The world of medical care is always under the gun due to costs. It is has changed so radically in the last 40 years that it would make your head spin. The Church has for 2000+ years been at the center of healthcare around the world. I can think of the hospices at the cathedrals, monasteries, parish churches, roadside stations. Historically, no cathedral church would be without facilities to welcome the stranger, care for the ill person or instruct the ignorant. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy were always and without reservation kept fresh in our daily activities and living the Gospel. In Connecticut we are blessed to have several hospital centers that were founded by religious sisters following the example of the Lord and then the Apostles in healing the sick and caring for those in need of certain medical attention in body, mind or spirit.
In today’s New Haven Register (26 April 2012) I read the article about the merging of Yale New Haven Hospital with Saint Raphael’s Hospital, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (Convent Station, NJ) with great interest because I wanted to know what was being done about the Catholic nature of Saint Raphael’s. I got my answer. The article reported,
“The first thing we wrestled with was the question of Catholicity, and the sisters were incredibly engaged and courageous and made this decision [to merge with the secular hospital] that it was more important to meet the mission in New Haven than to retain official Catholicity.”
What exactly does it mean say that a Catholic hospital should be able “to meet the mission in New Haven” and divorce itself from the Catholicism? With a Catholic hospital is there a mission without the gospel of Jesus Christ? How can the Sisters of Charity abort their mission to heal based on the charism of their order to easily?
Without a doubt the merger seems to be a good thing, though I am skeptical as to why an alternative like working with a Catholic healthcare organization could not be worked out. Clearly the Sisters of Charity and the CEO Christopher O’Connor are being opportunistic for the bottom line and not too respectful of Christ’s mission through the Church. The Catholicity of any organization in the Church is not lipstick on a pig. The Catholicity is the heart and mind of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it in light of following Christ.
The Sisters of Charity aided by Christopher O’Connor care little, it seems, for the sacramentality of medical care and the care of the whole person as passed down to us by Christ, the Apostles, the Archdiocese of Hartford and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
AND we wonder why the Church wants to reform the Leadership Conference Women Religious. If you throw Christ under the bus, there is no reason why we need groups like the LCWR. They are as one may think, not following Christ and the Church too closely, not thinking with the Church.