Whenever someone starts talking to me about the state of Catholic health care in this country, I have to admit that my eyes start to glaze over a bit. What with mergers and takeovers and everything else on the table these days, the subject can quickly become unmanageable, like a many-tentacled monster. In the current issue of America, however, Daniel P. Sulmasy, a Franciscan Brother and medical doctor I've interviewed many times for OSV news stories, does a great job of unraveling the mess, although he probably hasn't won himself many friends in New York. Sulmasy also addresses some interesting sub-topics, among them a lack of Catholic philanthropy and an increase in the secularization of the Catholic population, that have added to the health care crisis. I found those sub-topics as interesting and perhaps even more revealing than the main point of the story.
"Today many Catholics have risen to prominence and have amassed great wealth. Catholic philanthropy, however, while often generous to direct service projects, does much less to support educational, cultural and health care institutions...It is a great irony: Catholics complain that they do not influence culture, but when they have the resources to make a difference, they tend not to support the institutions that can achieve such influence," Sulmasy writes.
Good point, as is his commentary that Catholics are "opting for secular values," stripping away "a culture, a spirit and a community of faith" that once thrived. Years ago, people would choose a Catholic hospital or Catholic college over a secular one simply because they wanted the Catholic values that went along with it. Today that brand loyalty is fading -- or has already faded past the point of rescue -- and, as a result, Catholic institutions across the board are suffering.
Sulmasy does a good job of putting the state of Catholic health care into a broader context. To read the full article, click here.