Did Boston Archdiocese Violate Trust with Catholics Over “Balanced Budget” Claim?

February 29, 2012

We return to local Boston Archdiocese matters to let you know the archdiocese refuses to respond to inquiries about how they claimed to have a “balanced budget” in the 2011 fiscal year when their own financial reports show they did not. With the outgoing chancellor, Jim McDonough, still there for a few days, we hope the Vicar General can get answers from him before he departs, for the benefit of the future of the archdiocese.

The subject of this post is the key point to take away.

The archdiocese set out with a plan and goal to run a balanced budget for the 2011 fiscal year, but they spent more than expected and the published financials show they ran an operating loss of $4.2M–yet still announced to 1.8M Catholics and the media that they achieved the goal of a “balanced budget.”   Plain and simple–unless there is some other data not published, what they announced appears to be untrue, and it is unhealthy for institutions that should be respected and trusted to violate that trust by saying things that are objectively not true.

Below are two emails we sent  to the vice-chair of the Finance Council, Jack McCarthy, outgoing Chancellor Jim McDonough, Vicar General Msgr. Deeley, and John Straub, interim chancellor, and a short response from Communications Secretary, Terry Donilon.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jim Franklin <bostoncatholicinsider@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 8:31 PM
Subject: Budget questions
To: jack.mccarthy@neu.edu, jpm@rcab.org, John_Straub@rcab.org
Cc: vicar_general@rcab.org

Mr. McCarthy, Mr. McDonough, and Mr. Straub,

As followup to the publication of the 2011 Annual Report, could you help explain how the Boston Archdiocese justifies publicly claiming the 2011 budget was “balanced” when on an operational basis, it was not actually balanced.  I would also like to ask if you can let Boston Catholic Insider know if the attached comparison of budgeted expenses to actual expenses is accurate.

The Annual Report shows Operating Expense exceeded Operating Revenue by $4.2M.  That means Central Operations ran at an operating loss.  See below (our blog post, ““Balanced Budget” or Unbalanced Budget?)  for the explanation we posted last week at Boston Catholic Insider.  Is there some explanation available for why the archdiocese considers this budget to be “balanced” when the financial statements show a loss?

In the absence of any explanation for this discrepancy, we would be hard pressed to not say that the archdiocese is deceiving the Catholic faithful by saying the budget was balanced when in reality it was not.

Also, attached is a comparison of budgeted expenses from the 2011 budget plan vs the actual expenses in the 2011 Annual Report.  It shows expenses up considerably over the original plan, and service fees up as well. When the budgeted spend is compared vs the higher than budgeted operating expenses, that explains the operating loss.

Boston Catholic Insider plans to publish this later in the week on Thursday and welcomes your feedback on what we are missing in our analysis or what errors we might have made.  If you do not wish to interface directly with BCI, perhaps you might find some intermediary who would be willing to share your feedback on the below and the attached via email by end of day on Wednesday.

Thank you very much.

–Jim, for Boston Catholic Insider

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jim Franklin <bostoncatholicinsider@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: Budget questions
To: jack.mccarthy@neu.edu, jpm@rcab.org, John_Straub@rcab.org
Cc: vicar_general@rcab.org

Gentlemen,

in follow-up of my email of earlier in the week, would you like some additional time in which to respond–perhaps until end of day on Friday, or Monday?  BCI is merely asking for clarification on why the financial statements show the budget is not balanced yet the verbiage accompanying the annual report says the budget is balanced. We are also wondering whether our analysis of budget vs actual spend is accurate for 2011?  Is the analysis, and are the conclusions correct?

The archdiocese says you are delivering financial transparency. We are trying to help you with that! If the archdiocese operated at a loss, why not disclose that so that the best minds available could help to solve that problem?  Jack McCarthy did a lot of work on financial transparency several years ago with the goal of restoring trust.  In the absence of any response from the archdiocese and in the presence of the data reported and our analysis (which anyone can easily do), BCI will find it difficult to not tell our readers that essentially the Boston Archdiocese has lied to the public in the financial report.

In our post, we will communicate that the audited financial results and annual report show Central Ministries operated at a loss of $4.2M, the letter accompanying the report erroneously stated that the budget was balanced when that was known to be untrue, and the actual Central Ministries expenses were higher than the budget plan by about $4.1M.  We will let our readers know that we approached you via email twice and asked for clarification and an explanation, but we received no response. We will also let readers and the press know we notified you in advance we were going to report that the archdiocese deceived the public in the annual report and received no rebuttal or correction from you.

In the absence of any rebuttal or correction by end of day on Friday, BCI assumes that you agree with our assessment of the financial condition of the diocese and the deceptive claim that the budget was balanced–and you have no problem with our publishing this.

To conclude, BCI does not wish to be in a position where we are reporting that the Boston Archdiocese has apparently deceived the public with the annual report and accompanying statement, but the apparent deception begs an explanation and clarification in order to maintain the transparency and trust the diocese says you are seeking.  We look forward to hearing from you.

————————————-
From: Donilon, Terrence <Terrence_Donilon@rcab.org>
Date: Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 5:03 PM
Subject: FW: Budget questions
To: “bostoncatholicinsider@gmail.com” <bostoncatholicinsider@gmail.com>

“Jim” –

We have been down this road before.

We are more than happy to meet with you but only if you agree to come in and meet with us in person.

As you know we are not going to engage anonymous bloggers.

Thanks,

Terry

#   #   #   #

So, there you have it.  The archdiocese has decided that faithful Catholics do not deserve a truthful explanation for the financial status of the archdiocese or a response to questions about what they have reported.

In case anyone got lost by all the numbers, here is the summary:

If you look at page 74 in the pdf of the 2011 Annual Report, you will see the following for Central Operations Total Operating Revenue and Expense:

Yet, despite published operating results which rather clearly show a loss, the report says on p.7, “During fiscal 2011, the goal of a balanced operating budget was once again achieved. The budget was approved in June 2010 as balanced with gross operating revenue and expense of $33.9 million.”

Yes, the budget was “approved as balanced” in June 2010 at 33.9M, but the data in the report says the goal was not actually achieved. If there is other data that shows the budget was really “balanced,” it has not been published.

In response to the email from Terry Donilon, BCI blogs anonymously because the Boston Archdiocese has a well documented pattern of retaliation against those who criticize them. We know the archdiocese has consulted with lawyers and reached out to computer forensics experts to try and identify BCI and stop our efforts, so we are protecting our reputations and livelihoods by blogging under a pseudonym. We hope one day to stop blogging –when the archdiocese simply operates with transparency and integrity–however the archdiocese keeps giving us new material, such as this.

BCI does not see any point in a private meeting with the archdiocese.  If they feel comfortable deceiving 1.8M Catholics in the annual report and the secular media (e.g. Boston Globe and Boston Herald) or withholding important information, why would they feel obliged to tell BCI something more in a private meeting?

Besides withholding contributions to the Catholic Appeal, several readers have suggested we launch a campaign asking people to write and call the U.S. Apostolic Nuncio, who has a reputation for cleaning up fiscal corruption in the Vatican. We are prayerfully considering that option.

In the meantime, for today, you might try calling the office of the Vicar General, Msgr. Deeley at 617-746-5619 or sending him an email at Vicar_General@rcab.org to ask for an explanation. Let us know if you get a response.

Are faithful Catholics, and is BCI, out of line for asking that the Boston Archdiocese simply be honest and transparent in communicating the fiscal condition of the diocese?  What do you think?


Fact-Check Followup: Regulations Prove Romney Wrong, Show Consequences of Emergency Contraception Decision

February 26, 2012

In follow-up of our last post, Fact-Check: Did Romney Lie About Cardinal and Contraception During Wednesday Debate?, new information further proves Mitt Romney lied in saying he did not require private hospitals to provide emergency contraception and shows the consequences of his decision. He also apparently failed to uphold the Massachusetts Constitution.

In view of this new information, questions should now be asked about 1) What Romney actually does or does not believe about conscience exemptions for people of faith and 2) Why Romney did not uphold and follow the Massachusetts Constitution as he had a sworn duty to do?

A look at the regulations in place show they explicitly order private hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to violate their consciences. The regulations also exemplify exactly how government mandates force people to violate their beliefs and how the law and its implementation violate the Massachusetts Constitution.

Here is part of the state directive to hospitals :

“To ensure that particular hospital staff’s values or beliefs do not interfere with compliance with the law, the hospital must institute systems to ensure that all female rape victims of childbearing age are promptly provided medically and factually accurate information about emergency contraception, are promptly offered emergency contraception, and emergency contraception is initiated upon her request.”

This is directly at odds with the Massachusetts Constitution, which says:

Article II: “no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.”

Article XVIII, Section 1 (amendment): “No law shall be passed prohibiting the free exercise of religion.”

And it is directly at odds with a conscience exemption law passed in 1975 and still in effect that says:

“…any employee of a hospital or other health facility in which an abortion…is scheduled and who shall state in writing an objection to such abortion…procedure on moral or religious grounds, shall not be required to participate in the medical procedures which result in such abortion…”

Just to be clear before we go into more detail, BCI is NOT a supporter of President Obama or his political agenda. We criticized him most recently last month in our post, Obama’s “unconscionable” birth control mandate on Catholic hospitals and colleges.  We are simply asking that political candidates tell the truth, because voters deserve to know the truth about candidates they are considering. And not to be lost is the more important issue of following the constitution and fighting up-front against the imposition of unjust laws by government that then require conscience exemptions for people of faith.

As covered last time, during the Wednesday debate (transcript here), Gov. Romney said he did not require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.. He also said:

ROMNEY: There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their part. There was no such requirement.”

Those statements by Gov. Romney are false. The deeper one digs into this whole thing, the more troubling it becomes.

As reported in several articles, Gov. Romney did require that Catholic hospitals provide emergency contraception:

Dec, 9, 2005, Lifesite News:  Romney Does Flip-Flop and Forces Catholic Hospitals to Distribute Morning-After-Pill”: “In a shocking turn-around, Massachusetts’s governor Mitt Romney announced yesterday that Roman Catholic and other private hospitals…will be forced to offer emergency contraception to sexual assault victims under new state legislation, regardless of the hospitals’ moral position…

The governor’s turnaround is especially unexpected since Romney has been presenting himself as a conservative on social issues in anticipation of a possible run for the presidency in 2008. This decision will certainly undermine the credibility of his conservatism with Republican Party members that may have been inclined to support him up to now.”

December 9, 2005, Boston Globe:  Romney says no hospitals are exempt from pill law: “Governor Mitt Romney reversed course on the state’s new emergency contraception law yesterday, saying that all hospitals in the state will be obligated to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims.

December 16, 2005, The Pilot: “Romney: emergency contraception law applies to Catholic hospitals”: Gov. Mitt Romney last week instructed the state Department of Public Health that Catholic and other private hospitals are not exempt from a new law that would require them to dispense emergency contraception to all rape victims. In doing so, Romney overruled the department’s finding that privately run hospitals do not have to provide contraception or abortions.

Romney had previously taken the position that the requirements of the new law were superceded by a 1975 law that provided privately owned hospitals with conscience exemption for abortion and contraception services.

“They’ve taken the position now that the preexisting statute somehow does not shield Catholic and other private hospitals from this new mandate. I think there is a solid legal argument against that position,” said Daniel Avila, associate director of public policy for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference.

Now that it is clear what Romney decided, we move to the Executive branch-driven regulations, which exemplify the problems with both unjust laws and with failure to provide conscience exemptions to them. 

A memo from the Department of Public Health to all hospitals in the state dated December 20, 2005 says, in part:

130.1042: Emergency Contraception Information and Services for Rape Victims

Each hospital that is licensed to provide emergency services shall promptly provide the following to each female rape victim of childbearing age who presents at the emergency department: (A) Medically and factually accurate written information provided by the Department about emergency contraception; (B) An offer of emergency contraception at the hospital if medically indicated; and (C) Dispensing of emergency contraception at her request unless medically contraindicated.

But it gets worse. In April 2007, the DPH issued this memo to hospitals regarding emergency contraception where they specifically said the values and beliefs of hospital workers do not matter:

“To ensure that particular hospital staff’s values or beliefs do not interfere with compliance with the law, the hospital must institute systems to ensure that all female rape victims of childbearing age are promptly provided medically and factually accurate information about emergency contraception, are promptly offered emergency contraception, and emergency contraception is initiated upon her request.”

Here is the Emergency Contraception hospital fact-sheet (revised April 2011), which specifically directs:

“Do not interfere with hospital compliance with the law, regardless of their personal values or beliefs,
by instituting systems to ensure that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all survivors are promptly provided
full rights under M.G.L. c. 111, § 70E.” (click on graphic to zoom)

Here is the Emergency Contraception patient fact-sheet (revised April 2011) which tells patients:

“Remember, hospitals with Emergency Departments are required by law to offer EC [emergency contraception] to women seeking care after a sexual assault, whether or not a woman completes a rape examination kit or reports the assault to the police. If the ED doctor does not think that it is safe for you to take EC, you can ask why. A medically and factually accurate reason must be documented in your medical record.”

“If EC [emergency contraception] was not offered at your ED [emergency department] visit today, or you were told that you needed to complete a police report or rape examination kit first, you can file a formal complaint by:
• Calling the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Division of Health Care Quality at 1-800-462-5540.

After Romney interpreted the law and decided all hospitals in Massachusetts had to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims (with no exemption for Catholic and private hospitals), the above directives followed.

What did the Romney campaign have to say about this after the debate?  Here is what the Boston Globe reported in “Factcheck finds Mitt Romney wrong in describing state law on emergency contraception“:

Asked about Romney’s debate statement, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams did not address Romney’s claim that the requirement was voluntary, but stressed Romney’s opposition to the law. “Governor Romney – as Planned Parenthood complained at that time – fought at every stage against a state law that would have required Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraceptives despite objections based on religious conscience,” Williams said. “Facing an 85 percent Democrat legislature, he vetoed the bill and explored using his executive power to provide an exemption from the law based on conscience.”

Saturday afternoon, we learned about a different Romney campaign spin  from this interview conducted on Thursday. The interesting part starts at 1:45.  Romney advisor, Eric Ferhnstrom, said two questionable things in the interview:

  • Ferhnstrom said in the debate that he thought Romney was referring to Catholic hospitals and universities not being required to provide [insurance] coverage for contraception in Massachusetts.  Sorry Eric, but the video of the debate plainly shows that the discussion was about the morning-after pill, not insurance coverage. (And even if it was about insurance coverage for contraception, Ferhnstrom was still wrong as indicated here).
  • Ferhnstrom then said, “There was a bill to require broader distribution of emergency contraception. Gov. Romney vetoed that bill. It did pass over his objections. As governor, he doesn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing which laws he’s going to enforce, he must enforce them all. So, yes, there was a requirement that Catholic hospitals in that bill vetoed by the governor had to provide emergency contraception.”  Sorry, Eric–this statement is not exactly true either.

At least now the Romney camp acknowledges that what he said during the debate was untrue. So the question from our last post is officially answered–he did lie during the debate.

With that established, problems still remain with Romney’s decision and with voters knowing what he really believes and how he would govern as President.

“The state Department of Public Health has determined that Catholic and other privately-run hospitals in Massachusetts can opt out of giving the morning-after pill to rape victims because of religious or moral objections, despite a new law that requires all hospitals who treat such victims to provide them with emergency contraception.”

Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. told the Globe: “We felt very clearly that the two laws don’t cancel each other out and basically work in harmony with each other.”

“The staff of DPH did their own objective and unbiased legal analysis,” Romney’s spokesman told the Globe. “The brought it to us, and we concur in it.”

No law shall be passed prohibiting the free exercise of religion.”

Beyond Romney being wrong with his debate response and with his decision to impose emergency contraception on Catholic hospitals, Romney and Fehrnstrom still need to explain two things to voters:

  1. In view of his words and actions at the time, what does Romney really believe?  On December 7, 2005, Ferhnstom said the governor, “respects the views of health care facilities that are guided by moral principles on this issue.”  So, why, when given a choice, did the governor decide to force emergency contraception on Catholic hospitals against their beliefs a day later?  On December 8, 2005, he reversed course after getting political pressure as reported in “ROMNEY SAYS NO HOSPITALS ARE EXEMPT FROM PILL LAW; HE REVERSES STAND ON PLAN B” and said at a press conference, “In my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape.”  What IS Gov. Romney’s real belief on this issue?
  2. Why did Romney apparently violate the freedom of religion provision of the Massachusetts Constitution with his decision? Why did he not turn to the Massachusetts Constitution as his primary point of reference? Romney could have simply said, “The Massachusetts Constitution guarantees Catholic and other religious hospitals the freedom as part of their practice of religion to not have a law imposed on them that violates their consciences, so to uphold my sworn oath of office, I need to uphold the Constitution. Why did Romney not do that?

As we documented a month ago, Romney failed to reference and uphold the Massachusetts Constitution with regard to marriage, and it appears he did the same thing on conscience rights and freedom of religion with emergency contraception. Are Romney and his legal advisers unfamiliar with basic principles of constitutional law?

BCI hopes that the media and other candidates continue to call him out on these questions.


Fact-Check: Did Romney Lie About Cardinal and Contraception During Wednesday Debate?

February 23, 2012

As readers know, if there is one thing that gets under our skin here at BCI, it is deception.  This one by former Gov. Romney about a situation here in Massachusetts affects how the country perceives values important to many Catholics, so BCI felt we could not let it sit without a response.

In the Republican Presidential debate Wednesday evening at about 8:50pm or so, former Gov. Mitt Romney said he never infringed on the rights of Catholics as governor of Massachusetts by requiring the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims–it was “entirely voluntary” on the part of the Catholic Church.

If providing morning-after pills was “voluntary” on the part of the Catholic Church, then that would mean that Cardinal O’Malley volunteered to have Catholic hospitals give out abortifacients.

That is simply not true.

Here is a link to a transcript of the debate. Some of the quick transcription is a little off, but the gist of it is accurate:

KING (Moderator): Governor Romney, both Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich have said during your tenure as governor, you required Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

And Mr. Speaker, you compared the governor to President Obama, saying he infringed on Catholics’ rights.

Governor, did you do that?

ROMNEY: No, absolutely not. Of course not.

There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their part. There was no such requirement.”

Problem is, what Gov. Romney said in the debate is not correct. BCI reported all of the details in our post last month, “Pro-family advocates misrepresent Romney’s record on life.”

In 2005 Romney vetoed a bill to provide access to the so-called “morning-after-pill,” knowing his veto would be overridden, but months later, he decided Catholic hospitals did have to give the morning-after pill to rape victims. Key points to note:

  1. Romney had publicly claimed the bill did not apply to private religious hospitals
  2. On December 7, 2005, Romney’s Department of Public Health said that Catholic and other privately-run hospitals could opt out of giving the morning-after pill to rape victims because of religious or moral objections
  3. On December 8, 2005 Romney reversed the legal opinion of his own State Department of Public Health, instructing all Catholic hospitals and others to provide the chemical Plan B “morning after pill” to rape victims.  He was quoted as saying, ““I think, in my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide  information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a  victim of rape.”

Does that align with what Romney said in the debate?  NoHere is an excellent chronology, and below we have re-published all of the details for those who want them.

1975.  Massachusetts statute passed which allowed private hospitals to opt out of abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

2002: When Mitt Romney was running for governor, he filled out a questionnaire for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and in response to a question, “…Will you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception?” Romney said: “Yes.”

2004: the Massachusetts legislature considered an “emergency contraception” mandate. It would have required all hospitals to inform rape victims of the availability of such “emergency contraceptives” and provide them to the rape victim if she wanted them even when they would cause an abortion. Maria Parker of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy organization of the state’s Catholic bishops, explained in testimony to the state legislature why Catholic hospitals could not do this.

That bill passed in the State Senate, but not in the House.

2005: Emergency contraception bill passes Senate and House, with veto-proof majority in both chambers of the Democrat-controlled legislature. In July, the House and Senate reached a compromise on it that would protect Catholic hospitals from being forced to act against their faith. Here is more:

At that time, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference published a bulletin explaining what happened. (July 2005 Mass Catholic Conference Notes from the Hill)  The House had included language to “expressly apply” the 1975 conscience law protections to the new emergency contraception law. The Senate had included language saying the new law should apply “notwithstanding” any existing law.

“In the end, neither amendment was included in the bill,” said the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. “House Majority Leader John Rogers, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to defend the hospitals’ right of conscience, made it clear during floor debate on July 21 that the House blocked the Senate amendment so that the 1975 conscience statute would continue to have full effect.”

The Catholic Church still opposed the bill because it would facilitate abortions. But at least the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals had been preserved — or so it seemed.

July 25, 2005: Romney vetoed the bill — even though it was clear his veto would be overridden.

He published an op-ed in the Boston Globe the next day explaining his decision. “The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception,” he wrote. “The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception.” Romney said the veto kept his pledge not to change the state’s abortion laws.

Romney made no mention of the religious liberty issue in his op-ed. But then, the bill, as the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and the House majority leader understood it, did not allow coercion of Catholic hospitals.

Dec. 7, 2005: a week before the law was to take effect, the Boston Globe ran an article headlined, “Private hospitals exempt on pill law“.  The article said the state Department of Public Health had determined that the emergency contraception law “does not nullify a statute passed years ago that says privately run hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception.”

Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. told the Globe: “We felt very clearly that the two laws don’t cancel each other out and basically work in harmony with each other.”

Romney spokesman Fehrnstrom told the Globe that Romney agreed with the Department of Public Health on the issue. The governor, he said, “respects the views of health care facilities that are guided by moral principles on this issue.”

“The staff of DPH did their own objective and unbiased legal analysis,” Romney’s spokesman told the Globe. “The brought it to us, and we concur in it.”

December 8, 2005: The Globe itself ruefully bowed to this legal analysis. It ran an editorial headlined: “A Plan B Mistake.” “The legislators failed, however,” the Globe said, “to include wording in the bill explicitly repealing a clause in an older statute that gives hospitals the right, for reasons of conscience, not to offer birth control services.”

Liberals joined in attacking Romney’s defense of Catholic hospitals. But that defense did not last long.

The same day the Globe ran its editorial, Romney held a press conference. Now he said his legal counsel had advised him the new emergency contraception law did trump the 1975 conscience law.

“On that basis, I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view,” Romney said. “In my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape.”

December 9, 2005: Boston Globe reports, “Romney says no hospitals are exempt from pill law“.“Governor Mitt Romney reversed course on the state’s new emergency contraception law yesterday, saying that all hospitals in the state will be obligated to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims. The decision overturns a ruling made public this week by the state Department of Public Health that privately run hospitals could opt out of the requirement if they objected on moral or religious  grounds.”

Lifesite News reported at the time, “Romney Does Flip-Flop and Forces Catholic Hospitals to Distribute Morning-After-Pill”:

In a shocking turn-around, Massachusetts’s governor Mitt Romney announced yesterday that Roman Catholic and other private hospitals in the state will be forced to offer emergency contraception to sexual assault victims under new state legislation, regardless of the hospitals’ moral position on the issue.

December 16, 2005: Archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, reports, “Romney: emergency contraception law applies to Catholic hospitals”

BOSTON—Gov. Mitt Romney last week instructed the state Department of Public Health that Catholic and other private hospitals are not exempt from a new law that would require them to dispense emergency contraception to all rape victims. In doing so, Romney overruled the department’s finding that privately run hospitals do not have to provide contraception or abortions.

Romney had previously taken the position that the requirements of the new law were superceded by a 1975 law that provided privately owned hospitals with conscience exemption for abortion and contraception services.

“They’ve taken the position now that the preexisting statute somehow does not shield Catholic and other private hospitals from this new mandate. I think there is a solid legal argument against that position,” said Daniel Avila, associate director of public policy for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference.

A constitutional law expert advising BCI says that the legislative intent was clearly to allow the 1975 statute to prevail.  The formulation of the regulations is supposed to follow the legislative intent.  Romney actually violated the law and his oath of office by NOT going with the legislative intent, and overruling the legislative intent (as well as the Constitution).

But t was not merely a legal interpretation by the legal counsel to Romney. Romney said he personally thought it was the “right thing” for hospitals to provide access to emergency contraception for any rape victims. See this Dec 9, 2005 AP report:

Romney: Catholic hospitals not exempt from offering emergency contraception
By GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press writer

BOSTON –Facing opposition from women, the Democratic Party and even his own running mate, Gov. Mitt Romney abandoned plans yesterday to exempt religious and other private hospitals from a new law requiring them to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims.The governor had initially backed regulations proposed earlier this week by his Department of Public Health, which said the new law conflicts with an older law barring the state from forcing private hospitals to dispense contraceptive devices or information.

The interpretation would have allowed hospitals operated by the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes abortion, to forego compliance with the new regulation. Opponents accused Romney, a Republican considering running for president in 2008, of trying to assuage social conservatives.

Despite defending the Health Department regulations as  late as Wednesday, Romney opened a news conference yesterday by declaring that a fresh analysis by his legal counsel concluded the new law supersedes the old law, and that all hospitals must be required to offer the so-called morning-after pill.

“On that basis I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view,” Romney said. “I think, in my personal view, it’s the right thing for hospitals to provide  information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a  victim of rape,” he added.

The Bottom Line:

When Romney was asked in the debate if he had required Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims and had infringed on Catholics’ rights, he responded, “No, absolutely not. Of course not.” That was untrue.

When Romney said “for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims…was entirely voluntary on their part”, that was also untrue.

For him to suggest to the citizens of the United States on national television that Cardinal O’Malley and the Catholic Church would “voluntarily” provide morning-after pills is an egregious misrepresentation of Catholic Church teachings and an egregious misrepresentation of what actually happened in this situation.

BCI hopes that the media and other candidates call him out on this.


Boston Archdiocese Bloated Payroll: Inaction

February 21, 2012

BCI obviously struck a raw nerve with our last post, “Bloated Payroll” about the 17 people earning more than $150K a year.  We continue today with a brief recap on that post, and then below our commentary on how the Boston Archdiocese has managed to delay acting on this problem for years and continues to delay.

By means of a recap from last time, the annual report for the 2011 fiscal year (page 83), says the number of people making $150K or more in that fiscal year was 17. In the 2006 Annual Report, there were just 2 people in the Chancery paid more than $150K. So the number of people making $150K or more per year has increased by more than 8X since 2006.

In addition, the total compensation paid to people making more than $150K has also increased by a factor of about 9X since 2006. The Boston Archdiocese is paying about $3,500,000 in such salaries today vs $393,000 in 2006–$3.1 million more to people making $150K+ a year. The archdiocese has a fiduciary responsibility to be a good steward of donor funds, and this does not appear to be happening.

Once again, here are 11 of the 17 $150K+ salaries that were disclosed or implicitly disclosed in the 2011 annual report (pages 76-80):

* Note: Kathleen Driscoll is reported at $38,462, but she was on the payroll for only about 2 months in that calendar year, so we extrapolated for 12 months to get $230K.

As we have said before, if the archdiocese were to put a salary cap of $150K on all lay executives, that would cut $1M in salary expenses alone! 

What is happening to address the bloated salaries? Well, the Finance Council approved creating a Compensation Committee to look at executive compensation in November of 2010.  That was 15 months ago.

Their charter says, “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.”  In the 2011 annual report, the Compensation Committee did give a “report,” but it just talked about activity, with no results yet. Here are a few excerpts (see pages 83-84 for the full text):

“The Charter of the Finance Council establishes a Compensation Committee with responsibility for overseeing and making recommendations regarding the compensation of senior lay executive employees…

The Committee has determined that all employees of the corporation sole and all members of the Cardinal’s Cabinet paid $150,000 or more in annual salary will be treated as “senior lay executives.” At present, that group comprises 17 individuals. The Committee reached that decision because this definition captured all executives heading major departments and functions, as well as others with critical areas of responsibility…

A draft statement of Compensation Philosophy for Senior Lay Executives has been prepared by the Committee and will be submitted to the Finance Council for consideration at its regularly scheduled meeting in February 2012. In developing the draft, the Committee has placed the employment and compensation of senior lay executives in the context of the Church’s mission and challenges. It is the Committee’s belief that the Church is best served by senior executives who are distinguished by their competence, compassion, efficiency and effectiveness. We believe that the compensation of those executives should enable the Archdiocese to attract and retain highly talented and motivated people whose achievements and personal goals are in harmony with the teaching and mission of the Catholic Church. We will stress the importance of compensation that is just, both in terms of internal equity and external competitiveness. External competitiveness will be measured by comparison with other organizations in the same market for talent. For all positions, this will include Catholic dioceses and archdioceses and not-for-profit organizations. Hiring for some positions requires that the Archdiocese compete with for-profit businesses, and for those jobs, compensation practices in that sector will also be taken into account. The Committee recognizes that senior lay executive compensation must reflect economic realities within the Archdiocese, as well as regionally and nationally. We think it is critical that we achieve consistency and adherence to common reward principles within the executive leadership team and that compensation for this group be based on merit, and linked to clear descriptions of responsibilities and regular performance assessments.

The Committee has engaged the services of a senior consultant specializing in not-for-profit executive compensation at the global firm of Aon Hewitt. At the Committee’s direction, its consultant has undertaken a survey of compensation practices at nine other dioceses and archdioceses in the United States, and reviewed compensation information in public and proprietary databases of not-for-profit institutions and for-profit businesses. The 17 senior lay executive positions in the Archdiocese of Boston are being matched, based on job responsibilities and reporting levels, with those of other organizations, and pay levels are being compared. The survey results will also be used to create recommended salary bands for each position, as guidance in future compensation decision-making. We anticipate that the Committee will be in a position to make recommendations regarding salary levels in conjunction with the annual performance reviews scheduled for the end of the current fiscal year.

BCI finds it difficult to start addressing everything that is wrong with this whole effort. Here are a few examples:

  • The effort comes across sounding like they will justify many–if not all–of the high salaries on the basis that these people could be earning $X in a private sector for-profit company, and this is what the archdiocese needs to pay in order to attract “highly talented” senior executives.
  • The archdiocese staff used to maintain its own information about comparable salaries in other dioceses as part of the normal course of business in years past. Now it takes an expensive outside consultant to do that work.
  • Why is a comparison of salaries in for-profit businesses really relevant here?  The people are working for the Catholic Church.  If they choose to forego the salary they could make in the private sector in order to work to advance the mission of the Catholic Church, that is a noble choice, but it is their choice. The only comparable that should matter is a comparison to how other Catholic dioceses pay for these positions, consistent with what the Catholic Church can afford to pay.
  • Who is writing the clear descriptions of responsibilities?
  • Why are goals and measures of success not included in this?
  • Who exactly is performing the regular performance assessments against goals and expected results for the likes of the Secretary for Education, General Counsel, Secretary for Catholic Media, Chancellor, Secretary for Communications, Secretary for Institutional Advancement, etc?

Even if this whole effort does by some miracle result in something meaningful, at best, they will have a report and recommended salary bands by June of 2012–more than 20 months after the Finance Council created the committee to look into this.  And we only know that they “anticipate” the Committee will be in a position to “make recommendations” around the time of the annual performance reviews.

To BCI, it certainly does not seem anyone is in a big rush to act on this, and there is no sense that anyone will really take corrective action.   We would prefer to hear something more like, “We are deeply troubled by the wasting of donor funds on excessive salaries and bloated payroll at 66 Brooks Drive, and we commit we will have the report done by March 1, and will have reduced all salaries that are out of line by March 30.”

As we have said before and will say again, 40% of parishes cannot pay their bills, many low-salaried Pastoral Center employees have lost their jobs in recent years–meanwhile, the amount and number of $150K+ salaries at the Pastoral Center have grown by more than 8X over the past 5-6 years. The archdiocese paid $393,000 in 2006 for such salaries and is paying $3,500,000 today.

Members of the “Compensation Committee” include several multi-millionaire business executives, and two priests. They include:

Paul W. Sandman, Chair
John H. McCarthy, Vice Chair, Finance Council
Rev. Michael E. Drea
Rev. James J. Ronan
Brian P. Concannon
Mary L. Ryan
Leo V. Sullivan

If a few of these people hear from you, maybe they will move more quickly to take action.  Here are four email addresses for you:

jack.mccarthy@neu.edu, mdrea@stpaulparish.org, jronan@stmarystcatherine.org, Vicar_General@rcab.org

Please take a moment and copy/forward this blog post via email to these people with a short note asking them to take action on these issues, or just hit “Share this:” and the Email graphic below to send the blog post to these people. Let us know if you hear back from anyone.

BCI predicts that little will come from the Compensation Committee and their costly report/survey effort and we predict the excessive six-figure salaries for lay executives will continue to drain precious financial resources in the future. But it is worth it to write to them and see if you can get them to do more.

For the sake of the fiscal health of the Boston Archdiocese, out of fiduciary responsibility to be a good steward of donor funds, and for the sake of the ability of the diocese to carry out the saving mission of Jesus Christ for years to come, we hope and pray we are pleasantly surprised and some meaningful change occurs here.  What do you think?


Bloated Payroll

February 18, 2012

We got word that the Boston Archdiocese is not going to answer our questions about the deceptive claim of a “balanced budget” in the 2011 Annual Report, and that will be the topic of an upcoming post.  In the meantime, we thought we would take a closer look at the bloated payroll, which contributed to what the Annual Report shows is a $4.2M operating loss for 2011. We also look at the slow pace of action by the new Compensation Committee.

Number of People Earning More than $150K

According to the annual report for the 2011 fiscal year (page 83), the number of people making $150K or more in that fiscal year was 17. If you compare that to the 2006 Annual Report, before outgoing Chancellor Jim McDonough arrived, you will see there were just 3 people in the Chancery paid more than $150K. So the number of people making $150K or more per year has increased by nearly 6X since 2006.

The total compensation paid to people making more than $150K has also increased by a factor of about 6X since 2006. In 2006, those three people paid over $150K per year were paid $553K in salaries.  According to the 2011 Annual Report as well as information from other sources, the 17 people at the Pastoral Center making more than $150K today in aggregate are paid somewhere close to $3.5M a year in salaries. Just to reiterate, that is about 6 times more than was paid in 2006 in $150K+ salaries vs 2006.  

Here are the six-figure salaries that were disclosed, or implicitly disclosed in the 2011 annual report (pages 76-80):

* Note: Kathleen Driscoll is reported at $38,462, but she was on the payroll for only about 2 months in that calendar year, so we extrapolated for 12 months to get $230K.

The names of the 6 other people paid $150K+ were not published in the annual report, but you can just look at the Pastoral Center directory for the high-ranking titles to get a good sense for the likely suspects:

Joseph D’Arrigo, Executive Director, Clergy Benefits
Mary Doorley, Vice President of Development
Carol Gustavson, Executive Director, Lay Benefits and Building Services
Mary Myers, Vice President of Development
Steven McDevitt, Director of IT
John Straub, Executive Director Finance and Operations, Interim Chancellor

Add it all up, and you get pretty close to $3.5M in salaries alone not counting benefits, which add another 15% or so on top of that.  If the archdiocese were to put a salary cap of $150K on all lay executives, that would cut $1M in salary expenses alone in one fell swoop!  But not much is happening to address the bloated salaries, and what is happening appears to be progressing at a glacial pace. It could also end up being just window-dressing.

Long time readers will recall that the Finance Council approved creating a Compensation Committee to look at executive compensation in November of 2010.  That was 15 months ago.  What has actually been accomplished since then?  Not much.  They hired a consultant who is working on a report.  BCI is not making this up. (More on that in a separate post).

At best, the Compensation Committee says they will have a report and recommended salary bands by June of 2012–more than 20 months after the Finance Council created the committee to look into this.  To BCI, it certainly does not seem anyone is in a big rush to act on this.

Even with what is reported, we only know that they “anticipate” the Committee will be in a position to “make recommendations” around the time of the annual performance reviews.  How about, “We are deeply troubled by the wasting of donor funds on excessive salaries and bloated payroll at 66 Brooks Drive, and we absolutely commit we will have reduced all salaries that are out of line by date Y?”

40% of parishes cannot pay their bills. Meanwhile, at the Pastoral Center, the amount and number of $150K+ salaries have grown by more than 6X over the past 5-6 years. They are paying about $3,500,000 in such salaries today vs $5533,000 in 2006–$3.1 million more to people making $150K+ a year. 

Are we really getting our money’s worth from these “best and brightest?”  Why is the Finance Council fiddling while 66 Brooks burns through precious donor funds in excessive salaries?  Does anyone really care about doing something to address this problem?

For the sake of the fiscal health of the Boston Archdiocese and ability of the diocese to continue the saving mission of Jesus Christ, we hope and pray something changes here, and quickly.  What do you think?


How Your Money is Spent

February 15, 2012

We move back to the topic of finances in the Boston Archdiocese today and for the next few posts.  You will see today how administrative expenses have grown as a percent of the total budget over the last 6 years.

Last week, in “Balanced Budget” or Unbalanced Budget?, we raised the question of how the archdiocese managed to publicly claim that the 2011 budget was “balanced” when the financial statements actually show a $4.2M loss.  BCI emailed Jack McCarthy (Finance Council Co-chair), outgoing Chancellor Jim McDonough, and Interim Chancellor John Straub to ask them about this, and while we wait for their response, we thought we would show you how your money is expected to be spent in the 2012 fiscal year currently in process.

To the credit of the archdiocese, the 2012 budget document is quite comprehensive–probably moreso in a published form than any other diocese issues. You can find it here.

Below is a pie chart taken from the document showing where the $27.8M Central Ministries budget is being spent.

As you can see, in the 2012 fiscal year, 36% of the budget ($9.95M out of $27.8M) is consumed by Administrative Services. By means of comparison, in 2010, Administrative Services expenses were 30% of the total budget (see “Easy Come, Easy Go”  from a year ago).  As a further comparison, if you look at the 2005 operating results in the annual report here, you will see that Management and General expenses (equivalent to Administrative Services, as best as we can tell) in 2005 were $10.1M out of total expenses of $37.9M, or 26% of the total.  Click on the graphic on the right to see the numbers from 2005.  Some line items may not be perfectly matched between the annual report and operating budget, but this is the best comparison possible without having access to more detailed information.

Below you will find the detailed breakdown of expenses for 2012.

(You will notice in the footnote that the $2.5-2.6M spent annually on the Office for Child Advocacy and Victim Assistance has been moved off the main Central Ministries operating budget and is now accounted for under Risk Management and self-insurance for Corporation Sole. We are still trying to fully determine the ramifications of that move).

There is much to be said about the overall budget, including spending priorities, fund-raising costs relative to funds raised, and more.

For today, BCI mainly wishes to focus on the apparent growth in administrative expenses in recent years as a percent of the total budget. While Jim McDonough is still wrapping things up in his final weeks as Chancellor, BCI suggests that perhaps the Priest Budget Advisory Committee and Vicar General Msgr. Deeley might take a closer look at why administrative expenses have grown from 26% of the expenses to 36% of expenses over the past 6 years. Perhaps they may not want such a high percentage of donor funds and total budget going to pay administrative overhead expenses including excessive six-figure salaries.  What would it take to cut $1M to $2M in administrative expenses, so that category of spending would be much more in proportion to past levels? Instead of spending so much on administrative overhead and excessive salaries, they may want to think about how some of those limited funds could be better used to support ministry programs, such as evangelization, adult faith formation, college campus ministry, the deaf apostolate, vocations, and other programs that support priests and parishes and help advance the saving mission and ministry of the Catholic Church in Boston.

What do you think?


Oppose Physician Assisted Suicide

February 12, 2012

Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese are launching a major education campaign on physician-assisted suicide throughout the archdiocese, informing faithful Catholics as to why they should oppose the ballot measure expected to be in front of voters in November.

BCI very much supports the campaign and these initial efforts by the Cardinal and archdiocese to oppose the measure.  Here is a short overview in The Pilot: “Cardinal takes on assisted suicide measure in homily.”  The video homily played in most parishes can be found below:

The archdiocese office of Faith Formation and the New Evangelization along with the Catholic Media Group produced the video as well as this new website, suicideisalwaysatragedy.org.

In the homily (text here) a few things stood out for BCI:

Experiences elsewhere with physician assisted suicide: The Cardinal said:

“There is a slippery slope leading from ending lives in the name of compassion to ending the lives of people with non-terminal conditions. Doctors in the Netherlands once limited euthanasia to terminally ill patients; now they provide lethal drugs to people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, mental illness, and even melancholy.

There is also evidence that the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide contributes to suicide in the general population. This is true in the state of Oregon which passed doctor-assisted suicide in 1994. Now, suicide is the leading cause of “injury death” and the second leading cause of death among 15 to 34 year olds. The suicide rate in Oregon,which had been in decline before 1994, is now 35% higher than the national average.”

Large flaws in the bill itself.
“For one thing, it requires that a doctor determine that the patient is capable of asking for lethal drugs, but there are no explicit criteria for assessing the mental capacity at the time of the request, nor is there a mandate to assess mental capacity at the time of the suicide.

The bill also requires two witnesses to attest to the patient’s competence, but one of the witnesses can be a total stranger, and another can be the sick person’s heir.

Also the law does not require that anyone witness the suicide, so there is no way to know for certain that the act was voluntary.

Finally, the death certificate lists the underlying disease as the cause of death, not assisted suicide. This creates underreporting and a legalized deception.”

The deceptive way in which the required signatures were obtained.

“Last Fall, proponents of this bill solicited signatures from Massachusetts citizens as part of the process for getting it on the ballot. You may have been approached and asked to sign the petition. People who were asked to sign reported that the petition was presented as a bill to “aid the terminally ill.” In fact, the bill does not use the word “suicide” because, as the lawyer for the organization promoting the bill has said, the word “suicide” is inflammatory. Instead, it talks about “aid in dying” or “A-I-D.” The major organization behind this effort also changed its name from the “Hemlock Society” to the deceptive “Compassion and Choices.”

The Cardinal asked people to do three things to help stop doctor-assisted suicide from becoming law in Massachusetts:

  1. Pray for people who are seriously ill and dying, and for their caregivers. Visit the sick which is one of the
    corporal works of mercy.
  2. Avoid believing the misleading and seductive language of “dignity,” “mercy,” “compassion” or “aid in dying” that proponents of the legislation will use to describe assisted suicide.
  3. Educate yourselves as much as possible on assisted suicide and share that knowledge with others. Brochures, prayer cards, bulletin inserts and other materials have been prepared for you and are available in your parish. Please visit the website www.SuicideisAlwaysaTragedy.org which has been created to educate people on this issue.

BCI felt all of this was OK. The general post-Mass chatter BCI heard and the feedback we are getting from those who saw the video has been positive on the video homily and the message from the Cardinal. That said, there are also a few suggestions and questions regarding how the message and impact could have been even stronger, so we pass these along for the benefit of the success of the initiative and the leaders of the initiative.

First, though the message that should people pray, avoid being misled, and educate themselves and others was good, what was missing was some urgent request that people take specific action to prevent this from becoming law.  More than 84,000 citizens signed their approval of putting this measure to the people of the Commonwealth (of which 79,620 were certified and qualified), so clearly we need help to convince the rest of society this is a bad measure. BCI and others we asked did not even remember the brief comment about sharing knowledge with others after first watching the video.

Thus, BCI thinks the Cardinal and the archdiocese should be asking each person who watched the video–and who then prays and educates themselves–to take a next step and share what they have learned by talking to 2-3 people they know in Massachusetts and letting them know why physician-assisted suicide is wrong on a moral and ethical basis. The parish resources area could have a sample email that anyone could use to tell friends about the new website, and include a few bulleted points about why this measure should be opposed.  The website might include a “Tell a Friend” capability so that if you want to share it with a friend, you can just enter the friend’s email address, and an email is automatically sent to the other person.

Second, the Cardinal could have been even more explicit in letting people know that signing any petitions to get the measure on the ballot or voting for the ballot measure would not only be a tragedy and not only a vote for suicide–but even more importantly, would be cooperation with evil and would be sinful. Perhaps he did not want to rankle people in the pews by using the word, “sin,” but it is something worthwhile to consider saying in the future. He also never explicitly told people to not vote for the measure and to spread that message to friends and family members.

Lastly, a few people are wondering what happens next before this measure goes on the November ballot. Oddly, no one from the archdiocese has said what happens next, except we know from The Pilot that the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold a public hearing on the so-called Death With Dignity Act on March 6, and Secretary for Faith Formation & Evangelization Janet Benestad said on Cardinal Sean’s blog that  “if the legislature does not act before May 2012, the “Death with Dignity Act” will appear on the ballot next November as a referendum.”  There is actually one more step.

Here is what the assisted suicide advocates, Death with Dignity, are saying about the next steps:

Over the next few months, legislators will discuss the initiative and consider one of the following steps:

  • The General Court can pass the initiative as it’s written. (This rarely happens.)
  • The Judiciary Committee can make a formal recommendation of Support, Do Not Support, or Neutral.
  • The Legislature can put its own version of the initiative on the ballot. (Again, this is rare.)

If the legislature doesn’t pass the initiative as it’s written, the next step for Dignity 2012 will be another phase of signature gathering in the beginning of May. This next signature gathering phase would be smaller than the one which took place in the fall; the campaign would need to collect 11,485 qualified voter signatures between the beginning of May and July 3rd to be considered for the November ballot. Voters who signed the petition during the first signature gathering phase cannot sign the second petition.

So, the next step after the hearing is that the assisted suicide supporters have to go out and get more signatures. In pragmatic terms, if they got more than 80K signatures last year, they can probably get another 11,485 this spring. But that does not mean we should just sit back let them succeed without a fight. If we are to educate voters to reject this measure that will likely be on the ballot in November, why not see if we could educate enough people now so that maybe the folks who support executing the elderly might fail to get those additional 11,000 more signatures and the measure dies an early death before getting to a statewide referendum?

The statistics from Oregon are shocking, powerful and logical for anyone to grasp and understand. So are the flaws in the measure as described. They should be emphasized and broadly communicated.

Words are also important–as evidenced by how those supporting physician-assisted suicide call themselves “Death with Dignity.”  So BCI would humbly suggest the Archdiocese continue to use strong words that accurately portray what is happening here.

  • The U.S. Catholic Bishops said about assisted suicide: “True compassion alleviates suffering while maintaining solidarity with those who suffer. It does not put lethal drugs in their hands and abandon them to their suicidal impulses, or to the self-serving motives of others who may want them dead.”
  • Cardinal O’Malley said, “Allowing doctors to help patients kill themselves, is a ‘corruption of the medical profession,’ a clear violation of the Hippocratic oath by which doctors promise, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone even if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.” Elsewhere he said, “to have our physicians become executioners is a chilling thought.”

Last September, Fr. Roger Landry wrote in A Commonwealth of Kevorkians or Good Samaritans:

“This initiative petition is a time in which all citizens of the Commonwealth have the chance to choose the path of Cain and Kevorkian [executioners] or the path of the Good Samaritan. It’s the path of the executioner or of the truly compassionate care-giver, the life-affirming hospice nurse, the 24-hour operator at suicide prevention hotlines, and the heroic firefighter or policeman who climbs bridges, risking his life to save those who are contemplating ending their own. The path of the true brother’s keeper will also be shown in the educational work of those who begin anew to form and inform others about the dignity of every human life and persuade legislators and fellow citizens to rise up to defeat soundly this evil initiative. It’s a choice between life or death.”

This evil initiative that legalizes physician-assisted execution of the elderly and infirm must be defeated. Even if you did not interpret the message from Cardinal O’Malley as an explicit and urgent request that you tell others, take a moment to send a copy of this blog post to a few Catholic or non-Catholic friends and family members in Massachusetts, or send a link to the website http://www.suicideisalwaysatragedy.org.  It really is a matter of life or death.


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