La Crosse FSPA Sisters remove Catholic status from Franciscan Healthcare, transfers Viterbo University to lay leadership

La Crosse FSPA Sisters remove Catholic status from Franciscan Healthcare, transfers Viterbo University to lay leadership

[Religious order divests (i.e., de-Catholicizes) its educational and healthcare facilities to “pursue social justice”]

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration will transfer its control of two health systems and Viterbo University to lay leadership while the La Crosse-based order focuses on other ministries, FSPA President Sister Karen Lueck announced Tuesday.

The move, subject to Vatican approval and scheduled to take effect July 1, ends the FSPAs’ oversight and sponsorship of Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, St. Anthony Regional Hospital and Nursing Home in Carroll, Iowa, and Viterbo University, Lueck said at a press conference at FSPA headquarters.

Viterbo and St. Anthony will maintain their Catholic identities with the development of Viterbo Ministries and St. Anthony Ministries, while Mayo-Franciscan will be shifted to Mayo Clinic Health System in Rochester, Minn., as a faith-based but non-Catholic organization, Lueck said.

The amount of money the order will receive from Mayo remains to be determined, but details are being worked out under the pact the sisters and Mayo signed when they became partners in 1995 [under then Bishop John Paul and shortly after Bishop Raymond Burke], said Lueck and Dr. Tim Johnson, Mayo Clinic’s regional vice president in southwest Wisconsin.

continue at La Crosse Tribune

I’ll comment more later, but it’s not clear if this now gives Mayo the ability to perform abortions on campus.  Originally Mayo planned to open a surgery center in nearby Onalaska for abortions.  There’s been a lot of coverage in the Tribune on the topic so I’m surprised Tighe didn’t touch on it, although they have never written anything that might shine a bad light on the FSPA.  Update; after posting this the article was updated with a longer version with more details.

Prior to this move, it’s my understanding that the hospital had three equal controlling partners, Franciscan Skemp, the FSPA and Mayo (correct me if I’m wrong).  It looks like eventually this will just simply be Mayo controlled, in which case it would have no ethical oversight from the diocese and would just simply become de facto secular, which practically speaking has mostly become anyway.  There is a chapel on campus, which I guess would be removed unless some formal arrangement would be made with the diocese.

This perhaps also gives Viterbo University the ability to formally remove their Catholic status as well, although the article seems to indicate they are not removing them at this time [Nonetheless, the article also reports that  the Mayo Clinic’s regional v-p for southwest Wisconsin , Dr. Tim Johnson said, “When the guiding principles – for the agreement between the Sisters and the Clinic – were written 22 years ago, they – the Sisters – wisely realized they – the principles – would change over time;” thus, the University’s Catholic status could also change (i.e., be removed) “over time.” –  AQ moderator Tom]

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