The Brotherhood of Hope

May 29, 2011

Today BCI thought we would take a short break from the recent archdiocesan scandals and recognize something good happening in Boston–namely, the contributions of the Brotherhood of Hope to the Archdiocese of Boston.

As many readers know, here at BCI we are not the greatest fans of Cardinal Sean’s blog and the travel diary sort of fare he typically offers, but there are a couple of topics in recent posts that we feel merit even more attention than the Cardinal has given them.  One example from his recent posts,”Visiting the Boston University Catholic Center” and “Celebrating many great works in the archdiocese” is the Brotherhood of Hope and their work with college campus ministry.

(Note: the Brotherhood of Hope has not been notified in advance about our plans to write about them).

The Brotherhood of Hope, established in 1980, is a canonically recognized Catholic community of brothers and priests consecrated to Christ, dedicated to evangelization, and committed to a life together as a spiritual family. Their focus is a deep personal relationship to Jesus Christ, lived in the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.  BCI is aware they do fantastic work transforming the lives of students on college campuses and elsewhere in the archdiocese as well. They are the real deal!

Here is what Cardinal Sean said about campus ministry at Boston University:

Sunday I was the main celebrant at the evening Mass at Boston University and had a wonderful visit with the students there…BU has one of the most vibrant campus ministries in the archdiocese…I was so happy to see their evangelization efforts in practice — through the countless numbers of students they serve. Some of these students may not have been fully engaged in the Church prior to coming to BU, but become more active through the campus ministry program. As always, the BU Catholic community is very upbeat, energetic, and gives me great hope for the future of this archdiocese. the visit provided me the opportunity to publicly recognize the ministries of Sister Olga Yaqob and the Brotherhood of Hope at the campus. Both Sister Olga and the Brotherhood will be leaving BU this summer… the Brotherhood will be working on a new campus ministry effort focusing on colleges in the Fenway area.

The Brotherhood of Hope started up what has become this vibrant campus ministry at BU 11 years ago and is the main force behind what has become a thriving campus ministry at BU.  BCI is told and has seen first-hand how Catholic students graduating from BU after participating in the Brotherhood’s ministry program at the Catholic Center are far more authentically “Catholic” than those graduating from the so-called “Catholic” Boston College. Sources tell BCI that the Brotherhood of Hope does similarly fantastic work at Northeastern in Boston, Florida State in Tallahassee (Florida) and at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Here is what the Cardinal said about BU and the Brotherhood on his blog in Celebrating many great works in the archdiocese:

Monday evening I was happy to participate in the ceremony to present the Cardinal Humberto Medeiros Scholarships at Boston University.

BU awards full scholarships to 12 graduates of Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese. Since the scholarships were instituted by the then-president of BU, Dr. John Silber, in 1986 over 300 hundred students have been given these scholarships which are worth to date $35 million dollars.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for graduates of our Catholic high schools. Another nice feature about attending college at BU is that we have a very robust campus ministry program there, with a large participation from the students. The university has always been very supportive of the Archdiocese and our ministry there.

For many years we had Sister Olga and the Brotherhood of Hope lead the campus ministry at BU and they are now leaving to begin some wonderful new initiatives. We look forward to Fr. John McLaughlin and the FOCUS group going there to continue the extraordinary work of the Brothers and Sister Olga have done.

It is a good thing that the university has been supportive of the archdiocese and campus ministry at BU because Chancellor Jim McDonough and the archdiocese have slashed funding for campus ministry considerably relative to years past. Here you see how the chaplain at BU had to raise $200K from Catholic donors in the 2010-11 year “just to reimburse the archdiocese for salaries.”

As described in this press release, campus ministry at BU will be led by Fr. John McLaughlin starting July 1, when he will be returning from his work as National Vocations Director for the Archdiocese for the Military Services. BCI hears great things about him and wishes him much success in his new role.

And as for the next step for the Brotherhood, here is the recent press release announcing their Expanded Campus Ministry Outreach in Boston:

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap. is pleased to announce that the Brotherhood of Hope will launch a new initiative called “Hub” (Hope for Undergraduates in Boston) on July 1, 2011.  The initiative has the potential to expand the outreach of the Catholic Church to nearly 60,000 students on campuses in the Fenway area of the city.  HUB will be based at the Catholic Center at Northeastern University, already an important source of evangelizing efforts to the students on that campus.“The Brotherhood’s expertise and vision will be of invaluable assistance with this initiative,” said Cardinal O’Malley.  “Their twenty-five years of experience in campus ministry will provide us the opportunity to develop a community of college and university students centered in the Eucharist.”

“In order to fulfill this special venture entrusted to us by the Cardinal,” said Brother Rahl Bunsa, General Superior, “the Brotherhood needs to conclude our service at Boston University. We certainly experience real sadness over leaving the fruitful work at BU after serving there for 11 years and developing many solid friendships.  As a missionary community, we are honored by the Cardinal’s trust, and we are eager to accept this HUB challenge as we ‘put out into the deep’ (Lk 5:4).”

The Reverend Dr. Robert Allan Hill, Dean of Marsh Chapel and Chaplain to the University, expressed his “gratitude for the fine service rendered by the Brotherhood at BU.  In particular, I remember Father Paul Helfrich and Brother Patrick Reilly, who each served many years on our campus, for their pastoral and personal outreach to students. I am also grateful to Brother Sam Gunn, co-director, and to Brother Parker Jordan who have served most recently.”

The Brotherhood of Hope has been and continues to be a great gift to the Archdiocese of Boston and to campus ministry,” said Father Clancy, Archdiocesan Director of Campus Ministry. “It is exciting to have them expand their ministry and outreach to more of our students in the Fenway and Back Bay areas.”

Dr. Hill and Fr. Clancy put it well, and BCI has little to add to that–except to say that beyond campus ministry, we know that the Brotherhood of Hope has also impacted the archdiocese via their past work with men’s ministry, early involvement in Boston Men’s Conferences, and behind-the-scenes work by several of their priests in spiritual formation of seminarians at St. Johns Seminary and in the area of canonical affairs for the archdiocese.

If you are looking for a great Catholic organization to support instead of giving to the archdiocesan Catholic Appeal, BCI suggests you might wish to consider giving to the Brotherhood of Hope.  Because the archdiocese provides only a small amount of funding for campus ministry, they operate on a shoestring.  Every $1 you give to the Brotherhood of Hope will likely pay-back  ten-fold or more in terms of the impact on young people that will last and multiply in their lives as adults in the future, vs every $1 you give the archdiocese’s Central Ministries, which will yield much less than $1 after all of the excessive six-figure salaries, legal expenses, and administrative expenses are paid for.

Here is the Brotherhood of Hope’s website page where you can make a donation:

Join Us in Transforming Lives in Christ

The Brotherhood of Hope relies on your generous prayers and support to bring Christ’s love to many young women and men. Most Brothers work for sacrificial wages or no pay at all in order to serve wherever the need is greatest. Will you consider becoming a financial sponsor so that we can impact more students with the Gospel?

For those reading in Boston on Sunday, now do go outside and enjoy what remains of this stunningly beautiful day!


Retaliation

May 27, 2011

The saga of the Archdiocese of  Boston and the Daughters of St. Paul continues today with so many developments, BCI can barely keep up.

We posted yesterday in, “Daughters’ Lawsuit Against Cardinal Settled, But…” how the legal action was settled, but the provincial leadership team was removed. It is tough to see that move as anything but retaliation.

Today, the Boston Globe is running an article, “Daughters of St. Paul replaces local leader” that sheds some new light on who did what, but there is still a lot of ambiguity. So, BCI will try to fill in the gaps.

Bottom line is that Cardinal O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston are asking you and me to believe some things that defy believability. The archdiocese is asking us to believe there was no connection between the Cardinal calling the Superior General of the Daughters in Italy to complain about the legal action by the U.S. province and the ultimate sacking of the U.S. provincial and most of the provincial leadership team.

We only have time for a few points today, so we will have to come back to this in our next post.

Everyone needs to remember that the U.S. province did not sue the Archbishop of Boston.  The Daughters asked the court to order a full accounting of their contributions to the plan by the plan trustees (that included Cardinal O’Malley), or to order that their contributions be returned. They did not sue the bishop, they brought action against the Board of Trustees, of whom the Cardinal was a member.  As the Boston Globe reported initially back in March,” the nuns have asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to order the pension plan trustees, who include O’Malley and several of his top aides, to provide them with a full accounting of the nuns’ portion of the fund, or to rule that the nuns were technically never part of the church-run plan and to order the archdiocese to reimburse the nuns’ contributions, plus returns.”  Taking care of their lay employees is required under civil law and there is nothing canonically wrong or disrespectful with this either, especially since the Cardinal’s own staff stonewalled the Daughters for 5 years.  Based on what BCI has heard, it appears to BCI that neither the Cardinal nor the Daughters Superior General completely understand how both canon and civil law work.

The circumstances around the sacking of the U.S. provincial merit clarification.  First off, according to this article, the appointment of the previous U.S. provincial was in the first week of July of 2008.  Thus her 3-year-term would have ended in July of 2011. Was the provincial government near the end of the term?  Yes. At the end of the term?  No.  There is no question that the Superior General’s decision to remove the provincial two months before the end of the 3-year term was unusual.  There is also little question that the complaint from Cardinal O’Malley contributed to that move.  Did the Cardinal specifically ask the Superior General to remove the provincial leadership? Probably not.  But was it because of Cardinal O’Malley complaining to the Superior General that the removal action followed?  Put another way, had the Cardinal not called the Superior General to complain, would the Superior General have removed the provincial? Probably not.

Here is what the Globe article says: “Richard Nicotra, a Staten Island hotelier who is a significant benefactor of the Daughters, said in an interview with the Globe Monday that Sato and other nuns were deeply distraught about the leadership change. He said they told him that the cardinal had called Bruscato in Rome and told her that he was embarrassed by the lawsuit. As a result, Nicotra said the nuns told him, Bruscato came to Boston and ousted Sato. “What the nuns in Boston were so upset about was that she didn’t have their back,’’ he said.

The new U.S. provincial is Sr. Mary Leonora Wilson. According to this short biography, Sr. Leonora has been out of the U.S. for most of the past 28 years (in Russia and Germany) and away from the motherhouse for all of that time.  Just now back in Boston, she may not yet completely understand the current situation, politics, deception and corruption in the Archdiocese of Boston, and current level of discontent amongst the other Daughters locally and in the U.S. over what has just happened.

As for the timeframe of exactly when the previous provincial and new provincial were informed, there really is not nearly as much that is “disputed” as the Globe report suggested.  Sr. Leonora says the Superior General decided to not reappoint the previous provincial “shortly after Easter.”  Easter was April 24, so “shortly after Easter” could have been within a week or two after Easter.  As best as BCI can determine, the U.S. province learned about the change in provincial government during the first week in May. Terms of the settlement were also finalized during that timeframe. The Superior General arrived the following week (during the week of May 9)  and met with Cardinal O’Malley at the Cathedral Rectory on Saturday, May 14.

The various communications from the archdiocese, including Terry Donilon’s late-night communication Thursday night to warn priests and employees about the Globe story appearing on Friday will have to be the subject of a different post.

Suffice to say that Donilon saying to the Globe, the Cardinal, “feels a particular bond with the Daughters and strongly supports their mission of communicating the Gospel” rings hollow right now.  If the Cardinal felt a particular bond with the Daughters, then why did he fail to take responsibility for resolving this and instead let their situation drag on for 5 years, leading to the legal action?  Why did he deny he knew of their level of frustration? Why did he not get personally involved to try and expediently settle the matter with the U.S. province? Why did he allow the patriarchal church to attack faithful women religious? What is he doing to address the problem of the collateral damage to the U.S. province that happened after he called the Superior General?

Something needs to change around the Archdiocese of Boston soon. Please keep the Cardinal and Daughters of St. Paul in your prayers.


Daughters’ Lawsuit Against Cardinal Settled, But…

May 26, 2011

The Archdiocese of Boston and the Daughters of St. Paul issued what was called a “joint statement” yesterday announcing that they have settled the nuns’ lawsuit against Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and other trustees of its lay pension plan.   The Boston Globe and AP reported on the news of the settlement, and though the average reader might assume everything is now all well and good, that is far from the truth. What was not reported is the collateral damage the Daughters have suffered internally from how Cardinal O’Malley and the archdiocese reacted to the bad publicity over the lawsuit. Your prayers are needed for all parties involved.

First we will cover what has been said publicly about the settlement, and then the collateral damage.  From the Boston Globe we hear the following:

The Daughters, an international order of nuns whose North American headquarters is in Jamaica Plain, sued late last year to force the archdiocese to hand over the investments the Daughters had made in the archdiocese’s pension plan on behalf of the order’s lay employees.

The archdiocese did not disclose the amount of the settlement, but its statement said the agreement “included a transfer of the Archdiocese Pension Plan assets allocable to the Daughters of St. Paul to a new pension plan administered by the Daughters” and that it would “allow the Daughters to independently provide retirement benefits to their current and former employees.”

The Daughters claim they have been trying to extricate their lay employees’ assets from the church-run fund for years so that they could control the investments themselves. They had maintained they were owed nearly $1.4 million, based on their estimates of the value of their assets in 2007. In the lawsuit, they also claimed the archdiocese failed to maintain proper records of their assets.

Here is the “Joint Statement” issued by the Archdiocese:

May 25, 2011- Joint Statement from the Daughters of St. Paul and the Archdiocese of Boston

The Trustees of the Archdiocese of Boston Pension Plan and the Daughters of St. Paul are pleased to announce that as a result of the diligent efforts of all involved, a mutually satisfactory resolution to their differences has been reached.  As a result, on May 10, 2011, the parties jointly requested the court to dismiss the complaint filed by the Daughters in December 2010.  Click here for a copy of that joint filing.

The settlement, which included a transfer of the Archdiocese Pension Plan assets allocable to the Daughters of St. Paul to a new pension plan administered by the Daughters, will allow the Daughters to independently provide retirement benefits to their current and former employees.

The relationship between the Archdiocese of Boston and the Daughters of St. Paul, which began in the 1950s, when Cardinal Cushing welcomed the Daughters into the Archdiocese by giving them a bookstore in South Boston and a retreat house in Billerica, continues to be a strong and positive one.  Many Sisters in the community generously contribute to media initiatives around the Archdiocese, appearing on the new Catholic Radio station, WQOM 1060 AM, participating in Catholic media symposia and workshops, providing a source for Catholic media through their Pauline Book & Media center in Dedham and sharing their stories of faith on the Archdiocesan website’s Delegate for Religious home page. The Sisters also actively support the Archdiocese Pro-Life Office in countless ways.

The Archdiocese looks forward to continuing the tradition of having priests of the Archdiocese of Boston celebrate daily Mass for the Daughters at their chapel in Jamaica Plain as we work together to deepen and strengthen our common Faith.

(Interesting that no one from the Daughters of St. Paul is quoted in the “joint statement,” but we digress…)

The above represents just half the story. Though the two sides came to a mutually agreeable settlement, all but one of the provincial leadership team at the Daughters were removed from their leadership roles, apparently as a consequence of the archdiocese’s reaction to the lawsuit and media coverage of it.

In the interest of full disclosure, BCI has never requested permission or approval from the Daughters to report on this situation, and the Daughters declined to comment for this story. So here is some additional background as BCI understands it from other sources:

  • Claims by Cardinal O’Malley  to not have known about pending lawsuit are in dispute. Cardinal O’Malley has acknowledged he knew there was a problem–he received correspondence from the Daughters about the pension issue several years ago, he has said he quickly responded that the archdiocese would help them, and asked his staff to meet with the Daughters, which they did on multiple occasions.Though he has claimed to Pastoral Center employees and priests that the Daughters never let him or the Vicar General know they were dissatisfied with the progress of negotiations until they filed the lawsuit, his claim that he was unaware of the Daughters’ level of dissatisfaction is in dispute. This March 21 article in the Globe quoted the Daughters’ lawyer as saying the lawsuit was pursued only as a last resort, and “The Daughters of St. Paul are just as unhappy as they can be about having to do this.”  Several sources tell BCI that the claim by the Cardinal suggesting he was oblivious to the prospect of a lawsuit does not hold water. A reasonable person might ask any of the following questions: Did the Cardinal intentionally disengage and delegate or abdicate responsibility?  Did he not insist his staff keep him informed?  Did his staff keep this from him?  Did he know the Daughters felt they had exhausted everything but he did not accept that they were serious about the prospect of a lawsuit?  Or did he indeed know exactly what was coming from first-hand conversations, but he is just not acknowledging it?
  • Cardinal escalated situation to Daughters’ Superior General: After the lawsuit was filed and the Globe and other publications reported on it, the Cardinal was displeased with the negative media exposure and contacted the Superior General of the Daughters in Italy, Sr. Maria Antonieta Bruscato, to complain about the action. He had met her previously, as described in this 2008 entry on his blog. (“Then, I met with the superior general of the Daughters of St. Paul, Sister Maria Antonieta Bruscato. She is from southern Brazil, so we spoke Portuguese at the luncheon.”).  When a religious sister gets a call from a Cardinal, the hierarchical “red hat” is usually taken very seriously. That is what happened in this situation.
  • First mediation session ended without resolution. As BCI reported in “Pension Contention,” the first mediation session held March 29 ended without meaningful progress.  But substantial progress towards settlement was made in subsequent discussions through early May.
  • Superior General came to the U.S. earlier this month. Most of the U.S. provincial leadership team was removed.  Among the things BCI understands the Superior General did either before coming to Boston or after arriving was to consult with some of the other sisters here about the provincial leadership team. The provincial leadership team serves a three-year term, and the term of the 5-member team was to be ending in July. The Superior General appoints the team, and has the prerogative to renew terms if she wishes. This is objective, factual information (as evidenced here: “term is three years, with the possibility of being appointed to a second consecutive term”). Independent of the pension situation, BCI was aware of great things the provincial leadership team had accomplished during their term keeping the retail bookstores going during a down economy, releasing iPhone apps, and continuing the publishing, recording and evangelization initiatives. Despite these accomplishments, despite previous indications that the terms would be renewed and despite the level of confidence in the provincial leadership team we understand the Superior General found from the other sisters, BCI understands that the Superior General ignored this input and removed all but one of the team from their leadership roles effective immediately. This included the U.S. provincial superior, whose biography published upon her being named provincial for the U.S. and Toronto can be found here. (Masters in non-profit management from Notre Dame, bachelors degree from Emerson, previously was superior in Hawaii,  entered the convent at 17-years-old, spent 16 of her 30 years with the community in central governing positions, 13 as the provincial treasurer and three as a member of the provincial governing council).
  • Morale at the motherhouse in Jamaica Plain and in the U.S. province is not good right now.  Your prayers for the Daughters are much needed.

We have assembled this information over the course of several weeks and believe it to be accurate, but if anyone from the Daughters or the archdiocese has facts that dispute anything above, please let us know and we will be glad to make a correction.

It is difficult to look at what has transpired right now and feel this is a good outcome. The Daughters tried to resolve the dispute with the archdiocese over pensions for their lay employees for 5 years, as a last resort they filed a lawsuit, BCI wrote about it since we discovered it was public information on an archdiocesan website, the Globe and other papers picked-up the story, the Cardinal and his team got upset by the bad PR, he used the hierarchical “red hat” to push the Superior General to intervene, and the settlement that was nearly done before the Superior General arrived in the U.S. validated all of the merits of the Daughters’ original claim.  And by all indications, the end result of the Cardinal’s call to the Superior General complaining about the legal action was the removal of a dedicated, talented U.S. provincial leadership team 2 months before their three-year term was to have ended.  The Cardinal and his spokespeople will no doubt deny that his outreach to the Superior General was intended to take out the U.S. provincial leadership. However, whether an intended consequence or not, it is tough to not see the outcome for those provincial leaders as some form of retaliation by the archdiocese, the Cardinal, and his advisors.

BCI wonders if and when the Cardinal will ever publicly take responsibility for his actions and those of the archdiocese. The fact is that the Daughters of St. Paul tried for 5 years to resolve this matter with the Archdiocese of Boston and filed a lawsuit against the trustees of the pension fund as a last resort. Yet, the Cardinal’s comments about this situation and others typically have a tone of casting blame on others.  We do not ever hear him say something such as, “I realize that I screwed up”  or “My team did not address this issue in an expedient manner” or  “My team did not escalate this appropriately to me” or  “We mistakenly did not take seriously enough the indications the Daughters were frustrated and about to file a lawsuit.”  Instead, the tone and actions come across as casting the responsibility on others–they did not tell me, the media is to blame, etc.

BCI and thousands to tens of thousands of faithful Catholics clearly see an episcopal leadership void in the Archdiocese of Boston. For whatever reason, responsibilities for day-to-day leadership and management of the archdiocese appear to be almost entirely relegated, delegated, or abdicated to the likes of Chancellor Jim McDonough and his minions, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and Jack Connors.  What faithful Catholics see of the Archbishop of Boston is mostly travel and blogging about the travel. The organizational casualties to the Daughters are but one consequence of this situation. There are many others of even graver magnitude.

When will something change in Boston?  Will Cardinal O’Malley do something to repair the damage inflicted on the Daughters of St. Paul by this ordeal so they can most effectively continue their ministry? More importantly, will he acknowledge the governance problems under his watch and ask the Holy See to quickly help fill the void?

We urge our readers to continue to support the Daughers of St. Paul and pray for the Daughters, the Cardinal, and the Archdiocese of Boston. We suggest the beautiful words of the Memorare as a good starting point.


Temporary Truce?

May 24, 2011

Before we get into our topic for today, we would like to just let readers know we are well aware of the latest news from Lawrence regarding St. Mary of the Assumption School–we are in the process of doing some fact-checking before we determine in what manner BCI might weigh in.

As for our topic today, after reading a comment left on the blog yesterday, BCI had an idea this morning we are proposing to Cardinal O’Malley.  This can be thought of as a temporary truce in our criticism of Jack Connors and the Cardinal over a) Jack’s support for pro-abortion political candidates and b)  the inaction by the Cardinal in this grave matter. Here is an excerpt from the comment:

To the point raised by BCI, can Jack Connors, who certainly endorses abortion by making it available and failing to offer a real alternative, as well as by unfailingly supporting those who continue to legislate it as “safe and legal,” wrap himself in the mantle of promotion and protection by the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston?  Is Sean O’Malley morally bound, both by his Baptism and by his vows, to have the guiding councils of the Archdiocese free of those who actively support abortion as the answer for women and their children?

The answer is, the cardinal cannot morally or within the prescripts of his vows, foster and promote Jack Connors.  But he does it anyway.

The answer is, quite seriously, for Sean to witness an abortion, and accompany the remains (or “specimen” as the clinics call what’s left of the child) to the pathology lab bench where all tissue removed from a human during surgery must go for scrutiny.  Let the cardinal ask the pathologist about the tiny feet, and tiny skull, and the heart so large it takes up most of the body.  Then send him straight to some dinner where he will present Jack Connors, who presides over any dealings of RCAB to do with financial or managerial weight, with an award for being a wonderful person, nevermind Catholic.

Jack Connors got the real estate he needed for BC by sitting on the finance council while heading the BC board of trustees.  He got the Caritas hospitals a bit lower hanging on the branch (via Cerberus) for Partners to cherry pick in the not-to-distant future by returning to the finance council.  And he has thereby, in my opinion, compromised the ordinary to the point of risking his salvation.  This has not to do only with abortion, and the failure to provide a real alternative.  This has to do with scores of matters large and small, civil and ecclesial, where Sean has cooperated in the fraud crafted by Connors and his henchmen, to avoid the messier work of doing the right thing.

To bring the thought full circle, those six newly ordained men deserve an ordinary who can lead by example.  It’s the least they are owed in exchange for giving their lives over to the salvation of souls.

Pray for Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, Jack Connors, Bryan Hehir and their many minions.  They are in desperate need of our prayers.

Though we cannot solve all of the problems described above with this proposal, we would like to try and at least tackle one problem by offering the following proposal to Cardinal O’Malley, Jack Connors, and Fr. Bryan Hehir:

For the next 30 days, BCI will hold back from publicly criticizing the Cardinal, Jack Connors, and Fr. Hehir over the issue of Jack’s support for pro-abortion candidates–provided that the Cardinal, Jack, and Fr. Hehir all agree to witness an abortion as described above (preferably a late-term abortion) within the next 30 days, visit the pathology lab as described, and write a reflection that is published in The Pilot on the experience.  Optionally, Chancellor Jim McDonough and Finance Council Vice Chair, Jack McCarthy, could also be invited to observe this.

  • Scheduling: we assume that scheduling should be relatively easy, in that Jack is the Chair of Partners Healthcare, whose Brigham and Women’s Hospital performs 4,300 abortions every year (3,600 first-trimester and 570 second-trimester).  This averages 14 first-trimester abortions per business day and 2 second-trimester abortions per business day.
  • Finding a Doctor to Observe: Dr. Michael Greene, director of obstetrics at Mass General, might be a good starting point.  An alert reader recently passed us a link to this article from the Boston Globe that describes how Greene and other doctors at Mass General, Brigham and Women’s and Beth Israel Deaconess “perform” abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later and “avoid any chance of a live birth and prosecution” by making “lethal injections in the womb a standard operating procedure.” In case Greene is difficult to reach, we suggest that Fr. Bryan Hehir contact him using what we are told is his Boston College connection to Greene from this April 2010 BC panel discussion where they both spoke.

The archdiocese is annoyed by BCI and mistakenly thinks BCI is out to hurt the archdiocese.  In reality, BCI is just trying to find ways to encourage Cardinal O’Malley and his advisors to operate consistent with Catholic Church teachings and the archdiocesan Code of Conduct–and to do the right thing ethically and morally in governing the archdiocese.

BCI believes our proposal is simple and should be compelling for everyone involved.  If the Cardinal, Jack, and Fr. Hehir commit to witnessing an abortion (preferably at 20-weeks gestation or later) and writing about it publicly in The Pilot within the next 30 days (by June 24, 2011), BCI will commit to a temporary truce on criticism of those individuals regarding the issue of Jack’s support for pro-abortion politicians and the Cardinal’s inaction.  Depending on what they experience and write about, BCI might commit to a permanent truce on criticizing the aforementioned people regarding this specific issue.

Seems like a Win/Win proposal for all involved.  We will email it to the Cardinal, Fr. Hehir, and others who we believe should be able to forward this to Jack Connors.  BCI hopes to get a quick “yes” and will keep you updated on what we hear back by the end of this week.

What do you think of the truce proposal?


iPhone vs Droid

May 22, 2011

Before we get into the topic for today, our heartiest congratulations to six Boston priests ordained yesterday: Fathers Michael J. Farrell, Sean P. Hurley, FPO, Mark W. Murphy, John A. D’Arpino, Carlos D. Suarez, and Andrew Kwang Lee!

Longtime readers might look at the subject of this post and initially wonder what kind of incense BCI has been sniffing lately.  Bear with us for just one minute, as events of recent weeks brought BCI to think about Apple vs Google and the smartphone battle of the iPhone vs the Droid.  There are two reasons for our bringing this up.

First, and most importantly, as many people know, Apple and Google have competing agendas–the most obvious of those is that the iPhone from Apple competes against the Droid (whose Android operating system comes from Google). For several years, when Apple and Google did not yet have competing agendas, Dr. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, served on the Apple Board of Directors.  In 2009, when it became obvious that Google and Apple were competing in smartphones and operating systems, Schmidt resigned from the Board.  Here is an excerpt from the August 3 2009 resignation announcement from Apple:

Eric has been an excellent Board member for Apple, investing his valuable time, talent, passion and wisdom to help make Apple successful,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board.”

Let us now bring this matter of competing agendas back to the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Boston.  In carrying on the saving ministry of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church has part of her agenda the defense of life, the poor, and the most vulnerable in society.  See this excerpt from a piece by the USCCB entitled, “The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church.”:

All persons, not just Catholics, can know from the scientific and medical evidence that what grows in a mother’s womb is a new, distinct human being. All persons can understand that each human being — without discrimination — merits respect. At the very least, respecting human life excludes the deliberate and direct destruction of life — and that is exactly what abortion is.

Catholics are also pro-life because our Christian tradition is pro-life. As Pope John Paul II says, Christians believe that “all human life is sacred, for it is created in the image and likeness of God.” Aborting an unborn child destroys a unique creation which God has called specially into existence.

Christian teaching also obliges us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who spoke and acted strongly and compassionately in favor of the most despised and vulnerable persons in society. Jesus touched lepers, spoke with prostitutes, and showed special mercy and tenderness to the sick, the poor, and children. Our society today has many vulnerable persons — including women in crisis pregnancies as well as unborn children whose lives may be legally ended at any time during pregnancy and for any reason. In the tradition of Jesus Christ, Catholics have a responsibility to speak and act in defense of these persons. This is part of our “preferential option” for the poor and powerless.

Given the above, if a member of a key canonically-required council of the Archdiocese of Boston is himself actively advancing an agenda opposed to that of the Catholic Church’s defense of the unborn, is that not an unreconcilable conflict of interest?  Would the National Rifle Association find it permissible to keep on their Board of Directors someone working to advance political candidates who favor stronger gun-control laws? One might reasonably ask, how could someone who supports stronger gun-control laws even productively contribute to advancing the agenda of the NRA as a Board memer?  Would Planned Parenthood find it acceptable to keep on their Board of Directors someone fundraising to advance pro-life political candidates?  How could the two agendas possibly co-exist?

When Apple found that the outside agenda of a Board member had evolved to one where there were conflicts and competition with the agenda Apple had, they found a way to recognize the prior good work of the Board member and have him resign on good terms. Since Jack Connors obviously has an agenda of raising funds for political candidates who support abortion, such as President Obama, and that pro-abortion agenda is in conflict with that of the Catholic Church, BCI believes that unless Jack Connors experiences a change of heart, there is no other outcome other than one like Apple and former board member, Eric Schmidt, came to.

Secondly, BCI is in the market for a smartphone.  We are considering the iPhone vs the Droid, both via Verizon.  Cost factors aside, we are curious as to what BCI readers think of one vs the other.  We care primarily about email, web browsing, and the ability to type easily.  (Some here at BCI are fast touch-typists, used to the agility of a computer keyboard or smartphone with actual keys).  Do you use a smartphone?  If so, please take a few seconds to indicate which one in the poll below:

Feel free to comment on the ongoing Jack Connors conundrum in comments.  And if you have an Iphone, Droid, or other smartphone that you are passionabe about, you can also let us know what you think of them in the comments.


Stop the Scandal: Part 2

May 19, 2011

The scandal over Archdioese’s Financial Council Institutional Advancement Committee chair, Jack Connors, having run a $2M fund-raising extravaganza at his Brookline home for President Obama continues, and if you have not yet signed the “Stop the Scandal” petition, we urge all readers to do so. (click the graphic to the right).  Please also pass this on to your like-minded friends and family members.

As one commenter put it, “Advancing the most powerful supporter of abortion in this country is NOT what the chair of the Boston Archdiocese Finance Council Institutional Advancement Committee should be advancing.”  That is not all that is at stake here. Although BCI has approached this in the area of our key focus, governance of the archdiocese, as “Objective Observer” objectively observed in comments today, there is much more to the story where Jack Connors, Cardinal O’Malley, and others could do better.

Here is the comment from “Objective Observer” (with minor BCI edits) which merits reading by Cardinal O’Malley, his cabinet, the Papal Nuncio, the Congregation of Bishops, and a lot more.

Abortion stops a beating heart. Period. Cardinal Sean O’Malley would come to tears telling you how passionately he feels about this. Real tears.

The question is, what does he DO about it?

The only point I would disagree with in this BCI posting is that there is a long list of action and inaction by Cardinal O’Malley that is inconsistent with promoting a culture of life — not just his pitiful obeisance to Jack Connors and Bryan Hehir. The cardinal archbishop of Boston demonstrates a pattern of lip service followed by a hollow fog, fading to darkness, in lieu of action.

My own view is not that Randall Terry is the answer, nor even legislative effort. Changing the way we understand abortion and the women who seek it, and changing the way we behave toward them and their children, will lead to an answer.

If indeed Sean Patrick is the “pastor” (think Latin) of his flock, he is called to consistently and frequently behave as if he believes that abortion stops a beating heart. He must publicly teach that the fragile women who seek abortions, and their children, not yet born, at risk of death, need everyone’s support. He needs to privately call out Jack Connors, and publicly ask him what he’s done lately to help the most vulnerable among us — women who can see no other solution than abortion, and their children who deserve life (and a good one at that). Are these not as worthy as those who receive face transplants, and “miracle” cancer cures at Jack Connors’ hospitals? Where’s the Partners Healthcare PR about supporting women at risk of abortion and their babies who need to breathe life?

But we need to change, too. We need to understand that the woman who is sufficiently desperate to seek an abortion will tell you that her primary “problem” is not that she is pregnant. It is homelessness, or violent physical abuse, or substance use, or some very real and desperate fear of the responsibility for this child, that takes her to an abortion provider. But once the abortion is over, the problems she took into the clinic with her remain. The only difference is that she isn’t pregnant. And she has a new problem… the day she eventually wakes up — and it is inevitable — and realizes that her child died. All in all, a messier conversation than, “Abortion is wrong.” Takes a lot more thought and work.

But Sean doesn’t want to do the work… to speak up. He doesn’t want to demand that his well-heeled friends support these women and their fragile, unborn children. Why? Because Bryan Hehir won’t LET him. Hehir will let him walk in the Boston Life Walk in October (though note Hehir, who oversees “Life” from his cabinet position, does not appear), and he will let him “march” in DC in January. But that’s about it. No point “offending” people and “marginalizing” himself by stirring up the conversation that Hehir proclaims (and I heard him say this) “will never be solved in our lifetime.” If that’s the most rigorous intellectual argument Hehir can raise for the cardinal’s cowering at a public discourse on alternatives to abortion, the Kennedy School of Government is not getting its money’s worth letting Hehir occupy an endowed chair.

To Bryan Hehir: Among problems that will not be solved in your (or my) lifetime: Homelessness, cancer, and not even baldness. But WE will be judged — not on some progress measured by the arbitrary yardstick of our lifetime — but by the quality and effectiveness of our efforts to provide another way for these women and their children.

Sean flunks the test because he demonstrates a consistent and longstanding pattern of mere lip service to an abortion conversation, and utterly fails to rally the likes of Jack Connors in the support of abortion alternatives in Boston. Why? He fails to act solely in deference to Bryan Hehir’s undue influence and insatiable addiction for political expediency. Sean doesn’t flunk merely by bowing down to Jack Connors, and failing to send him packing from the Finance Council. He fails utterly because he has a longstanding pattern of failing to act to find another way for these women and their children. FACTA NON VERBA, Sean.

And that’s why you who read BCI should write to the nuncio.

With that, here is how to do something about this situation.  Click on the “Stop the Scandal” graphic to the right, fill out the form with your name and whatever other information you feel comfortable entering, click “Send the Letter”, verify your information is correct, and click “Submit.”  An email or fax will then be sent to the Holy Father, Cardinal O’Malley, the U.S. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Sambi, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Congregation for Clergy.

For BCI readers who like the typical fare of excessive salaries, deception and corruption, we will get back to that shortly.


Stop the Scandal

May 18, 2011

In follow-up of our most recent post, “Continuing Connors Code of Conduct Conundrum” and the comments we received on it, we are giving readers a chance to voice their views on the matter to Cardinal O’Malley and the Holy See.

As readers know by now, Finance Council member, Jack Connors, is publicly supporting and raising money for pro-abortion politicians at the same time he is raising money for Catholic schools, has Finance Council oversight for archdiocesan fundraising and is influencing the direction of Catholic education. In the Boston Globe today (“Cash brings Obama back to town“) Jack said that after meeting Obama in 2007, he and his wife were “really impressed’’ and believe he has lived up to their expectations during his years in the White House. Connors said he believes the president has been a good role model.

As a reader commented in our previous post, this is not a matter of political/ideological labels such as “liberal” or “conservative.”  It is a matter of how we should live and practice the Catholic faith, and this also affects governance of the Church.  Though BCI may differ with the Cardinal and archdiocese on certain matters of governance, this is one area where–at least in principle–we do find commonality. Cardinal O’Malley has said that support for pro-abortion politicians “borders on scandal,” and the new Code of Conduct backs that position by saying that public and private conduct of church personnel must be consistent with Catholic Church teachings and exemplify the Church’s moral traditions.

Ensuring that Church leaders responsible for governance (or who influence governance) conduct themselves consistent with Church teachings and moral traditions is a sound practice as far as BCI is concerned.  That is not happening here.

If you are concerned about this situation and would like to ask Cardinal O’Malley and the Holy See to do something about it, please just click on the graphic to the right “Stop the Scandal” and you can write to Holy Father, Cardinal O’Malley, the Papal Nuncio, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, and the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  The text of the message is below:

I respectfully request that the Holy See help address the ongoing problem of moral scandal in the Boston Archdiocese.

On May 18, a Finance Council member with oversight for fundraising and influence over Catholic schools, Jack Connors, hosted a highly-publicized $2 million fundraiser for President Obama at his home. Obama has voted against banning partial birth abortion and commemorated Roe v Wade in January 2011 saying he is committed to protecting women’s “constitutional right” to an abortion. Connors has been quoted in newspapers recently saying that he and his wife were “both smitten” and “really impressed’’ after meeting Obama in 2007 and believe he has lived up to their expectations in the White House. In 2009, Connors publicly endorsed pro-abortion political candidate Attorney General Martha Coakley, and he is also chair of Partners Healthcare, whose Brigham and Women’s Hospital is one of the largest abortion providers in Massachusetts.

Although Cardinal O’Malley has said it is “bordering on scandal” for Catholics to support pro-abortion political candidates and a new archdiocesan code of conduct policy says the conduct of church personnel must be consistent with Catholic Church teachings and exemplify the Church’s moral traditions, Mr. Connors is allowed to continue in a prominent archdiocesan leadership and advisory role while publicly supporting pro-abortion candidates and while his Partners Healthcare profits from performing abortions. This scandalizes and undermines the faith of the people under the Archbishop of Boston’s pastoral care. It also affects the ability of the archdiocese to continue the Catholic Church’s good works and the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.

With the salvation of souls at stake, I respectfully request that you act decisively in whatever way you deem appropriate to address this grave concern.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

If you agree with this viewpoint, then please fill out the form with your name and address, click “Send the letter,” review your information, and click “Submit.”  If you do not agree with this viewpoint,  you simply need not fill out the form.

To BCI critics who feel this is an inappropriate topic for BCI to take up, we would simply reiterate the following.  The Catholic Church is a private organization and as part of good governance, it makes sense to us that Church leaders charged with governance should conduct themselves in a manner consistent with Church teachings that does not work against the moral traditions of the Church or against the mission of archdiocesan organizations.  If that is not happening or we have concerns we wish to raise, Canon. 212 §3 tells us the faithful “have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with  their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.”

That is what we are doing.


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