Catholic Health Network Covers Sex Change Operations For Employees
Detail of the surgeon's hands during the operation.
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America’s largest Catholic health care network covers sex change operations for employees who identify as transgender, according to a new report.

CommonSpirit is America’s largest Catholic nonprofit health system. It was formed when Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives merged in 2019 after going through an approval process involving multiple Archbishops and receiving sponsorship from the Catholic Healthcare Federation.

“You are a valued Employee of DIGNITY HEALTH, and your Employer is pleased to sponsor the Plan to provide benefits that can help meet your health care needs,” a document from Dignity Health titled “Medical Plan Document Dignity Health Ventura PPO” reads.

It goes on to list non-emergency treatments that are covered by the healthcare plan but that require pre-certification. The list includes “transgender/gender dysphoria coverage/surgery.”

The document goes on to clarify that “Transition-related services to treat gender dysphoria or gender identity disorders include” treatments such as “Medically necessary gender-reassignment and reconstructive services.” Meanwhile, “medically necessary hormone therapy” is “covered under the separate prescription drug plan.” 

But in addition to covering employee sex change interventions, hospitals in the CommonSpirit network even perform sex change operations in violation of Catholic teaching, according to the report from the Lepanto Institute.

CommonSpirit was created through a 2019 merger with Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiative which required approval from multiple Archbishops. CommonSpirit Health is sponsored by the Catholic Health Care Federation, which is legally defined as a “public juridic person within the meaning of the code of Canon law for the Roman Catholic Church,” according to Page 28 of CommonSpirit’s 990 IRS form.

It goes on to read:

As a public juridic person in the Church, CHCF is the juridical equivalent of a diocese or parish or religious order in the Catholic Church. As a public juridic person, CHCF is not merely affiliated with the Catholic Church; it is the Catholic Church, an official part of the Church itself, with a munus or duty assigned to it by the Church, and able to act publicly in the name of the Church.

A sponsorship document from the Catholic Health Care Federation explains the process behind the approval of the organization by Catholic authorities in Rome. 

The Catholic Health Care Federation explains that it is accountable to the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, “the ecclesiastical authority that granted Catholic Health Care Federation Public juridic personality.”

The document goes on to explain the significance of juridic personality, explaining that “a public juridic person may acquire, retain, administer, and alienate property in the name of the Roman Catholic Church. 

The document defines sponsorship as “The canonical/Catholic Church relationship between a civil corporation and a ministry, which enables that ministry to have Catholic identity.” 

Rather than just claiming a Catholic identity, CommonSpirit is able to identify as Catholic because it was sponsored by an organization given authority by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, located “in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.” 

Meanwhile, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops specifically addressed transgender medical interventions in a statement earlier this year, where they unambiguously stated that “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.”

Neither CommonSpirit Health nor Dignity Health Responded to a request for comment.

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