Monday April 26, 2010

Former Board Member Blasts Nuns for Opposing USCCB, Supporting Health Bill

By James Tillman

COLUMBIA, South Carolina, April 26, 2010 ( – A former board member of the Sisters of Charity Foundation has blasted Providence Hospital and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in South Carolina, for having endorsed the pro-abortion health care reform bill that was opposed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and by countless pro-life organizations.

Instead of adopting the position of the USCCB that the bill lacked sufficient protections for conscience rights and the unborn, the religious order followed the lead of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), which threw the American Church into turmoil after it defied the bishops and supported the health bill just days before the final vote.

Kevin Hall, who resigned from the board after the religious order put its weight behind the bill, recently wrote of his dismay over the situation: “While the bishops and millions of ordinary Catholics – Democrat and Republican alike – were working hard to promote reform that protected the poor and protected the unborn and protected the consciences of health care workers, Providence and the Sisters of Charity ended up supporting a bill endorsed by the likes of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

“Such strange company should have been a clue to the sisters and Providence that their efforts were seriously misguided.”

Providence Hospitals is a non-profit organization in the Midlands area of South Carolina, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity Health System. When the health care reform bill passed, Sisters of Charity Health System CEO and President, Sr. Judith Ann Karam, released a statement saying that “this is an important day for all Americans.”

She continued: “This law will help extend quality health care coverage to 32 million Americans and contains important insurance market reforms.”

“The measure offers real health care solutions while respecting the dignity of life.”

Hall said that he only learned of the Sisters’ position from that press release, because they had neglected to brief their board on their position. “That was, needless to say, disappointing,” he told

He also explained that the Sisters’ had essentially taken for granted that the Catholic Health Association’s (CHA) position was correct without performing any sort of independent analysis. CHA President Sr. Carol Keehan had admitted that the bill was not “perfect” but thought that it was a “major first step” and a “historic opportunity to make great improvements in the lives of so many Americans.”

“As a Catholic, I find it crushing to see our hospitals, once uniquely Christian ministries, go the way of secular health care where financial and political considerations rule the day,” wrote Hall. “Fortunately, Sister Keehan does not speak for most Catholics or for the Church. It is terribly disappointing that she does speak for Providence Hospital and the Sisters of Charity.”

Sr. Karam responded to Hall’s accusations, however, by saying that “we have long championed health care reform that expands coverage while protecting life from the moment of conception to death.”

She continued: “Through our own analysis, we strongly believe, and are in accord with the Catholic Health Association and other health care providers, that this law would not provide federal funding for abortions and includes many safeguards to ensure this does not happen.”

“To be very clear, our hospitals and our health system will never support legislation that allows federal funds for abortion.”

Yet such an argument is unconvincing to Hall.

“As [the Sisters of Charity Foundation’s] immediate past president,” he wrote, “I fear that Providence and the sisters have done a grave disservice to the unborn, to the church and to parishioners everywhere.”

“When the chips were down, Providence Hospital was not faithful to the bishops’ leadership or the truth they professed on behalf of the church.”

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USCCB President Slams Catholic Health Association Support for Health Bill

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