Cardinal reaffirms commitment to lay pension plan

Today, the Boston Pilot published an article entitled, “Cardinal reaffirms commitment to lay pension plan.”  Here is an excerpt from the article:

BRAINTREE — Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley is reaffirming his commitment to meeting the obligations of the lay pension fund and will give anyone who has already elected to cash out of the plan a chance to reverse that decision.

“As long as I have breath in me, I will do everything in my power to care for the thousands of people who have given their lives in the service of the Church,” the cardinal said in a March 30 statement to The Pilot.

In his statement Cardinal O’Malley also discussed the current financial health of the archdiocese that he says has improved from prior years.

“Today, the archdiocese is in a much better place and most of the fiscal challenges have been resolved,” Cardinal O’Malley’s statement said in part. “We are no longer in fiscal free fall and are in a much better position to meet our obligations.”

Pension plan administrator Carol Gustavson told The Pilot that Cardinal O’Malley will send a letter to each former employee who has opted to cash out of the archdiocese’s lay pension plan early by taking a lump sum distribution telling them they “can change their mind if they felt pressured” and that it will “make sure they understand he is involved.”

Gustavson could not say when the letter would be released.

Cardinal O’Malley’s actions come in the wake of recent criticism of the archdiocese’s handling of the lay pension fund.

Last week it became public that the Daughters of St. Paul have filed a lawsuit against the plan’s trustees in an effort to withdraw funds contributed for their lay employees to the plan. The sisters are asking the Supreme Judicial Court to order the trustees to provide them with an accounting, or rule the sisters were never part of the plan and require the archdiocese to reimburse them for any contributions they have made.

Also, earlier this week, former chancellor of the archdiocese David W. Smith met with reporters to outline what he called heavy-handed tactics to coerce former employees into an early cash-out of their pension benefits.

Gustavson said the archdiocese’s goal is to return the plan to fully funded status, which she cautioned could take well over 10 years depending on market projections and investment returns.

Cardinal’s statement on lay pension plan

“When I arrived in Boston the pension funds were in danger because the archdiocese was insolvent. We were running a $15 million annual deficit; we owed $30 million to the Knights of Columbus; the Catholic hospitals were losing $40 million a year; the Catholic Appeal had plummeted to $8 million; and there were about a thousand lawsuits against us. Some were even advocating that the archdiocese go into bankruptcy.

Today, the archdiocese is in a much better place and most of the fiscal challenges have been resolved. We are no longer in fiscal free fall and are in a much better position to meet our obligation. I am so grateful to our pastors, parishioners, benefactors, the army of very competent volunteers serving on our boards and our hard working staff who have helped us along the road to recovery. Their efforts will allow us to continue meeting our obligations and to carry on the mission Christ has entrusted to us.

If I did not care passionately about pension obligations I would never have transferred our Catholic hospitals to Cerberus. As long as I have breath in me, I will do everything in my power to care for the thousands of people who have given their lives in the service of the Church.”

We were pleasantly surprised to see the Cardinal make a statement about the pension plan and voice this level of commitment to taking care of retirees. We hope this statement represents a real commitment, rather than something just intended to quiet the current uproar over pensions, including bad publicity from the Daughters lawsuit and call for involvement by state officials. Unfortunately, many promises have been made in the past and not upheld, and we have no specifics on the actions the Cardinal is now committed to taking.  As just one example, what are the plans to uphold the Cardinal’s promise from 2004 that $5 million in pension plan obligations by closed parishes would be repaid from reconfiguration funds?  Despite justifiable skepticism, the statement is at least a small step forward vs the past practice of total ignoring of the issue.

What do you think?

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27 Responses to Cardinal reaffirms commitment to lay pension plan

  1. What about the outstanding lump sum offers that have be calculated using an 83% (64%) funding level? Are those numbers going to be adjusted? At least to reflect the $5 million not paid from parish reconfiguration, if not to reflect a shared burden for the underfunding..

    As one who worked at the Archdiocese – promises are cheap unless backed up with genuine actions.

  2. got me! says:

    I read this and got very happy then I realized it must be fiction.

    • Anonymous says:

      Talk is cheap. Show me the money!

      Could be an April fools joke, especially that back door compliment to McDonough which was totally undeserved. Better shape?

  3. Objective Observer says:

    Your Eminence,

    If this really is your commitment, and not yet another compelling statement written for you:

    1. Publicly answer the questions of the Daughters of Saint Paul and give them their money.

    2. Publicly answer the questions of other current and former employees, e.g., David Smith.

    3. Cut salaries of your employees so that no one is paid more than $150,000.00 per year.

    4. Pay back the seminary’s cash and principal according to a fixed schedule, and make whole others (open parishes) whose assets your chancellor has converted or otherwise compromised.

    5. Replace the people who have muddled the trust and fidelity of your Catholic faithful. Get rid of people who were hired as a result of, or who have engaged in conflicts of interest. For a start, McDonough, Gustavson and Lovely.

    6. Use real transparency, verified by the competent authorities and made very public, the persons who profit from your Common Investment Fund, and how they are chosen, and why their record is worse than standard measures of the past 15 months in financial markets.

    Those are the actions that will give breath to your words, and slow the bottomless drop of confidence in this archdiocese by its priests and lay faithful.

    Hurry.

    • FR B says:

      ALSO … RESTORE THE MISSING MONIES FROM THE PRIEST’S PENSION PLAN etc etc … ALSO RESTORE THE REPUTATIONS OF THE UNJUSTLY AND FALSELY ACCUSED!!!

      OH HOW I WANT TO BELIEVE THAT OUR BISHOP HAS AWAKENED AND IS TRULY GOING TO TAKE THE HELM WITH TRUE BELIEVERS AS HIS ASSOCIATES!

      I, LIKE MANY OF YOU, WILL AWAIT THE FRUITS OF THESE BOLD PROMISES.

    • Carolyn says:

      To: Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley…

      Heed the points above, and “quodqumque dixerit facite.”

    • Mary Reilly says:

      A big “Amen” to both Objective observer and Fr. B! I don’t know that I believe our archbishop has awakened and is taking the helm. feels more like a tactical move to just try and avoid more bad PR.

  4. anna says:

    Sadly, his record for publishing malarkey is too long to take seriously.

    Remember he said he was considering Archbishop Chaput’s policy on Catholic schools but that was never ever put on the table.

    This week, he’s committed to pensions to his dying breath. Quite a switcheroo from last week.

    Thanks to BCI, David Smith and the Daughters of St. Paul.

    They must be pining away for the good old days when Catholics would never go out into the public square to expose their dirty tricks.

  5. anonymous says:

    What is this site trying to be The Onion now? I know it’s April Fools but it’s pretty lame to get up the hopes of the people affected by this and detracts from the good work you are doing.

    • Sorry you feel BCI gave you false hope by virtue of our sharing the Pilot article. We felt it was newsworthy and appropriate to share, as it was the first time in more than nine months that the Cardinal actually responded in some public way to complaints from faithful Catholics.Unfortunately, it took a combination of bad publicity, a lawsuit, and possible loss of money for him to even say something. As we all know in Boston, there is a long history of words not being followed by actions that match the words. We hope that is not once again the case in this situation, but it could very well be just a repeat of the past attempts to quiet the criticism while business as usual proceeds unchanged.

  6. anna says:

    Wait just a minute…

    Do you think this is all dog and pony show to stop the momentum building to get the attorney general to step in?

    Where was his “commitment” during the process of sending out the letter asking retirees to ‘balance the budget’ by surrendering their security in retirement?

  7. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    I do get the impression he has read this blog.
    I think it is a positive step.
    I think embarrassment from the Daughters lawsuit put this whole issue on his radar.

    • anna says:

      LCIB,

      I hope you are right. It’s at least positive that sick and retired people who were coerced into absorbing the Cardinal’s debt have the opportunity to reverse their decision.

      There have been dozens of times when he has said something that imply he’s going to step up to the plate and do the right thing but then he goes and does the exact opposite.

      If he was so committed, why did he send his lawyer to mediation with the Daughters of St. Paul with talking points that do not give them their own money which they’ve been trying to remove from their misfeasance for the last 7 years?

      I hate to say it, but I think they see the mob building and the potential for a probe by law enforcement. They want people to believe that the Cardinal has had an epiphany so they will be reluctant to forge ahead with legal action.

      Who knows if the Cardinal is even aware he’s made this statement? Who knows if the Cardinal is aware of what he wrote about McDonough? He hasn’t been engaged in what’s going on here for years. It’s all being written and done for him without his knowledge or authority and that is the way he likes it.

      Are we to believe the people in the Chancery who are not committed to taking care of people who gave their lives to serve the Church were, all this time, acting against his wishes? Without his consent or knowledge?

      What just happened?

      Doesn’t pass my sniff test.

      Rome will remove him if they get a scent that a scandal is brewing that is going to bring law enforcement around and affect the salvation of their money.

  8. theophilus says:

    I think the former comment is out of line and is getting carried away with emotion. Confront his decisions, but he deserves more respect than that. Maybe he is clueless but calling him a scoundrel is too much and, I believe, unfair. I understand BCI doesn’t control what someone blogs on this site, and I appreciate their hard work in pursuit of truth and justice.

    • FR B says:

      I echo your sentiment.

      We must hold him accountable but we must retain respect for the Office of Bishop and not enter the ring of slandering + defaming as #66 has not always refrained from using.

      If we enter that style, we become part of the problem NOT THE SOLUTION!

  9. FR B says:

    As I offer Mass this evening I shall pray for his Eminence and ALL impacted by his decisions + leadership. I suggest all of you do the same … WE MUST NOT PUT TRUST IN PRINCES!

    Our trust is in the Lord!

    His inspiration + direction has been leading us to this very point, He will not foresake us now.

  10. Readers,
    We believe someone has been using 5 or more different screen names to post comments of an identical nature regarding the pension issue. Anonymity is fine here, and we welcome all viewpoints. But using 5 different names within the period of a couple of days to give the false impression that 5 different people all feel the same way is not acceptable. Whoever it is that is doing this, please stop. You are just making more work for BCI at this point, and forcing BCI to more strongly consider having to block or moderate all comments. Please cut it out, OK? Send us an email if you wish to communicate further offline.

  11. Al says:

    I have sent in a number of comments using different names, but I did not think that was wrong seeing that the email address was the same. Also I did not send five in the last couple of days, but I did send a number using different names. For the purpose of anonymity I didn’t think I was causing a problem, but I can understand your concern. In the future I will use Al as my name. I just wish you would be more upfront in warning people of the risk involved in remaining in a pension plan that is not insured or regulated. Can you be 100% certain that this pension plan will be around in ten years or five years or even in one year? If you can not be 100% certain than please do not belittle my concerns. Given all the unknowns facing this Archdiocese I just do not feel any level of comfort by not taking the lump sum. I have worked as a school teacher for the Archdiocese for 29 years so I think I speak from experience. Again I am sorry for any extra work I may have caused you. It was not intentional.

    • Al,
      Thank you for responding. BCI knows, and our readers know, the plan is not insured or 100% guaranteed, and that has already been made very clear in all of the communications from the archdiocese to beneficiaries. BCI brings little value re-communicating that which has already been communicated. The lump-sum may be the right option for some people. You have reminded readers of that in a number of your different comments already. If it is right for you or other people to take the lump-sum as offered today, then take it and run! You have stated your view here and we left your comments, until we observed the situation we described which you acknowledged.

      BCI is not in position to advise people one way vs another. But we do think various aspects of how the archdiocese is handling the pension situation are inconsistent with prior promises. If those promises are upheld, then everyone–including those who opt for a lump-sum today–will be better off.

      You have obviously already reached the decision to take the lump-sum as offered now. BCI will continue to push for a fairer lump-sum, and a stronger guarantee of future funding. Each time we do that, you need not weigh-in again to try and sway us. We will simply have to agree to disagree.

  12. teddyballgame says:

    Once again, Carol Gustavason could not say when the letter would be released.

    The $125K girl comes through again!

  13. WOW! says:

    This is exciting news. Just read it on the Pilot website because I didn’t believe it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t believe it until he puts up some money starting with the 5 million reconfiguration.

      If he thinks the Archdiocese is better off today, then he doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on. McDonough and his cronies are better off but that’s about it.

  14. Al says:

    Does anyone have an update on how The Daughters of St. Paul made out on the 29th?

  15. Ricardo Ramos-Daviola says:

    I hope Sean-boy remembers the 9th Commandement- Thou shalt not bear false witness. Just show me the money and I’ll believe you. Don’t punish the working stiffs for what the priests did. When Catholicscomehome.org advertises again on the TV I’ll take into consideration how much my pension is funded!

  16. Jack O'Malley says:

    Ricardo of the Holy Hispanic Hyphenation,

    That would be the 8-th Commandment by Catholic reckoning, which is the only one that counts. And thanks for the reminder about the priests. You prods want to be sure to stay fixated on that. So keep watching the commercials and go back to your storefront evangelical temple.

  17. FR B says:

    Brothers, PLEASE!
    Division + and ‘ad hominem’ arguementation are Satan’s favorite TOOLS!!
    Now more than ever we must join hearts + hands in praise + supplication!

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