Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Caritas Christi Kerfuffle Gets an Extreme Makeover in the Pilot

Several readers and colleagues brought to my attention the Pilot article written by Scot Landry responding to criticism over the Caritas sale and the Cardinal's lack of concern about Catholic identity.

Scot has brought a great deal of faithful teaching in Boston to Catholic adults (including priests) who are starving for it. Among the things he's done is running a solid and inspirational Women's and Men's Conference with phenomenal speakers.  (Some of you may know Scot's brother Fr. Roger Landry who is a serious physician of souls dedicated to bringing God's people to salvation.)  I respect Scot.

So, what do I think about Scot's article?

Why now is the diocese addressing this and why Scot?  Seems strange after all this time.   Is it the damage done by Phil Lawler's article - Terms of the Agreement?

In any event, I think Scot makes some valid points about the financial mess Caritas was in. But he doesn't convince me, for a lot of reasons.

The Democratic party has long had plans to take over the healthcare system in the United States.    Jack Connors as we like to say here in Boston "coincidentally" is a very big player in the Democratic party.  Connors, in fact, co-chaired the 2004 convention, the convention where Barack Obama made his political debut.  (For non-Boston readers, Connors is playing a co-Cardinal role which he shares with Bryan Hehir)

Caritas President Ralph de la Torre wanted to be a player in the plan.  Here's his introduction:   Open letter to Obama written on January 23, 2009.

Mr. de la Torre, made contributions and lined up others to make contributions to Martha Coakley  (among others) presumably to shore up the plans with political power.  ( Last year, de la Torre raised a million dollars for the Democratic party and  Obama made a personal visit to de la Torre in his home in West Newton.  I wonder if he got a pen!)

Everyone here following the minutia of these shady dealings (and this is purely educated political conjecture) thinks there will be a big "TA DA" when de la Torre is finished building this network of national hospitals: Jack Connors Partner's Health Care will gobble up the empire in an acquisition that will be working to accomplish Obamacare's objective of nationalized medicine.

When the plan is finished, the rights of Catholics to conscientiously object to withholding  treatment or killing a life the government has determined is worthless will have more far-reaching national consequences to Catholics.

By the way -- this is very simple.  We have a man here - de la Torre - with narcissistic ambition who sees the plan of Obama and he's decided he's going to be sitting pretty to make Obama an offer he can't refuse.  There is no 'conspiracy' here.   This is how political and social ambition come together in any mission.    As the government inches along, at some point they are going to need a network of hospitals to give cheap healthcare to the masses. "Guess who" will be sitting with the network.  This guy is very, very smart.     We have smart people on the side of the sanctity of life too, but sadly very few of them are at our Chanceries.  Smart people have the tendency to point out where mistakes are being made and things are going to go haywire.   We all know what happens when you try to tell Chancery folks that their ideas are unsound and dangerous to children.   Smart people get shunned and maligned and up goes a fortress of willful ignorance.

There's a Hitler or Goebbels quote that goes something like masses of people are more likely to fall victim to a big lie than a small one because they won't realize what's happening to them.  Of course what happened here, with all of these democratic players, is momentum in the trajectory of Obama's Obamacare and nationalized medicine. 

As it stands now, we had to promise that when women come into our primary care physicians and want an abortion Catholics will give out information that is neutral and send the child in her womb in a taxi cab to be executed.   The Cardinal agreed to let members of the Commonwealth go into examination rooms "if necessary" to make sure we are compliant with this contractual obligation.  The Cardinal signed off on this. He is not a stupid man and knows Catholics are now forced into doing something that condemns to death a living human being. It is sinful - possibly to the point of excommunication - I don't know - but it is a very serious thing he has forced us into.   I am not up for excusing his behavior with ignorance.    He has abdicated and it is about time we all start saying it out loud.  

You can't say that the Cardinal takes Catholic identity seriously when the man he has delegated (Bryan Hehir) has put the fox in the henhouse.  If the Cardinal took Catholic identity seriously, or Catholic doctrine or Canon Law - he'd be putting people in place that took it seriously.   Hehir has been working to extinguish the rights of Catholics to recuse themselves from doing something immoral to a sick and unhealthy patient.   Last year, Hehir even had the gall to sit on a panel beside an MGH doctor who does second trimester abortions and is working for the right to give the unborn a lethal injection before he decapitates them. Hehir's contribution essentially, was to say it isn't fair for Catholics to have conscience protections because it impacts the rights of patients to receive these medical services.  Conscience protections threatens social justice.   He calls his theory on Catholic conscience protections "Fair Adjudication".    I don't know how fair it is to the victims for a Catholic priest to sit on a panel affirming the services of the doctor who decapitates them, but there you have it. 

Maybe the Cardinal is ignorant of this too - but it isn't for lack of people trying to tell him that he's ignorant of all these facts, that's for sure.  More on that in a minute.

Scot's financial assertions seem reasonable.  But saying Caritas Christi was insolvent doesn't fly with me because Mr. de la Torre was and is quite capable of drumming up investors and making hospitals solvent.    Recently, de la torre's abilities to build a successful network of hospitals and make them succesful was highlighted in this article HERE.

Steward Health Care System chief executive Ralph de la Torre, making his debut at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, told investors this morning that he plans to take his company's Massachusetts cluster of community hospitals national.

"Our national model is really about replicating our regional model and keeping a very small centralized structure," he said.

De la Torre said Steward is building a model of lower-cost, high-volume patient care that is much different from larger hospital organizations such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, and Mayo Clinic.

Cheap healthcare for high volumes of people.  Sound familiar? 

Catholics educated on more details than the average Pilot reader have a difficult time swallowing that on the one hand, de la Torre's claims he was incapable of building a model of lower-cost,high-volume patient care, keeping a very centralized structure with the six hospitals at Caritas Christi because on the other hand, he is out in the public square, now as the CEO of Caritas' parent company, saying he knows just how to do it. And, he says he is so successful, he is taking his Caritas model national.

Does he know how to do it or doesn't he? If he knows how to do it, then he was perfectly capable of doing it when the hospitals were Catholic and owned by the diocese.    That was his job.  Caritas was in fact making a profit by the time the Cardinal 'sold' them.  

This profit even allowed them to come up with the money to purchase two more (non-Catholic) failing hospitals. A  miraculous infusion of cash from wallets they were trying to claim were empty, isn't it?

You'll also note the claim in Scot's article that the Cardinal was ignorant of his contractual performance obligations to carry out abortions in the arrangement with Commonwealth Care.  According to the article, he was also ignorant of the related business arrangements and contracts that carried out the agreement of the diocese to provide abortions with Centene.  Additionally, he was ignorant about the acquisition of Landmark.   This is all believable up to a point, but it isn't excusable.

It appears from the article that if it weren't for newspapers, the Cardinal wouldn't know a thing about what's going on in his own diocese.     Isn't this how pedophiles got away with that they got away with for years?

This is just an observation here - but a puff piece on how ignorant the Cardinal was on very serious things going down in his diocese is kinda sorta enabling isn't it?   It's going in the opposite direction of the solution to all the people running amok with authority that belongs to the role of a Cardinal while he runs around planet earth being the Charles Kuralt of the Episcopal Conference.

So let's think this through...

The Cardinal appointed Bryan Hehir to represent him on the Board of Directors at Caritas.    Since Bryan Hehir is required to sign resolutions approving such transactions as a member of the board it is not possible for him to claim ignorance.  Assuming Scot's explanation is true, Hehir kept the Cardinal in the dark, even when Catholics stepped forward to communicate the information to him.

Here's where that starts to fall apart for me.   It's been a while since I read the by-laws and structure of Caritas - but I'm pretty sure the signature of the Cardinal was required on the contracts. But let's use the lowest common denominator and assume Bryan Hehir gave the Cardinal's permission for the diocese to take the major stockholder position in a partnership that is going to performing abortions on women and then kept him in the dark about it.

Quite scandalous, wouldn't you say?

Once Catholics stepped forward to tell the Cardinal, because Hehir keeps him in the dark, the Cardinal thinks and then characterizes them on his blog as liars and people doing a disservice to the Church.

And once the Cardinal finds out about all this he didn't fire Hehir?

This begs the question - what other kinds of dishonesty and deception is the Cardinal coddling up there at Chancery?  

If I remember correctly, the Cardinal claimed he didn't know how to figure out whether the diocese could provide abortions to women for the Commonwealth by registering a business who made contracts with abortionists and send the women to abortion clinic in a taxi cab if necessary was in keeping with Catholic ethics.  He thought about it and thought about and he just didn't see anything wrong with it.   After a lot of noise from lay Catholics, he outsourced his conscience to the National Catholic Bioethics Center who eventually unraveled the deal with Centene.   The diocese became a provider of physican services for Centene.  The new arrangment upheld the promise on the contractual obligations they made to the Commonwealth to send the women for abortions in a taxi to the abortionists Centene contracted with.    This might not have saved any children, it didn't protect the Catholics from being forced into providing neutral information on abortion and sending them in a cab - but it did stop the diocese from making the money they would make as a shareholder.

For about a year during this dust up, people called the Cardinal, faxed him, sent him emails, approached him physically at meetings and after Mass to speak to him about the abortion contracts.  We gave the information to the Nuncio, the Holy See, other Bishops, other high-ranking lay Catholics and asked them to intercede.  Reports came back that the Cardinal was completely silent in the face of these communications.  Others got letters confirming that any source saying the diocese was involved in abortion contracts was not giving out accurate information.   Others said they were ordered to be silent by the Cardinal.  The Cardinal did not retract his slanderous remarks about Catholic pro-lifers.    Meanwhile numerous glowing entries praising Bryan Hehir appear on the Cardinal's blog on a frequent basis.

Here's one that is particularly offensive:

We are pleased to announce that Father J. Bryan Hehir, Cabinet Secretary for Social Services and Health Care, has been invited to participate in a symposium hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican this coming October. The topic for the symposium is “Caritas in veritate and the United States” and is the result of a joint collaboration with the Pontifical Council and the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is a ministry of the Holy See dedicated to promoting justice, peace and human rights throughout the world. Pope Benedict XVI, in his latest encyclical, Caritas in veritate, speaks to the issues of “integral human development” and what justice means in today’s global economy.

Father Hehir is an international expert in the area of ethics and foreign policy and the role of religion across the global landscape and in American society. His work has encompassed a broad range of challenges that he has met with distinction, including taking leadership of Catholic Charities USA two days prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He very carefully and capably guided that agency through some of our nation’s most difficult hours, ensuring that Charities’ essential services continued to be provided during the crisis. He also served on the staff of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressing issues of both foreign and domestic policy for the Church in the United States.
I am very grateful to Father Hehir for his continued service to the Archdiocese of Boston as priest, cabinet secretary, strategic advisor and professor and for his long standing commitment to pastoral ministry in the prisons, our parishes and with Pro-Life ministries.

A likening to Hehir's career as 'charity in truth' was particularly offensive to Boston Catholics who, unlike the Cardinal, are educated and informed on Hehir's demolition of Catholic identity in Catholic Charities, Catholic healthcare, Catholic education, Catholic governance and doing everything they can to inform the Cardinal around the fortress set up to protect the blissful and willful ignorance.  

Here's the centuries old game in the Catholic Church of willful ignorance:  The Cardinal has an agenda makes plans, hires people to carry out those plans, surrounds himself with a cabal who will threaten, slander and demoralize people of good will who try to report to the Cardinal the theological, spiritual moral and sometimes criminal disorder swirling around the execution of his plans.

My thoughts are, I don't really think the article is helpful towards believing the Cardinal's trajectory is one of honor and truth.

Of recent vintage, the Cardinal misused a quote from the Pope claiming it was his license for his policy dismantling the Catholic identity of our Catholic schools.

“No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.”   (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Catholic Educators in Washington DC, April 17, 2008.)"

Assuming he was ignorant of context of this quote, numerous people informed him that the context was about ensuring Catholic children who could not afford a Catholic education and wanted one, would receive the financial help they need.    Families who oppose Catholic teaching don't have the 'right' to Catholic education.  Decisions to deny them admission are made by people who realize that making classrooms donnybrooks actually denies the Catholic children the right to their education in the faith and the nurturing of their souls.    

Call it what you will - but the Cardinal was informed it was a dishonest use of the quote and he approved using it so I'm just going to say how it is perceived - deliberate dishonesty used to execute Bryan Hehir's decades old agenda of divesting Catholic education of moral theology and reducing it to social justice.

Boston bloggers will have more on this - but if you're interested in getting ahead on the trajectory of Catholic education under Bryan Hehir's regime - check out the youtube of Hehir's explanation embedded in Cardinal Sean's blog.  (I'll give you a hint on one little tidbit - the identity of Catholic education can be explained in the second collection at Mass - supporting The Catholic Campaign for Human Development.)  

Scot is trying to make an honest tapestry out of a web of lies to salvage the Cardinal's reputation as a forthright and honorable man interested in preserving Catholic identity for future generations in his role as a Catholic Cardinal here in Boston.  I understand the reasons why. Scot is a unifer, a peacemaker.  But the credibility and trustworthiness of the Cardinal has been deeply wounded.  Taking the pulse of informed hands-on committed and educated grassroots Catholics I would say irreparably.

There are too many instances where dishonest PR campaigns were mounted to publicly rebuke and undermine people who were trying to inform him of what he claims he did not know.  What he was accountable to know.   What people who informed him know he knows.   There is no honest pursuit of truth. The trust is gone and puff pieces are only going to pour gasoline on the flames.

Those are my thoughts on the article.  I don't mean to pick on Scot, but we've got to stop protecting the fortress of willful ignorance and publicly admit that the Cardinal has abdicated, things are going haywire here and we need official help from the Vatican.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Carol, for laying out things so simply and persuasively. I'll pass this along to others in my parish. Now, you mentioned a few posts ago some kind of campaign you bloggers were considering. Can you give us any more information?


Anonymous said...

Also -- There's a must-read article on Bernadin and his sad legacy (including the Boston crisis) at First Things: