March 26-27, 2012 at Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark NJ

About the Symposium  

Hosted by

Center for Religiously Affiliated Nonprofit Corporations and Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy

In collaboration with

University of St. Thomas

The purpose of the Symposium is to engage scholars and practitioners from multiple disciplines to develop an objective framework for analyzing the following questions:

  1. Is the delivery of health care as a ministry compatible with providing that care through an investor-owned company publicly identified as Catholic?
  2. If not, why not?
  3. If yes, are there any management, governance or other structures or processes that may need to be developed to accommodate Catholic health care as a ministry?

The Symposium will not take a position on whether such conversions, in any of its forms, should or should not occur. The Symposium will provide the audience participants with the range of issues that may impact their specific decision.

An Examination of the Key Issues

The legal and financial differences between a non-profit and for-profit corporation will be analyzed from the perspective of Roman Catholic canon law, ethics and Catholic social teaching. The Symposium, focusing on these disciplines, will address questions such as the following:

  1. What is the relationship between the theological understanding of health care as a ministry and the legal definition of health care as a public good or a private commodity?
  2. Is Catholic identity in the legal purpose clause of a corporation subject to treatment as a trade or a service mark?
  3. Is Catholic identity an intangible asset subject to valuation?
  4. If the charter of the corporation is a contract between the investor and the corporation, what is the shareholder purchasing in terms of Catholic identity?
  5. If a corporate culture is rooted in values, is it necessary to use religious language to describe values rooted in the Catholic tradition to create a culture consistent with Catholic ministry? Or is it sufficient to describe Catholic identity in terms of objectively discernable proscriptions and prescriptions?
  6. If professional managers tend to be beyond effective shareholder control  and shareholders cannot instruct the board of directors, each of whom cannot be removed without cause, by whom and how is Catholic identity determined or monitored?
  7. What is the relationship between corporate law and Catholic Social Thought on private property, labor and capital, subsidiary, the distribution of goods and services, and human rights to social goods such as health care? 
  8. In states adopting corporate constituency statutes instructing directors that they either may, or must, take into account the interests of constituencies other than shareholders in exercising their powers, does Catholic identity create new, discreet constituents other than shareholders or those identified in statutes?
  9. Are new benchmarks necessary to determine Catholic corporate success? If so, do these new benchmarks differ or align with benchmarks for success for any corporation having no religious affiliation?


The Symposium will be of particular interest to:

  1. Members, directors and executive management leaders in Catholic health, education and social services;
  2. Executive leaders of for-profit companies involved in the financing, structuring or the delivery of health care;
  3. Religious leaders of dioceses, religious institutes and public juridic persons having canonical responsibility for a corporate health care ministry;
  4. Religious leaders of various denominations involved in health care ministries; and
  5. Academics in corporate law, non-profit corporation law, health law and economics, public policy, management sciences, religious studies, canon law, theology and ethics.


The advisors, representing both existing nonprofit Catholic health care systems and for-profit companies will work with the presenters to ensure that each presenter is responsive to the for-profit models that will be the basis of the Symposium discussions.