A Response to Ross Douthat on Liberal Christianity
Our editor, Drew Christiansen, S.J., submitted this letter to the editor to the New York Times in response to Ross Douthat's recent column, "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?":
Ross Douthat attributes the loss of adherence in western churches to progressive theology. In particular, he assigns the failure of Catholic hospitals to the lack of underpaid sisters to subsidize care.
On the contrary, hospital systems run by so-called “progressive” orders, like the Sisters of Mercy, continue to prosper. Those institutions that failed succumbed to the strain of trying to care for the needy in today’s expensive, high-tech environment.
Progressive theology had nothing to do with the demise of Catholic hospitals. Even if the numbers of sisters in active orders had held up, the nursing orders never had the numbers or the resources to sustain their care of the poor in today’s costly healthcare environment.
As eight New York City area Catholic hospitals vanished between 2007 and 2009, scarcely a word was heard from those Mr. Douthat would describe as ‘conservative’ Catholic leaders. (See Daniel P. Sulmasy, “Then There Was One,”America, Mar. 16 2009.) The Catholic bishops of New York State, however, still extend care to the needy through Fidelis Care, a health insurance plan for the poor.