A harbinger of things to come? One of the largest Catholic health care systems in the country has relinquished its formal Catholic identity. I've talked to many people who think that the bishops can "make" a hospital be Catholic -or close them. But that's not the legal reality, at least in most cases. What will happen, in most cases, is some type of disaffiliation--the hospital will continue, in some form, although not an official "Catholic" facility. It doesn't affect tax exempt status, which most hospitals get through their not-for-profit charitable nature, not through their religious nature.