We will return to discussion of the upcoming “ad limina” visit next time. But since money is always a big topic for the folks at 66 Brooks, BCI felt it might be helpful for them if we gave some advice and guidance in how to be more “transparent” and “accountable,” as the archdiocese says they want to be.
Every year, the Chancellor publishes a proposed operating budget for the fiscal year. And every year, as the Office of the Chancellor adds more staff (such as his $200+K/year fully-loaded Exec. Director of Finance and Operations), naturally, the depth of what is released publicly in the operating budget grows thinner and thinner, and the budgetary magic tricks become tougher and tougher to figure out.
Here are the budgets for 2010 (a 34 page document), 2011 (a 4 page document), and 2012 (a one-page document). If you look carefully at the 2010 and 2011 budgets below, you will notice a few of the tricks and illusions.
Child Advocacy and Victim Assistance which was $2.975 million in 2010, and $2.5 million in 2011, has completely disappeared as a line item expense in 2012. Poof! Gone! Dropped from $2.5M a year to $0/year–like magic! Have Barbara Thorp and her team of social workers all been let go? Is the archdiocese no longer paying for counseling and therapy? No–they are still there in the same offices doing the same work. Their costs have just been magically moved off the Central Ministries budget to someplace else. Perhaps the Chancellor will say it was just an “in” and matching “out” from insurance, so there is no need to show it this year, even though there was a need to show it in past years. Or, maybe the expense is simply hidden underneath a silk handkerchief or behind the black curtain. While we wait to hear from the Chancellor and his six-figure salaried aides where the $2.5M is hidden, BCI will drop illusionists David Copperfield and Chris Angel a line to see if they can help us find the missing expense.
Decreased Allocation for Faith Formation and Evangelization: This dropped from $5.5M in 2011 to $4.1M in 2012. Some of that was due to special one-time funding for the “Catholics Come Home” program in 2011. But there is still a dramatic cut in this area after allowing for Catholics Come Home. And remember too, this is the year that Pope Benedict XXI has declared a “Year of Faith“–”a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time.” It is a time for a “new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ.” BCI is curious as to how the Cardinal will explain in the upcoming “ad limina” visit to Rome how the Boston Archdiocese is giving” new impetus” to faith formation and evangelization when the budget in this area was cut by nearly 30% year over year.
Increased Funding for Administrative Services: At a time when everyone is tightening their belts trying to do more with less, administrative services costs have grown from $9.5M in 2011 to $9.95M in 2012–just $50K shy of $10 million. If the central ministry expenses are indeed to be believed at a total of $27.8M, that means the central bureaucracy at 66 Brooks is consuming 36% of the total budget for administrative expenses, with not even one line-item level of detail provided to Catholic faithful to justify these costs. (Those of you still giving to the Catholic Appeal, take note).
Beyond the above, there is the $500K increased expense for fund-raising in order to raise the exact same amount as last year, and more. BCI will stop for now.
If anyone reading BCI is versed in magic or finance and can explain the secrets behind some of these budgetary tricks, please drop us a line. Meanwhile, we hope and pray that the Chancellor and his staff and the fundraising folks can find a way to reduce their costs so evangelization, campus ministry, prison ministry, youth and young adult ministry, adult faith formation (something better than “Why Catholic?”) and strengthening of faith in this “Year of Faith” can get some more support and funding.