Hear, Hear, for Sean Cardinal O’Malley!

After weeks of waffling on what to do on the delicate issue of providing low-income health care to Boston residents, Cardinal O’Malley finally made what appears to be the best possible decision. The problem, in short, is this: the state has a low-income health-care program, but to be a provider, you have to provide abortions (state law requires it). In a boneheaded move, Caritas Christi (in a joint ventureship with Celtic Group) bid on, and won, the right to be that provider. Ideally, the reason for this was because they were devoted to helping out the underserved and less fortunate (other theories have been that Caritas Christi has been failing, and a government contract was the only way to stay afloat: having no knowledge of their financials, I can’t say).

In any case, the idea of an abortion provided courtesy of the Catholic Church was… how should I say this… “unpopular” amongst authentic Catholics. Even providing a referral to abortion providers is against the stance of the Catholic Church, and is supposedly off-limits to Catholic healthcare providers (although as always, there is an implicit exception for Jesuit education). Cardinal O’Malley stepped into this controversy, seemingly out of necessity, and seemed quite eager for it just to go away. He was left with an admittedly unpleasant decision: provide (or refer for) abortions, or cut off healthcare to those who most need it. The former would have brought down the wrath of the Vatican and (eventually) God. The latter would have brought down the wrath of the Boston Globe and liberal Boston muckity-mucks. A tough decision all around.

Ok, let’s be fair: all joking aside, providing healthcare to the underserved is something which the Church really does need to be doing. Obviously, killing baby poor people is a bad way to do this, but providing Catholic healthcare is a great way. And Cardinal O’Malley, faced with this solution, found what sounds like the perfect solution. Here’s how Richard Lynch, the chief executive of CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts, put it:

“effective today, Caritas has withdrawn their ownership position in CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts. Celtic Group Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation) now owns 100% of the company. Caritas Christi will continue to participate as a key part of the CeltiCare provider network. The arrangement in no way affects the operations of CeltiCare Health, and we look forward to delivering quality health care services to our members starting on July 1st.”

So if I’m understanding this correctly, Caritas Christi goes from doing referrals to getting them. And as there’s nothing morally wrong with getting referrals from pro-choicers (and even abortion providers), this looks like a one-way street in the right direction. It also means, if you’re keeping score, that the underserved (including the unborn) will have quality and affordable Catholic healthcare, and without compromising our Catholic beliefs, or the human rights of the unborn. And everybody, from the Vatican to the muckity-mucks, wins. The final decision here reflects the best outcome I can think of, and I wonder if more of these win-wins couldn’t be accomplished in healthcare with a little more effort by potential providers.

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