Boston Catholic Insider Error, More Caritas Questions

We usually try to stick to one topic per post, but just wanted to acknowledge a mistake and also get some Caritas news out to you quickly.

First, 8 days have passed since the Archdiocese said they had reached out to bloggers (other bloggers that is, not us) seeking a conversation, and we still have received no response to our Open Letter.  (The Open Letter just lists a few topics for discussion and consideration to help the archdiocese improve how they operate).  Also, 38 days have now passed since our first email to the archdiocese of July 23 asking for an explanation of the conflicts of interest that led to the hiring of the Secretary of Communications and the Chancellor, and we still await a response.

Second, alert reader “John” pointed out an error in our Open Letter that we have since corrected.  We said we were unable to find another schools superintendent in the country paid $325,000/year, as Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill is paid by the Boston Archdiocese.  We really had not found any higher-paid public or parochial school superintendents, but John did better than us.  He found that the Boston public schools superintendent makes a healthy bonus on top of her base salary of $280,000, putting her at total compensation of $335,000 for administering 56,000 students.  Since the archdiocese serves 43,000 students (about 24% fewer students than Boston), John suggested “on this very generous City of Boston basis, Mary Grassa O’Neill should be getting only $257,876 per year. O’Neill’s earnings should be reduced NOW by $67,124 per year . This would buy quite a bit of school supplies, don’t you think?”  (John’s proposed correction would put Dr. Grassa O’Neill closer to the compensation of the New York Public Schools superintendent, Joel Klein, who makes $250,000/year for managing 1.1 million students in 1600 schools with an annual budget of $17 billion, as well as Ramon Cortines in Los Angeles who also makes $250K/year for directing the second-largest public school system in the country with 694,288 students, 45,473 teachers, 38,494 other employees, 1044 schools, and a total school district budget for 2009-10 of $7.3 billion).  We apologize for the inaccuracy in our previous statement.  As always, if you find something incorrect or any claim you feel is “unfounded,” just let us know and we will adjust accordingly with a public correction.

In followup of the announcement Friday that Caritas Christi is planning to acquire Landmark Hospital in Rhode Island, we wanted to quickly share a couple more Caritas Christi questions for you.

1. If Caritas is in danger of folding w/o Cerberus’ cash infusion, where exactly is the money coming from to buy Landmark?

2. If Caritas Christi is planning to abide by Catholic religious and ethical directives after the acquisition by Cerberus, how do they explain the plan to keep Landmark secular (see Providence Journal report), which includes allowing them to continue doing sterilizations and performing family planning services that violate such directives (see Boston Globe report)?  How does that gibe with Cardinal O’Malley’s March 2009 statement that “Caritas Christi will never…in any way participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching…and no arrangement will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching.” Are we who question this still “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church”?

3. Going back a few years, can someone explain how we should reconcile Fr. Bryan Hehir’s emphatic statement in October  2007 that Caritas would never be sold to a for-profit when their financial condition was weak (“The idea that the archdiocese would sell Caritas to a for-profit system – it’s not going to happen,” and now with their financial condition stronger, they are being sold and converted to a for-profit?

4. Since Caritas explored a sale or merger with other Catholic healthcare chains several years ago (including Ascension Health, Catholic Health East, and Catholic Health Initiatives) that would have preserved the Catholic identity and mission, have similar discussions been re-opened and re-explored at this time as an alternative to the Cerberus deal?

5. Has anyone yet explained what the Boston Globe called an “unusual move” by 3 insurance carriers (Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, and Tufts Health Plan) to  fund the Caritas study commissioned by Attorney General Martha Coakley in November 2007 that led to her “roadmap” of recommended changes in governance, which now have set the stage for the Caritas sale and conversion to a for-profit hospital?

6. Was it just a pure coincidence that the Hauser Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (where Fr. Bryan Hehir works) issued a working paper on “Attorney General Oversight of Charities” in October 2007, and shortly thereafter on November 3, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced she was commissioning a study of Caritas’ governance in order to issue a roadmap for their future?

7. Who from the Archdiocese with solid  business skills and a track record of adherence to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church is ultimately in charge of decision-making over Caritas Christi today?

You can read more questions about the sale of Caritas in our posts:
Caritas Christi: Is Catholic Healthcare in Boston Being Sold-off for a Few Silver Coins?
Caritas Coincidences? 
Caritas Coincidences: Part 2, and
Trust

Have a blessed day!

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