The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock put out a news release today saying that Bishop Anthony B. Taylor met with Mercy Health Ministry's board chairman and another member of the board to discuss the Vatican's disapproval of the sale of St. Joseph's Mercy Medical Center to Capella Healthcare of Henderson, Tenn., and was told the matter would be taken up by Mercy's board at its next meeting Dec. 13-14.
To appease the church, Capella agreed last summer to not provide abortion or sterilization services at the Hot Springs hospital for five years, but the pope and Bishop Taylor remain dissatisfied. Does that mean the Vatican will object to an "affiliation" of St. Vincent Health with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences even if only UAMS continues to treat women like fully-developed human beings in their health care decisions?
Press release on the jump.
Update on diocesan discussions with Mercy Hospital Hot Springs
On Friday, Dec. 7, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock had a meeting with Charles E. Thoele, chairman of the board of Mercy Health Ministry, and Sr. Roch Rockledge, RSM, a member of the board, the first such meeting following receipt of Rome's request that they "explore other possibilities, such as establishing some links with other Catholic institutions, which would make [St. Joseph Mercy Medical Center’s] continued operation viable or to further investigate the possibility of selling it to another Catholic institution...", instead of proceeding with the proposed sale to Capella Healthcare of Henderson, Tenn.
The Vatican did not approve Mercy Health Ministry's proposal to sell St. Joseph Mercy Health Center to Capella Healthcare at this time. Instead they asked Mercy Health Ministry to prayerfully consider Bishop Taylor's deep conviction that proceeding with the proposed sale would have adverse effects. Thoele and Sr. Roch Rockledge had a frank discussion about these concerns with Bishop Taylor and assured him that they will bring his concerns to their next board meeting, to take place in St. Louis on Dec. 13-14.
As for additional details about what was discussed in the meeting with the Mercy Health Ministry officials, Bishop Taylor said, “This is all I want to comment on right now to give Mercy Health Ministry the needed time to consider their next steps based on the response they received from the Vatican.”