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Caritas affirms R.I. hospital will abide by Catholic teachings if acquired



BRAINTREE -- Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, R.I. has reportedly filed a signed asset purchase agreement to be acquired by Caritas Christi Health Care, the network of Catholic hospitals currently under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Boston.

In an Aug. 28 story, The Providence Journal quoted spokesmen for both Caritas and Landmark as saying that Landmark would remain secular following the proposed acquisition. The statements drew criticism from those who said this could result in Landmark providing family planning, sterilization and other medical services considered immoral by Catholics.

On Sept. 1 the archdiocese released a statement saying that Cardinal SeŠn P. O'Malley "was concerned about public statements that Landmark would not be operated as a Catholic hospital if acquired by Caritas" and had met with Caritas's chief executive officer, Dr. Ralph de la Torre.

In the statement de la Torre said, "We wish to clarify statements that have been previously made regarding Landmark Medical Center and its affiliation with Caritas Christi. Currently, Caritas Christi advises Landmark Medical Center, but does not manage the hospital. If Landmark Medical Center is acquired by Caritas Christi or by any company owning the Caritas Christi hospitals, Landmark Medical Center will function within and abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives."

Landmark is currently in receivership, so a judge must oversee the process and review the agreement. The case is being overseen by a state superior court judge in Rhode Island.

Christopher Murphy, a spokesman for Caritas Christi, said details of the agreement are not being disclosed at this time. However, Murphy said terms of the deal would be made public once the judge completes the review.

No deadline has been given for completion, Murphy also said.

Meanwhile, Caritas itself has been in the process of being acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm. The sale is pending final approval by Cardinal O'Malley, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the state's public health department and the Holy See.

In May, when the sale of Caritas was announced, archdiocesan officials said the sale would provide an $830 million cash infusion to the hospital chain that has been recently plagued by financial struggles.

Caritas is seeking to purchase Landmark to better serve patients in the area, according to Murphy.

"Increasing the services we can offer in that area would benefit all our patients," he added.

Caritas operates six hospitals in eastern Massachusetts. Three of them are in the southeastern reaches of the state -- Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Norwood Hospital and Saint Anne's Hospital in Fall River.

Associated Press materials contributed to this report.

Following is the full text of the statement:

Archdiocese's Sept. 1 statement on Landmark Hospital acquisition

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