Painful Contradictions

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 23, 2004

Remember the parable of the good Samaritan? The one where the Samaritan finds the guy beaten by robbers and trots off to lobby for tetrarchy-funded health care? Check out the U.S. Catholic:

U.S. health care is a study in painful contradictions, according to Father Michael Place, president of the Catholic Health Association, the U.S. church's national organization of not-for-profit health care providers. ... He calls its failure to provide basic coverage to so many uninsured citizens a "national disgrace."

"Go, and do thou compel thy neighbor by mandatory taxation under threat of fine or imprisonment to do likewise!" (Luke 10:37, abridged). Well, we can all dry the starting tear, because Father Place has us covered:

[Place] became the chief executive of the Catholic Health Association and, according to Modern Healthcare, is among the highest paid in that world. The average base compensation for chief executives of major healthcare associations is $399,062. In the year that CHA went from healthy profits to post a $656,559 loss on total revenue of $15.3 million, Fr. Place had his annual salary raised to $529,288, not including $37,000 in benefits and expense allowance. Fr. Place points out that he gives ten percent of his income to the Church, leaving him with barely half a million per year for himself. "After three years in my position, [the CHA board] said I was far below the market basket and needed to catch up to where I should be."

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2004 3:53 PM ET USA

    CHA is located in St. Louis.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Feb. 24, 2004 2:41 AM ET USA

    Where is Father Michael Place's bishop in all this? Father Place, if he is a diocesan priest, has to have an Ordinary... and if he is a religious priest, some type of Superior -- to whom Father Place must answer for his scandalous salary and position... Shouldn't such hierarchy of the Church reel Father Place back in to the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ, for his good & the good of the Church? And wouldn't a layman do much better as CEO of CHA, since it pays such a generous family wage?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 23, 2004 8:29 PM ET USA

    When I posted that those who serve should be below the secular rate, I didn't mean that they should live lives of deprivation. Some people are called to that life of service. Those who aren't, a just wage is reasonable. I see something of the hours the priests work in my parish. My parish couldn't really afford to pay them what they are worth. However, these half million dollar salaries accepted as ones due by anyone is obscene. "Food for the Poor" can feed a family for a month with $12.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 23, 2004 4:50 PM ET USA

    "Obscene" is charitable. Oddly enough, when we priests (in my own archdiocese, at least) are required to wear three hats by dint of the priest shortage, we draw no extra pay. Apparently, when you only wear one hat, and it's not the one you were ordained to wear (that is, care of souls in a parochial setting), then you are compensated at market rate. I'm guessing, tho, that he lives in a rectory -- a nice one, but with free room and board, so that he can claim to connect with 'the people.'

  • Posted by: - Feb. 23, 2004 1:03 PM ET USA

    Why do I find this so utterly obscene? What we need is another St. Francis to confront these people. In our own country people exist below poverty level. Worldwide millions are hungry or starving. Those who serve should be well below the secular rate. Am I naive? Perhaps, but I don't think so. The going rate for 1st century rabbis was honor, prestige, fancy dress and association with the political rulers. All Jesus got, at least from his society, was a cross. St. Francis pray for us.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 23, 2004 9:34 AM ET USA

    I am truly touched by Fr. Place's need to catch up to a just wage. Why do I think that he came from the Chicago Archdiocese and served under the late Cardinal Bernardin? But isn't he just another NASCAR regular like John Edwards and John Kerry, who so deeply feel the pain of the average guy? I am so grateful that they all endorse socialism who makes less than six figures...or in the case of the two Johns, seven.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 23, 2004 9:24 AM ET USA

    I'm only a layman, but can I take his vows of poverty, too?