Catholic Health told 'core business' is care and empowerment
The Provincial leader of the Jesuits told the Catholic Health Australia Conference yesterday that while Church health care institutions have survived because they have evolved into successful businesses, their main challenge remains giving care that will empower the marginalised.
Fr Mark Raper, a former refugee worker and international head of the Jesuit Refugee Service, recognised that many of the Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and other care centres - founded by religious congregations - now need to be run as businesses by lay administrators to ensure their financial viability and survival.
But reflecting on the Jesuits' experience of putting administrative functions of their into lay hands, he stressed that the CEO must be a mission leader.
"It is not a matter of getting a CEO to do the administration, while we Jesuits still animate the mission," he said. "The CEO of an institution must be its mission leader and will be held accountable precisely on the implementation of mission.
Fr Raper noted that many of the country's Catholic health care institutions are doing very well as businesses.
"The business magazine, BRW, in its August 11 edition, reports: 'Many of the country's largest, best and fastest-growing medical enterprises are private operations run by church and charity groups. The not-for-profit hospitals provide nearly 40% of Australia's private hospital beds.'"
"Clearly you have handled the transition superbly from the operational and financial standpoint," said Fr Raper. "Our question today is whether you can bridge the gap between corporate success and marginal people."
He said that the biggest question facing the institutions today is whether they can "bridge the gap between corporate success and marginal people".
Referring to Pope John Paul II's use of the terms "preferential option for the poor" and "love of the poor", Fr Raper quoted Fr David Hollenbach (US Jesuit theologian visit Australia this month)/ Hollenbach said the "preferential option" requires that "the participation of the marginalised groups in society takes priority over the preservation of an order which excludes the marginalised".
Fr Mark Raper SJ: Seek Justice - Come to the Edge (Keynote address for Catholic Health Australia National Conference, Perth 29/8/05)
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30 Aug 2005