Paper Says Cardinal Egan Is Caring and Involved

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Oct. 17 — Amid the media coverage of an anonymous letter sent by a group of New York archdiocesan priests criticizing Cardinal Edward Egan for a lack of leadership, columnist Michael Daly wrote in support of the cardinal, suggesting that he’s not quite as distant as the priests’ letter makes him out to be.

According to Daly, Cardinal Egan makes a habit of visiting parishes on a regular basis and greeting people. He tells the story of Archbishop Egan’s visit to Our Lady of Refuge in the Bronx one Sunday, shortly after his appointment as archbishop.

The archbishop arrived, had coffee, said the 9 a.m. Mass and the 11 a.m. Mass, and stayed for lunch with the parishioners.

“I was incredulous,” said Msgr. John Jenik, pastor. “He went to all the tables, spoke to all the people.”

The letter, which suggested that priests take a no-confidence vote in the cardinal, is thought to be intended as a signal to Rome as he turns 75 next April and must tender his resignation.

In response to the letter, Cardinal Egan met with 40 members of the Priests Council, who issued a statement denouncing it. “As today’s meeting has shown, it is possible to meet and discuss any issue with Cardinal Egan,” they said. “If any priest has a concern he can raise it and discuss it at any time.”

Rochester Diocese Criticizes Stem-Cell Ads

WHAM-TV, Oct. 17 — The Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., had criticized a political ad that targets a congressional candidate’s vote against stem-cell research, urging voters to consider the science and ethics of such research, reported WHAM.

The ad fails to note that Rep. Jim Walsh, R-N.Y., has voted for funding of adult stem-cell research, while voting against only human embryonic stem-cell research, which the Church condemns.

“Congressman Walsh has indeed voted to fund adult stem-cell research,” said Jann Armantrout, diocesan life issues coordinator. “He has rejected the ethically compromising embryonic destruction that’s involved in embryonic stem-cell research.”

Catholic Hospital Loses Tax Exempt Status

NEWS-GAZETTE, Oct. 15 — The revocation of an Urbana, Ill., Catholic hospital’s property tax exemption has caused other non-profits to wonder if such action is possible elsewhere, said the Illinois daily.

On Sept. 29, the Illinois Department of Revenue revoked Provena Covenant Medical Center’s $1.1 million property tax exemption for the year 2002. The issue was first raised four years ago when an activist group, the Champaign County Health Care Consumers, first raised concerns about the hospital’s charity care and debt collection practices.

When the Champaign County Board of Review asked Covenant for information about the center’s leases and agreements with outside service providers doing business at the hospital, the hospital refused to share the information.

In 2002, Covenant’s revenues were $113 million, but it spent less than 1% on charity care. Last year, the company reported a $39.6 million profit. The Department of Revenue said that the small amount of charity care was insufficient to justify the $1.1 million property tax exemption. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has proposed that hospitals be required to provide charity care equal to 8% of their operating costs.

The Illinois Hospital Association condemned the revocation and sees it as a threat to all hospitals and charitable institutions.

“If this decision is allowed to stand, this could disrupt a great deal of good work done by a lot of not-for-profits,” said Howard Peters, senior vice president of government relations for the organization.