Commentary by Judie Brown

See Part I of this two part series.

May 27, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The events in the Archdiocese of Boston that brought about the unbelievably bad news regarding the “joint venture” between Caritas Christi Health Care System and the Centene Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri, continue to unfold at a fast and furious pace.

In view of the public reports that Massachusetts regulators had approved a joint venture between the two entities in early March 2009, public expressions of alarm grew. Concerned Catholics could not help but see that this union would result in Caritas Christi being complicit in some way with providing for, or referring for surgical abortion, medical abortion, contraceptives or sterilization procedures – each of which are considered unacceptable according to Catholic teaching and Catholic health-care ethics.

In early March 2009, headlines and subsequent expressions of serious concern finally led to Cardinal Seán O’Malley’s first statement on the announced business partnership. In response to the questions being asked, Cardinal O’Malley issued this statement:

While I appreciate the opportunity given to Caritas Christi to serve the poor through this agreement, I wish to reaffirm that this agreement can only be realized if the moral obligations for Catholic hospitals as articulated in the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are fulfilled at all times and in all cases. In order to assure me that this agreement will provide for the integrity of the Catholic identity and practices of Caritas Christi Health Care System, I have asked theNational Catholic Bioethics Centerto review the agreement and to assure me that it is faithful to Catholic principles.

The cardinal’s words might have set aside concerns for most Catholics if the fear had not persisted that an acceptable compromise was being forged in the shadows without all of the facts being presented by the cardinal’s office and/or the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC).

One observer astutely told me:

The legalistic fig leafs floated by the [a]rchdiocese so far cannot, and do not, conceal the glaring fact that, by entering into a partnership with Centene, and by agreeing to the immoral requirements of the Massachusetts universal health-care insurance program, Caritas will necessarily be doing and profiting from immoral services that are directly contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Another concerned Catholic wrote in a letter addressed to officials at the NCBC:

You should know that in March of 2008, Attorney General Martha Coakley in her role of overseeing public charities, released a public report with the assertions that the Catholic Church was mismanaging the Caritas Christi Health Care System, and pressured the [a]rchdiocese to cede control of the operation of Caritas Christi Health Care System so that an independent board with expertise in healthcare management can run it.

This indicates the presence of serious financial problems, which might have led, at least in part, to the inauspicious announcement of the venture and back room negotiations that were obviously ongoing.

It is apparent from what we have been able to discern that since the initial announcement of the joint venture between Caritas Christi and the Centene Corporation, details have been either vague or simply do not exist. We have further learned that as of this writing the NCBC has not issued any type of definitive statement involving the acceptance or rejection of the agreement.

Catholic Action League said it best on May 19,

In the continuing controversy over the decision of Caritas Christi Health Care – a network of six Catholic hospitals affiliated with the Boston Archdiocese – to seek a state contract, which will require abortion referrals, there have been several new developments.

 

- On May 4, 2009, CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts announced that Richard D. Lynch had been appointed Plan President and Chief Executive Officer. Based in their new corporate office in Brighton, CeltiCare is a managed care organization that will provide health insurance to Massachusetts residents enrolled in the Commonwealth Care program. CeltiCare’s participation in the Commonwealth Care contract comes as a result of the partnership between Caritas Christi and the Centene Corporation, whose wholly owned subsidiary, the Celtic Insurance Company, is the parent organization of CeltiCare.

 

- In response to an inquiry from the Catholic Action League, Brian Delaney, Director of Communications for CeltiCare, stated on May 11 that, “CeltiCare’s program has been approved by the Massachusetts Connector Authority. Under the contract, CeltiCare will be operational July 1, 2009, and will meet all the [s]tate’s requirements under the Commonwealth Care program, including providing family planning services as appropriate.” Assertions to the contrary by Cardinal O’Malley notwithstanding, this is the third time since February 26 that a representative of the Caritas/Centene partnership has affirmed that the Commonwealth Care contract will include abortion and contraception.

 

- It has now been more than two months since Cardinal O'Malley requested an advisory opinion on the contract from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. On May 14, Fr. Tadeuscz Pacholczyk, [d]irector of [e]ducation for NCBC, stated that, “The NCBC is not able to comment regarding on-going, confidential consultations. Your best source of information would probably be the Archdiocese or perhaps Caritas Christi.” Later, when asked if the opinion had been given to the Archdiocese, another NCBC official told the League “I’m not at liberty to say.”

 

- On May 3, at the annual convention of the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus, the State Council repudiated a resolution by former District Deputy Joseph B. Craven Jr. opposing the Caritas contract with Commonwealth Care. The State Council ruled the measure “rejected” and “out of order,” an impossibility under parliamentary procedure. State Officers claimed that an unnamed Archdiocesan official (reportedly one of the Cardinal’s two secretaries), stated that the resolution contained unspecified factual errors. Deacon John Baniukiewicz then told assembled delegates that “We can’t be more Catholic than the Church,” and “We can’t tell the Cardinal what to do.” The measure was defeated.

 

Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle made the following comment: “It is clear that the Caritas/Centene partnership is proceeding with all deliberate speed towards the July 1 start-up date of the Commonwealth Care contract, while the Archdiocese continues its efforts to suppress Catholic opposition to the arrangement. Given the prolonged uncertainty about the nature, or even the public availability of the NCBC advisory opinion, one might reasonably surmise that the Cardinal’s request for their involvement was a public relations tactic intended to buy time and diffuse pro-life opposition. Catholics need to keep the pressure up on the Archdiocese to cancel the contract, and they need to keep Rome informed.”

According to the Boston Rescuer, Bill Cotter, head of Boston’s Operation Rescue and one of the heroic pro-life leaders of the state of Massachusetts “believes the archdiocese was taken off guard by the Caritas move. ‘But,’ he said, ‘there’s been a terrible loss of credibility for the archdiocese. It must forgo the potential financial gain and refuse this pact with the devil.’”

As we mentioned yesterday, American Life League is well aware of the health-care plans being orchestrated by the Obama administration. We are equally aware of President Barack Obama’s track record of using Catholics to his advantage and their willingness, for whatever reason, to be used. Obama’s relatively short history of appointments of totally pro-abortion Catholics, the Notre Dame scandal and other such events lead us to suspect that if the Archdiocese of Boston remains silent and does not demand immediate dissolution of the “joint venture” agreement, the death knell for genuine Catholic health care will have been sounded.

The evil that has gone unaddressed by Cardinal O’Malley, and persists in the context of unanswered questions and absent policies based on Catholic doctrine is scripted by the devil himself. Of that, there is no doubt.

American Life League cannot be silent while such a dastardly plan moves forward with nary a whimper.

It should be obvious that the Archdiocese of Boston could, either knowingly or unknowingly, become the first Catholic casualty as it falls beneath the Obama nationalized health-care bulldozer. Clearly if the Archdiocese of Boston succumbs to dollars over dogma, the end result could devastate Catholic health care nationwide.

As the wise director of Catholic Action League, C.J. Doyle, told Kathleen Gilbert of LifeSiteNews.com:

If Caritas actually intended to accept tax dollars while evading state demands for abortion coverage, every voice on the political left would be raised against it – in the media, in the [l]egislature, and among the advocacy groups. Instead, we have heard nothing but silence from the usual adversaries of the Church.

The only solution is for Caritas to withdraw from the contract.

If there is a morally acceptable justification for all of this, the archdiocese has not disclosed it, notwithstanding three months of raging public scandal. Not only that, but regardless of public opinion that there is little the archdiocese could do in this situation, our perspective is that there is plenty they could do, starting with revocation of the contract itself.

Want to voice your concern? Please do so, writing respectfully but firmly to Seán Cardinal O’Malley. Remember: time is of the essence.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184
Telephone: 617-254-0100
e-mail form:
http://www.bostoncatholic.org/ContactUs.aspx