About a month ago we shared examples of the
“Dismantling of Catholic Identity at Caritas Christi,” and a few days ago we told you how Caritas was planning to acquire the secular Landmark Hospital and leave the acquired hospital free to do procedures that violated Catholic Religious and Ethical Directives. Local Catholic bloggers sounded the alarm bells along with folks like CJ Doyle, Deal Hudson, John O’Gorman and Ray Neary, and though it’s nice that Cardinal O’Malley and the Caritas CEO issued their statement Wednesday saying the soon-to-be-acquired hospital will abide by Catholic moral directives after all, it still feels like a wrecking ball is continuing to hit Catholic healthcare in Boston.
Today we’ll briefly revisit the current situation with Caritas/Landmark/Cerberus, but we mostly want to take you on a short tour of how the Catholic identity of Caritas has gradually been dismantled over the past two years. It is particularly noticeable since “you know who” arrived on the Caritas board.First, do read the post over at ThrowtheBumsOutin2010 for a humorous retelling of the Landmark story.
On Sept. 1 the archdiocese released a statement saying that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley “was concerned about public statements that Landmark would not be operated as a Catholic hospital if acquired by Caritas”…Another shining example of letting people go unsupervised until you read what they’re doing in the newspaper. We’re making progress though. [The Cardinal] was Johnny on the spot responding to the criticism, there was no attempt to call us ‘people doing a disservice to the Church,’ and they skipped the charade of calling in the National Catholic Bioethics Center and thanking them for their opinion without releasing that opinion publicly…The details of the arrangement are hermetically sealed in an envelope and are to remain secret until the deal gets the go-ahead from the judge. But trust them, it is all as Catholic as the Pope.”
As we said in our earlier post, when the original Caritas/Cerberus deal was announced, we saw Caritas, the Cardinal, Fr. Bryan Hehir and anyone else quoted in the press saying the Catholic identity would be preserved forever:
We announced yesterday that an agreement has been reached with Cerberus that ensures the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi hospitals. The sale is still pending as the Attorney General has to review it, but this stewardship agreement was a key component for us because it will preserve the Catholic identity of Caritas. (Cardinal Sean’s May 7, 2010 blog)
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.” (Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services, quoted in The Pilot, May 14, 2010)
Those statements of course have been proven to be short-lived, as the deal isn’t even yet signed and Caritas was already planning to violate the directives with a new acquisition until those annoying bloggers and faithful Catholics started complaining. Who is the one person on their Board today charged with maintaining the Catholic identity? You guessed it. Fr. Bryan Hehir.
Let’s look now at a brief timeline of what’s happened with what we can publicly see of Caritas’ Catholic identity since Fr. Hehir arrived on the scene.
March 14, 2008. Caritas Christi announces new governance model. Fr. Hehir named as Cardinal O’Malley’s delegate to revamped Caritas Christi hospital board. Archdiocese of Boston involvement to be limited to “matters pertaining to Catholic identity, mission and the implementation of the religious and ethical directives of the USCCB.” Hehir’s title expanded to Secretary of Healthcare and Social Services.
At that time, Caritas’ logo prominently depicted a cross. The website description of Caritas’ mission said they were a “Catholic Health Care System” committed to serving those in need “in accordance with the principles of the Catholic Church.” 9 months later it was another story.
December 2008, Caritas rebranded themselves. They dropped the prominent Catholic cross from their logo, and in the new version of the logo, the cross is so subdued as to be almost unnoticeable. They also dropped the statement about being a “Catholic” healthcare system operating in accord with the principles of the Catholic Church from their mission as well. See below for the before and after:
Today (and as of December 2008)
As described in The Patriot Ledger in March of 2009, Caritas launched what they described as a major marketing push whose theme was “Quality to the People.” It depicted a raised fist (or clenched fist) holding a stethoscope. According to Wikipedia, “The raised fist (also known as the clenched fist) is a salute and logo most often used by left-wing activists, such as: Marxists, anarchists, socialists, communists, pacifists, trade unionists, and black nationalists…It dates back to the salute of Rotfrontkämpferbund, a paramilitary organization of the Communist Party of Germany before the WWII.
The advertising firm that developed the campaign was The Boathouse Group in Waltham, MA. Guess who runs that advertising firm? C’mon, guess. OK, I’ll give you a hint. The last name rhymes with “Goners.” You guessed it. It’s John Connors III, son of powerbroker Jack Connors, Jr. the founder of Hill Holliday, head of the Catholic Schools Campaign, rearranger of the archdiocesan cabinet, Finance Council member, Partners Chair, former Chair of Boston College, and lots more.
Yes folks, 9 months after Fr. Bryan Hehir joined the Caritas board to help maintain their “Catholic identity”, Jack Connors’ son’s firm rebranded Caritas Christi, they dropped the prominent Catholic symbolism from the logo, dropped “Catholic” healthcare system and the commitment to serve in accord with Catholic moral principles from their mission statement, and launched a marketing campaign with a central graphic that symbolizes Marxism/socialism.
Then in late February of 2009, less than one year after Fr. Hehir joined the Board, Caritas announced a financial joint venture with Centene Corp. After faithful Catholics and Mass Citizens for Life complained the joint venture included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley first responded by saying anyone who suggested Caritas might have entered such an arrangement was “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church.” But then he asked the National Catholic Bioethics Center to study the deal, and after their report came back, Cardinal O’Malley instructed Caritas Christi to withdraw from its part ownership of CeltiCare to avoid any questions about whether Caritas would profit from the deal. Even though the financial venture was abandoned, the 6 Caritas Christi hospitals would remain in the CeltiCare plan as providers of services. And under the plan, Caritas Christi is still obliged to refer women for abortions. CeltiCare lists 3 Planned Parenthood abortion locations in Massachusetts.
Who was and is still responsible for the Catholic identity of Caritas and ensuring the healthcare network’s compliance with Catholic religious and moral directives? Fr. Bryan Hehir.
In July we reported how symbols of the Catholic faith were already being removed from public places at the hospital. (The front desk receptionist explained it to an inquiring visitor as because “the business had been sold.”). Today, if you look at the latest Caritas flyer or St_Elizabeth’s Hospital brochure, you will see the word “Catholic” is nowhere to be found. Nor do the mission or values of Caritas on their website mention “Catholic.” Some people have commented on this blog they believe Caritas may be providing “emergency contraception” at Caritas Christi hospitals. Just last Friday we heard Caritas was planning to acquire a secular hospital and let them operate in violation of Catholic religious and ethical directives–and the only reason that plan was altered was because the statement about their plans appeared in the newspapers and a bunch of annoying bloggers and activists complained about it.
When will the Archbishop of Boston ever acknowledge that having Fr. Bryan Hehir responsible for the Catholic identity of our hospitals is like making the fox responsible for guarding the chicken coop?