Posts Tagged ‘caritas christi’

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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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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