Chancellor Spills Beans; Priest Cleared!

Our main focus today is to share  the good news of a priest being cleared of an accusation of sexual abuse.  But, first we have to take a minute to respond to all of the emails about Chancellor Jim McDonough and his blabbing to the vigilers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Boston regarding possible plans to close churches or parishes.  More on governance-related topics in our next post.

Chancellor Spills Beans

Here is the first Boston Globe article reporting  on the current fracas.  This will take us several posts to cover and we are still verifying all of the facts.  Here are a few things to note just for now, but more is coming soon.

1) Loose lips sink ships.  We have never interacted directly with the Chancellor, but here are a few comments we got from readers:

“Probably one of the worst ‘loose lips’ things McDonough could have possible said or done”

“He has a vulgar mouth, a sometimes total lack of discretion and zero sensitivity.”

“He makes scathing remarks about people he often barely knows”.

“He offers sweeping generalizations that tend to reveal a profound lack of understanding of the fundamentals of ecclesiology, or canon law, or even basic accounting.”

“Why was he even there?  Yet another example of why the Chancellor should be shown the door.”

2) The vigil parishes are still costing millions of dollars a year.  The archdiocese’s own annual reports show more than $10 million in costs over the past 5 years and $1.5 million in 2009 alone toward reconfiguration-related expenses.    And that expense is mostly keeping the lights and heat on at shuttered parishes and taxes and insurance paid, with precious little of that money actually having been used for welcoming parishes to support ministering to the increased number of families. We are told that a new report has been prepared by the archdiocese that refutes or clarifies our mere restatement of the archdiocese’s previously-published numbers.  If the archdiocese has clarified their own numbers with a full breakdown and accounting of what has gone where (shuttered parish operations, welcoming parishes, taxes, insurance, etc) we look forward to seeing it!  In the meantime, the canonical appeals are over.  This cannot go on forever. Are these vigilers contributing financially to the upkeep of the church buildings they are forcing the archdiocese to keep open?  Does anyone believe keeping the lights on for vigils at closed parishes is a good use of nearly $1.5M/year that is siphoned from other pastoral ministries and parishes that need that money to pay their bills? 

3) The distinction between a “parish” vs a “church” will be an important one.  The vigilers quoted in the second Boston Globe article assumed there was no difference between a “parish” and a “church.”  There is, and the distinction will be important going forward.  A “church” is going to be thought of as more of the physical building where people come together to worship.   A “parish” is considered more of an operating area/region, and could include several “churches” led by a pastor.  This is not a new concept–we already have a number of “parish communities” comprised of several “churches” in the archdiocese, led by one pastor or a “team ministry.”

A pastoral/parish planning process has been underway for some time in Boston, the most recent one launched several years ago (2007, we believe).  The interim outcomes of that process have been published at various times, so Chancellor McDonough should not start running around again trying to figure out who is blabbing to us.  (The person whose blabbing got this out in the Globe sits in the Chancellor’s suite on the 4th floor at 66 Brooks Drive).  Many more details on this next time.

Priest Cleared!

1) It is always sad to see a priest accused of sexual abuse, and so it is a very good news to see when a priest is cleared!  Friday’s Pilot reported the following:

The Archdiocese of Boston announced Sept. 29 that Father Charles Murphy has been restored to the status of senior priest after being cleared of allegations that he sexually abused a minor 40 years ago. The move came after an investigation by the archdiocese’s Review Board found sexual abuse accusations against him were unsubstantiated.

We do not know Fr. Murphy, but hope that the archdiocese can do whatever possible for him and other priests who have faced unsubstantiated charges to restore their reputation.  Towards that end, we would like to share a few things sent to us by readers related to this same topic.

2) As the clearing of Fr. Murphy exemplifies, not all that we read or hear about various aspects of the sex abuse situation is necessarily founded. Sometimes there are unfounded claims–against individuals or against the Catholic Church by the media. Towards that end, we have been asked to pass on word of a new book:  “Double Standard:  Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church” by David F. Pierre, Jr.  It is described at www.themediareport.com.   Here is a description of it from Amazon.com.

Yes, Catholic priests terribly abused minors, and bishops failed to stop the unspeakable harm. That’s an undeniable truth. However, major media outlets are unfairly attacking the Catholic Church, and this compelling book has the shocking evidence to prove it. This book addresses numerous topics, including:
… appalling cases of abuse and cover-ups happening today – but they’re not happening in the Catholic Church … proof that Catholic clergy do not offend more than teachers or those of other religious denominations … data that shows that the Catholic clergy scandal is not about “pedophilia” … affirmation that the Catholic Church may be the safest place for children today … research that uncovers the shady relationships between SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), lawyers, and the media … convincing documentation that the national spokesperson of SNAP once failed to report suspected child abuse himself – while he was SNAP’s spokesperson … the astonishing connection between SNAP and ACORN … the surprising truth about “repressed memories” … unheard, agonized priests who deny the accusations against them … evidence of how the “documentary” Deliver Us From Evil deceived moviegoers … plus much more.

We have not read the book ourselves yet, but are told by a credible source that it contains a good deal of “insider” information about what took place in Boston. You may want to check it out.

3) This last bit of information was sent to us about a month ago, during our Whistleblower series, and right after the Boston Globe published a report of new claims against Fr. Thomas Curran, who had been cleared in 2007 of a previous charge made by a prison inmate.

I find your concern for a whistleblower policy to be of interest, however I have a whistle of my own to blow in your direction.  It’s the sort of thing that I and some others of your readers think you should be calling public attention to.  I have read the 9/9 Globe account of the claims against Fr. Thomas Curran.  Ths link below is to a well-written article, Sex Abuse and Signs of Fraud, describing how some Boston area priests have been set up by Massachusetts prison inmates.  I have no way to know who is advocating for Fr. Curran, but this information should be passed on to his advocates as well as to your readers.

The article discusses how some prisoners or previous prisoners have filed false abuse claims against priests to collect settlement money.  It is scary to think that this might happen, and in this case to see clear documentation of how it has happened.  Pray for all of our faithful, hard-working, dedicated priests that they will never experience what is described here.

We know you want to see us get back to the governance-related topics.  Do not despair–we will cover a lot more in that area in our next posts.

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20 Responses to Chancellor Spills Beans; Priest Cleared!

  1. David says:

    Hi Boston Catholic Insider,

    In regards to the parish vigils, in the Boston Globe on 9/19/2010 it said, “At St. James the Great in Wellesley, when it’s time for Communion, dozens gather in a circle around the altar, and Eucharistic ministers place wafers, blessed by sympathetic priests, in open hands.”

    This situation is beyond absurd.

    It would seem to me that if the Cardinal was serious about getting these Churches closed, he would simply forbid priests within this Archdiocese from given the Blessed Sacrament to these individuals.

  2. kd says:

    Pleeezzee stop calling them Eucharistic Ministers!!!
    They’re extraordinary & if these churches are closed who gave these people permission to continue as such?
    An instituted acolyte (usually a seminarian) is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion by virtue of his institution. The local bishop may delegate other lay Catholics for this function either for a single occasion or for a specified period of time, if there are reasons of real necessity. The commissioning need not take a liturgical form, but an appropriate blessing, which should in no way resemble ordination, may be imparted. In special cases of an unforeseen nature, the priest celebrating Mass may grant permission for a single occasion.[6]

    [edit] Extraordinary, not ordinary
    “If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.”[7]

    The extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the priest and deacon are lacking, when the priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. … A brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.”[8]

  3. Anonymous says:

    As it pertains to Priests cleared, here is the obit of Fr. Paul Bolduc, it pretty much outlines how a Priest as soon as he is accused is tossed aside.

    Fr. Murphy is a lucky man to be cleared so quickly, their are innocent Priests who have been out in the wilderness for years.

    Whether guilty or innocent this is no way to treat anyone.

    BOLDUC, Rev. Paul J. Dec. 29, formerly of Milton and Malden beloved brother of Lois M. Rooney and her husband Donald of Hampton, NH, Arthur J. Bolduc and his wife Nancy of Acton, ME. Uncle of Paul Rooney of Natick, Peter Rooney of Rowley, Patrick Rooney of Salisbury, Debra Gallagher of Methuen, Joseph Bolduc of Stoneham, and David Bolduc of Limerick, Maine. Fr. Bolduc was ordained in 1960 and served in St. Patrick Parish, Roxbury for 5 yrs, Immaculate Conception in Malden, for twelve years, St. Elizabeths Church in Milton for 10 years and served as Chaplain at Milton Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Childrens Hospital, Dana Farber Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Clinic and Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, while he resided in St. Thomas Parish in Jamaica Plain and later in St. Anne in Readville. Visiting hours Sunday 2-6 in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 5 Canton Ave, Milton. Funeral Mass in St. Elizabeth’s Church, Milton on Monday at 11:00 o’clock. Interment Mt. Calvaire Cemetery, Somersworth, NH. Father Paul Bolduc served God since he was ordained in 1960. Fr. Bolduc’s family has taken on the responsibility of informing the public of his innocence in the matter of one accusation against him in 2001. After two years of investigation by the Archdiocese Review Board he was declared innocent of all charges and was returned to his public ministry without restriction. The Decree was dated July 22, 2003 and was signed by the Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon, D.D. Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Boston. The one allegation that was made against him could not be substantiated. At the time, Father Bolduc was prevented from proclaiming his innocence to the public or his peers. Father Bolduc’s reputation was shattered and his life was changed forever. He forged on, always mindful of his mission in life. Due to this ordeal his health suffered greatly and continued to decline as time went on. Father Bolduc’s family wishes to thank all his friends for standing by him and for all the support they gave him in his time of need. He was a dedicated holy man who had a true calling to the priesthood and who gave of himself completely and unconditionally. His family would also like to thank the nurses and staff at Regina Cleary residence, Boston for the excellent care they gave him. Chapman, Cole & Gleason Milton 617 696 6612

  4. Joan Moran says:

    The American Bishops hired the John Jay College to investigate the whole sexual abuse problem. The college used retired FBI men to do the investigation. Among other things the report stated that in the US the abuse was 4% pedophilia and 81% homosexual activity with teenage boys. This of course is illegal and immoral but it is not pedophilia. The press will not report this.

  5. PriestsForTransparency.com says:

    I think we should be wary of taking the “Council of Parishes” and the vigilers’ comments at face value. As many priests know, many of the vigilers were not people that the pastors or active parishioners of the closed parishes even knew. These vigilers have an agenda – and it’s not to build up the Church.

    It would be a good study some day to get the names of all the leaders of the Vigils and detail what active parish involvement and giving those people had prior to the Vigils.

    >99% of the active parishioners have moved on to the new parish because they appreciate what really happens during the Mass and would never participate in the crazy “communion” services that radicals who want to destroy the faith try to equate with Holy Mass.

    Who is Peter Borre? Why does he speak for anyone beyond himself? What is his angle and agenda? Why does any professional journalist quote him on anything?

    That said, it’s a shame Mr. McDonough’s comment has given another issue for Borre and the Council of Parishes to be quoted on. A big mistake.

  6. Downhill says:

    The expenditures of $10 million over the last 5 years, including $1.5 million in 2009 on Reconfiguration deserves the same scrutiny by Boston Catholic Insider that other Archdiocesan expenditures have received. It is actually a mistake to attribute these expenditures to the vigils.

    The properties of all closed parishes were to be maintained by a facilities management firm named Codman until these properties were sold. Codman by merger or acquisition is now Newmark. Maintenance on a closed church property includes cutting the lawn and picking up the trash on the grounds. Heat and water in the closed churches without vigils have been shut off. According to the procedures I have been made aware of (an early copy of the vigil manual), vigilers have assumed the utility bills for their churches.

    Parishioners in at least 11 parishes excercised their legitmate rights as Catholics and appealed the suppression of their parishes to the Vatican. In some cases, the process from first appeal to the final decision of the Apostolic Signatura took nearly 6 years. While the appeals were being heard in Rome, the Archdiocese could not prepare these churches for sale, so they needed to pay Newmark for the basic maintenance.

    So, if only 11 closed church properties were being maintained in 2009 (I don’t know if there are more because I don’t know if all the churches closed in 2004 – 2005 without appeal have been sold), why does it cost the Archdiocese $1.5 million for simple property management services on 11 properties? This is $136,000 per church, over $10,000 per month. Is this typical for propety management? Does anyone out there know?

    • Ignored Pastor says:

      Depending on the size of the Church, and there would also be a rectory and perhaps a school building, $10,000 per month is not outlandish. Whether or not the buildings are being used you would still have to have insurance (fire, theft, and liability), heating, cutting of the lawn (you don’t want to have the property go to he– and invite thieves). And someone would have to be paid to watch over the property and inspect the buildings for water damage after storms, etc.

  7. Jack O'Malley says:

    Thanks very much for your efforts in exposing the self-serving machinations of the laity-managed chancery. This is an office which properly belongs to ordained clergy and venal laymen ought to have no part in handling the contributions of the faithful. They have more than enough opportunity to pursue their lucre with OPM in the public markets without confiscating the widow’s mite for their own aggrandizement.

    BTW, would it be out of place if I made a small suggestion regarding the blog’s format? Perhaps shorter posts more focused on a single topic, and with a greater posting frequency, several times per day if need be, would enhance the readability of the posts and allocate comments to the germane topic? It would also allow interested readers to focus their attention more intently on topics of especial interest to them.

    In any event, your work is very much appreciated. I was hardly aware of the situation in the chancery, i.e. “pastoral centre” until I began reading this blog and others.

    Benedicat vos Deus, qui amat eos qui Eum amant. (May God, who loves those who love Him, bless you).

    • clem kadiddlehopper says:

      Jack, there have been outstanding lay chancellors at Chancery/Pastoral Center since the 80′s. The recent venality is the new wrinkle that has kicked off this blog.

    • Jack,
      Welcome! Thank you for the compliment. We’re glad to hear that our efforts are appreciated!

      Suggestions are always welcome. We will try to stick to a single topic in the posts so it is easier for readers to follow and to focus their comments. We will also try for shorter posts, but no guarantees there, as sometimes it takes us a lot of words to document and fully explain each topic we cover in the sort of depth readers tell us they find valuable. Running a long post over several days is an option there. Unfortunately, multiple posts in one day is just not practical for us at this time.

      Thanks again for your positive feedback!

  8. Quality Guy says:

    Amen , Jack

  9. A. J. Constantino says:

    Concerned Deacon

    Could you imagine the outcry from the faithful if closed church buildings were left uninsured, dirty and left to rot? You would be scandalized. For all its poor decisions. the one to use Codman and Company (Newark Maintenance) was proper. Perhaps not the cheapest but from my observation effective.
    To continue to insure properties for fire, theft and liability is being a good steward of the Church’s assets.

    Before we can be critical of Bishop Hennessey or Chancellor McDonough and their meeting at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we need to know some background.

    Consider:

    1.) The protesters, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, were originally led by an individual, who was not a regular participant in Parish affairs or activities. In fact, her being, on the scene, was a mystery, even to family members.
    2,) There is an individual, a layman, who misrepresents himself and Church teachings. As a result of his actions, he is placing many souls in jeopardy. The Rite of Holy Communion Outside of Mass is not a substitute for the Sunday obligation of Mass. This individual has his platform and is not willing to step back. If we have critics they should be asking why this individual has not be told to cease and desist.
    Whose is the greater sin?
    3.) Several years ago, the protesters, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, were offered the opportunity to keep the Church open and functioning. Yes, with some restrictions, as imposed by Code, Rubrics and common sense. In honesty, there was a lack of compromise on the part of both the receiving Parish and the protesters

    The RCAB has been both fair and tolerant of this protest!

    It is time to move on and heal!

    If the Chancellor “spilled the beans” perhaps he is seeing REALITY!

    To operate and manage a single parish is not cheap!

    There is overhead; electricity, water, heat (in the parish I live in , our annual heating cost is almost $20.0K per year), there is cost of insuring church and rectory , staff salaries and benefits ,in our parish, we are allowing for the first increase (2%) in (2) years. Don’t telephone, maintenance etc.
    Yet, the weekly offertory has not kept pace with the demands. The reality is, we need to sacrifice! We can spend $2.75 for a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee but put an extra $1.00 in the collection – are you kidding?!

    There has to be a commitment on both parts:

    To the people, we need to support our parish; you will be amazed at what an extra $1.00 per week will do!
    If we cannot support the parish, there is the reality that more Parish Communities will need to be re-configured, both due to finances and because of the shortage of Priests. There is no escaping it.

    On the part of the RCAB the commitment has to be openness and honesty! If a Parish is in danger of being closed tell the people why and more importantly, in advance. If there is a possible solution to avoid closing, try to work it out. . A FEDEX letter is not in the Christian tradition.

    Lastly, where should a Priest serve? In an office? or with the people of God in a Parish?
    The answer is obvious!
    I was a bit shocked when I read: “This is an office which properly belongs to ordained clergy a venal layman ought not…” It is the process that is flawed. The RCAB should look to overhaul the process.

    I appreciate this blog but, at times, I am a bit disturbed by how judgmental, we have become.

    • thebostoninsider says:

      A.J. Constantino you seem to have a good understanding from your point of view on how you see maintaining a church. Do you have a good understanding on how RCAB outsourced this to a third party paying a great deal of a premium cost, while RCAB laid off quality of staff to bring in their own? Secondly, accountability of money from the reconfiguration and the funny math that goes on inside the Finance driven by the Chancellor and less by the Director of Finance. Do you have a good understanding on this? See, I do, because I live it and have seen it go on for to long. Stay tuned more to be posted!!! My point, you only know what is shared with you, and not the truth on the actual handling. This blog is right on with many of the posts and majority of what is posted.

  10. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    A few thoughts
    …left uninsured, dirty and left to rot? –
    Better that than led by women Priests and filled with alternative and contraceptive do-gooder families.

    …both due to finances and because of the shortage of Priests. There is no escaping it. -

    The Priest shortage is a myth. Catholic’s frequently spent all of Sunday traveling to and in participation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The 47 minute service around the corner is a relatively new phenomenon. Would there be harm in having the faithful drive an hour or more to get to Mass?
    Regarding finances: $325,000 to pay the head of Catholic Schools? Absurd.

    …I am a bit disturbed by how judgmental, we have become.-
    How sir, does one build and develop the Cardinal Virtue of Justice if one does not exercise Judgment?

  11. Jack O'Malley says:

    Clem:

    Love the moniker!

    I don’t deny there are virtuous and disinterested members of the laity who could fulfill those roles. But let them offer their services gratis as advisors to the Cardinal. An O’Connell or a Cushing would
    know how to dismiss unorthodox or venal laymen or laywomen and make his rebuke sting.

    Quality Guy:

    Gratias tibi! (thanks!) Let’s pray for better days for Boston and the Church.

    A.J. Constantino:

    Your remarks about the process have merit and I don’t disagree. My point was that when the process fails, we should have the clergy to blame not the laity whose conflict of interest in hindsight would seem manifest. The Good Lord expelled the moneychangers from the Temple and not a one of them was a priest.

    We have a plethora of examples of a priestly peccancy (that arch-facilitator and now archpriest living in luxury at Santa Maria Maggiore in the Eternal City is a prime example); we don’t need to add to that the venality of a latrocinant laity.

    Let all fulfill their proper roles: get the laity out of the chancery and especially out of the sanctuary and let the priests and bishops offer the Sacrifice of the Mass before the altar of God ad orientem, ad Deum. Let Cranmer continue to burn in Hell.

  12. Carolyn says:

    Let’s be clear, if every priest who works at 66 Brooks Drive, and every priest who lives at the Cathedral, were made a pastor instead, you’d have a lot of relatively young, smart pastors available. Not enough to staff every current parish, but a lot more than you have now. And honestly, that’s why they became diocesan priests.

    Boston has made two mistakes: The first is the assumption that the Chancellor has to be a finance person. Lots of people can count beans, and meet with bean counters. Few people have the gifts to of wisdom, understanding, piety and fortitude to be a good chancellor (check the canons for what that means). The chancellor could be a priest, or could be a lay person (brace yourself, even a woman), but must be very smart, a good manager, and absolutely above reproach.

    The second Boston mistake is believing that the Pastoral (and that’s pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, not the goofy way they pronounce the name of the building on Brooks Drive) must always bow to the Financial. The search committees from now on should be required to undergo formation that would include reading some Augustine and some Aquinas. While chancery leadership must understand the role and importance of the temporal, that can easily be achieved by those who have a strong understanding of the spiritual. If they stop pretending that the two are mutually exclusive, we’ll get somewhere.

  13. Mike says:

    I remember Fr. Charles Murphy very well and I’m thrilled that he’s been cleared. He’s a wonderful priest. When the late Fr. Walter J. Martin S.J. was Chaplain of the Port of Boston, he ran the “Waterfront Chapels”. Tiny Stella Maris Oratory across from the old Jimmy’s Harborside and the larger Our Lady of Good Voyage across from Pier 4, both on Northern Avenue. Fr. Murphy ably assisted him. Stella Maris is long gone. O.L.G.V. was there as of 2008, but I heard that it was to be torn down and rebuilt as part of the Waterfront Construction.

    I attended both through most of the 80′s. At Stella Maris there was a midnight Mass packed with police, fire, longshoremen, newspaper workers, you name it. Fr. Martin usually handled that Mass and knowing that many of the workers were on break or tired at the end of their shift, he would deliver mini-sermons that were quick but effective. With no room for even an organist, Fr. Martin kept a cassette tape recorder and would press “play” just before communion!

    O.L.G.V. offered something that I’m not aware any other church in the RCAB offers, 7 & 8 pm Sunday Mass. Father Murphy celebrated many of these and again, these Masses were filled to capacity. Fr. Murphy has a slight hearing impairment and one might detect it from his voice. Still, it was no impairment for him in delivering God’s word. Since these weren’t really parishes, there was nobody to assist these priests other than four men, usually picked at random to take the collection. Murphy managed well, and after Mass always greeted the faithful of all ages on the sidewalk outside the church. Just a great and gentle priest!

    Together Father Martin and Father Murphy served tens of thousands at what some might consider odd hours for Mass. Is there even a midnight Mass on Saturday nights in the city anymore? I know Arch Street did away with it. How about a 7 or 8 pm? As everyone frets about declining attendance, perhaps the RCAB could look to accomodating those who can’t make the early morning Sunday services. When Frs. Martin and Murphy did, people flocked to those churches. Just a thought.

  14. John Galt says:

    Video Resume for RCAB Secretary for Insititutional Advancement Position.

  15. [...] the news that Fr. Charles Murphy recently passed away. Last October, BCI shared with our readers in this post that the archdiocese had cleared Fr Murphy from an accusation of sexual abuse and restored him to [...]

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