Veritas Institute

Veritas Institute

About the Catholic Identity Matrix (CIM)


Establishing and maintaining institutional identity is a significant challenge for leaders in Catholic health care. In December 2005, the Sponsors Council of Ascension Health - the largest not-for-profit and Catholic health care system in the United States - requested the development of an assessment tool to assist with this task. The Catholic Identity Matrix (CIM) was created in response to this request. 

The CIM helps a Catholic health system or hospital assess and enhance the degree to which it has integrated the six Catholic moral principles within its operating policies, processes and practices. The first implementation of the process took place at Ascension Health in 2006. The CIM was subsequently improved through a collaborative partnership between Ascension Health and the Veritas Institute of the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business (formerly known as the SAIP Institute). Additional support for the CIM’s ongoing improvement has been provided by the University of St. Thomas’ John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought and Gonzaga Ethics Institute, formerly at Gonzaga University.

An Overview of the CIM

The CIM structure combines two elements (Figure 1).  Its foundation is an organizational assessment patterned after the self-appraisal process pioneered by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program.  The CIM applies this assessment template in conjunction with six principles for Catholic health care institutions.  The formulation of these principles draws upon a range of sources, including the Catholic social tradition, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services issued by the Catholic bishops of the United States and the experience of Catholic health care leaders.

The principles are: 

  • Solidarity with those who live in poverty
  • Holistic care
  • Respect for human life
  • Participatory community of work and mutual respect
  • Stewardship
  • Acting in communion with the church

The CIM helps a Catholic health care institution evaluate the degree to which these principles shape its current operating policies and processes. The CIM translates the six standards into a set of behavioral benchmarks - a systematic array of questions - for Catholic health care services. By answering the questions within this inventory, and then evaluating their answers using a proprietary scoring system, an organization's leadership can identify where vital moral values have been integrated effectively within their organization's operations and where this integration is tenuous or lacking. The assessment thus highlights both areas of strength and critical improvement opportunities. Furthermore, the information gathered during the assessment process helps an organization formulate concrete initiatives designed to address specific improvement needs. In this way, the CIM catalyzes both critical reflection upon an organization's current state and practical improvements guided by Catholic moral teaching, thought and practice. 

The CIM does not provide a “quick fix” to the challenge of Catholic institutional identity.  However, periodic use of the CIM enables Catholic health care organizations to establish a discipline of sustained, ongoing improvement in response to the challenge of mission integration.  In this way, the process helps them to advance the healing ministry of Jesus in a more efficacious manner.


“The CIM process enabled us to take our discussion regarding mission to a whole new level. In a relatively succinct process a representative group from across the organization was empowered to do a gap analysis around mission. The process expanded the breadth and depth of our understanding of what constitutes mission.”

Sister Mary Thomas, senior vice president of mission services, Avera McKennan Hospital

“The Veritas Institute (formerly the SAIP Institute) has been a trusted partner and more; they have co-created with us Ascension Health’s system for mission assessment. The Institute's proven methods and experienced personnel have provided process integrity and organizational insight to our assessments. They gave us the capability to move from anecdotal assumptions to quantitative measurements of how well we are living our values.”

William Brinkmann, vice president, mission initiatives (ret.), Ascension Health 


Bridging the Gap

Read "Bridging the Gap," an article about a precursor to the Catholic Identity Matrix known as the Identity Inquiry and Improvement Process (3IP). The article was published in the November/December 2006 issue of Health Progress.

Read the article

Interested in Learning More?

Do you have questions about the CIM and what it could do for your organization? Fill out our inquiry form and we'll be in touch to see how this assessment and process could apply to your organization.

Complete the inquiry form

CIM Bibliography

A compilation of resources to enhance the implementation of the Catholic Identity Matrix (CIM).

CIM Bibliography


“It is important that mission be integrated into the organization’s key processes, not just ‘bolted on’ as if it was separate and distinct from other clinical and business practices. Using the CIM has helped Genesys move from a mindset of simply doing uncoordinated good acts to a new focus of creating approaches that cause good acts to happen. Furthermore, the CIM helped us to recognize that improving Catholic identity is not about creating one sure intervention that can ‘fix’ the organization’s identity for all time. Rather, these improvements are best thought of as cycles of improvement that over time create a mature Catholic organization which is more fully attuned with the church’s longstanding values.”

Mark Taylor, CEO and president, Genesys Health System (formerly)

CIM Client Showcase >>