By Kathleen Gilbert

BOSTON, Massachusetts, September 1, 2010 ( – Catholics in New England are raising questions after it was announced that Caritas Christi, a network of Catholic hospitals, would allow a newly-acquired secular hospital in Rhode Island to ignore core Catholic medical practices. The move appears to contradict previous statements by Boston’s cardinal that Caritas Christi would remain Catholic despite being sold by the diocese.

Officials from both sides of the agreement confirmed that Landmark Medical Center of Woonsocket, RI, which provides abortion referrals, contraception, and sterilizations, would not be required to alter its medical practices, the Providence Journal reported Saturday.

Landmark submitted a signed asset-purchase agreement to Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein Friday.

“Our intent is to preserve Landmark in its current form, which includes no religious affiliation,” Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy told the Journal, confirming a statement by Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer that the hospital would remain secular.

Caritas itself is in the process of changing hands from the Archdiocese of Boston to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, a move that has yet to receive approval from the Vatican. However, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley had insisted in May that “an important part of the transaction will be the agreement that ensures the Catholic identity of the Caritas hospitals.”

“By way of an agreement with Cerberus, we will accomplish these [financial] goals and maintain the Catholic identity of our hospitals, fulfilling the mission of serving the poor and those in need while respecting Catholic medical ethics and the Gospel of Life,” said the cardinal.

The hospital chain was embroiled in controversy last year when it was on the brink of entering into a joint venture to provide the state's abortion-covering insurance. Caritas pulled out of the lucrative venture just days before the plan was to start up.

The Catholic Action League, which had put pressure on the archdiocese last year to abandon the state insurance plan, called the move to keep Landmark secular “a disturbing harbinger of the likely future secularization of Caritas itself.” 

“It is now clear that what remains of the Catholic identity of Caritas Christi is being progressively abandoned, that the Archdiocese of Boston has consented to this abandonment, and that neither the Archdiocese nor Caritas is being forthright with the public and with the Catholic community about the consequences of this policy,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle.

Multiple calls to the Archdiocese of Boston were unanswered as of press time Wednesday.


Cardinal Sean O'Malley

66 Brooks Drive

Braintree, MA 02184

Telephone: 617-254-0100 

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