Sham Searches: Part 2

Before we continue our series on “Sham Searches” with a doozey we have a couple of notes:

First is a correction to our post from yesterday.  We mentioned the search for the new head of the Mass Catholic Conference was a “sham search, ” but we did not realize that Bishop Coleman of Fall River is in fact heading that search.  We corrected that yesterday, and will withhold further comment while we eagerly await word this week of who else is on the search committee.

Secondly, for those who missed last week’s Pastoral Center staff meeting and have not yet been briefed on the meeting, here are a few highlights.

  • Health care costs will be increasing next year for employees
  • Fr. Erikson and the Cardinal appreciate the help of Pastoral Center staff who worked on the bishop’s ordination and Priest Appreciation Dinner.
  • Regarding the Catholic blogs, Fr. Richard Erikson is sickened by personal attacks on great priests, he is distressed by disloyalty of staff reporting to bloggers, and he will no longer read the blogs.  Instead he will have Father Parrish read them and report to him.

We have not made personal attacks on any great priests so we assume that does not refer to us, and we are glad he did not say anything about “unfounded claims” on our blog.  Fr. Parrish, since you are apparently the blog liaison, if you are reading this post, could you do us a favor and let the Vicar General know that his comments suggest he may still not get it? Next time, could he consider saying something like the following?

“I am distressed by the reports of cronyism, conflicts of interest, ethical lapses, and corruption here at the Pastoral Center which we have pursued further and found to be legitimate.  They are contrary to Gospel values expected from people who work for the Catholic Church, and they also contradict the ‘rhythm of prayer that marks each day’ at the Pastoral Center I just wrote about in The Pilot. We are taking serious steps to address the underlying issues the blogs are reporting on.  We expect everyone here to join with us in operating more like the non-profit Catholic Church spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls, rather than an ethically-challenged for-profit business.  Anyone who is here mostly for personal gain and who does want to carry out the saving mission of Jesus Christ should start looking for a new job elsewhere.”

Thirdly, we have harped on the need for the Archdiocese to publish the names of anonymous people serving on important committees.  A number of people have been appointed to the Boston Archdiocesan Finance Council in the past 12 months (since the 2010 Boston Catholic Directory went to press) whose names are still…anonymous.  Who are they?  What agendas might they bring?  Are any of them past associates of the Chancellor–meaning the council that approves or disproves of his performance might be getting stacked with people who are not objective and impartial?  How did they come to get nominated to the council? In case the archdiocese is struggling to figure out how to present this information, here is how the Manchester Diocese posts the members of their Finance Council.  Why is Boston unable to do something similar?  Why is the current Boston Finance Council membership a secret?  Is the archdiocese afraid we will find and expose more corruption there, and that will turn donors away?  We hope the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council brings this up on Wednesday evening.

Now back to Sham Search #2: We give the new Sham Search #2 to the position of Vice Chancellor that the archdiocese has been trying to fill.  Apparently, Jim McDonough, the current Chancellor, believes he needs a #2 person to help with the all of the day-to-day administrivia of his $250,000/job so he can free up time to become CEO of the Archdiocese of Boston, kind like he was President and CEO of the Abington Savings Bank for about 14 years. Never mind the fact that functions of such a role, if it were even to exist, should actually be carried out by the Cardinal Archbishop or Vicar General.  (By the way, did we ever mention that this Chancellor apparently has a signed letter that authorizes him reporting directly to Cardinal O’Malley and not to the Vicar General?)

Anyway, so the “nationwide search” has been underway to fill the position, supposedly using a search firm who will collect a nice commission when the position is filled.  This one is different from the Secretary of Institutional Advancement search and most of the other “worldwide searches” in that instead of announcing the search and then choosing whomever they knew and wanted while pretending there was an open search, this one has been done in “stealth mode.”  No job posting.  No way to officially submit an application.  Is this the same archdiocese that touts transparency, or did we confuse them with another diocese?  The pay is expected to be in the range of $150-175K/year.  We hear that the new position will be paid for from “savings” by having Carol Gustavson’s salary now paid “off the books” by the Benefits Trust, and also no longer having the expensive recent college grad “operations associate” (Jed H) on staff.

Despite all this, we hear that a couple of good people have actually learned about the position, applied and been interviewed. At least one  solid candidate had a great resume, with no connections to Jim McDonough, and was recently turned down.  Maybe they were too Catholic and wanted to really serve the Church, which, along with no prior relationship to Jim or Jack Connors, would probably make them ineligible. See our Job Seeker video if you would like an idea of what it is like applying for a position.

We have more to say about this position and how it relates to the feifdom of the Chancellor but will save that for another time.  Those who have additional insights on the above can feel free to post them as comments.  Tune in for more on this and other sham searches in one of our next exciting episodes.

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10 Responses to Sham Searches: Part 2

  1. Another Priest for Transparency dot Org says:

    Your report on the meeting paraphrases Fr. Erikson as saying he was “distressed by [the] disloyalty of staff reporting to bloggers.” Since you don’t use quotation marks, I presume you’re paraphrasing a report, which was itself a paraphrase of the remarks themselves. BUT . . . I’ll be interested to see how that’s reported in the official minutes when we get them. I expect that it will be much more delicately phrased, mostly because of the concern that kind of phrasing is bound to arouse, especially here.

    Two questions for the Vicar General:

    First, what exactly is distressing about staffers conversing with others (through whatever means or medium) about the affairs of the Archdiocese? Should anything that’s been discussed publicly on this blog (or others – I only read this one) have been considered “secret” or part of the internal forum? I’ve diligently searched through the blog and found nothing that doesn’t belong in Cardinal Sean’s transparency initiative.

    Second, how is “disloyalty” part of the equation? To whom do staffers owe their “loyalty”? To the functionaries on Brooks Drive or to Jesus Christ (remember Him – the Way, the Truth and the Life)? To their paymasters or to the People of God who have entrusted their paymasters with goods to steward faithfully?

    Like I say, I’ll be interested in seeing what kind of phrasing the person who takes minutes will use to describe Fr. Erikson’s distress.

  2. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    Dear Fr. Parrish,
    I have an apology to make. Several months back I had a few posting on another blog where I referred to Fr. Bryan Hehir as Fr. Bad Hair. Being nearly bald myself and a few decades younger than Fr. Hehir, I thought it was funny. Mea Culpa. This bad hair comment may have been what Fr. Erickson was referring to when he spoke about personal attacks. I assure you I have amended my ways and will no longer comment on hair styles especially when making reference to folically challenged modernists.

  3. PriestsForTransparency.com says:

    You wrote what Father Erikson should have said:

    “I am distressed by the reports of cronyism, conflicts of interest, ethical lapses, and corruption here at the Pastoral Center which we have pursued further and found to be legitimate. They are contrary to Gospel values expected from people who work for the Catholic Church, and they also contradict the ‘rhythm of prayer that marks each day’ at the Pastoral Center I just wrote about in The Pilot. We are taking serious steps to address the underlying issues the blogs are reporting on. We expect everyone here to join with us in operating more like the non-profit Catholic Church spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls, rather than an ethically-challenged for-profit business. Anyone who is here mostly for personal gain and who does want to carry out the saving mission of Jesus Christ should start looking for a new job elsewhere.”

    Amen to that.

    Up to this point, Erikson’s actions have really said:
    “We can’t believe anyone that calls themselves Catholic would dare to criticize (even constructively) the Cabinet leaders at the Archdiocese. We won’t lower ourselves to have dialogue with orthodox Catholics and priests about anything – least of all our actions. We preach that parishes, schools, priests need to be accountable to Braintree, but we need to be accountable to no one. We will act as if the blogs don’t exist and hope that they go away. We will always attack the messenger instead of responding to the message. In this case, it’s easy to attack the messengers because they are anonymous, even though we know how to reach people in the blogging community directly, like Carol McKinley. When we call the blog’s claims “unfounded” we think people will believe this spin. When we talk about how the blogs bring “disunity” we again will intentionally try to shift the blame to the bloggers and away from our actions that are being discussed on the blog. We will continue to make the issue about “loyalty” of staff to the people running the pastoral center and not to the mission of the Church. We will always talk about how the blog hurts good people with unfounded criticism but we won’t attempt to correct the bloggers, even though they continue to ask for corrections and have shown often that they’ll correct the record when the make a mistake. We will continue to ignore the hypocrisy of speaking often about transparency and then acting non-transparently. We will continue to ignore the double-standard of how we address the concerns of non-orthodox Catholics (like VOTF) with how we treat orthodox Catholics. We will continue to act as if the concerns expressed on these blogs are only of a few fanatics instead of a large percentage of priests and a large and growing group of Catholics who believe that the Pope and their conscience is calling the “leaders” of the Archdiocese to higher standards of holiness, love for the Church, and accountability. We will continue to minimize any real conversation or discussion about the issues raised on this blog in the staff meetings, presbyteral council meetings, pastoral council meetings and definitely not the finance council meetings. In all things: Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Hope they go away. Hope they go away. Hope they go away. Attack the anonymous messengers. Attack the anonymous messengers. Attack the anonymous messengers. ”

    Back in seminary, we learned in our logic class, that “ad hominem” attacks are logical fallacies. Definition: “An ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), also known as argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise. The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.”

    Father Erikson: Please stop the ad hominem attacks. Even to “anonymous” bloggers, they are “hurtful” and bring “disunity.” Instead, try to recognize that if you do nothing about the cronyism, nepotism, political culture on your watch as vicar general, that will be your legacy of leadership.

  4. Another Priest for Transparency dot Org says:

    “Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Hope they go away. Hope they go away. Hope they go away.”

    Isn’t that the policy that blew up in our faces back in 2002?

    Will we ever learn?

  5. anonymous says:

    As PriestsforTransparency eloquently stated, an ad hominem attack is not going to get us anywhere. This blog will lose its credibility once it becomes a place for Catholics to vent their anger. I’m really sorry about whatever you have had to deal with, Former Employee, but your distasteful comments will only make the situation worse.

    Please BCI, remove that post, and keep up the solid reporting.

  6. Anna says:

    Former Employee,

    I’m sorry also to hear the situation affected you personally. It would be better to contact the bloggers via email and let them know what happened. If they can verify and publish or intercede for you behind the scenes, that is a better way to handle the situation.

    I can feel your wounds. I am sorry about them. If there is a way they can help, I know they will. But I too think that your post should be removed by the administrators.

  7. Insider says:

    It is disappointing to see we are stooping to the same immature level of which we accuse the Cabinet members. We lose plenty of credibility with personal attacks.

    • The blog is equally concerned and troubled about the nature of the personal attacks in the comments and have removed that comment. We will caution and remind readers to avoid personal attacks of this type. We have preferred to keep this as an open, unmoderated forum, but will moderate or totally disable comments if necessary if readers do not maintain a civil level of discourse.

  8. Peter Santos says:

    I haven’t witnessed any ad hominem attacks on the Catholic Blogs. We are entirely free to engage express our views in accordance with Canon Law. There is much documentation on these Blogs. And what I’ve read about the Archdiocese makes me want to vomit.

    Shame on our local church officials. Shame. I’ll be withholding my donations from now on.

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