News & Events

Caritas sale opponents write to pope

Liken the deal to Judas’s betrayal

By Globe Staff

A group of Catholics opposed to the sale of Caritas Christi Health Care to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI yesterday asking him to “call for the cessation of all negotiations with Cerberus.’’

Cerberus and Caritas representatives have said they intend to maintain the religious identity of Boston’s Catholic health care chain.

But a stewardship agreement they negotiated with the Archdiocese of Boston would allow the hospital chain’s new owners to terminate its religious affiliation, if it became materially burdensome, in exchange for a $25 million donation to a charity chosen by the archdiocese.

The Catholic church requires affiliated health care organizations to follow Catholic teachings, which prohibit abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia, among other procedures.

Both the Vatican and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley must agree to the sale before it can go forward. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Supreme Judicial Court must also approve.

In their letter to the pope, the Coalition to Save Catholic Health Care likened the $25 million referenced in the stewardship agreement to the bribe that, according to the Gospel of John, Judas Iscariot took for betraying Jesus.

“Given the threats to human life . . . this is anathema,’’ the group wrote. “The $25 million can only be likened to 25 pieces of silver.’’

The archdiocese had no comment on the letter yesterday. Cerberus officials were not available for comment late yesterday.