The furor over the July 1 deadline facing Sean Cardinal O’Malley, of the Archdiocese of Boston, has been newsworthy for many weeks. Meanwhile, however, the clock is ticking and the fear is that Caritas Christi’s agreement with CeltiCare will go into effect with nary a whimper from the decision makers at the chancery. That would indeed be a tragedy of no small proportions.
As we said in our statement of this past Friday,
While Catholics and pro-lifers around the country await a definitive statement from the Archdiocese of Boston indicating that it will not participate in or facilitate abortions or other procedures contrary to Catholic teaching, Cardinal O’Malley’s latest statement raises even more questions.
The archdiocese has acknowledged that an agreement has been reached with Celtic Group, Inc. – a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Centene Corporation – for a joint healthcare venture. We know that CeltiCare includes abortion and “family planning services” in its coverage and has promised to continue this policy after July 1.
The archdiocese’s statement also acknowledged that the agreement requires modification. This is a positive step, but certainly not acceptable as a final answer.
What is disconcerting is that Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston archdiocese have thus far failed to clearly explain how abortion and “family planning services” will not occur in Catholic healthcare facilities. The terms of CeltiCare’s contract with the state government specifically require coverage for abortions and other “reproductive health” services. How then could Caritas Christi – which owns 49 percent of the for-profit CeltiCare – justify its involvement and direct connection with this business while adhering to the Catholic Church’s unequivocal teachings on abortion, contraception and sterilization?
Even if patients seeking abortions or contraception will be outsourced to a third-party referral service, this does not remove the archdiocese’s culpability for involvement in procedures that violate the Church’s fundamental moral teachings.
Most concerning of all is the following quote from Mr. Ralph de la Torre, president of Caritas Christi: ‘When a patient seeks such a procedure, Caritas health care professionals will be clear that (a) the hospital does not perform them and (b) the patient must turn to his or her insurance for further guidance’ [emphasis added].
Boston Catholic commentator Carol McKinley responded well to this statement: When the patient “turns to his or her insurance company,” they are “turning” to the “HMO” [of] which the Cardinal and Caritas are co-owners, [CeltiCare]. Therefore, the Cardinal and Caritas are providing these services…
With the exception of removing family planning, abortion, sterilization, embryonic stem cell research and other moral evils covered under the HMO the Cardinal has an ownership interest in, there is no conceivable modification to the arrangement that could ever be in compliance with Catholic moral teaching.
Incrementally separating the Boston archdiocese from committing an abortion or from the provision of contraception, sterilization and other such ‘services’ does not negate the fact that, through this agreement, Catholic hospitals will ultimately be referring mothers to abortion and/or contraception facilities such as Planned Parenthood, if the deal between Caritas Christi and CeltiCare remains as it is now written.
Cardinal O’Malley can stop this today with one word. We beg Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston archdiocese to prevent yet another scandal by providing a clear defense of Catholic moral teaching, rather than a pact driven far more by financial interests than fidelity to the Catholic faith.
Further, McKinley, who is no stranger to controversy or making sure all the facts add up, wrote this last Saturday:
Can a Catholic Cardinal bid on a contract that includes performing abortions, give written assurances they will either perform them or contract with people outside of their network to perform them, create an entity to send the women to the abortionists and take 49% ownership in that entity who then hires subcontractors to perform abortions, hires bilingual phone operators who will give the woman the number of the abortionists they've subcontracted, tell their employees at the hospital to give the number out of their 49% owned corporation?
What level of ownership interest can they take in the set up that would make the arrangement consistent with the Gospel of Life and Catholic theology?
After they have set this all up, can they then submit a revision of a partnership agreement to reduce their interests to 3% ownership in the arrangement?
1% ownership in the arrangement?
After you bid on a contract that compels you to promise to perform abortions and you promise in writing to perform them – what is the structure in a corporation that the Cardinal can claim his arrangement meets compliance with Catholic ethics?
When the Cardinal placed members of NARAL as his Advisory Board Members in his new business venture, what kind of advice to you suppose he is seeking? What are the ramifications of such advice?
McKinley and the majority of those concerned about this grave situation in the Boston archdiocese have asked how, in God’s name, this agreement with the secular corporate structure of CeltiCare could possibly concur with the teachings of the Catholic Church, as set forth in Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae. Try as we might, we cannot find a statement in either encyclical letter that justifies accepting a little bit of evil in exchange for an allegedly greater good. As a matter of fact, Pope John Paul II taught,
The moral conscience, both individual and social, is today subjected, also as a result of the penetrating influence of the media, to an extremely serious and mortal danger: that of confusion between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life.
The condition the Holy Father described is so evident in so many corners of the culture today that we have to ask ourselves if perhaps, in his quest to aid the poor and needy in his archdiocese, the cardinal and his advisors felt pressured into making this deal for altruistic reasons. Perhaps they feel compelled to act without seriously considering the questions we and so many others have raised. While serving the poor is indeed a noble goal, this plan’s consequences are so serious that we have adamantly called for a reexamination of the agreement and dissolution of the contract before July 1.
Phil Lawler, a well-known Catholic commentator and reporter, examined the matter and wrote,
While pro-life activists in Boston have pleaded for Caritas Christi to withdraw from the CeltiCare initiative, abortion advocates have also been watching the situation closely and demanding reassurance that the new state-funded agency will impose no restrictions on access to abortion. The efforts of abortion advocates– unlike those of pro-life activists– have been successful. The Boston Globe reported:
Brian Delaney, a spokesman for CeltiCare, said an abortion rights group, NARAL Pro-Choice of Massachusetts, will serve on an advisory group for the health plan but he did not know whether any Catholic groups would be on the panel.
Boston archdiocesan officials have stressed that no abortions will be performed at the hospitals of the Caritas Christi chain. That claim is not in dispute. The question is whether Caritas Christi, through its partnership in CelticCare, will provide– and perhaps even profit from– abortions performed at other facilities. CeltiCare advertisements indicate that Planned Parenthood will be enlisted to provide "reproductive services."
The bottom line is that NARAL and Planned Parenthood’s involvement is the proverbial straw that has finally broken the camel’s back and thus the Archdiocese of Boston is officially ending the charade. But, as of this moment, neither the word “abortion” nor the abortion cartel’s involvement have been mentioned in a single archdiocesan document or statement. How can that be?
What is it going to take for the Archdiocese of Boston’s officials to take definitive action? Please keep them in your prayers and continue to communicate your concerns to them. The clock is ticking; the hour is late; the Boston Massacre of 2009 could be just around the corner …
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM, Cap.
Cardinal Archbishop of Boston
Office of the Cardinal
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184-3839