The financial management system of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas supports a Catholic dissenting group and links to a California association of clinics which refers to abortion providers.
St. Louis-based Mercy Investment Services invests and manages the endowment of the Sisters of Mercy and eligible co-sponsored ministries. It was established to provide “socially responsible investment advisory and money management services,” its website reports.
The “Socially Responsible Investing” non-profit subsection of its website lists Call to Action as a supported organization. It describes the group as a Catholic organization “working for justice and equality in the Catholic church and society.”
The organization is known for opposing Catholic teaching on the ordination of women. It also supports homosexual political causes and opposes the U.S. bishops on various issues.
The organization’s 2010 annual report showed total support revenue of over $1 million. Its 2009 tax forms name Sr. Helen Marie Burns, RSM, as one of its directors.
Sr. Burns is also on Mercy Investment Services’ board of advisers.
Amanda LePoire, project manager with Mercy Investment Services, responded to a CNA inquiry in a July 12 e-mail. She described Mercy Investment Services’ mission of responding to “critical needs” and promoting “systemic change.”
“Through proxy voting, shareholder advocacy, corporate dialogues and community investing, Mercy Investment Services addresses issues including healthy persons and communities, human rights, and a sustainable Earth,” she said.
Asked to respond to specific questions about Call to Action, she said that the mission description is “the best comment we can provide.”
Mercy Investment Services’ supported organizations also include the California Primary Care Association, which represents more than 800 not-for-profit community clinics and health care centers for low-income, uninsured and underserved populations.
The association’s home page includes a “Find a Clinic” referral system for website visitors. Among the referred clinics are 76 Planned Parenthood affiliates and at least three other abortion providers in the Women’s Health Specialists network. Other referred clinics dispense emergency contraception and birth control.
LePoire also declined to respond to specific questions about Mercy Investment Services’ involvement with the association.
The portfolio screening section of Mercy Investement Services’ website says it does not invest in companies whose activities involve the “manufacture of primary abortifacient drugs or devices or operation of health facilities that provide abortion services.” It has also established revenue thresholds so that companies with “minimal involvement” may not be excluded.
Sean South, associate director of communications at the California Primary Care Association, told CNA July 8 that Mercy Investment Services provided $300,000 to the association’s emergency loan fund in 2010. The fund supplies financial needs to clinics when the California legislature cannot agree to pass a budget.
In 2010, the state of California owed clinics over $100 million. Many were at risk of closing, which could have deprived as many as 4.7 million clients of health care.
South did not believe abortion providers had received emergency grants from the fund.
He explained July 11 that the CPCA’s website provides referrals to the abortion providers because “they’re providers of health care services to women.”
“The vast majority of what they do is not related to those services,” he said, referring to abortions.
Catholic Healthcare West is a more significant contributor to the fund, having provided $5 million per year since its launch. South said the organization has been “very helpful” in securing other supporters.
Catholic Healthcare West told CNA it supports the fund in keeping with its “commitment to the health care needs of the poor.”
It also said it “does not administer, review or approve the loan applications.”