Archive for the ‘Caritas Christi’ Category

Archbishop Raymond Burke spoke at the Human Life International World Prayer Congress Saturday and received sustained applause when he noted that Catholic politicians who support abortion are required to repent publicly. 

What Archbishop Burke said makes milk toast of the dismissive approach Fr. Bryan Hehir, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, and Cardinal O’Malley have displayed to those standing up for the pro-life teachings of the Catholic faith in recent months and years.

According to LifeSiteNews, in speaking to pro-life leaders from 45 nations, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the highest Vatican court) also noted that those who recognize the scandal caused by such public, dissident Catholics assist the Church in repairing a serious breach, but are nevertheless often ridiculed for it.

Let’s pause here for a moment. This is EXACTLY what happens here in Boston.  Remember the reaction of Cardinal O’Malley where he criticized faithful Catholics who complained about the 2009 Caritas Christi/Centene financial partnership that involved abortion referrals?  Remember his criticism of faithful Catholics who complained about the coronation-style funeral for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy?  Remember the Vicar General’s criticism of this blog?

Achibishop Burke stressed that:

both bishops and the faithful” must be obedient to the Magisterium – which he described as the teaching of Christ as handed down through the successor of Peter and the bishops in union with him. “When the shepherds of the flock are obedient to the Magisterium, entrusted to their exercise, then surely the members of the flock grow in obedience and proceed with Christ along the way of salvation,” he said.  “If the shepherd is not obedient the flock easily gives way to confusion and error.”

Turning to the issue of scandal within the Church, the archbishop said,

We find self-professed Catholics, for example, who sustain and support the right of a woman to procure the death of the infant in her womb, or the right of two persons of the same sex to the recognition which the State gives to a man and a woman who have entered into marriage.  It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself publicly in this manner.”

To resounding applause Burke said, “When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public.”

The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura then voiced a concern that struck a deep chord with many of the Catholic pro-life activists present at the conference. 

One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church,” he said.  “One sees the hand of the Father of Lies at work in the disregard for the situation of scandal or in the ridicule and even censure of those who experience scandal.”

The Vatican prelate concluded the point stating:

Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity.  A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church.  The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth with love.  The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life.  Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities.

(Read the complete talk – in PDF format – here)

In Catholic Bloggers faithful to the Magisterium causing harm to the community? we recapped how faithful Catholics who complained about the scandal of the over-the-top Kennedy funeral were criticized by Cardinal for their “zeal,” and their “attitudes and practices [that] do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.”  

When Caritas Christi announced a joint venture with Centene Corporation and faithful Catholics complained that it included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley responded that anyone who suggested Caritas would ever do anything to promote abortions or participate in actions contrary to Catholic moral teaching was “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church.”

When this blog highlighted and documented in extensive detail the scandalous comments by Fr. Bryan Hehir that undermined Church teachings at the risk of leading souls from salvation, Vicar General Fr. Erikson responded, ” I believe there is much on your blog that is untrue and harmful to individuals and to the Body of Christ.”  He never came up with even one example to back his unfounded claim.

“The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life.”

We invite Cardinal O’Malley and Vicar General Fr. Erikson to prayerfully consider the dramatic difference between their attitudes and the message of Archbishop Burke. 

Inspired by Archbishop Burke’s comments, very shortly we are going to up the volume level of our campaign to Bishop Coleman and the Holy See asking them to remove two people from the search committee for the new Mass Catholic Conference head who have histories of support for pro-abortion political candidates.  As Archbishop Burke said, it’s part of what we must do to invite the Church to repair what clearly poses a serious breach in Her life.

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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:

 January 2008
Logo and Mission
(click here)

Today (and as of December 2008)
Logo and Mission
(click here)


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.

Caritas Christi healthcare, 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. Our cover values are Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Excellence (CARE).

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?

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We have read and re-read the statements from the Archdiocese of Boston about the annoying problem of the Catholic bloggers and are miffed–literally beyond words–by the double-speak and deception.

Paul Melanson at La Salette Journey has an outstanding blog post on this topic well worth reading in its entirety.  He opened his blog post with this passage from Isaiah:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem!” (Isaiah 5: 20, 21).

This is what’s happening in Boston.  And what’s most concerning is that it seems to be coming from the top of the hierarchy, not just the underlings.  Here are several examples—with Caritas Christi, the Ted Kennedy funeral, and with this blog.

1) Caritas Christi

In March of 2009, after Caritas Christi announced a joint venture with Centene Corporation and faithful Catholics complained that it included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley responded with this comment to  the critics:

To be perfectly clear, Caritas Christi will never do anything to promote abortions, to direct any patients to providers of abortion or in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church. We are committed to the Gospel of Life and no arrangement will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching.

That “great disservice to the Church” pressured the Cardinal to ask the National Catholic Bioethics Center to study the deal, and then after the NCBC’s analysis was done, after several weeks of discussions with the NCBC, Caritas, and Cenetne, the original joint venture was scrapped in late June. Here’s all we heard at the time on the Cardinal’s blog:

Over that time, subsequent discussions involving Caritas Christi, the NCBC and the Archdiocese were held and the Cardinal made his final determination. The Cardinal’s role in reviewing and seeking additional guidance on this proposal is rooted in his responsibility to ensure the Catholic identity and moral character of institutions affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston, including Caritas Christi.

It would seem those people labeled as having done a “disservice to the Church” had actually done a service to the Church.

Fast forward to Friday, August 27, when we learned that Caritas Christi is moving forward with plans to acquire the secular Landmark Hospital in Rhode Island, and to keep it secular, which means they can continue to provide sterilizations and family planning services that contradict Catholic religious and moral directives.  Here’s what the Providence Journal reported:

“…the deal does not require Landmark to become a Catholic hospital or to accept the limitations of Catholic doctrine.  Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer said the hospital intended to remain secular, and Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy confirmed that, saying, “Our intent is to preserve Landmark in its current form, which includes no religious affiliation.”

In June of 2009, when discussions between Caritas and Landmark first were reported, this moral conflict was clear as reported by the Boston Globe.  Thundermist Health Center, the largest primary healthcare provider in northern Rhode Island which has contracts with Landmark expressed their concern that,

“If Landmark converts to a Catholic hospital, Thundermist could no longer provide family planning services or sterilizations there

In case you forget what Cardinal O’Malley said in March of 2009, we repeat his words again.  He said,

“Caritas Christi will never do anything …in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching.”

Is there any question that the acquisition of Landmark announced on Friday will do exactly that?  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light.

2. Ted Kennedy Funeral

We all know the story here.  For purposes of this blog, we will focus on the reaction by Cardinal O’Malley to those who criticized his presiding over the Catholic funeral  for the late Sen. Kennedy.  Here’s the Cardinal’s response, as reported in the Boston Globe on Sept 2, 2009.

One of my greatest satisfactions in my ministry thus far was helping to overturn the abortion laws in Honduras….We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts…

At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other

Let’s see.  So pro-lifers who complained about the scandal of the over-the-top Kennedy funeral were criticized by the Cardinal for their “zeal,” and their “attitudes and practices” that harm the communion of the Church.  Meanwhile the Cardinal gushed with praise for the chorus and the music at the funeral, the celebrity eulogies, and all the great works Ted Kennedy did , merely lamenting the missed opportunity had Kennedy been with us on protecting the unborn.    Fr. Roger Landry at Catholic Preachings described the situation in The Anchor as follows:

We have to add, however, that one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity. It would be very hard for an abortion-supporting Catholic politician to have watched Senator Kennedy’s very public and panegyrical funeral rites and not have concluded that the Church’s teachings on life are, in the end, a very small matter indeed. It would have been even harder for such a politician or others who support the evil of abortion to have been inspired toward conversion.  This leads to one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed.”

Cardinal O’Malley, do you agree that your strategy failed and is continuing to fail?   If you agree proclaiming the Truth is important and we will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, why are you allowing an archdiocesan conference to take place featuring a speaker who backed the pro-abortion politician, Kathleen Sebelius, for Health and Human Services Secretary who has been propagating national healthcare legislation opposed by the U.S. bishops because it permits federal funding of abortion? Why are you allowing Fr. Bryan Hehir to speak given what we have exposed here on this blog about his comments that undermined Catholic conscience exemptions and unity in the Church?  Where is the proclaiming of the Truth by the archbishop of Boston about the dignity of each and every life from conception to natural death?

George Weigel, in “The Courage to Be Catholic” said in his chapter about “Why Bishops Failed” that most Catholics want bishops who will effectively exercise the authority that is theirs, and do so in a way that challenges everyone in the Church to a holier way of life.

I think the episcopal failures of recent decades have been similar to the failures of priests: It’s fundamentally a failure in self-understanding. If a priest thinks of himself as simply another “minister,” facilitating the “ministry” of others, he isn’t going to think of himself as what the Church teaches he is — an icon, a living re-presentation of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ. And if he doesn’t think of himself as an icon of Christ, he’s going to be tempted to act in ways that contradict the commitment he’s made to Christ and the Church.

The same dynamic applies with bishops. Bishops who think of themselves primarily as managers — or worse, bishops who think of themselves as discussion-group moderators whose primary responsibility is to keep everyone “in play” — are going to be unlikely to act like apostles when the crunch comes.

Cardinal Sean, do you see yourself as a discussion group moderator whose main job is to travel, make appearances at events, blog, and keep everyone happy and “in play” or are you an icon of Jesus Christ capable of the sort of boldness seen in Matthew 21:12? Do you even want to be our day-to-day, hands-on, fully-engaged Archbishop of Boston, with the awesome responsibility for teaching, sanctifying, and governing that responsibility brings?

3) This blog

As regular readers of this blog know, the statement from the archdiocese about reaching out to the bloggers is about ¼ true and ¾ deceptive.  The part that’s true is that the Vicar General reached out and invited a conversation. But as we shared previously and in our last post, the conversation’s purpose was positioned as a one-way lecture by the Archdiocese about how we should blog in a less critical way, with nobody present from a position of authority to address the concerns and with a track record of having addressed such concerns.  Frankly, the Cardinal’s blog post of late April supportive of Fr. Hehir along with the speaker agenda for the upcoming Social Justice Conference  sends us a message the Archdiocese is not looking to act on the concerns we have raised—rather they are thumbing their noses at us.

Paul Melanson said it so well in his post that we will close with an except from his post.

The Archdiocese of Boston has engaged in dishonesty. Responding to bloggers who have raised a multitude of legitimate and very serious concerns, including the promotion of dissent from Church teaching and various scandals such as the Kennedy funeral and an event honoring Mayor Thomas Menino, who is also pro-abortion and supportive of same-sex “marriage,” the Archdiocese said in a statement that, “Cardinal O’Malley and his staff are dedicated to building unity in Christ and Christian community within the Archdiocese. Toward that end, we have reached out to bloggers on numerous occasions to ask them to enter into a professional and Christ-centered conversation with us. We are concerned about the harm caused to individuals and to the community by anonymous and unfounded claims on blogs.”

Readers of this blog know full well that when Archdiocesan officials were asked – repeatedly – to cite just one example of a post which is “inaccurate” they lapsed into silence. Harm to individuals and the community? Such harm is a result of dissent from Church teaching, not the defense of the same. It is most significant that Bishop Rene Henry Gracida has been posting articles from Catholic bloggers exposing the leaven of infidelity within the Boston Archdiocese at his wonderful Blog in a series entitled “The Boston Virus.”

Does the Archdiocese of Boston consider His Excellency to be advancing “unfounded claims” as well? Would Mr. Leccese consider Bishop Gracida to be a “dissident” as well? And how can the Archdiocese honestly claim to be dedicated to “building unity in Christ” when it is really advancing a false irenicism?

God preserve us from such nonsense!

And so while Mayor Thomas Menino, who supports abortion and same-sex “marriage” has been honored by the Archdiocese of Boston, while Father Bryan Hehir has “respect” for the Democratic National Committee (which also advances these evils), Catholic bloggers who promote and defend the Magisterial teaching of the Church are accused of harming individuals and the community.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.
Two final notes.  We offer our condolences to the family of Edward Saunders, Exec. Director of the Mass Catholic Conference on his death after a short illness.

Lastly, Wordpress has experienced some technical problems with their blog subscription system that removed some of our blog subscribers.  If you previously subscribed to get automatic emails from this blog and have not been receiving them, please re-subscribe.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

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Readers, forgive the incompleteness of this post, but with vacations and a “breaking story,” we’re going to be a bit short of words today.  Over at Caritas Christi, the healthcare network about to be sold to private equity firm, Cerberus, the spin-meisters have been saying for months that the Catholic identity would be preserved forever.  Fr. Bryan Hehir, Cardinal O’Malley, and Vicar General Erikson have also been saying the same thing, but many pro-life Catholics have been skeptical, and now we start to see why the skeptics are justified.

Over at Boston Catholic Insider, their most recent post on Cronyism says “numerous reports received indicate that (Ralph) de la Torre (Caritas’ CEO) has already authorized the removal of symbols of Catholic faith and Catholic identity at Caritas hospitals.  If anyone has photos of the lobby of St. Elizabeth Hospital before and after the portrait of Cardinal O’Malley was removed, please send them our way and the same holds for before/after photos of the statue of the Blessed Mother which has also apparently been removed from the Emergency Room area at St. E’s.  These moves would seem to validate the fears voiced previously.”

If the removal of symbols of Catholic faith and Catholic identity has already begun before the deal is even approved and finalized by the Vatican, Archdiocese, Attorney General, and SJC, then we believe Catholic faithful are entitled to know whether the Caritas Board, which includes Fr. Bryan Hehir as the Archdiocese’s representative, approved these moves.  Never ones to pass up an opportunity for a good story, we asked one of our friends over at St. Elizabeth’s to help out.  They said that the picture of Cardinal O’Malley near the entrance was actually removed more than a month ago.  Here is a photo snapped a few minutes ago  of the empty location where his picture once was:

None of the marketing brochures  promoting Caritas mention the word “Catholic” in them. We will post a scanned copy of one of the new Caritas brochures separately.

In the Catholic Church, symbols of the faith matter.  Taking down the Cardinal’s picture as the Archbishop of Boston and expunging the word “Catholic” from promotional materials are symbolic of a dismantling of the Catholic identity at Caritas, as would be the removal of statues and religious articles from the hospitals.  These moves would run counter to what has been said publicly:

The main point is that it’s designed to last forever.  That’s the prevailing hope of everyone involved, that…the Catholic tradition of Caritas Christi stays in place forever.’’ (Charles Murphy, Caritas spokesman, in the 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. 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)

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, quoted in The Pilot, May 14, 2010)

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)

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.  The agreement also allows the hospital to maintain its existing ethics committees, and allows the archdiocese to hire its own medical ethicist. Additionally, the hospitals can still provide chapels, employ chaplains, and display Catholic imagery. (The Pilot, May 14, 2010)

If Cerberus deems it is materially burdensome to maintain a Catholic identity, it can terminate the religious affiliation by making a $25 million payment to a charity of the Archdiocese of Boston’s choosing. If that happens, critics of the deal said yesterday, procedures such as abortions could one day be performed at the hospitals. Neary also said Cerberus might decide to develop some of the hospitals’ properties for other uses.  Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy… said most of the group’s complaints were unfounded. “The wild speculation engaged in today is absurd,’’ Murphy said. (Boston Globe, July 28, 2010)

We believe that Cardinal O’Malley had sincere intentions for Caritas to maintain Catholic identity post-acquisition. But the agreement and actions say otherwise.  If Caritas is already treating imagery and words that communicate Catholic identity as “burdensome” enough that they are being removed before the deal is even approved, then how can Catholic hospital workers be assured that something admittedly tougher–protecting their conscience rights for years ahead in the future–will happen as promised? (After all, their Archdiocesan Caritas board representative Fr. Hehir said in April that conscience clauses “adjudicate deeply held convictions and positions in this pluralistic society” and if we are not careful, we could harm the individual who needs abortion services).  And if Catholic imagery is being removed, how can the Archdicoese be assured that Cerberus will not quickly find that maintaining Catholic religious and ethical directives (that ban abortions and other immoral procedures) is also too “burdensome”?  Do Fr. Hehir and the Archdiocese know and approve of what is happening at Caritas already?  Who exactly is in charge?

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Readers, we just caught a new post by the folks over at Boston Catholic Insider regarding the Caritas Christi transaction that looks like it’s a worthwhile read.  It’s their Top 10 questions about the Caritas/Cerberus deal.  All merit a read, but if Question 7 in particular is true, it’s baffling to us why that would be part of the sale agreement:

If Cerberus fails to make the promised capital investments over the next four years, why does the Massachusetts Attorney General get to choose where that shortfall is donated?

Section 8.8b says, “To the extent that, by such fourth anniversary, Purchaser has failed to cause the Health Care System to spend or commit to spend no less than $400 million as provided in Section 8.8(a), Purchaser shall cause the Health Care System to contribute such shortfall to a charitable foundation designated by the Massachusetts Attorney General.”  In other words, if Cerberus doesn’t spend $200 million on improvements they committed to make to the Caritas Catholic healthcare system as part of the deal, Martha Coakley can decide to give that $200 million to the National Rifle Association or the National Organization of Women, or whomever the heck she pleases?  Who died and left Martha Coakley in that position of responsibility?  Why don’t those committed funds go back to the Archdiocese of Boston?  If Cerberus drops the Catholic identity, $25 million goes to a charity of the Archdiocese’s choice, but if they reneg on a couple hundred million of investment in the system, the Attorney General decides where that shortfall goes?  This makes no sense whatsoever.

Can Fr. Erikson or anyone from Archdiocese explain this one to us?

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I am blogging for the first time and want to make this an open blog/letter to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston regarding the situation with Fr. Bryan Hehir.

After hearing the pitch for the 2010 Catholic Appeal last weekend, my wife said something about Fr. Hehir trying to influence the direction or organization of the Mens and Womens Conferences and also something about the structure or responsibilities of the cabinet.  Posts to this blog and elsewhere confirmed what the wife heard so I feel people should say and do something.  I would ask Cardinal Sean if I could speak with him the following question: After all of the scandal Fr. Hehir has helped bring upon the Church through his words and actions, is he still really in a position of responsibility and providing advice you listen to?

Cardinal Sean, I invite you to look at this article from Catholic Culture about Fr. Hehir from several years ago. Here are just a few highlights from the article and also what we have observed over time.  I have decided I will blog more details about these that I have researched and learned more about:

  • Fr. Hehir advocated that the Church be silent in the public square regarding contraception
  • His writings on contraception have been used by Catholics for a Free Choice to oppose a conscience clause for employees of Catholic  hospitals  that would exempt them from having to provide contraceptive products and services
  • His positions on communism, nuclear disarmament, and U.S. policy in Nicaragua have all proven to be wrong
  • He hired the current head of the Mass Catholic Conference, despite the person’s history of personal donations to politicians who rabidly opposed the Church on key issues
  • He honored the pro-abortion Mayor Tom Menino at a Catholic Charities fundraiser dinner.  I think you, Cardinal Sean, pulled out from the scandal and controversy if my memory serves me correct
  • His Social Justice conferences have featured speakers or representatives of organizations who publicly dissent from Church teachings, including a woman who led a Catholic church’s participation in Boston’s Gay Pride parade
  • He defended gay adoptions by Catholic Charities as a part of a need to “balance various goods”.  As we all know, the Vatican later ruled him wrong.
  • As your liaison to Caritas Christi to maintain the hospitals Catholic identity, he neglected to head-off the Centene fiasco and scandal last year over referring patients for abortions before it exploded publicly. He also helped pick many of the Caritas Board members who contributed to the scandalous decision in the first place.
  • He serves today as a Board member of several prominent University centers that sponsor speakers who publicly dissent from Church teaching.  He has also accepted honors and awards from organizations that publicly dissent from Church teachings
  • His speaking engagements include being keynote speaker with an advocate for gay priests, and featured talks with a lesbian feminist who advocates for women priests and at a gay-friendly church in a series with a gay activist who published a graphic guide to safe gay sex

The author of the Catholic Culture article wrote in conclusion, “the Church cannot regain her health until churchmen stop promoting those who are uncommitted to her teachings and values. When someone with questionable antecedents is finally identified as complicit in an intolerable evil, the chain of advancement needs to be traced back to those who had every reason to know better. Their records too must be regarded as blemished so that their future recommendations will be ignored. This is the first step to untangling the web of ecclesiastical promotion, which is also the key to straightening out nearly everything else.”

My wife and I have to ask the question: Cardinal Sean, are you accepting or are you ignoring Fr. Hehir’s recommendations today?  If you are still accepting his advice and recommendations, I humble ask and pray that you reconsider.

I feel the future of the Catholic Church in Boston hinges on your answer to the question.

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