Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Supporters of St. Joseph's Health Centre are cross(less)

My last diatribe for today, after perusing the day's news, is reserved (once again) for the Catholic Church.
St. Joseph's Health Centre, a Catholic hospital in southwest Toronto, has just announced their new logo, and - shock! horror! - it does NOT incorporate a cross. The faithful were predictably incensed, seeing this as a selling-out and a distancing from the hospital's religious history, and an online petition was hastily initiated. There were even suspicions (totally unfounded, as it happens) that the huge cross on the physical hospital would be removed.
Just in passing, I note that St. Joseph's Health Centre's sister hospitals in Hamilton and London have logos that do not feature a cross at all, and the Guelph hospital has a kind of stylized font-based cross-ette as part of its logo. But, for all I know, maybe there was major soul-searching and acrimonious protests accompanying these changes too.
Frankly, the whole concept of a Catholic hospital - like that of Catholic school boards, for that matter - is bizarre and anachronistic, and has no place in the modern world. OK, the hospital was originally opened by the Catholic order of the Sisters of St. Joseph nearly a century ago, and kudos to them for doing that. It clams a "tradition of care that reflects the universal values of respect, dignity and compassion", although such values are by no means exclusive to the Catholic Church, and I'm sure most hospitals would subscribe to such a description. The hospital serves people of all religions and cultures, as it has to by Canadian law, although it makes a big deal of the belief that "life is sacred from the moment of conception until death", and so it may be out of step with mainstream Canadian values as regards abortion and the new right to doctor-assisted death.
Anyway, my point is that, rather than listening to these people whining about political correctness and those poor nuns spinning in their graves over whether a logo features a cross or not, shouldn't we be bringing such institutions into the 21st Century (or even the 20th), and do away with archaic and outmoded ideas like tying basic public services like hospitals to specific religions and denominations? Isn't the point that a hospital is there to treat injury and illness, not to promote religious views?

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