Removing Christ from Caritas Christi

February 8, 2011

In our last post, Steward’s Super Bowl Sunday Spending, we talked about the expensive television ad by Steward Health Care, the new entity formed to oversee the Caritas Christi hospitals–you know, the hospitals that said they were out of money and needed to sell-out to get the infusion of cash by Cerberus in order to stay afloat.  Beyond the connections of powerbroker Jack Connors, Jr and his son John Connors, III to the ad campaign–and beyond the matter that the commercial strikes everyone we have spoken to as bland, unmemorable, confusing, and a waste of some $500K+ that could otherwise have been put toward healthcare–has anyone noticed how Steward has now removed “Jesus Christ” from Caritas Christi?

Last spring, everyone said the goal of the stewardship agreement that set out conditions of the sale was 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)

“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.” (Fr. Richard Erikson, Vicar General, The Boston Pilot, May 14, 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)

Well, that was then and this is now. With the Super Bowl launch of Steward Health Care, it already appears rather clear that Steward’s stewardship of the “Stewardship Agreement” to maintain the Catholic identity at Caritas is flimsy at best, at least publicly. Just look at how the Steward website says nothing about Catholic hospitals, and especially note how the description of Caritas has changed on the Caritas Christi website in the past week to remove mention of Jesus Christ.

Read on for the before and after.

February 3, 2011. The website at http://www.caritaschristi.org had the Caritas Christi logo, with a subtle image of a cross in the logo.  The “About Us” page referenced the Caritas Christi mission:

Caritas Christi Health Care, rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus, is committed to serving the physical and spiritual needs of our community by delivering the highest quality care with compassion and respect.

(Click on the graphic below to zoom the image of the site as of Feb. 3)

February 8, 2011: On the same page, the former Caritas Christi logo is now gone, replaced by the new Steward logo (no cross).

The description on the “About Us” page just says,

“Steward Health Care System is a community-based accountable care organization and community hospital network. Headquartered in Boston, Steward has more than 13,000 employees serving more than one million patients annually in 85 communities.”

Notice how there is no acknowledgment that it was formerly Caritas Christi.   Where is Jesus Christ?  Gone.

Just for the sake of posterity, let us look at how Caritas Christi presented the hospital network just three years ago, before Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jack Connors, and Ralph de la Torre got involved. To the right is the former logo, with a prominent cross.  Here is a cached version of the Caritas Christi website as of January 2008. They described themselves at the time as follows:

Caritas Christi is a Catholic Health Care System rooted in the history of the Archdiocese of Boston. As a community of health care providers, we affirm Christ’s healing ministry, foster excellence in care, and commit ourselves to those in need in accordance with the principles of the Catholic Church.

That Catholic identity–at least expressed publicly at the time–is almost ancient history.

Now, the former Caritas Christi website is still clearly a work-in-process as they replace the old Caritas Christi identity with the new Steward one, and thankfully, there is a small remnant of that former Caritas mission statement left under “mission and values” for now, but we expect that will be gone shortly–unless this blog post triggers the Catholic identity stewards at Steward Health Care who are responsible for stewardship of the “Stewardship Agreement” to do something about preserving the Catholic identity publicly before the name of Jesus Christ is completely expunged.

If this is what they are doing with the Catholic identity publicly where people can readily see it, is anyone else wondering what is happening behind closed doors?


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