I am somewhat perplexed by the news that the Catholic Church is buying up hospitals, medical practices, labs and other medical facilities with the expressed intention of expanding its "healthcare ministries."
"Of the largest healthcare corporations in the country, five of six are administered by the Catholic Church including the famously conservative Catholic Health Initiatives which operates the Franciscan brand and has $15 billion in assets. By the end of 2013, if all proposed mergers go through, 45 percent of Washington hospital beds will be religiously affiliated. In 10 counties, 100 percent of hospital facilities will be accountable to religious corporations, which are rapidly buying up outpatient clinics, laboratories and physician practices as well.
In the words of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Catholic hospitals and healthcare corporations are “ healthcare ministries” and “opportunities:”
New partnerships can be viewed as opportunities for Catholic healthcare institutions and services to witness to their religious and ethical commitments and so influence the healing profession. . . . For example, new partnerships can help to implement the Church’s social teaching.
Here is the diabolical stroke of genius. In any merger between a secular and Catholic care system, fiscal health comes with a poison pill. One condition of the merger is that the whole system becomes subject to a set of theological agreements call the “ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” or ERDs. Rather than care being dictated by medical science and patient preference, a set of religious doctrines place restrictions on what treatment options can be offered to (or even discussed with) patients.
Under these agreements, the patient-doctor relationship becomes a patient-doctor-church relationship: “The Church’s moral teaching on healthcare nurtures a truly interpersonal professional-patient relationship. This professional-patient relationship is never separated, then, from the Catholic identity of the healthcare institution.” Furthermore providers who work in these systems are required to sign binding contractual agreements to adhere to the religious directives, whether or not they are Catholic: “Catholic healthcare services must adopt these Directives as policy, require adherence to them within the institution as a condition for medical privileges and employment, and provide appropriate instruction regarding the Directives . . . .” "
Here is a link that might be useful: Biblical medicine?