?
Terry Donilon and Ann Carter of Rasky Baerlein, can you drop a dime to the Boston Globe and ask them investigate this thing further before the Attorney General makes a decision? The clock is ticking.