Feds Demand Catholic Hospital Snuff Out Its Sacred Candle Or Lose Its Accreditation

Brittany M. Hughes | May 5, 2023
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And the open assault on people of faith continues.

A Catholic hospital has been ordered by the federal government to extinguish a sacred candle that's burned in the facility's chapel for over a decade or lose its accreditation.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Saint Francis Health System in Oklahoma was told by a contractor charged with renewing the hospital's longstanding accreditation that the candle, which administrators say has stayed lit for 15 years without problem, suddenly posed a fire hazard and must be removed for the hospital to keep their status. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has since ordered the hospital to snuff out the tiny flame or else the facility won't be able to serve needy patients enrolled in the federal programs, which include the elderly and poor.

The candle itself burns constantly in the chapel per Vatican-approved general instruction, which states that “In accordance with traditional custom, near the tabernacle a special lamp, fueled by oil or wax, should shine permanently to indicate the presence of Christ and honor it.” As part of this mission to honor Christ, Saint Francis Health System's five hospitals in eastern Oklahoma treat nearly 400,000 patients a year and have given out $650 million in free medical care since 2017.

For reference, here's the candle we're talking about:


As for the risk the flame might pose, hospital administrators say the candle is encased in not one, but two separate glass casings, buffered on the top and bottom by bronze plating, surrounded by fire sprinklers, and has been approved by the local fire marshal and all previous accreditation and safety inspectors - until one guy showed up on February 21 and cited it as a "moderate" threat. (This is the same government, mind you, that botched its COVID response so badly that it spurred a deadly mental health crisis among America's youth, forced the elderly and sick to die alone thanks to ridiculous "quarantine" rules, and delayed routine medical care for millions of Americans, likely resulting in countless preventable illnesses and deaths - but yes, a tiny candle in a double-paned glass globe sitting under a virtual waterfall is a problem.)

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The hospital says extinguishing the flame would be an affront to their faith, which is the whole basis for the hospital's existence in the first place. 

“We’re being asked to choose between serving those in need and worshiping God in the chapel, but they go hand in hand,” Barry Steichen, Saint Francis Health System's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Our work depends upon our faith in the living God, and the sanctuary candle represents this to us.”

The hospital has reportedly asked for a waiver four times since having their accreditation threatened, only to be denied by the same federal government that's shown little interest in investigating violent attacks on Catholic churches and Christian pro-life organizations by rabid abortion activists. So while disgust is certainly in order, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. The hospital has since retained representation from the Becket religious liberty legal group, which is now vowing to fight the federal government's demands in court if the "reasonable" waiver isn't granted.

Meanwhile, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services told the Catholic News Agency that it's “aware of a safety finding involving a fire risk,  made by an independent accrediting organization, issued to a hospital in Oklahoma" and is “working with the hospital’s accrediting organization to develop options to mitigate the potential fire risk and remove the safety finding," according to the report.

Or, as another option, you could just stop picking on a charitable Catholic hospital and targeting good people for a faith that's done nothing but help local indigent people for years - not that the government would know anything about that.

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