Archdiocesan Finance Council: New Compensation Committee Formed

Readers, anyone who feels we are not making slow but steady progress need look no further.

Last Wednesday, Nov 10, the archdiocese announced to all employees that BostonCatholic.org now includes an up-to-date listing of the members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council.  That may seem minor, but it represents progress.  Along with the progress, we are not yet sure what to make of one more piece of news. We now have yet another committee–this one formed to review compensation for senior lay executives and recommend changes, where needed, to the Archbishop.

The publication of the members of the Finance Council is at least a small win for Catholics in the archdiocese, since the more transparency that exists, the more accountability there will be.  And if the archdiocesan leaders–current ones and/or new ones that come on-board–are truly accountable and get to the point where they are acting in concert with the values of Christ and are not in it just for the money or power, it is more likely that people will trust the archdiocese and the good works of the church can continue.  Maybe that is too much to expect yet today–we will see.

Anyway, the archdiocese used to publish the  list of Finance Council members through the time when the 2008 annual report was issued, but then they inexplicably stopped.  We have been asking them about this since August 23, and it only took ten weeks in which to get back to doing that which was being done previously.  This shows that things are just cranking at break-neck speed at 66 Brooks Drive.

At the end of this post, you will see the message that tells you where you can find the names of the people on the council.  But, before we get to the new people added to the council, we thought we should let you know about a major change to the charter of the Finance Council.

The current charter, amended November 10, 2010, has created a new “Compensation Committee.”  Here is a description of the committee:

The Compensation Committee shall develop and submit to the Finance Council for its review, and for approval by the Archbishop, a statement of the compensation philosophy of the Archdiocese for senior lay executive employees. The Committee shall review and recommend to the Archbishop all changes in senior lay executive compensation, including offers of employment for senior lay executive employees. For purposes of this Section H, “senior lay executive employees” shall have the meaning determined by the Committee. The Committee will perform an annual review of all compensation for senior lay executive employees to ensure that compensation falls within ranges that are consistent with the approved compensation philosophy. Where deviations are observed, the Committee shall either determine that there is an acceptable reason therefore, or recommend a plan to correct the deviation. The Committee shall submit to the Finance Council an annual report on the compensation practices of the Archdiocese, which shall be included in the annual financial release of the Archdiocese. The Committee shall from time to time appoint a qualified independent compensation consultant to advise the Committee in the performance of its duties, and shall direct the consultant to conduct an analysis of competitive compensation practices and report to the committee thereon, at least once every three years. The Committee shall also advise on other compensation matters as requested. The Committee shall consist of at least one member of the Finance Council, and shall have members with proven credentials in executive compensation or other relevant general business experience.

Seems to us that this could, coincidentally, be a response to criticism by some people that the 6-figure salaries in the Pastoral Center—especially those at the $300K+ level–have gotten out of control and are unwarranted.  overpaidOnce the committee convenes, if they are looking for somewhere to start, we suggest they begin with Schools Superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, whose salary of $325,000/year apparently makes her on a per-student basis the highest paid public or private school superintendent in the country. It is not clear those kinds of paychecks were ever justified, let alone at a time when  parishes are struggling to get out of the red and pay their bills and the archdiocese is cutting pension benefits to lay employees and retirees.

UPDATE: In response to several commenters, we are changing our perspective slightly.  We think some check-and-balance on compensation is a good idea. But, it is not clear that such a committee is the right approach, as it appears to give even more power to the Finance Council, treating it even moreso like it is the Board of Directors of a company, which it is not.  How many Catholic archdioceses have a “Compensation Committee”?  Since this committee is apparently a foregone conclusion for now, we hope and pray that they put someone in charge of this new committee who is neither independently wealthy nor the CEO of a company.  The chair of the committee should come with unquestioned integrity and no conflicts of interest, as should the committee members.

While we are looking at the new charter, we thought we should mention several flaws in the document, which suggest someone needs to still be watching carefully over the Finance Department and Chancellor’s office.

First off, this charter is not actually signed by anyone.  Article XII of the charter says that “Amendments become effective only upon approval by the Archbishop.”  Is this new amendment approved by the Archbishop?  If so, why is it not signed by him and notarized by a witness to his signature?

Secondly, the amendment history present in previous versions has now been removed for some reason.  Here is the version that was most recently amended in May of 2010.  Notice the amendment history, with a place for the signatures by both the Cardinal and Chancellor?  To maintain transparency and the history of changes, shouldn’t the amendment history be included in this version as well?

There are other aspects of the Finance Council Charter that we will get to in the coming days. When you have a few minutes, look over the May 2010 version to see if you can find the irregularities or areas where the Council is not actively fulfilling their chartered responsibilities.

In the meantime, here is an excerpt of the diocesan announcement of last week about the new information:

GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

1.      Listing of Council Members

Our BostonCatholic.org website was updated this week to include a listing of the full membership of the College of Consultors, Archdiocesan Finance Council, Presbyteral Council and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.    We are deeply grateful for great leadership these members provide to in service to Christ and His Church.

http://www.bostoncatholic.org/collegeofconsultors.aspx

http://www.bostoncatholic.org/archdiocesanfinancecouncil.aspx

http://www.bostoncatholic.org/archdiocesanpresbyteralcouncil.aspx

http://www.bostoncatholic.org/ArchdiocesanPastoralCouncil.aspx

More next time on the irregularities and unfulfilled responsibilities, unless you beat us to the punch via comments.

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13 Responses to Archdiocesan Finance Council: New Compensation Committee Formed

  1. Angry Parish Council Member says:

    I assume you’re being sarcastic about the ten weeks being “break-neck speed.” Ten weeks to publish a listing they used to publish 2 years ago is break-neck speed perhaps for the current Chancellor’s organization, but would be unacceptable in a private sector company. I’d like to know why they stopped for 2 years and why the blog had to ask them several times.

    I found the charter interesting. Am guessing one of the “unfulfilled responsibilities” is under Article III, Section M. “To oversee and provide consultation on a mechanism for the confidential reporting by employees and other parties of questionable or unethical practices.” Wonder how long that’s been their?

    Hey Chancellor McDonough and Finance Council, how’s that whistleblower policy going?

    BCI proves once again that what you’ve asked of the archdiocese is just accountability for what they have committed they were going to do anyway.

  2. PriestsForTransparency.com says:

    Interesting that the new list of Finance Council committees doesn’t include this new compensation committee. How long will it take them to publish those names?

    I’d love to see an explanation of the current “compensation philosophy” that would lead to salaries such as the Superintendent or the General Council. Will this philosophy also include the need to have a directed gift to cover this – or will they rely on pastors to raise it by every $100 donation to the Catholic Appeal?

    Speaking of pastors, it’s very disappointing and discouraging (but not surprising) to see how there is only 1 pastor on the Finance Committee. 1 for 20 (including life members) or 5%. That explains a lot about the poorly formed decisions being made by the Finance Council at the Chancellor’s request. Neither the Vicar General nor the Cardinal ever held the office of pastor. But if you wanted to include them it’s still only 15% of those in this very important canonical body are priests. That is way too low.

    By the way, does it strike anyone else as weird that there is such a thing as a “life member.” No disrespect to those appointed that, but shouldn’t service in the Church rotate. Is this Jack Connors’ latest attempt at turning the Archdiocese into Boston College (or is it the other way around) by creating a finance council equivalent of tenure?

  3. Michael says:

    The Charter says: “The Committee shall from time to time appoint a qualified independent compensation consultant to advise the Committee in the performance of its duties, and shall direct the consultant to conduct an analysis of competitive compensation practices and report to the committee thereon, at least once every three years.”

    The important question is whether the Archdiocese will be measuring its competitive salaries against other diocese or against multimillion dollar non-profit organizations.

    I have an idea, if Boston Catholic Insider simply prepared an excel spreadsheet showing salaries from all other diocese, you would see how ridiculous the salaries are here in Boston. Just look at Mary Grassa O’Neill’s salary and the members of her “team.” Their salaries are so far out of line with anything reasonable, one would think that a normal, decent, humble catholic would be embarrassed to accept such compensation. They obviously feel that their “hard work” and their “commitment” to the archdiocese justifies the pillaging.

    It doesn’t.

    And as an aside, what the heck do they do over there that would justify those outrageous salaries? Big families and school debt doesn’t justify them. There are many parishioners who have large families and school debt but who don’t make anywhere near the ridiculous salaries they have given themselves. It reminds me of the Massachusetts Legislature who every so often, pat themselves on the back (for their hard work) with another unjustifiable salary boost.

    These people have lost sight of why they work for the church. They need to go out to the real world and get a job. At least, out in the real world, when you rip the company and its investors off, it is expected behavior.

  4. jack is a Conn-er says:

    Please don’t jump to the conclusion that this compensation committee is a good idea at all.

    If you read the Finance Council charter, it’s clear that the Chancellor and Connors are trying to turn it into the “Archdiocesan Board”. Read the materials on the new “Boston Catholic Development Services” and they continue to refer to the Archdiocese as if it has a board – it doesn’t.

    McDonough and Connors keep usurping power from the Cardinal, the Cabinet, and especially the priests as the first collaborators in ministry of the Cardinal.

    To Michael above – Is it the Superintendent’s “fault” that she is paid $325,000 or is it those that thought it made sense to offer her $325,000? She seemingly had a very good job at Harvard and McDonough and Connors wanted to “lure” her to take this role and thought it worthwhile to offer her top compensation. As PFT says above, it wouldn’t nearly be as offensive if for each of these highly compensated positions, they identified benefactors to subsidize the “excessive comp” or completely underwrite the position. But to rely on pastors to “work harder” to get more Catholics, many of whom are struggling financially, to give to the Appeal does offend the sensibilities.

    Compare the Canons related to the Finance Committee to this Finance Council and you’ll see how much power and authority is being usurped:

    Can. 493 Besides the functions entrusted to it in Book V on ‘The Temporal Goods of the Church’, (which refer to matters the Bishop should consult the Finance Committee on) it is the responsibility of the finance committee to prepare each year a budget of income and expenditure over the coming year for the governance of the whole diocese, in accordance with the direction of the diocesan Bishop. It is also the responsibility of the committee to account at the end of the year for income and expenditure.

    Another key issue here is that the Vice Chair is the “chair” of the Steering Committee where most of the work, decisions and recommendations happen. To think that they’d have a steering/executive committee and not involve the Cardinal is scandalous!!

    Anyone who can do anything about this – particularly the priests and the presbyteral council in particular – please WAKE UP and reclaim the church for Christ from these folks that want it to be their church.

    • You have convinced us we were wrong to hane initially called it a good idea, and we have updated the post. You raised excellent points, and we were “conned” based on our initial read. Thanks for setting the record, and us, straight.

    • Michael says:

      IN ANSWER TO: To Michael above – Is it the Superintendent’s “fault” that she is paid $325,000 or is it those that thought it made sense to offer her $325,000? She seemingly had a very good job at Harvard and McDonough and Connors wanted to “lure” her to take this role and thought it worthwhile to offer her top compensation.

      I think Mary is a big enough girl to figure out that she and her entire team are overpaid for these positions in the Church. She didn’t get dragged into this position against her will or unwittingly.

      If I were her, I would be embarrassed to take such a salary. Honestly, if I were any of her staff who are overpaid (and they know who they are), I would be embarrassed to be them. This would be true even if they were actually all working hard to uphold Catholic Church teaching. But they are not. They simply lack the moral courage to justify any compensation, never-mind excessive pay.

  5. Anna says:

    This is bad.

  6. Inside66Brooks says:

    Perhaps “Life Members” means they’re the ones who are pro-life. There are certainly a bunch of vocally pro-abortion people on the Finance Council, led by King Jack, who actually makes money off the killing of unborn children.

  7. Clem Kadiddlehopper says:

    I note that people who hold/held the public’s trust are being dismissed from state government based on their participation in, (or acquiescence to), fraudulent search and hiring procedures. Would that BCI had the resources of the Boston Globe! But, we will get there.

  8. Carolyn says:

    “The Committee shall review and recommend to the Archbishop all changes in senior lay executive compensation, including offers of employment for senior lay executive employees.”

    “…recommend to the Archbishop…” In my experience, these words are code for, “We ask Jack what he wants and we just pass that along for the ordinary to rubber stamp… or for whoever is holding the rubber stamp for him to rubber stamp.”

  9. [...] or Corrupt? A few days ago we talked about how the archdiocese took a step forward by finally publishing the names of members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council.  But unfortunately, the more and more we look at the charter for the council and the membership, [...]

  10. [...] a week have passed since the Finance Council modified their charter on November 4, 2010 to form a Compensation Committee that would review compensation of lay executive employees.  The names of the members are still [...]

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