Largest Catholic Health Network Hospitals Providing Puberty Blockers to Minors and Gender Transition Surgeries: Report

A watchdog organization dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church released a report Sunday that claims the largest Catholic health system in the United States is “acting directly against Catholic moral teaching in direct defiance of its Catholic identity.”

The shocking report, issued by the Lepanto Institute, alleges in its executive summary that CommonSpirit Health, with healthcare sites and hospitals in 21 states, is “performing transgender surgeries, providing hormone-based transgender therapies, [and] providing puberty blockers to children under the auspices of so-called ‘gender-affirming care.’”

Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, authored the report and discussed his findings Wednesday with Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., host of The Catholic Current podcast.

“What I discovered is that CommonSpirit Health was a merge between Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health and it formed the largest Catholic Health Network in the United States,” Hichborn explained, noting as well that California-based Dignity Health had broken away from the Catholic Church about 15 years ago since they embraced the LGBTQ agenda.

“So, I started looking into CommonSpirit Health and what I discovered is that CommonSpirit Health claims to be a Catholic organization,” Hichborn continued. “It has approbation from the Vatican as a Catholic organization. The only Catholic authority in the Church that can govern, guide, and discipline this entity is the Vatican.”

Hichborn then identified the crux of his blockbuster report:

And I found out very quickly CommonSpirit Health is not only the largest Catholic health network in the country, but … their hospitals are absolutely performing transgender surgeries, all of them. They are providing puberty blockers for kids. They … have health benefits packages that cover for transgender surgeries, that cover for hormone therapies, that cover for puberty blockers. I even discovered that several of their Catholic hospitals are dispensing all forms of contraception. And at least one hospital in the CommonSpirit Health is itself performing elective abortions.

For example, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital’s offering of surgical procedures includes “facial and body reconstructive surgeries to make the individual appear to be more masculine or feminine, genital reconstruction procedures, vocal alteration surgeries, and a host of other abominations,” the report states.

Located in the state of Washington, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) also states on its website under its “pediatric primary care” services that it provides:

  • Puberty blockers (ways to stop puberty hormones)
  • Gender-affirming hormone therapy, both initiation and management

As the report notes, VMFH “confirms its affiliation with CommonSpirit and then specifically states, “Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is guided by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a leading LGBTQ activist organization, has named 13 of CommonSpirit Health’s facilities as having received a top score of “100,” and “Leader” status, on its Healthcare Equality Index, among them Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and VMFH.

“This means that these facilities give coverage for hormone replacement therapies, puberty blockers for youth, and full transgender surgeries to employees,” the report states. “In fact, each one of these health facilities specifically received a blue checkmark on their profiles, indicating that they have employee health benefits that cover the aforementioned transgender ‘treatments.’”

Hichborn said CommonSpirit Health is a “multi-billion dollar a year operation” that “has quite the legal apparatus behind them.”

In response to McTeigue’s observation that it would seem a supposed Catholic institution that was not only practicing “bad medicine,” but also engaged in activities “expressly forbidden by the church” would want to remain below the radar, Hichborn said, “You would think so but the answer is no.”

He elaborated further:

They were very bold and open about it on their own website. Everything that we covered in our report, I got directly from CommonSpirit Health’s own documentation. I went to their website, I read their profiles for each of their own hospitals and, I mean, they have hundreds of hospitals, so I spent a lot of time reading through their documents and reading through what it is that they say about themselves. And I’ll just give you an example. One of the hospitals acquired by CommonSpirit Health during the 2019 merge was a hospital that was blasphemously or sacrilegiously named the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, and the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital has what they call a Gender Institute. The very first sex-change operation performed in the United States was done at that hospital. That was back in 1966, I believe. And what’s interesting is that they post the website as if they’re very proud of it, and I went through the services that they provide, and it’s abominable.

“It should be noted that CommonSpirit’s tax form 990s for 2020 and 2019 both indicate that CommonSpirit Health provided funds totaling $2,128,662 to the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital over the course of those two years,” the Lepanto Institute report states. “What this means is that Catholic funds are going directly to the very hospital performing these ghastly procedures.”

“Bear in mind that all of this is being done through CommonSpirit’s 2019 merge partner, Dignity Health,” the report continues. “What’s worse is that Dignity Health is doing this in the name of the Catholic Church.”

CommonSpirit states on its website that it was “created by the combination of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health as a single ministry in early 2019.”

“Today, we continue to build on that foundation of compassion as we care for the common good,” the health network says.

CommonSpirit regularly uses the language of the left in touting its mission which includes “advancing health equity,” “creating a more diverse workforce,” and “environmental stewardship.”

Under the topic of “a more just health system,” CommonSpirit asserts it is “acting to address systemic inequities experienced by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, as well as vulnerable and underserved populations including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities.”

“Our legacy of advocacy propels us to lead the nation in championing health equity by promoting social, economic and environmental justice,” CommonSpirit touts.

In his podcast interview, Hichborn explained the relationship between CommonSpirit Health and the Vatican:

The Catholic Health Care Federation is the sponsor of CommonSpirit Health, which means it is the body that was given authority by the Church to sponsor this organization as a Catholic ministry. And they called it a “public juridic person” and their definition is this: “An entity within the Roman Catholic Church that functions much as a corporation does within civil law, a public juridic person may acquire, retain, administer and alienate property in the name of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with Canon 1254 of the code of canon law.”

“A public juridic person must be established by an appropriate ecclesiastical authority,” Hichborn continued. “And the ecclesiastical authority which did this is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Vatican. So, that’s your linkage from Rome to CommonSpirit Health.”

“In layman’s terms, CommonSpirit Health is a direct subsidiary of the Catholic Health Care Federation (CHCF), and its entire purpose is to carry out ‘the mission of the healing ministry of Jesus in the Church,’” the report states.

The Lepanto Institute report is published in the wake of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) newly-released document on transgender surgeries, titled “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body.”

“[T]he Lepanto Institute has learned that the largest Catholic healthcare system in the United States is deeply upset with the statement,” states the report. “Sources wishing to remain anonymous have told the Lepanto Institute that CommonSpirit Health is pushing back on the statement because it is already performing surgical procedures to give men and women the appearance of the opposite sex.”

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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]




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