Boston Archdiocesan Execs Fail to Support Defeat of Assisted Suicide

November 28, 2012

In our last post, “Inside the Defeat of Question 2″, we talked about defeating Question 2 (physician assisted suicide) from the perspective of the public campaign waged by diocesan PR firm, Rasky Baerlein.  Today we shift perspectives to tell you who from the Boston Archdiocese contributed financially to the campaign and who did not.  Public records show that nearly all of the Boston Archdiocese lay executives who are paid $150K+ a year from the archdiocese did not contribute financially towards the diocese-supported issue advocacy campaign to defeat physician assisted suicide.  For those high-paid lay diocesan execs who neither contributed financially to the campaign nor worked to defeat the ballot measure in other ways, this raises a number of questions.

This report from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) gives a listing of everyone who contributed to the main opposition initiative, the Boston archdiocesan-backed Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, whose strategy and campaign was run by Rasky Baerlein.  The total contributions were $4.3M.  When you look at who gave and did not give, the inevitable conclusions are astonishing.

Here is who gave personal contributions from their own bank account:

  • Vicar General, Bishop-elect Robert Deeley (who makes about $41K/year) gave $200.
  • Secretary for Faith Formation Janet Benestad (who makes $140K/year) gave $500.
  • Secretary for Social Services and Healthcare Fr. Bryan Hehir (a Harvard Kennedy School professor paid $0 by the RCAB and paid only by Harvard, where the average professor salary is $198K) gave $200.
  • Pro-life Office Director, Marianne Luthin (who makes considerably less than $100K) gave $1,000.
  • Catholic Schools Campaign Vice President of Development, Mary Myers (Flynn) gave $100.

That is as far as we can tell quickly, but perhaps we missed someone. While we see a St. Johns seminarian, who earns no income and is planning to give his life to God, gave $200, only one of the 17-odd people making six-figure salaries above $150K gave a buck or more to this important initiative. (See “Up in Alms over Salaries” and “Bloated Payroll: Inaction).

Here are the highest-paid lay executives people who earn about $150K or more and who made no financial contribution to the campaign:

  • Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education/schools superintendent: $325K
  • Beirne Lovely, General Counsel: $300K
  • Scot Landry, Secretary for Catholic Media: $250K
  • Kathleen Driscoll, Secretary for Institutional Advancement: $230-250K est.
  • John Straub, Chancellor: $200K-$225K est.
  • Mark Dunderdale: Director of Office of Professional Standards: $200K
  • James Walsh, Assistant Schools Superintendent: $185K
  • Francis O’Connor: Assistant Gen. Counsel: $180K
  • Terry Donilon: Communications Secretary: $162k
  • Jim McEnness: Director of Risk: $154K

The other people who make $150K+ a year have not had their salaries publicly published yet, but they include:

  • Joseph D’Arrigo, Executive Director, Clergy Benefits
  • Mary Doorley, Vice President of Development
  • Carol Gustavson, Executive Director, Lay Benefits and Building Services
  • Steven McDevitt, Director of IT

Add them all up, and, as we said in “Bloated Payroll” earlier this year, you get about $3.5M in salaries, not counting benefits.  A year ago September, their boss, Cardinal O’Malley called on Catholics to oppose physician-assisted suicide, saying, “We are called upon to defend the gospel of life with courage and resolve.”  Yet except for one lay exec, none of them could even muster $50 to give to a campaign to stop an initiative that Cardinal O’Malley recently called a “terrible assault on human life.

A lot of people should be asking why these high-paid lay executives did not give anything to the campaign. (Nor, curiously, did anyone who works for Rasky Baerlein, the folks who ran the campaign give to their own campaign).  One can only guess it must have been one of the following reasons:

  1. They knew about the campaign and its importance, but did not necessarily agree with the Rasky Baerlein strategy or how Rasky was spending money, and instead contributed their time and energies to other ways of helping defeat Question 2.
  2. They were somehow oblivious to the campaign, its importance and need for donations
  3. They felt they were working toward the defeat of Q2 in their day-job already and thus did not need to give any personal contribution
  4. They wanted to contribute but did not have the personal funds to give anything, despite earning $150K/year in salary, so they prayed instead
  5. They knew about the campaign, its importance and need for donations, but felt enough other people and organizations were giving, so their contribution was unnecessary
  6. They view their employment with the archdiocese as a job, not a vocation or part of contributing to the mission of the Catholic Church. They do their job and collect their substantial paycheck, and that is it.
  7. They did not support the defeat of Question 2, and were in favor of physician-assisted suicide
  8. Some other reason not listed above

Note, there were two other campaigns opposing physician-assisted suicide–those run by Second Thoughts or the MCFL-backed Massachusetts Against Doctor Prescribed Suicide- No on 2.  We checked both of those lists, and did not find donations by these lay execs there either. If someone gave but did not make it to one of these reports, please let us know and we will issue a correction.

If the reason above for folks not contributing was #1, that makes good sense, and we take back any implied criticism for those in that category.  Furthermore, BCI cannot judge what is in the hearts and minds of these lay executives who work for the Boston Archdiocese. But, for the vast majority of these people, their day jobs had them doing nothing whatsoever to help defeat Question 2. So, unless these execs were out there in the trenches trying to sway people in their local region (which our sources say most were not), it is tough to understand why they did not at least do something for the cause by contributing.  For someone paid extremely well by the Boston Archdiocese who embraces the saving mission of the Catholic Church, why would they not be able to dig into their pocket to donate even $50 to this crucial initiative that the Cardinal Archbishop was obviously very committed to and their own moral compass should have told them to oppose.  What does that say?

The problem of high paid lay archdiocesan execs is allowed to continue, in part, by folks who BCI will call “the enablers.” These are the big donors and supporters of the Catholic Appeal who keep giving and keep encouraging other Catholics to give money, when no action has been taken still to address the problem of excessive six-figure salaries (or many other problems) that have gone on for many years.  They never tell Cardinal O’Malley, “I am stopping my donations to the appeal until you take dramatic, visible action to cut the excessive six-figure salaries that are wasting my contributions.”Nor do they tell the Cardinal, “I am stopping my donations to the appeal until you remove people from your team and advisory circle whose efforts work against the Catholic Church in the public square.”  Instead, they attend or sponsor gatherings of big donors and get their photos taken with the Cardinal.  An example is seen in a recent blog post by the Cardinal and Pilot pickup.  John and Kristine DeMatteo recently hosted a Cardinal’s Leadership Circle event in their Wellesley home.  As best as BCI can tell from here, they are known to be solid Catholics with a strong commitment to their family and pro-life and pro-family causes.  John contributed $5,000 to the Committee Against Assisted Suicide. They give a lot to the Catholic Appeal and their names appear on lists of donors to other pro-life and pro-family causes. They will, no doubt, be upset to see their names published here at BCI.

Do the DeMatteo’s and others like them not believe their donations to the Catholic Appeal are being squandered on excessive six-figure salaries?  If so, what do they do to change that?  We also wonder how they will feel knowing they gave a generous contribution to defeat the ballot measure, but at the same time, none but one of the archdiocesan execs whose $150K+ salaries are, in part, paid by the DeMatteo’s generous support of the Catholic Appeal, gave a penny to that campaign.  If anyone knows the DeMatteos, drop them an email or drop a dime and ask them to bring this matter up with Cardinal O’Malley directly.

To be clear, our issue in this post is not about priests, who make low pay and work tirelessly in their parishes or other ministries, or with lay people who worked against physician-assisted suicide in ways other than financially contributing to the campaign. But when it comes to high-paid archdiocesan execs, BCI thinks Catholics should be rip-roaring mad that most of them neither gave a penny to support a highly visible, extremely important campaign opposing a “terrible assault on human life” nor gave their time and energies to opposing the measure in other ways.  If their job function did not give them a role to work against the measure,  and their financial means permitted it, the least we should expect is that their moral conscience and commitment to the saving mission of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church would have compelled them to do something or contribute financially. We think this is a big part of the problem in the Boston Archdiocese today. What do you think?


Inside the Defeat of Question 2: Rasky Baerlein

November 25, 2012

By now, just about everyone has shared their take on how the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, along with a coalition of many other organizations. helped get 51% of voters in Massachusetts to vote No on Question 2–the ballot measure that would have legalized physician assisted suicide in Massachusetts.  There has been much patting each other on the back publicly and privately.  BCI was hoping by now that others would have shared all of the key information., but alas, that has not happened. So, in the next few blog posts, we felt we should weigh-in to give you some some additional information you might not have been aware of.

For starters, we again commend Cardinal O’Malley, the team from the Boston Archdiocese, and all who worked on this effort for the win. There were actually two coalitions–the main and best-funded group was the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide (whose strategy and campaign was led by Rasky Baerlein, and which included the Catholic Bishops along with other religious faiths), but there was a second key group, No on Question 2, (whose strategy and campaign was led by the Wayne Johnson Agency, and which included patient and disability rights organizations, Second Thoughts, Mass Citizens for Life, and others).  Given the dismal poll in September that showed we were behind 68% to 19%, the comeback was a major accomplishment. Cardinal O’Malley wrote a number of excellent columns in The Pilot, the television and radio ads produced by several different groups were well-done and effective, and the effort to move public opinion worked. We posted a number of times on why people should have voted NO, and we were delighted that the ballot measure was defeated. Here are a few of the articles on the topic that came out discussing the win:

O’Malley lauds defeat of doctor-assisted suicide bill (Boston Globe)

Boston Cardinal Lauds Rejection of Assisted-Suicide Bill (National Catholic Register)

Mass. voters say no to assisted suicide (The Boston Pilot)

Inclusion key in anti-suicide drive (The Washington Times)

Now that we have duly expressed accolades to everyone for their efforts that resulted in defeating Question 2, we need to look at the rest of the story. Lest everyone locally and in other parts of the country conclude the Massachusetts experience is the model for the future, we need to remove the rose-colored glasses and look at a few things that did not make it into the media coverage about the 51%-49% win for our side.

Bad Advice from Political Consulting Firm

First of all, while the political consulting firm, Rasky Baerlein, is busy congratulating themselves publicly on how they overcame the “insurmountable task” of convincing Massachusetts voters to vote No on Question 2 despite initial research showing most voters felt people should be able to make their own end-of-life decisions, somehow Rasky is forgetting to mention how it was their advice to stay silent until the last minute that left us in the precarious situation of being behind by 48 points a month before the vote. Though Cardinal O’Malley kept a regular stream of columns going in The Pilot, priests and lay people were asking all during the summer what was going on with the near-total blackout by the rest of the Boston Archdiocese on this issue until Labor Day–both in parishes and in the public discourse. Rasky Baerlein, who has an undefeated record on ballot questions, and who, coincidentally, is staffed by a considerable number of Obama donors and former Joe Biden campaign staff, told the archdiocese to hit the “pause” button on educational efforts–they had it all figured out.  It is explained in this excellent piece by Fr. Roger Landry:

Finally, we need to grasp why we were trailing 68-19 percent a month from the election and never make the same mistake again. Polls at the beginning of the year showed us trailing 43-37 percent. At the terrible advice of the political consultants advising the Church, however, we basically suspended all educational efforts until after Labor Day and even pulled superb educational materials from the Internet. The other side was able to advance its arguments when our side muted itself voluntarily. Few knew what was even on the ballot, not to mention why Question 2 should be defeated. Thanks be to God, we had just enough time to triumph at the end, but we should never have been down as much as we were. The Church’s educational efforts should be ongoing and never muzzled. And they should continue now all the more, because what we’ve just won is but one important victory in a much larger war in defense of human dignity.

He is absolutely right–we should never have been down by as much as we were.  The geniuses at Rasky Baerlein made that happen, with management oversight from none other than Terry Donilon and Fr. Bryan Hehir.  Then, to make up for their flawed advice and lack of an effective ground-game, in the final minutes of the ball game, we had to raise and spend nearly $5 million dollars for the “air cover”, media program and overhead fees.

Cost of the Campaign

It was important to win this one and not let the assisted suicide folks get victory in Massachusetts and New England beachhead.  But it cost a lot of money to win, especially because of the approach Rasky took, or failed to take.  From the Boston Archdiocese and related entities, the Boston Archdiocese contributed $250K in cash, plus $80K in in-kind donations, Boston Catholic TV contributed $1 million, and St. Johns Seminary also gave $1 million. Most agencies like Rasky charge about 10-15% in agency fees on top of any production costs–namely for research, creative development, website development, overhead/profit on media purchases and project management.  Of the total Committee Against Physician-Assisted Suicide expenses of $4.3M, records Rasky made a handsome $366K in agency profit for their work.  Oh by the way, did we mention how Rasky returned a $250K donation from the American Family Association merely because they are pro-family and support the centuries-old definition of marriage as the permanent union of a man and woman?   They did not want any controversy because AFA was seen as “anti-gay.”  Also, Rasky had spent nearly $600K before Sept 1 on something or other, without ever launching a single ad.

What Rasky Does Not Know they Do Not Know

Rasky thinks they know web marketing and social media.  They pitched the archdiocese on that and spent a small fortune of around $115K just building a website. Someone needs to tell them they know next to nothing in this area.  Dozens of people who visited the website of the Committee Against Assisted Suicide wrote to BCI and asked, “What’s with this?”  Why should someone “sign the petition”?  It was a citizen’s ballot initiative–for crying out loud, what was a petition for?  To give to whom?  It was stupid–just ask people to sign-up for an email update list.  “Tell a friend”?  OK, I upload all of my friends names and then I have to compose my own message too?  What good is that?  People sent email messages to the contact email address and told BCI they never got responses.

BCI could go much further, but will pause for now.  In our next installment, we will discuss the risks facing us after the win, where there were pitfalls, and how and where we really won the battle. In the end, we won, and that was most important. But if we intend to learn from the past so as to do better in the future, we need to take off the rose-colored glasses and look at the cup from the vantage point of being both half-full and half-empty.  More next time.


Happy Thanksgiving

November 22, 2012

BCI wishes all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  As we did last year, we offer you two prayers of thanksgiving for today. The first is attributed to St. John Chrysostom.  The second did not have attribution.

St. John Chrysostom Prayer Of Thanksgiving

What praise, of what hymn, or what thanksgiving, or what recompense shall we offer unto Thee, the Only God, Who lovest mankind?

For when we were condemned to destruction and immersed in our sins, Thou didst bestow freedom upon us, and hast given us the immortal and heavenly nourishment of the Body and Blood of Thy Christ.

Therefore we pray Thee: Deliver us from judgment, together with Thy servants who minister unto Thee.

Keep us and them in honor and holy living; and those who pray with us, and who have been partakers of Thy Mystical Table, preserve free of condemnation unto their last breath.

May it be unto them a sanctification of soul and body, unto the keeping of Thy Commandments; and thus may we be granted tp attain Thy Heavenly Kingdom, together with all who have been well-pleasing unto Thee from all ages:

Through the prayers and intercessions of our holy, all-pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Birth giver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, of Saint N. whose memory we keep, and of all Thy Saints, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

Amen.

attributed to ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

*   *   *   *

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thank you God for all the wonderful blessings,
For our daily meals, for clean drinking water,
For sunlight and for the cool breeze.
I’m thankful for my family, my spouse, my friends, and my health.
I’m thankful for my friends, to love and be loved and for freedom.
I’m thankful to be alive and praise you for all these wonders.
I’m thankful that you have been so gracious
To give your only Son to us
Who gave his life and bore the Unbearable
For us sinners.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I take the Opportunity to give thanks for countless other
things you provide us with on a daily basis.
Amen.

For those with more time to spend today, we refer you to our post from last year about U.S. Presidential Thanksgiving proclamations.  Those of the past that prominently mention God stand in stark contrast to those of recent years, and especially those under our current president, as noted in this piece by Rich Lowry, “Presidential Proclamations Aren’t What They Used to Be.”  He notes:

In the statement that is considered the beginning of the unbroken annual tradition of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, Lincoln said that God had dealt “with us in anger for our sins.” He recommended “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.”

The words “sin” and “perverse” would set off the left as overly judgmental and embarrassingly archaic. The right would bristle at national self-criticism from the country’s commander-in-chief (at a time of war, no less).

Lincoln had good reason to speak of perversity, of course. He was knee-deep in blood in a Civil War precipitated by half the country leaving the Union so it could protect slavery. But his proclamation was firmly within the American tradition.

The Thanksgiving proclamation at Charlestown, Mass., in 1676 referred to God’s “sore displeasure against us for our sins.” The founding generation of presidents struck similar notes. In 1789, George Washington urged that we “unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.” John Adams in 1798 recommended that religious congregations “acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation.”

This line carried through into the 20th century. Dwight Eisenhower spoke of the need to “bow before God in contrition for our sins.”

But any suggestion of national failings, let alone sin or perversity, has gone missing from the Thanksgiving proclamations of recent decades (and so has much of the majesty).

Without it, we lose any sense that we have an obligation to live up to a national standard that derives, if not from the God of the Bible, from the natural law. This has always been part of what makes America different from other nations.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

BCI


Archbishop Chaput: Being a Saint is the Only Thing that Matters

November 21, 2012

Given the outcome of the election, BCI has been pondering what faithful Catholics should do next.  Today, we point you to two thought-provoking pieces–one by Archbishop Chaput, and another at CatholicCulture.

Archbishop Chaput: being a saint is the only thing that matters (Catholic News Agency)

Philadelphia, Pa., Nov 17, 2012 / 06:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At a conference on faith and evangelization, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told participants that sanctity is the single necessity in a person’s life.

“The only thing that matters is to be a saint. That’s what we need to be. That’s what we need to become,” he said at the Nov. 16 Catholic Life Congress in Philadelphia.

Archbishop Chaput began his talk, titled “Renewing the Church and Her Mission in a ‘Year of Faith,’” by discussing the nature of faith. He said the Nicene Creed, recited at every Sunday Mass, is the “framework and fundamental profession” of Catholic belief.

“The less we understand the words of the Creed and revere the meaning behind them, the farther away we drift from our Catholic identity – and the more confused we become about who we really are as Christians.”

The archbishop discussed the importance of personal integrity, and the role of Sunday Mass in forming our lives throughout the rest of the week.

“We need to give our hearts to what we hear and what we say in our public worship. Otherwise, little by little, we become dishonest.”

Faith, he told his listeners, “is confidence in things unseen based on the word of someone we know and love – in this case, God…only a living encounter and a living relationship with Jesus Christ make faith sustainable.”

Archbishop Chaput then reflected on the present state of the Catholic Church in America, painting a stark picture.

“More than 70 million Americans describe themselves as Catholics. But for all practical purposes, they’re no different from everybody else in their views, their appetites and their behaviors.”

This state, he said, was part of the “legacy” left by the baby boomer generation “to the Church in the United States.”

“In a sense, our political and economic power, our addictions to comfort, consumption and entertainment, have made us stupid.”

In response to that state of affairs, Archbishop Chaput urged every one to repentance and to conversion. In the face of a Catholic population indistinguishable from the general public, he proposed a sort of examination of conscience.

“So we need to ask ourselves: What do I want my life to mean? If I claim to be a Catholic, can I prove it with the patterns of my life? When do I pray? How often do I seek out the Sacrament of Penance?  What am I doing for the poor? How am I serving the needy? Do I really know Jesus Christ?”

“Who am I leading to the Church? How many young people have I asked to consider a vocation? How much time do I spend sharing about God with my spouse, my children and my friends? How well and how often do I listen for God’s will in my own life?”

From there, the archbishop reflected on what we need to become, and took Saint Thomas More as an example.

More was an English lawyer and statesman, and chancellor of England under Henry VIII. His Catholic faith made him oppose Henry’s divorce and re-marriage, and separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church. His integrity led him to be martyred in 1535.

Archbishop Chaput gave his audience a “homework assignment” over Thanksgiving break. He asked that people watch – “with your family” –  the 1966 film on St. Thomas More called “A Man for All Seasons”

He said that “above all, More was a man of profound Catholic faith and practice. He lived what he claimed to believe. He had his priorities in right order. He was a husband and a father first.”

The archbishop then said that More is an example for all Catholics.

“We’re all called to martyrdom. That’s what the word martyr means: It’s the Greek word for “witness.”  We may or may not ever suffer personally for our love of Jesus Christ. But we’re all called to be witnesses.”

Archbishop Chaput concluded his talk by emphasizing that becoming a saint, like St. Thomas More, is the one thing necessary in everyone’s life.

Then we have this provocative piece from CatholicCulture, “The End of Pro-Life Politics,” where Jeff Mirus asks:

“Have we as pro-life Catholics been wrong to invest the lion’s share of our time, talent and energy in the political battle against abortion over the past forty years? Or even if we have not been wrong the whole time, are we wrong now?”   Perhaps it is obvious that I believe the answer is yes. It ought to be clear by now that Western culture is insufficiently healthy to sustain a political solution to abortion. Therefore, it is counter-productive to pour our resources into the effort to achieve such a solution. We must use our resources far more wisely than that.

..What we have learned in recent years is that we are not, as we have long thought, on the verge of winning the battle for human life. Rather, we must recognize that our culture as a whole has slipped into such darkness and error that addressing the problem of the sanctity of human life politically has become effectively impossible.

…we ought to expend our greatest energies elsewhere, in widespread efforts to strengthen the Church, to develop our own Christian subculture complete with vibrant intermediary institutions, to evangelize our neighbors, and to offer practical service to any and all who, increasingly ill-served by a bureaucratic pagan State, may turn to us in their need.

This is, in fact, exactly what Christians had to do in the early centuries of the Church (and what they must never fail to do at any time, even when things happen to be going better politically). In other words, the answer to the disturbing question with which I opened this essay is clear. This is not the time to place the emphasis on politics, any more than it was time for politics when Karol Wojtyla was growing up in Poland. This is the time for Faith and family, evangelization and the formation of Christian culture.

This is not the time to waste immense resources and energies on political efforts which our larger Western culture cannot possibly sustain. It is rather a time to grow in Faith, evangelize those around us, and form vibrant local cultures which draw our neighbors into the light of Christ.

BCI found both of these thought-provoking. We encourage all to watch the 1966 film on St. Thomas More, “A Man for All Seasons.” There is no question we should each invest our energies in trying to become a saint. To what extent do we each listen to God’s will in our lives and respond to it?  Do you see yourself called to martyrdom? If not, why not?  Do our Catholic leaders–from the Cardinal Archbishop down to the pastoral center staff, pastors, clergy, parish staff, and lay people in the pews see themselves called to be martyrs?   At the same time each individual is called to be a martyr and saint,–no small undertaking–if indeed, now is when we should also collectively focus on Faith and family, evangelization and the formation of Christian culture, what do you want your next step to be?

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving!


Boston archdiocese reshuffe, future kerfuffle?

November 16, 2012

The big news yesterday is that the new Pastoral Plan for Boston, “Disciples in Mission” was approved by Cardinal O’Malley and announced at a press conference.

Here are some of the headline stories:

Pastoral planning to promote the New Evangelization (The Boston Pilot, with text of the press conference remarks by Cardinal O’Malley)

Boston Cardinal approves archdiocese reshuffle (Boston Globe)

Boston Cardinal approves archdiocese reshuffle (WBUR)

Clearly, something has to be done to address the declining number of people attending Mass (down to about 15-17% of Catholics now), declining number of active priests, and the reality that at least 40% of parishes are in the red, and perhaps as much as 50-60% by some internal estimates.  We very much support the objectives of this effort–evangelization and growth–and we commend the archdiocese for the tremendous amount of work put into developing the plan and getting broad input on it.  BCI does not have an alternate proposal to this Pastoral Plan, and this is the plan approved going forward. But that said, BCI thinks there is likely to be a bit of a kerfuffle on the path to the reshuffle.

Here is the gist of the plan, as described in the press release:

The Pastoral Plan groups the [288] parishes of the Archdiocese into approximately 135 collaboratives.  Each parish maintains its own identity in the collaboratives.  Each parish retains its buildings, its canonical rights, its financial assets and obligations. The collaborative will have one Pastor who will work with one Pastoral Team, one Parish Pastoral Council and one Parish Finance Council.  Together they will develop a pastoral plan for their local collaborative, focused on serving the needs of the parishes in their local collaborative and advancing the mission of the New Evangelization.  The formation of the parish collaboratives will be phased in, with appropriate flexibility, over a period of five years.  Pastors, pastoral teams, and councils of each parish collaborative will participate in extensive theological and practical training for the New Evangelization.  The first list of parishes being grouped will be announced in January 2013.  For a full review of the plan and for additional information please visit www.disciplesinmission.com.

Here are a few things to be concerned with in implementation, which we hope and pray the archdiocese will address:

  • Canon Law (Can. 537) says that each parish is to have its own Finance Council.  “in each parish there is to be a finance council which is governed, in addition to universal law, by norms issued by the diocesan bishop and in which the Christian faithful, selected according to these same norms, are to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish, without prejudice to the prescript of Can. 532 (which says the pastor represents the parish according to the norm of law). Canonically, it is not entirely clear how to pull this off, though we know that Fr. Bob Oliver, the canon lawyer working on this for Bishop-elect Deeley, has been all over it trying to figure out how.
  • Beyond the letter of Canon Law, it is not clear how one Finance Council will make decisions in a fair way across multiple parishes in a collaborative, each of which has its own unique financial condition, some of which might be in the red and some of which might be in the black.
  • Did the “Catholics Come Home” campaign of 2011 help boost Mass attendance? If not, what is to be learned from that effort, so we do better at evangelization in the future?
  • What will be done with all of the empty rectories?
  • Will this effort lead to more parish closings, but just done at a local collaboration level, parish by parish, rather than at a diocesan level? What could be done to avoid that outcome?
  • Fr. Paul Soper was chosen as permanent Director of Pastoral Planning role.  He has a Voice of the Faithful chapter at his parish. Even if he inherited the chapter when he took over as pastor, given their track record of dissent from Church teachings, why has he allowed them to remain?
  • The announcement says, “Pastors, pastoral teams, and councils of each parish collaborative will participate in extensive theological and practical training for the New Evangelization.”  BCI has read their “plan” and found things to like, but also a lot of holes. For example, if the Archdiocese cannot or will not put a stop to heretical lay adult faith formation programs in parishes such as those documented in “Boston Parish Adult Faith Formation – Good and Bad,” (which include speakers like the national co-chair of “Catholics for Obama”, a talk on Buddhism, and reading a sex novel), then why should anyone believe in their new “extensive theological training”?  If the Archdiocese does not realize they should not be allowing people like Obama-supporter, Fr. Kenneth Himes of BC to speak at parishes and should not be promoting his talks, how can the Archdiocese assure Catholics they can get theological training correct?  And years after they said the were going to post and promote a list of approved programs, resources, and opportunities for lay faith formation  in parishes, collaboratives and at the Archdiocesan level, such a web page still cannot be found. If they cannot even  put up a web page, how will they pull off this ambitious effort?
  • Who is going to pay for this plan and its implementation? If it is to be the people in the pews, why should they dig deeper into their pockets in these difficult economic times while the Pastoral Center has done nothing to curb the excessive six-figure salaries paid to lay executives? Two years after the “Compensation Committee” was formed to revisit excessive six-figure salaries, there have been no changes and nothing whatsoever to show for their efforts, except engagement of an expensive consultant and empty words in an annual report .
  • Does the RCAB have the right people on the ship to set direction and drive and execute this effort? Have they gotten the “wrong” people off the ship? If they have not yet gotten the “wrong” people off the ship–despite years of evidence they are the wrong people–how will the RCAB ever attract the best people, especially after the ship has set sail?
  • Does the RCAB even have the right structure in place to pull this off?
  • If the RCAB cannot deal, or refuses to deal with problems like the ongoing presence and influence of Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jack Connors, and Terry Donilon, how will they ever execute a program intended to evangelize fallen-away Catholics with the truths of the Catholic faith?
  • Re-read this blog post, “Pastoral Planning Perspectives” including these objective observations from a reader:

The plan assumes competent people in leadership for evangelization, and a sound financial footing for RCAB to pull it off. I am not convinced that RCAB can assure us of either at the moment.Many dioceses have implemented this kind of plan, but they have done so only by beginning with extensive lay formation. To make the plans, announce them and implement them, and then announce a plan for formation assumes that the people, having learned of the plans, will be eager to support them by giving time and energy (not to mention money) to these formation efforts.

Has RCAB put the cart before the horse? Given the five-year plan, wouldn’t there have been time to provide the formation program to parish planning and finance council members, then let them help recommend the collaborative options?

When RCAB says it is paying for something, it means WE are paying for it. There isn’t some magical pot of money from which RCAB draws — it’s our donations that fund all the salaries and expenses of the central administration.

Is it time for one other adjustment to take place as part of this collaboration? Is it time for the civil body of Corporation Sole and its finance committee to be dissolved, and for a new civil structure to replace it? We wish for religious freedom from our government, and yet we do not expect fiscal accountability of the civil structure of the archdiocese. Corp Sole is one man, one vote. Period. And that man, for good or ill, is accountable for every act to which he affixes his signature.

Is it time the structure reflected a civil leadership body of bishops, priests and lay faithful who are personally liable and accountable for the civil undertakings of the Archdiocese? Has the 19th century fiction of Corporation Sole run its course? Archbishop Williams asked for the Corp Sole form from the legislature. He exhibited remarkable wisdom in his selection of those who advised him, and in the execution of diocesan fiscal affairs. His successor, Cardinal O’Connell’s, fiscal abuses are well documented. Every ordinary since has either overbuilt, overspent or at least been manipulated by those who sought personal gain from dealings with RCAB. Could it be time for the fiscal and civil reins to be held in more than one hand? And could it be that changing the way parishes are run is the ideal time to recommend a change in how the fiscal and civil structure of the diocese is run?

How many more base salaries over $160,000.00 (with benefits and employment tax contributions that’s actually right at $200,000.00) can WE afford to pay? And how many more conflicts of interest can the Archdiocese of Boston afford to pursue?

That said, they need to do something. All Catholics should support the goals of evangelizing the truths of the Catholic faith to a secular society and trying to increase the number of Catholics attending Mass.  This plan looks directionally like the best or only approach left to consider today–short of immediate widespread church closings. But, in the opinion of BCI, the RCAB is so ill-prepared, ill-financed, ill-organized, inappropriately staffed and lacking in strong leadership, that the implementation will probably never realize the vision. If they could only muster the ability to address the issues detailed above, maybe it has a prayer of success.


The Eminence Grise of The Boston Archdiocese

November 13, 2012

This piece was published in The Wanderer on October 25, 2012. If you want to know why the Boston Archdiocese still has a lot of problems, here is one of several big contributing factors.

The Eminence Grise of The Boston Archdiocese

By C. JOSEPH DOYLE & PAUL LIKOUDIS

Thirty-four years ago, on March 16,1978, The Wanderer published an editorial by its editor, A.J. Matt Jr., calling on  the United States Catholic Conference/ National Conference of Catholic Bishops to fire Fr. Bryan Hehir, associate secretary for international justice and peace, for his relentless advocacy of left-wing politics, especially his role in steering the U.S. bishops away from a principled and forthright opposition to abortion, contraception, and national and international “family planning” programs.

During his 20-year tenure at the USCC/NCCB, from 1972 to 1992, Fr. Hehir was a coordinator and facilitator for the 1976 Call to Action conference in Detroit; he advised the U.S. bishops, and the Holy See, to “regard contraceptive practice as an issue of private morality” — the poisonous fruit of which was episcopal and clerical silence when the purity of children and the rights of parents were assaulted by condom distribution programs in public schools; he advised the bishops, as the presumed originator of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” theory, that pushing the abortion issue would cause the Church to lose allies on other social justice issues; and he was instrumental in formulating New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s infamous 1984 address at Notre Dame, where he articulated the “personally opposed, but” con game on abortion that Catholic politicians could subscribe to Church teaching, but ignore it and oppose it in public policy.

After leaving the USCC/NCCB, Hehir’s influence continued. He was, for example, cited by the Playboy-funded Catholics for a Free Choice for his position that Catholic hospitals should not be exempt from providing contraceptive services to their clients and employees.

Fast-forward: Fr. Bryan Hehir, after leaving the USCC/NCCB, went to Harvard University to teach, and then, after Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., was appointed archbishop of Boston, was brought into the inner circle of archdiocesan leadership, as the head of Catholic Charities and as Cardinal O’Malley’s informal but influential adviser on a host of public policy questions.

Hehir would subsequently join the archdiocesan cabinet as secretary for Health and Social Services. But his portfolio is much broader than that. He was the decisive influence in selecting a new executive director for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for the state’s four Catholic bishops, and has become, effectively, the episcopal moderator for the conference.

Many people believe that most public expressions of Catholic teaching in the archdiocese bear the influence of Fr. Bryan Hehir

Prior to Cardinal O’Malley’s arrival in Boston, the former archbishop, Bernard Cardinal Law, kept Hehir at arm’s length from the central administration of the archdiocese, and even objected to his hiring by Harvard Divinity School. As The Boston Globe reported, September 27, 2003, after O’Malley announced he had hired Hehir as president of Catholic Charities, “Cardinal Bernard F. Law, then archbishop of Boston, made it clear he was unhappy with Hehir being stationed at Harvard, a historically Unitarian school with a reputation for progressive theology.”

During his tenure as president of Catholic Charities in Boston, and then as secretary for Health and Social Services, Hehir has presided over a number of fiascos, including the notorious 2005 “Man of the Year” award to Boston’s fanatically pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-contraception Mayor Thomas M. Menino. After a memorandum by the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts to Cardinal O’Malley detailing and documenting Menino’s decades-long opposition to Catholic teaching was leaked to the press, O’Malley withdrew from the dinner. Hehir persisted in presenting the award to Menino, which resulted in the annual banquet of Catholic Charities being picketed by the Catholic Action League, Operation Rescue Boston, and numerous pro-life groups.

The archdiocese and Catholic Charities were further embarrassed when an aggravated Menino decided to unburden himself to the media on Catholic teaching. Menino explained that abortion, after all, was just “choice,” that pro-lifers were filled with “hate,” and most memorably, “Jesus, you know, didn’t go around all the time talking up God.”

In April 2005, Hehir also criticized the U.S. bishops for threatening to withhold Communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians, such as Massachusetts’ Sen. John Kerry. At the same time, according to The Boston Globe (April 30, 2005), he expressed his fears of the “conservative” papacy of newly elected Pope Benedict XVI. Other fiascos include Catholic Charities advertising in the viciously anti-Catholic, homosexual newspaper Bay Windows, the decision of the Holy See to order Catholic Charities to cease placing children in homosexual households, the subsequent end to adoption services by the Archdiocese of Boston — viewed by some as Hehir putting a thumb in the eye of the Vatican, and, finally, the infamous Commonwealth Care contract of 2009 in which Caritas Christi Healthcare (the chain of six Catholic hospitals affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston) was to implement health-care programs for low income residents which included abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

The Boston Globe gleefully broke the story of Catholic complicity in abortion in February 2009, igniting a firestorm in the pro-life community. Instead of immediately pulling the plug on the contract, which was scheduled to go into effect in July 2009, the archdiocese, under Hehir’s influence, needlessly protracted the controversy, resorting to every trick to preserve Caritas Christi involvement in the program. Using Clintonian language, the archdiocese claimed Caritas Christi would not be involved in abortion referrals despite the testimony of officials of the Caritas subsidiary. Because of Hehir’s decision to go through with the contract, it was the end of June 2009 before Cardinal O’Malley ordered Caritas to withdraw, vindicating the very pro-life critics whom the cardinal had castigated a few months earlier as doing “a grave disservice to the Church” with their charges.

There is no question in Boston that Fr. Hehir is the eminence grise of the archdiocese; his fingerprints are on everything.

Under Cardinal Law, all those involved in the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and in the archdiocesan communications office — that is, anyone involved in articulating positions on Catholic issues — were known as conservative, orthodox, and pro-life. Now, under an O’Malley episcopate influenced by Bryan Hehir, Boston Catholics have Terry Donilon — a former aide to Rhode Island’s pro-abortion Gov. Bruce Sundlun and the brother of President Obama’s national security adviser — as the spokesman for the archdiocese; a major Obama-Biden fund raiser, Jack Connors, who serves on the archdiocesan Council of Finance, leads the Catholic schools foundation; and, under Hehir’s leadership at the health secretariat, there was Barney Frank fund-raiser James Karam as chairman of Caritas Christi.

Bottom line: The Archdiocese of Boston has taken a sharp left turn since Cardinal Law’s departure, and there is no indication that will change as long as Fr. Hehir, the ultimate liberal apparatchik, remains in power.

At a moment when the Church is striving to launch a “new evangelization” in this Year of Faith, the Archdiocese of Boston under Fr. Hehir’s leadership is more concerned with conforming to the secular culture, appeasing a hostile liberal media, and protecting renegade pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their apologists in the Catholic community. Hehir calls this “rebuilding trust” with civil society, but that is a ruse for enabling dissent, as Fr. Hehir’s record over 40 years illustrates. + + +

(C. Joseph Doyle is the executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts; Paul Likoudis is news editor for The Wanderer.)

#   #   #   #

Does this key advisor to Cardinal O’Malley–who influences everything from public policy to parish configurations–embrace all of the truths of the Catholic faith? His record indicates not. From the perspective of BCI, this is a cause for grave concern.


Deeley named Auxiliary Bishop in Boston

November 9, 2012

We take a break from our election coverage to let you know that Vicar General, Msgr. Deeley has been named an auxiliary bishop in Boston by Pope Benedict XVI. Here are excerpts from the Globe report:

Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, who spent the past year serving as vicar general and moderator of the Curia in Boston, has been assigned to the Titular See of Kearney and will be ordained as auxiliary bishop in January, according to a statement from the archdiocese.

He will continue to serve as vicar general and moderator of the Curia.

Deeley, 66, said he is humbled by his new position.

“I pray that God grants me wisdom to continue to do the work He has blessed me with nearly forty years of being a priest,” he said in a statement. “Throughout, I have been inspired by the love and support of my family and the joy of bringing the sacraments to our people.”

Deeley chose “Veritatem Facere in Caritate” as his Episcopal motto, which translates to “Living the Truth in Love,” the archdiocese said.

O’Malley said in a statement that Deeley “has contributed greatly to the life of the Church, always focused on bringing people closer to God.”

Deeley entered Cardinal O’Connell Minor Seminary in Jamaica Plain and then studied philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1968.

He studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and earned a degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1972, the archdiocese said.

He was ordained in 1973 at his home parish and served as pastor of St. Bartholomew’s Parish in Needham for five years.

Deeley became secretary to the Metropolitan Tribunal of Boston in 1978 and served with the office for more than 20 years. He was a priest at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton Upper Falls and St. Brigid’s Parish in Lexington, the archdiocese said.

Deeley became pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in Quincy in 1999 and president of the Canon Law Society of America in 2000.

In 2004 Deeley was assigned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department that oversees doctrine and handles cases involving clergy abuse of minors, the archdiocese said.

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for naming Monsignor Robert Deeley as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston,” O’Malley said. “Throughout his priesthood Bishop-elect Deeley has served with a deep and abiding commitment to Christ and the Church.”

We congratulate Msgr. Deeley on this elevation to Auxiliary Bishop!  Question now is: What will be different, if anything at all? Will he, like most auxiliary bishops, merely do whatever work he is instructed to do by his diocesan ordinary, and nothing dramatic will come from the elevation?

Now that he has gotten the purple hat, even if what he might really desire is his own see, BCI thinks it is a good time for him to exercise stronger leadership in his role as the highest administrative official in the Boston archdiocese after the Cardinal archbishop. For example, is it not about time that something be done about the following?:

  • Continuing decline in the number of Mass-going Catholics
  • Excessive six-figure salaries like the $325K salary of Schools Superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and dozens of others paid more than $150K/year
  • Obama fundraiser and abortion supporter, Jack Connors’, continuing involvement on the Finance Council and with Catholic Schools
  • Unresolved clergy abuse accusations against priests that have dragged on for years and years, at a cost of $22M in salaries and benefits
  • The ongoing influence of Fr. Bryan Hehir in everyday decision-making by Cardinal O’Malley
  • The unresolved HR scandal at St. Catherine School in Norwood
  • The problem of 60% of parishes being in the red
  • Major void at the top in governance and teaching the truths of our faith

Other than those minor points, everything is going fine. In all sincerity, we wish Bishop-elect Deeley well and will pray for his success in addressing these issues and others critical to the future of the Boston archdiocese.


Sifting Through the Wreckage: George Weigel

November 8, 2012

This excellent piece by George Weigel is in the National Review.  It is worth reading in its entirety to give perspective on the re-election of President Obama.  BCI shares excerpts here:

Sifting Through the Wreckage

The most inane insta-pundit commentary had it that the 2012 election “hadn’t really changed anything,” what with President Obama still in the White House, the House still in Republican hands, and the Senate still controlled by Democrats. The truth of the matter, of course, is that a great deal changed, somewhere around 11 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 7, when Ohio was declared for the president and the race was effectively over. To wit:

Obamacare, the governmental takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy, is now set in legislative concrete, and the progressive campaign to turn ever-larger numbers of citizens into wards of the state has been given a tremendous boost — with electoral consequences as far as the eye can see.

A war in the Middle East is now almost certain, and sooner rather than later; as if the previous three and a half years of fecklessness were not enough, the cast of mind manifest in the administration’s abdication of responsibility in Benghazi will have likely convinced a critical mass of the Israeli leadership that they have no choice but to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities in self-defense. The economic chaos resulting from military conflict in the Persian Gulf (and beyond) will further deepen the European fiscal crisis while making an already weak American economic recovery even more anemic.

The children and grandchildren of November 6’s voters have been condemned to bear the burden of what is certainly an unpayable mountain of debt, and may be an unserviceable amount of debt, which in either case will be an enormous drag on the economy, even as it mortgages America’s strategic options in Asia to the holders of U.S. government bonds in Beijing.

The American culture war has been markedly intensified, as those who booed God, celebrated an unfettered abortion license, canonized Sandra Fluke, and sacramentalized sodomy at the Democratic National Convention will have been emboldened to advance the cause of lifestyle libertinism through coercive state power, thus deepening the danger of what a noted Bavarian theologian calls the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Religious freedom and civil society are now in greater jeopardy than ever, as what was already the most secularist and statist administration in history will, unfettered by reelection concerns, accelerate its efforts to bring free voluntary associations to heel as de facto extensions of the state.

Nothing changed? In a pig’s eye.

And here, too, is something for Republican strategists to ponder while sifting through the wreckage. Mitt Romney made himself a better candidate throughout 2012, and for one brief, electric moment at the first debate, he seemed like a leader with vision, passion, and wit. But a recovery of American greatness — cultural, political, economic, diplomatic, and military greatness — was not the driving theme of the Romney campaign. Not knowing Mitt Romney personally, I can’t say whether this obviously decent and successful man simply lacked the understanding necessary to make the case for true American renewal, as distinct from the faux hope-and-change mantra that had seduced so many in 2008. But whatever Romney’s personal inclinations, many Republican campaign managers and consultants always seemed afraid of scaring the horses. Obama would be beaten, they insisted, on grounds of competence, not by a campaign that called the country to recognize that it need not settle for mediocrity, a campaign that summoned America to new heights of achievement.

The themes for such a campaign were not difficult to imagine; they could have been built around a recasting of FDR’s four freedoms. Freedom of religion: No government bureaucrat in Washington is going to tell your religious community how to conduct its affairs. Freedom from fear: A Romney administration will not tolerate the burning of American embassies and the torture and murder of our diplomats by the thugs of al-Qaeda and their jihadist allies. Freedom for excellence and accomplishment: Unshackling American ingenuity from the restraints of government interference will unleash new wealth-creating and wealth-distributing energies, even as that liberation empowers the poor to lead lives of self-responsibility through honest and dignified work. And freedom from unpayable debt: Your children and grandchildren must not be buried beneath a sludge pile of extravagance sluicing out of a national capital (and an administration) addicted to throwing oceans of money at problems.

Would it have worked? Who knows? But the issues would have been sharpened; the fake issues (“war on women,” “tax breaks for the rich,” etc.) might have been marginalized; and a lot more energy — real political energy, not just energies bent on denying Obama a second term — might have been unleashed.

The countercase, it must be admitted, has something to be said for it. Not the countercase of the culture-wars-averse campaign consultants, but a countercase that would run something like this (and that illustrates another great change, not initiated on election day but confirmed by the results):

Whatever the clumsiness of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark, the hard fact of the matter is that a critical mass of Americans are now so dependent on government (either directly or through public-sector unions) that any appeal to a larger national vision, much less a vision of personal responsibility, is impossible. So try to make the case that a Romney alternative to Obama will fix things without fundamentally altering the relationship between individual citizens (and families) and the post–New Deal, post–Great Society American welfare state.

There is, in hard truth, something here. That half the country was prepared to reelect a manifestly failed president whose personal incapacities, like the incapacities of the bloated governmental bureaucracies over which he presided, were on full display in the weeks before the election, and in venues ranging from North Africa to Staten Island, is a very disturbing “indicator,” as the pollsters like to say. That a goodly proportion of that half of America seemed susceptible to the Obama campaign’s class warfare is also disturbing. But perhaps most disturbing of all is the exit-poll data showing that a healthy majority of the electorate believed Obama more capable than Romney of handling foreign crises: and this, after the lethal fiasco of Benghazi, itself the embodiment of an ideologically driven pusillanimity in foreign policy that has been on display since the president’s apologize-for-America tour at the beginning of his first term. “Missing greatness,” it turns out, is not just a function of who’s in charge. It’s a result of democratic citizens’ not paying attention. Or worse, it’s the result of citizens’ suffering such severe ideological glaucoma that they cannot see what is in front of them.

What has obviously changed, in other words, is American political culture: and it is hard to make a case that that change has been for the better. Shortly after Ohio sealed the deal on Election Night, a friend (who earlier in the evening had said that she was having a hard time recognizing the country she grew up in) sent me an e-mail with a salient Tocqueville quote:

In the United States, the majority rules in the name of the people. This majority is chiefly composed of peaceful citizens who by taste or interest sincerely desire the good of the country. . . . If republican principles are to perish in America, they will succumb only after a long social travail, frequently interrupted, often resumed; they will seem to be reborn several times, and they will disappear without return only when an entirely new people has taken the place of the one that exists in our day.

So let’s spare ourselves the Bertolt Brecht bromide about a displeased government getting itself a new people, which is precisely the opposite of the point here, and ponder the serious question raised by Tocqueville, and put in more contemporary terms by another of my day-after-the-election e-mail correspondents, a former senior White House official:

Is it time 1) to conclude that what began in 1992 has provided 26 years of confirmatory evidence that the American experiment in ordered liberty has given way, decisively and irrevocably, to a crass and stupid commercial (and sexualized) culture, under a technical-administrative state, guided by the view that man is the measure of all things, and 2) to consider a refocusing of political efforts to the local level, which has its own problems of corruption, stupidity, and loss of tradition and virtue, but in some cases may permit of a politics in some measure noble and worthy?

Unwilling to go quite that far into the Slough of Despond, I nonetheless recognize (and commend) the seriousness of the questions posed by these two friends. For while the surface manifestations of national politics (the presidency, control of the houses of Congress) may look “the same” to the less lucid elements of the punditocracy, the question of whether we have become, if not “an entirely new people” (pace Tocqueville’s warning), then a deeply divided people, one large part of which is now wedded to government in ways that gravely erode civic virtue, surely must be part of the post-2012 conversation.

And even if our cultural slide into a cheerful Gomorrah is not, as my second correspondent suggested, “irrevocable,” the effects of the culture of the imperial autonomous (and government-subsidized) Self on our politics must be reckoned with, as Republicans, conservatives, and all those who felt a real emptiness settling upon them at 11 p.m. EST on Tuesday night think through the economic reconstruction, the restoration of fiscal sanity, and the exercise of global responsibility that must be part of a post-Obama America, now unhappily deferred until at least January 2017.

It takes a certain kind of people, living certain indispensable virtues, to make the market and democracy work so that justice, prosperity, and human flourishing are the net results of freedom. That elementary truth — recognized by the Founders, ignored by the newly reelected administration, and avoided by libertarians and Republican campaign consultants — has to be at the center of the conversation about the American future, and about playing good defense during the next four challenging years.

— George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.


Election 2012 Outcome: Religion was a Factor

November 7, 2012

Watching the election results last night was very painful.

The one piece of consolation for BCI in the results was that in Massachusetts, we managed to defeat Question 2, physician-assisted suicide – 51% voted no vs 49% who voted yes. Praise God for that triumph over evil. Kudos to all who worked to defeat it, including Cardinal O’Malley and the team from the archdiocese.  BCI spoke to and heard from people working to oppose the measure in recent weeks, and found it troubling that the compelling moral arguments against physician-assisted suicide worked less well in persuading people to oppose it vs talking about how the law was flawed in its wording.  Still, we are very glad it was defeated, and we hope it does not come back again.

On a local level, we were very disappointed to see pro-abort candidates Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy III win.

Of course, the worse outcome was seeing the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history get re-elected, and seeing how voters who consider themselves Catholic helped that victory.

Catholics represent more than a quarter of the electorate. According to this Politico article, and this one from the Catholic Sentinel, Obama won Catholic voters 50 percent to 47 percent, though Catholics who attend Mass weekly seem to have favored Romney.  Obama also won 70 percent of the Jewish vote, down from 78 percent in 2008.  Romney carried Protestant voters by a 13-point margin, 56 percent to 43 percent. Here’s more from the Huffington Post:

Obama carried Electoral College votes in several battleground states where religious voters were key parts of the electorate, including Catholic-heavy Ohio, evangelical-heavy Iowa, and Virignia. Another swing stage with a large population of religious voters, Florida, was too close to call by early Wednesday morning.

Initial exit polls — which are expected to change through Wednesday as more results come in — showed a mix bag of support for Obama and Romney among religious voters. Among people who said they attend religious services weekly, for example, exit polls indicated Romney took a significant lead. But among voters who said they attend services “occasionally” or “never,” Obama had large leads.

Early exit poll results also showed Obama losing the overall white evangelical vote to Romney, but winning the overall Catholic vote by just a few points. Among Jewish voters, initial exit polls showed Obama having an overwhelming lead over Romney, but preliminary results also showed him winning a smaller percentage of the Jewish vote than he did four years ago.

And in Maryland and Maine, early reports indicated that ballot initatives that would legalize same-sex marriage — efforts that were strongly opposed by conservative pastors — would pass.

Not good. Religion aside,  Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe summarized the Obama victory in this way:

Obama may have eked out a victory, but he won it ugly, and his first term will go down as one of the great squandered boons in American political history. Rarely has a president come to office with such a reservoir of goodwill; rarely has any done so much to poison it. To cling to office, he spent a vast fortune trashing his opponent — a ferocious campaign that epitomized everything he once claimed to oppose.

The last four years changed Obama from the face of “hope and change” to the candidate of “whatever it takes.” What will the next four years bring?

Alas, despite the bad news, we pick ourselves up and carry on.  Much remains in this battle.  A Post-Election 2012 Webcast featuring Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life will take place tonight from 9-10pm and should be a very worthwhile listen. We can also especially take comfort in the scripture readings for today.

From Philippians 2: 12-18, we hear:

My beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

In Psalm 27, we hear:

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD, in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

The Gospel, Luke 14:25-33 says:

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

So keep praying, hold onto the Word of God, wait for the Lord with courage, but remember at the same time, we all have to carry our own crosses and follow Christ.

We close today by repeating this Election Prayer to Mary, which is even more meaningful today:

O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.
Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.
Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people. Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life. Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.


Election Day Prayers

November 6, 2012

St. Ignatius said, “Work as if everything depends on you; Pray as if everything depends on God.”

Today is a day to pray, because indeed, it all depends on God.  In Jeremiah 29:12, we hear, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

Please take a few minutes during the day to pray for the election. Here are a number of prayers you might offer for the election.

An Election Prayer to Mary
O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.
Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.
Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people. Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life. Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.

Election Prayer (written by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life)

O God, we acknowledge You today as Lord, Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank You for the privilege Of being able to organize ourselves politically And of knowing that political loyalty Does not have to mean disloyalty to You.

We thank You for Your law, Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged And recognized as higher than any human law.

We thank You for the opportunity that this election year puts before us, To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote, But to influence countless others to vote, And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that Your people may be awakened. Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation, Their response to You requires that they be politically active.

Awaken Your people to know that they are not called to be a sect fleeing the world But rather a community of faith renewing the world.

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to You in prayer Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth; That the same eyes that read Your Word Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot, And that they do not cease to be Christians When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken Your people to a commitment to justice, To the sanctity of marriage and the family, To the dignity of each individual human life, And to the truth that human rights begin when Human Lives Begin, And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today That we are citizens of Your kingdom.

May that make us all the more committed To being faithful citizens on earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Our Nation

Dear Beloved God in Heaven

Please give us a president that loves this country and everything it stands for.

Please give us a president who respects you as the one true God.

Please give us a president who will, with your help, restore this nation to its former glory, the way you created her.

Please help us to respect what you have given to us and not take anything for granted ever again.

Please God weaken the evil and strengthen the good both without and within.

May our eyes be opened.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

AN ELECTION YEAR PRAYER FOR THE FAITHFUL
WITNESS OF CATHOLICS IN THE UNITED STATES
By His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke,
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

O Lord Jesus Christ, You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In Your Church You show us the Way, You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life.
Grant, we humbly beg You, that, always and in all things, we may be faithful to You in Your Holy Church,
and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI.
Grant also, we beg You, that, in these times of decision,
all who profess to be Catholic and who are entrusted with the sacred duty to participate in public life,
may, by the strength of Your grace, unwaveringly follow Your Way and faithfully adhere to Your Truth,
living in You with all their mind and heart, for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls, and the good of our nation. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America,
Pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom,
Pray for us.

Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
You might also offer a Rosary and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet this afternoon.


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