BCI has been on vacation for the past two weeks. We came back to find an inbox full of issues to be addressed. These include Steward Health Care’s flagrant disregard for their commitment to maintain the Catholic identity at the Caritas Christi hospitals they acquired in 2010. The poster child for this problem is Carney Hospital in Dorchester, which has been flying the rainbow flag that symbolizes “gay pride” and so-called lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. A Catholic Action League press release tells us they flew the rainbow flag from the flagpole in front of the hospital for two weeks following the June 26th U. S. Supreme Court decision on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8. According to a report from a concerned Catholic who called the Carney, a hospital representative said it was being flown to “celebrate” the court ruling.
Photos can be found below and more information is here.
Even though the hospitals are owned and operated by Steward Health Care, they are legally bound to maintain a Catholic identity. The person on Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s leadership team responsible for overseeing their maintenance of Catholic identity is Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Social Services and Health Care. Are both the Cardinal and Fr. Hehir aware of this? What have they done?
In addition, as reported at The Tenth Crusade, Carney Hospital just gave financial support to some kind of sex-themed carnival in June sponsored by a local homosexual political activism organization, DotOUT, that featured “strong men and fortune tellers”:
Carney Hospital, which is supposed to be maintaining a Catholic identity, was a Corporate/Platinum sponsor of the carnival. We are not making this up.
To help Cardinal O’Malley, Fr. Hehir, and Vicar General Bishop Deeley remember the terms of the sale agreement, we excerpt from a few BCI posts and The Pilot:
In Removing Christ from Caritas Christi (2011), we wrote:
The goal of the stewardship agreement that set out conditions of the sale was said at the time to preserve the Catholic identity of the hospitals forever.
Christopher Murphy, a spokesman for the network, said the stewardship agreement would be designed to permanently maintain the hospital’s Catholic identity….“The main point is that it’s designed to last forever,” he said. “That’s the prevailing hope of everyone involved, that . . . the Catholic tradition of Caritas Christi stays in place forever.” (Boston Globe, April 28, 2010)
“We announced yesterday that an agreement has been reached with Cerberus that ensures the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi hospitals… this stewardship agreement was a key component for us because it will preserve the Catholic identity of Caritas.” (Cardinal Seans blog, May 7, 2010)
In “Caritas Christi: Is Catholic Healthcare in Boston Being Sold-off for a Few Silver Coins?” (2010) we wrote:
9. Does the Archdiocese acknowledge or deny that the Catholic identity for Caritas will likely disappear after 3 years?
A blog at the Wall Street Journal said, “In Hospital deal, How Much is a Catholic Identity Worth: Just 3%.” Despite comments by Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson and Fr. Bryan Hehir saying the stewardship agreement “memorializes” the commitment to maintain the Catholic identity of Caritas Christi and represents a strong commitment to operate the hospitals according to Church religious and moral directives, the exit clause that allows Cerberus to pay $25 million to drop the Catholic identity negates what both officials have said. So, let us be realistic that the proposed guarantees for maintaining the system’s Catholic identity beyond 3 years are lacking in substance and credibility. It feels like the tale of “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Everyone says the emperor looks handsome in his new clothes. Perhaps it would be better to stop pretending this arrangement is something which it clearly is not.
The Catholic Action League message on this one from 2010 seems to merit repeating, just as a reality check:
This impending transfer of ownership means that the future of 150 years of Catholic health care in Boston will be within the discretionary authority of a non-Catholic, for profit, out of state, capitalist corporation. It is now clear that Caritas Christi will be rapidly secularized, that such iconic Catholic institutions as Carney Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center will no longer defend the culture of life, and Catholic and other pro-life doctors, nurses, and administrators will lose their conscience protections.”
This comes just five years after Catholic Charities withdrew from adoption services in Greater Boston. Beautiful and historic churches are being closed, the parish based Catholic school system is being effectively downsized into ‘consolidated’, lay-governed regional academies, and now the Catholic hospital system, which dates back to 1863, is about to be abandoned. A two hundred year legacy of Catholicism in Boston, as reflected in an institutional infrastructure, is being systematically dismantled and improvidently discarded.
Then there is this, the pièce de résistance from The Pilot, “Agreement will assure Catholic identity of Caritas hospitals” (May 2010):
BRAINTREE — After a lengthy process, the Archdiocese of Boston says it has reached an agreement with a venture capitalist firm that will keep hospitals of the Caritas Christi Health Care afloat as well as maintain their Catholic identities.
“The Stewardship Agreement memorializes Steward’s commitment to maintain the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi Healthcare system and its fidelity to the mission of the Church’s healthcare ministry,” Father Richard Erikson, the archdiocese’s vicar general and moderator of the Curia, said in a May 6 statement announcing the agreement.
Father J. Bryan Hehir, the archdiocese’s health and social services secretary, said that the ethical and religious directives provide the framework by which Catholic health care operates in the United States. They include sacramental and pastoral care for all patients regardless of religious denomination as well as contain key social justice components and bioethical provisions aimed at preserving the sanctity and dignity of human life.
The recently-signed agreement between the archdiocese and Steward provides that the Archbishop of Boston will oversee that the Caritas hospitals run in accordance with the bishops’ directives. The agreement allows the archbishop to have final authority in disputes involving the directives.
“This is a substantive and structural commitment by the archdiocese and Steward to operate this hospital system by the religious and moral directives of the Catholic Church,” said Father J. Bryan Hehir.
The agreement may be terminated by the archdiocese if it finds the hospitals are not being run according to Catholic practices. However, the archdiocese must provide 90 days notice for Steward to correct the problem.
Conversely, Steward would also be allowed to opt out of the contract if complying with the bishops’ directives is found to be “mutually burdensome.” Murphy said that clause was inserted into the deal in case future medical advances hampered efforts to comply with Catholic directives.
Today, the Catholic Action League said:
Under Section 1 of the Agreement, “all hospitals will be operated in accordance with the moral, ethical and social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as expressed in the Directives (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) and as interpreted solely and exclusively by RCAB.” These directives mandate adherence to the “Catholic moral tradition.”
Under Section 2.3 of the agreement, the hospitals are required to “maintain appropriate signage and other symbols of Catholic identity.”
Public display of the Rainbow/Pride flag at Carney Hospital clearly violated the Stewardship Agreement, contravened the Ethical and Religious Directives and compromised what remained of Carney’s Catholic identity. It was also a brazen act of defiance to Catholic moral teaching and an insult to faithful Catholics, living and dead, who supported the Carney for the last one hundred and fifty years.
Is there any question that by flying the rainbow flag and supporting organizations who advance positions contrary to Catholic teachings the hospitals are NOT operating by the religious and moral directives of the Catholic Church? Assuming we all agree on this point, then the Boston Archdiocese can terminate the agreement and is supposed to tell Steward they have 90 days to correct the problem.
Have Cardinal O’Malley or Fr. Hehir put Steward on notice? Not likely, but we will ask. What do you think about this situation?