New Boston Chancellor Needs to Work on “Transparency”

December 26, 2012

As we get to the end of the year, BCI is catching up on some news from the fall we never got to cover. Today, we give an update regarding the “financial transparency” or lack thereof of the Boston Archdiocese under newly appointed Chancellor/Chief Financial Officer, John Straub.

Straub was serving as interim chancellor after previous Chancellor Jim McDonough left, and Straub was officially given the job in early October. When he was interviewed by the Boston Globe, Straub said:

“the Archdiocese had come a long way both with financial stability and financial transparency” and one of his goals would be to “continue to maintain that stability and transparency and enhance it where we can.”

Straub said that when Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley took the helm of the archdiocese in 2003 the church was financially “hemorrhaging.” Now, he said, “I would suggest we’ve reached a very stable point.”

“Maintaining that stability is a challenge for any organization,” he said, but he also noted that “the goal is never just to be stable, the goal is to be thriving.”

The words are great! But where is the action behind the words? We have three points today.

  1. If Mr. Straub wants to continue to maintain the financial transparency that was in place prior to his arrival, we suggest that he should post the 2012-2013 Central Ministries operating budget on the archdiocesan website, as has been done in years past but has not been done this year.  This lets faithful Catholics know exactly how and where their donations are being spent.  It is now already half-way through the fiscal year and surely it is about time that they post this important document.  Here is the 2011 Central Ministries Operating Budget and here is the 2012 Operating Budget.  Where is the 2013 operating budget?  We do not know.  If a few people reading this post would take a moment to write to Mr. Straub to ask for the 2012-13 budget, the personal outreach will no doubt make an impact. His email is: John_Straub(at),
  2. How can the Boston Archdiocese have “reached a very stable point” financially when 40-50% of parishes are in the red and can’t pay all of their bills?  How are those bills being paid today ?  Are parish deposits in Revolving Loan funds being used?  Are they raiding BCTV, or pension or health funds?  How long can whatever means of subsidizing parishes expenses from central funds keep up?   Is the Boston Archdiocese nearing our own “fiscal cliff” of sorts?
  3. Where is the transparency around the effort to reduce $3.5 million in excessive six-figure salaries for the 17 lay executives earning more than $150K/year?  The Finance Council formed a Compensation Committee in November 2010 to work on this.  Here we sit more than two years later, and except for commissioning an expensive consultant report which has still not been published publicly, nothing appears to have happened.  Mr. Straub, are you trying to reduce excessive costs and drive the Boston Archdiocese to be a good steward of donor funds, or is it just business as usual?

BCI hopes this little prod will help the new CFO/Chancellor uphold the commitment he made when he was appointed to this position that he would continue to maintain stability and transparency and enhance it where he can.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2012

BCI wishes all a very Merry Christmas!   For today, BCI will share the words of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI from his Christmas Eve homily. The widely reported key message was: “Find Room for God.”  A few passages particularly struck BCI:

The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full.

In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us.

Here is the English translation of the homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendour of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.

I am also repeatedly struck by the Gospel writer’s almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them? And then it occurs to us that Saint John takes up this seemingly chance comment about the lack of room at the inn, which drove the Holy Family into the stable; he explores it more deeply and arrives at the heart of the matter when he writes: “he came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11).

The great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him.

The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away.

If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the “God hypothesis” becomes superfluous. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so “full” of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger.

By reflecting on that one simple saying about the lack of room at the inn, we have come to see how much we need to listen to Saint Paul’s exhortation: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Paul speaks of renewal, the opening up of our intellect (nous), of the whole way we view the world and ourselves.

The conversion that we need must truly reach into the depths of our relationship with reality. Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world.

There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you – the angels’ hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing God’s glory.

Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendour of God’s truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds.

Linked to God’s glory on high is peace on earth among men. Where God is not glorified, where he is forgotten or even denied, there is no peace either. Nowadays, though, widespread currents of thought assert the exact opposite: they say that religions, especially monotheism, are the cause of the violence and the wars in the world. If there is to be peace, humanity must first be liberated from them.

Monotheism, belief in one God, is said to be arrogance, a cause of intolerance, because by its nature, with its claim to possess the sole truth, it seeks to impose itself on everyone. Now it is true that in the course of history, monotheism has served as a pretext for intolerance and violence. It is true that religion can become corrupted and hence opposed to its deepest essence, when people think they have to take God’s cause into their own hands, making God into their private property. We must be on the lookout for these distortions of the sacred.

While there is no denying a certain misuse of religion in history, yet it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace. If God’s light is extinguished, man’s divine dignity is also extinguished. Then the human creature would cease to be God’s image, to which we must pay honour in every person, in the weak, in the stranger, in the poor. Then we would no longer all be brothers and sisters, children of the one Father, who belong to one another on account of that one Father. The kind of arrogant violence that then arises, the way man then despises and tramples upon man: we saw this in all its cruelty in the last century. Only if God’s light shines over man and within him, only if every single person is desired, known and loved by God is his dignity inviolable, however wretched his situation may be. On this Holy Night, God himself became man; as Isaiah prophesied, the child born here is “Emmanuel”, God with us (Is 7:14).

And down the centuries, while there has been misuse of religion, it is also true that forces of reconciliation and goodness have constantly sprung up from faith in the God who became man. Into the darkness of sin and violence, this faith has shone a bright ray of peace and goodness, which continues to shine.

So Christ is our peace, and he proclaimed peace to those far away and to those near at hand (cf. Eph 2:14, 17). How could we now do other than pray to him: Yes, Lord, proclaim peace today to us too, whether we are far away or near at hand. Grant also to us today that swords may be turned into ploughshares (Is 2:4), that instead of weapons for warfare, practical aid may be given to the suffering. Enlighten those who think they have to practise violence in your name, so that they may see the senselessness of violence and learn to recognize your true face. Help us to become people “with whom you are pleased” – people according to your image and thus people of peace.

Once the angels departed, the shepherds said to one another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened for us (cf. Lk 2:15). The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem, the Evangelist tells us (cf. 2:16). A holy curiosity impelled them to see this child in a manger, who the angel had said was the Saviour, Christ the Lord. The great joy of which the angel spoke had touched their hearts and given them wings.

Let us go over to Bethlehem, says the Church’s liturgy to us today. Trans-eamus is what the Latin Bible says: let us go “across”, daring to step beyond, to make the “transition” by which we step outside our habits of thought and habits of life, across the purely material world into the real one, across to the God who in his turn has come across to us. Let us ask the Lord to grant that we may overcome our limits, our world, to help us to encounter him, especially at the moment when he places himself into our hands and into our heart in the Holy Eucharist.

Let us go over to Bethlehem: as we say these words to one another, along with the shepherds, we should not only think of the great “crossing over” to the living God, but also of the actual town of Bethlehem and all those places where the Lord lived, ministered and suffered.

Let us pray at this time for the people who live and suffer there today. Let us pray that there may be peace in that land. Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom. Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbours: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God’s peace.

The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us.


Boston priest tapped for Vatican role

December 22, 2012

Boston priest, Fr. Robert Oliver, has been tapped by Pope Benedict XVI to be Promoter of Justice for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith.  You can read the Boston diocesan press release here. The position is akin to a prosecutor in the American legal system. The CDF is charged with protecting Catholic doctrine, but also handles all serious crimes against the church, including the sexual abuse of children, desecration of the Eucharist, violation of the seal of confession, heresy and schism. He will be essentially the Vatican’s chief prosecutor of sex crimes against minors.

Oliver, a member of the Brotherhood of Hope, has served as judge and promoter of justice in the archdiocesan tribunal, and he has also advised Cardinal O’Malley on  issues including pastoral planning. He was the point-person on all canonical aspects of pastoral planning, including the question of whether it is canonically permissible to have one finance council serve multiple parishes. He was a longtime professor of theology and canon law at St. John’s Seminary. This past year he served as a visiting professor of canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is a very smart orthodox priest.  With his departure from the Pastoral Center, Bishop-elect Deeley and Cardinal O’Malley lose a trustworthy adviser with a lot of horsepower who worked quietly behind the scenes to make critical things happen.

Here is the press release:


Braintree, MA (December 22, 2012) – Today, Pope Benedict XVI announced the appointment of Rev. Robert W. Oliver, S.T.D., J.C.D. as Promoter of Justice for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the central offices of the Holy See which is located in Vatican City State in Rome.  Fr. Oliver currently serves as Assistant to the Moderator of the Curia for Canonical Affairs and is a Visiting Professor of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C..

Cardinal Seán said, “Fr. Robert Oliver is a gifted priest who has served the Archdiocese with distinction. We are pleased to learn of the Holy Father’s wish to appoint him as Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Oliver  is a distinguished canon lawyer who brings the requisite experience and an understanding of the importance of this office within the life of the Church. We assure him of our prayers and our support for this important ministry.”

Fr. Oliver said, “It is with deep humility and gratitude that I received the news that the Holy Father is entrusting me with this service to the Church.  Having been so blessed to serve the Archdiocese of Boston with Cardinal Seán and Bishop-elect Deeley, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for their confidence and support.  Receiving this assignment during the Year of Faith is inspirational and it is challenging.  The Congregation’s role is to promote and safeguard the doctrine of the faith and morals in the universal Church.  I humbly ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and grace to assist Archbishop Müller and the Congregation in fulfilling this important work.”

Bishop-elect Robert P. Deeley, J.C.D., Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, said, “In appointing Fr. Robert Oliver to this important position as Promoter of Justice, the Holy Father has chosen a priest who will serve faithfully and effectively. Fr. Oliver is an experienced canon lawyer who has served as a Judge, taught, developed policy and offered counsel as a canonical advisor.  He has had an important voice in many of the major decisions we have faced as an Archdiocese and in the national Church. His experience, intelligence, understanding, compassion and respect for all of God’s people have prepared him well for this important ministry of justice. Fr. Oliver’s talents and good counsel will be missed here in Boston but we are comforted in knowing that his presence will be felt across the universal Church.”

Fr. Oliver succeeds Msgr Charles Scicluna who recently was named Auxiliary bishop in Malta.  The position of Promoter of Justice at the Congregation is similar to that of prosecutor in civil law and carries responsibility for investigating  more serious crimes in the Church such as desecrating the Holy Eucharist, or violating the seal of confession.  It also includes responsibility for the investigation of the sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

Born in New York, NY on April 7, 1960, Fr. Oliver was ordained to the priesthood in Holy Cross Cathedral on May 27, 2000.  He is a member of an association of the faithful, the Brotherhood of Hope.  He was raised in St. Patrick Parish, Bay Shore NY (Long Island).  His mother Virginia D. Oliver and brother Kevin T. Oliver reside in Ave Maria FL.  His late father, the Honorable Robert W. Oliver, served as Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.  His late grandfather the Honorable Webster J. Oliver was Chief Justice of the U.S. Customs Court.

Fr. Oliver attended The Catholic University of America, Washington DC, J.C.L. (1996) J.C.D. (2002), Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, S.T.B. (1992), S.T.L. (1994), S.T.D. (1997) and Dartmouth College, Hanover NH, A.B. (1982)

Most recently he has served as Assistant for Canonical Affairs to the Vicar General and as a Judge and  Promoter of Justice in tribunals, and a consulter to the Review Board.  Previously he was Special Assistant to the Vicar General and a faculty member of St. John’s Seminary.  This past year he has been a Visiting Professor of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C..

BCI wishes Fr. Bob Oliver well in his new role. The Vatican gain is a big loss for the Boston Archdiocese. BCI has hoped for some time that Cardinal O’Malley would tap Fr. Bob with bigger responsibilities, such as the canonical role of Chancellor (separate from CFO) or heading the search committee for a critical opening. But alas, in Boston, more often we find the good people who care about the ministry eventually leave while the high-paid folks who are less committed to the saving ministry of Jesus and just want a good paycheck continue as the norm. If you want to congratulate Fr. Bob and wish him well, you can reach him via email at: ReverendRobert_Oliver(at)

Cardinal O’Malley says need Catholics in politics and media

December 20, 2012

The Tenth Crusade and The Deacons Bench are posting about a Catholic News Agency interview with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in which he said some great things about the need for true Catholics in politics and media.  The words are fantastic!  If this is the direction we want to go in, we should all be behind it. The problem is that the walk does not really match the talk.

Here is what Cardinal O’Malley is quoted by Catholic News Agency as saying:

Rome, Italy, Dec 17, 2012 / 02:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston says the Church needs more and better prepared Catholic politicians and journalists who can bring the faith into the public square.

“We need to be much more proactive to prepare our laity and help them understand what a crucial role they have in public life and in the media where they’re forming public opinion and educating people through different means that have a great impact in society,” Cardinal O’Malley told CNA on Dec. 13.

He added, “if we’re going to evangelize the culture, we need to have evangelizers in those areas.”

During the last day of the Dec. 9-12 “Ecclesia in America” congress at the Vatican, Cardinal O’Malley said he believes things are “only going to get worse because Catholics themselves don’t worry about defending the unborn or teaching the true meaning of life.”

“There are just not enough legislators who favor life,” he said…

BCI commends the Cardinal for these comments!  But, unfortunately, this is not what the Boston Archdiocese under Cardinal O’Malley is doing. The Tenth Crusade writes:

Amen to that. I know the Cardinal sincerely believes this needs to happen. What then is the problem with its execution? Do you think they know how to roll out that plan? Maybe they really don’t know why their machines are spitting out apostates? I’m dead serious.

The chief fundraiser for Catholic schools happens to be a chief fundraiser for electing pro-choice politicians and training physicians to abort the unborn, and was the Chairman for the largest provider of abortions in the state.  The diocesan PR firm is staffed largely by former aides or fundraisers for pro-abortion politicians. The Secretary for Communications used to work for a pro-abortion politician. The HR Executive Director is a proud ex-Catholic.   How can the Cardinal possibly prepare the laity to evangelize a culture of life when a good number of those close to the Cardinal are working in opposition to that, or have in the past?

Cardinal O’Malley is correct–things are only going to get worse.  So, what should he do, and what should we do?  BCI is ready and willing to help!  Here are a few ideas for starters:

  • As suggested by The Tenth Crusade, the Cardinal needs to appoint a cabinet and advisors who, in their public and private lives, are evangelizing the true meaning of the sanctity of life in politics and journalism.  That means flushing the cabinet and advisors of people who work against the true sanctity of life and/or marriage between a man and woman,  who do not believe in those moral principles, and are not willing to work to advance those moral principles in society.  BCI would be glad to help with identifying exactly who should be moved out, writing job descriptions for the vacant positions and in phone-screening candidates.
  • In education, draft mandatums and ask adminisrators and teachers to sign and execute them. Fire teachers and administrators if they are unwilling to sign a mandatum.  He should also implement Ex Corde Ecclesia.
  • In hiring for diocesan positions, draft a statement of Catholic beliefs, similar to a mandatum, and require that all key employees sign it.

Despite our enthusiasm for most of the Cardinal’s words, there was one comment that we think is telling–and which suggests he does not fully grasp what it takes to execute against his words.   He said:

The cardinal mentioned the late Colombian Cardinal López Trujillo as an example to follow, since he brought pro-life politicians from the Americas together when he was in charge of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

“It was an opportunity for them to have ongoing formation in social teachings of the Church and to feel each other’s support in their faith and vocation,” Cardinal O’Malley recalled.

That is nice.  But the problem is not that pro-life politicians need more formation. They are already pro-life!  The problem is that a huge number of so-called “Catholic” politicians are pro-abortion.  And the Cardinal does not seem willing to confront that.

It is the so-called “Catholic” politicians who need the formation in the social teachings of the Catholic Church on life and marriage.  Where is the plan?  Where is the action?  Where is the walk behind the talk?

Fr. Roger Landry summed it up brilliantly in 2009 describing the controversy over the funeral for the late Ted Kennedy:

…one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity. It would be very hard for an abortion-supporting Catholic politician to have watched Senator Kennedy’s very public and panegyrical funeral rites and not have concluded that the Church’s teachings on life are, in the end, a very small matter indeed. It would have been even harder for such a politician or others who support the evil of abortion to have been inspired toward conversion.

This leads to one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed. There were many words given at the Senator’s exequies about his “private faith,” but private faith is not enough. “Faith without deeds is dead,” as St. James poignantly reminds us. The Church has a responsibility to help bring people from “private faith” to see the consequences of it in public actions, and, in the Senator’s case, we didn’t succeed.

When excerpts of his July letter to Pope Benedict were read at his committal at Arlington National Cemetery, those hoping for some sign of repentance for his formal cooperation in the blood of millions of unborn children were left disappointed: “I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic,” he wrote, “and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings.”

If we take him at his word as we re-read his many past statements and work in favor of abortion, same-sex marriage, and other evils — in which he showed a total material disrespect and disregard for the Church’s teachings — it’s impossible not to conclude that after almost 35 years of patiently pastoral pedagogy, he still failed to grasp that abortion and marriage are “fundamental teachings” of the Church to which every faithful Catholic must adhere in public and private. The pastors of the Church obviously need to come up with a more effective way to get politicians to grasp the importance of the Church’s teaching than the failed strategy that was employed with Senator Kennedy.

As we Catholics pray for Senator Kennedy, that the Lord will remember the good he has done and forgive him his sins, we also pray that God will strengthen all faithful Catholics with the courage and wisdom needed more effectively to bring to conversion those who follow, promote and celebrate the enduring, lamentable parts of the Senator’s legacy.

Beyond the points above, BCI humbly suggests that Cardinal O’Malley use his position as Archbishop of Boston and his role as Chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee to convene all Massachusetts “Catholic” legislators and all U.S. House and Senate “Catholic” legislators for a catechesis on Catholic Church social teachings regarding life and marriage. This should include a discussion of the consequences of their continued advocacy for immoral positions–the consequences for the unborn, for society, for the salvation of their souls, and for them continuing to present themselves to receive the Holy Eucharist.

BCI applauds the words, and prays the Cardinal develops the courage to walk the talk. What do you think?

Catholic Hospital Owner Also Owns Connecticut Shooting Rampage Rifle Manufacturer

December 18, 2012

Our prayers at BCI go to the victims of the Newtown, CT shooting last Friday and their families. This horrible tragedy is still weighing heavy on our hearts.

The Boston Globe reported today that guns used to kill people and Catholic hospitals may seem an unusual pairing in an investment portfolio, but not for Cerberus Capital Management.

BCI readers know that Cerberus Capital, a private equity firm, purchased Caritas Christi Healthcare from the Boston Archdiocese back in 2010.  At the time, we knew that Cerberus owned a gun company.  Today we learned that gun company was the manufacturer of the semi-automatic rifle used in Newtown, Connecticut killings last Friday, and Cerberus has now decided to sell their investment in the company.

The Globe reported first the ownership situation this morning:

The New York investment firm that controls the Steward Health Care System hospital chain in Boston also owns the company that makes the semiautomatic rifle that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last Friday.

Cerberus is one of the most powerful forces in the gun business. It owns Freedom Group Inc., a Madison, N.C., company that is the nation’s largest seller of firearms and the number two seller of ammunition. Freedom, according to its annual report, sold 1.1 million long guns and 2 billion rounds of ammunition that generated $775 million in sales last year.

Freedom’s chief executive, George Kollitides, worked previously for Cerberus, where he focused on buying companies in the firearms and defense businesses for the firm. Described as a “lifelong hunter, shooter, and firearms enthusiast” on the company’s website, he is also a trustee for the NRA Foundation and serves on several of the group’s committees.

Kollitides led the charge to acquire Bushmaster Firearms Inc. from Windham, Maine, native Dick Dyke in 2006. The gun used in the Newtown shootings, a Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle, contained a 30-round ammunition clip that allowed the gunman to fire continuously inside the school.

That same model Bushmaster was also used in the 2002 Washington sniper shootings, in which 10 people were killed, according to published reports.

Dr. Robert D. Sege, director of ambulatory pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and coauthor of a policy statement on gun control by the American Academy of Pediatrics, said he strongly favors reinstituting the assault weapons ban. If Cerberus is not working for laws to make guns and the community safer, he said, “At the very least it calls into question the overall aims of Cerberus Capital.”

An executive at Cerberus did not return requests for comment Monday, and Ralph de la Torre, chief executive of Steward Health Care, was traveling and unavailable to comment, a spokesman said. An official from Freedom Group could not be reached for comment.

When Cerberus created Steward in Boston, by acquiring the former Caritas Christi hospitals, de la Torre conducted a public relations tour to present Cerberus as the best hope for saving a cash-strapped community hospital group. The Catholic hospital group includes St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton and Carney Hospital in Dorchester.

While Cerberus’s wooing of the local hospital group was highly public, its amassing of gun companies was less well known.

If new gun controls are proposed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, Freedom and Cerberus will have much at stake. In the past, company executives have said in earnings calls that when “political rhetoric heats up,” the furor typically dies down quickly.

But this week, gun critics expressed outrage that a company could both own hospitals and gun makers. “How can you promote good health and unrestricted access to deadly weapons at the same time?” said John Rosenthal, a Boston developer and cofounder of Stop Handgun Violence. “It’s clear to me all they care about is the profit motive.”

Well, the furor did not die down quickly.  This afternoon, the Globe reports that Cerberus plans to sell investment in gunmaker after Connecticut school shootings:

Cerberus Capital Management, the investment firm that controls the Steward Hospital Health Care System hospital chain in Boston, said that it will sell its investment in Freedom Group, the company that makes the rifle that was used in the Connecticut school killings.

“We have determined to immediately engage in a formal process to sell our investment in Freedom Group,” the New York firm said in a statement. “We will retain a financial advisor to design and execute a process to sell our interests in Freedom Group, and we will then return that capital to our investors.”

Together with its gun brands, from Bushmaster to Remington, Freedom is a major contributor to the National Rifle Association and the fight against gun control, according to the Violence Policy Center, a Washington group that tracks corporate funding of gun advocacy.

Reuters reported that pressure mounted on Cerberus as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) said on Monday it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm after the Connecticut school shooting.

Indeed, it does not make sense at all how a firm can promote good health at the same time they are promoting unrestricted access to deadly weapons.  How could they even fathom investing in a company in 2006 that made the weapon used to kill 10 people just four years earlier?  That is Cerberus, which gets its name from the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell in Greek mythology. We are glad to hear they are selling their investment in Freedom Group. But it is an investment that never should have been made in the first place. With principals of the firm whose code of ethics did not stop them from investing in the gun manufacturer, how exactly are they guiding what remains of the Catholic hospital network.

Boston Pastoral Plan Indoctrination Process

December 12, 2012

Last week, Chancellor John Straub sent this email off to all employees at the Pastoral Center to inform them about the indoctrination, er, training process for implementing the new Pastoral Plan.  When you read the message, pull out a piece of paper and tally all of the mentions of why this is happening. Count the number of times you see references to an end goal that resembles helping bring people closer to God and the Catholic Church or to advancing the mission of saving souls. Additional BCI commentary follows the message.

 To all employees of the  Pastoral Center:

On January 16, 2013, we will be beginning Stage One of Training for the Pastoral Plan.  Stage One training is for the Pastoral Center.  In it we will learn some of the same leadership, management, and evangelization skills that will be taught in the collaboratives in their very extensive training program.

We will learn the same vocabulary, the same structures, and the same vision that they will learn.  Appropriately, we will lead the way in the training effort.

For each of us, the training will take eight days, spread out over seven weeks.  Each day of training begins at 9:00AM, and ends at 3:00PM.

There are five modules of the training program.

The Evangelization module, led by Bishop Kennedy and Michael Lavigne, lasts for two days.  You can choose [Wednesday, January 16 and Monday, February 4] or [Monday, February 25 and Tuesday, March 5]

The first of the Leadership modules, led by the Catholic Leadership Institute (and therefore called CLI One), will last for two days.  You can choose [Monday/Tuesday, January 28/29] or [Monday/Tuesday, February 11/12].

The second of the Leadership modules, CLI Two, will last for two days.  You can choose [Wednesday/Thursday, January 30/31] or [Thursday/Friday, February 14/15].

You need to complete CLI One before you attend CLI Two, so you cannot do CLI One in February and CLI Two in January.

The first of the General Topics modules will last for one day.  You can choose Thursday, January 17 or Tuesday, February 26.

The second of the General Topics modules will last for one day.  You can choose Tuesday, February 5 or Wednesday, March 6.

We ask you to please go to the following link to sign up for training as soon as possible:  – a confirming email will be sent when you have successfully registered.  If you have any questions, please contact Father Paul in the Office of Pastoral Planning (x5867,

Thank you,

John Straub

How many references to God did you find, or to carrying out the saving ministry of Jesus Christ?  That is really just one concern BCI has–it goes much deeper than this email.

Though we respect Bishop Kennedy and are sure he will do a great job talking about evangelization, that is about all we have some measure of confidence in right now.

Do most of the “new generation” of high-paid Pastoral Center employees and execs brought in under the McDonough/Hehir reign (e.g. Carol Gustavson, Terry Donilon, Mark Dunderdale, John Straub, Mary Grassa O’Neill,  etc)–who replaced the people who worked for the Church for lower pay because they loved Jesus Christ and wanted to advance the mission of the Catholic Church–even have the basics of Catholicism down? Are they bought into the mission of saving souls and that this is a vocation? Or is this just a good job for a sizable paycheck?

The reality, as recently shared by a BCI colleague is this: the ones with the power do NOT demonstrate that they care about the souls, and the ones who care about the souls are treated shabbily. Many of those who care about the souls have left or been pushed out, and those who remain that care are treated poorly.

How can you advance a pastoral plan in the face of this reality?  Does the archdiocese even have the right people on the ship in key roles?  Just in Pastoral Planning, we have a head of the office who allowed a Voice of the Faithful Chapter in his parish, and the newest addition to the office is from the same religious order as the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which the Vatican has criticized for a multitude of doctrinal problems. How can faithful Catholics trust in the plan, when there are obvious reasons to not trust the people in key leadership roles? Almost across the board, it feels like the people in the organization are woefully mismatched to the mission.

Does the archdiocese have the right fundamental structure–civil/legal, organizational and canonical–for pulling off this ambitious program?  No.

In the face of that, consider the following. Is it BCI, or does the tone of the Chancellor email and communication sounds strikingly similar to aspects of what Vladimir Lenin delivered in his 1920 Speech At The Third All-Russia Congress of The Russian Young Communist League.

… the youth will be faced with the actual task of creating a communist society. For it is clear that the generation of working people brought up in capitalist society can, at best, accomplish the task of destroying the foundations of the old, the capitalist way of life, which was built on exploitation. At best it will be able to accomplish the tasks of creating a social system that will help the proletariat and the working classes retain power and lay a firm foundation, which can be built on only by a generation that is starting to work under the new conditions, in a situation in which relations based on the exploitation of man by man no longer exist.

And so, in dealing from this angle with the tasks confronting the youth, I must say that the tasks of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist Leagues and all other organisations in particular, might be summed up in a single word: learn.

Of course, this is only a “single word”. It does not reply to the principal and most essential questions: what to learn, and how to learn? And the whole point here is that, with the transformation of the old, capitalist society, the upbringing, training and education of the new generations that will create the communist society cannot be conducted on the old lines…Only by radically remoulding the teaching, organisation and training of the youth shall we be able to ensure that the efforts of the younger generation will result in the creation of a society that will be unlike the old society, i.e., in the creation of a communist society. That is why we must deal in detail with the question of what we should teach the youth and how the youth should learn if it really wants to justify the name of communist youth, and how it should be trained so as to be able to complete and consummate what we have started.

I must say that the first and most natural reply would seem to be that the Youth League, and the youth in general, who want to advance to communism, should learn communism.

BCI really wants to see the Boston Archdiocese succeed with a new pastoral plan and get on the right path to saving souls via stronger parishes. But, the fundamentals still feel way off to us.  Maybe it is just BCI.  Other than the minor matters mentioned above, what do you think of the plans?

Can Boston Archdiocese “prepare the way of the Lord”?

December 9, 2012

The Gospel today is a favorite of BCI and also has particular applicability to the Boston Archdiocese.  This passage from Luke 3: 1-6 is the one that has always been powerful for BCI.

A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

During this season of Advent, in what ways in our own lives do we prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths?  What things in our lives need to be straightened out?  What mountains and hills should be lowered?  What “winding roads” should be made straight?  What rough ways made smooth?

Then there is the Boston Archdiocese.  As discussed in “Is Boston Archdiocese Violating ‘Motu Proprio’ on Charity?” as of Monday, December 10, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, will be in violation of the new Motu Proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI for paying salaries to 17 lay executives which are nowhere near “in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.”  As we know from “Bloated Payroll” and numerous other posts, seventeen people at the Pastoral Center are paid salaries ranging from $150K to $325K today–about 4X-8X more per person than clergy are paid. In aggregate, they are paid somewhere close to $3.5M a year in salaries alone. This is about 6 times more than was paid in 2006 in $150K+ salaries.

Is Cardinal O’Malley willing to “make low” the mountain of excessive compensation paid to his lay executives and key employees, including the Superintendent of Schools, Assistant Schools Superintendent, Secretary for Catholic Media, General Counsel, Secretary for Institutional Advancement, two Development VPs, Chancellor, Director of Office of Professional Standards, Executive Director of HR and others?

Are Cardinal O’Malley and Vicar General bishop-elect Deeley willing to “make straight” the winding roads by removing senior people from roles where they are poorly suited to the task at hand, do not know or promote the full truths of the Catholic faith, or have mountains of controversy surrounding them?  For example, this be a great time to make “straight the winding road” and let go any or all of the following:

  • Jack Connors, for his public fund-raising for Obama (whose HHS mandate threatens the religious liberties of the Catholic Church) and his close ties to the abortion industry.
  • The Rasky Baerlein PR firm, filled with Obama and Biden supporters, fundraisers and former aides who work against the Catholic Church by supporting Obama and Biden, and who collect a lot of money for very little in output.
  • The overpaid Secretary for Communications who is closely tied to Rasky and who Rasky hired.
  • The controversial Cabinet Secretary for Social Services and Healthcare, who has no healthcare network anymore to deal with, has a full-time paid President running Catholic Charities and believes Catholic teachings on morality should be suppressed in the public square.
  • The Assistant Vicar for Administration and Special Assistant to the Vicar General, who, observers say does not seem to multi-task well or get along well with others.
  • The Executive Director – Human Resources, Benefits and Administration, who is a proud ex-Catholic, had no background in benefits, was a labor attorney prior to working for the Archdiocese, is massively over-paid in her role vs what other dioceses pay for similar functions, and who was the sponsor of the controversial Pastoral Center yoga class earlier this year offered by her own personal yoga instructor.

Is the Boston Archdiocese–specifically Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop-elect Deeley–willing to prepare the way of the Lord by making low the mountain of excessive compensation so as to conform to the Motu Proprio and making straight the paths by moving out people who are in the wrong senior roles so the right person could be placed instead?

We hope and pray they will, but are not holding our breath waiting.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2012

We credit our post today to CatholicCulture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Congregation of the Clergy.

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the solemn dogma defined by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. This celebrates that the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.As Our Lady Immaculately Conceived is the patroness of the United States of America, this is a holy day of obligation in the United States.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed on December 8, 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church

Immaculate Conception of Mary

“Hail Mary, full of grace”. For thousands of centuries, millions of times per day the Virgin Mary is greeted by the faithful with the greeting of the Archangel, that we hear resonating anew in today’s Gospel. The sons of the Church learn from the words of the Archangel Gabriel that the fullness of the mystery of God’s grace was realized in Holy Mary. St Paul the Apostle teaches us that the Father made all fullness dwell in His Incarnate Son (c.f. Col 1:12-20), which overflows from Christ’s head and spills out on His Mystical Body that is the Church. Before descending in Body, Christ’s fullness was spread in a unique and unrepeatable way on Mary, predestined from eternity to be the Mother of God.

Significantly in the first reading, the liturgy recalls the figure of Eve, the mother of all the living. The Fathers of the Church saw in Mary, the new Eve that unties the knot bound by the first woman. The knot of disobedience tied by Eve, was untied by the obedience of Mary. As Eve was created in purity and integrity, also the new Eve was miraculously preserved from the contamination of original sin because she had to give humanity the Word, who was incarnated for our ransom.

Saint Irenaeus compares the virginity of the pure earth from which Adam was drawn to the virginity of the immaculate humanity of Mary from which the Second Adam was drawn. ‘And as the protoplast himself, Adam, had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil (for God had not yet sent rain, and man had not tilled the ground (Genesis 2:5)) so did He who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in Himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling Him to gather up Adam [into Himself], from Mary, who was as yet a virgin’ (Adversus hereses III, 21:10).

Blessed Pope Pius IX on the 8th of December 1854 proclaimed the Dogma of the faith revealed by God that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin” (Denz.-Schonm, 2083). If the official proclamation of the dogma is relatively recent, the profession of faith by Christians and the liturgy is very ancient in this regard. Furthermore, four years later the same Virgin Mary, appearing in Lourdes to St Bernadette, confirmed the truth of the doctrine by presenting herself with the title ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.

Mary’s predestination to this singular grace—consistent with the suspension of the universal decree by which every man, from the moment of his conception is contaminated with original sin—leads us to ponder in the deepest depths the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity’s salvific plan. God, One and Triune, had foreseen from the very beginning the future incarnation of the Word culminating in the redemption of human nature that had fallen into sin. He therefore predestined pure Mary, so that He could draw from her uncontaminated humanity, which the Son could adopt in order to re-establish in Himself the original purity of creation and reorientate it to eternal glory.

For this reason, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, St Paul reminds us that God wants to see us holy and immaculate before Him. The purity of our origins seemed to be irredeemably lost. However, in Immaculate Mary, God found the perfect solution to reverse the disaster made from the misuse of our liberty, and returned humanity to the original purity that seemed hopelessly lost.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a direct consequence of her Divine Maternity. St Anslem of Aosta wrote: ‘Assuredly, it was fitting that the Virgin be beautified with a purity than which a greater cannot be conceived, except for God’s. For, toward her, God the Father was so disposed to give His only Son who was naturally one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Virgin.’ (De conceptu virginali et originali peccato, XVIII)

This link between the privilege of Divine Maternity and Mary’s Immaculate Conception results also in her superiority with respect to us. She is a perfect image of the Church in heaven, the new triumphant Jerusalem, that won’t have any marks nor will there be pain and death. This is why today’s preface recites: ‘…she was to be a worthy mother of your Son, your sign of favour to the church at its beginning, and the promise of its perfection as the bride of Christ, radiant in beauty’. Also in heaven Mary is not and will never be only a disciple, but her Son’s most exalted. She is and will always be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of the Angels and Saints. Therefore, the preface of the Mass adds: ‘…You chose her from all creatures to be our advocate with you and our pattern of holiness.’

Mary was Immaculate because she had to be the Mother of God. She, herself has received the original grace of purity and the final state of the blessed life that we also, by collaborating with Divine Grace, hope one day to receive.

Immaculate Mary is full of grace. She is not only Christ’s disciple, who with the help of grace has overcome the chains of sin, but she is totius Trinitatis nobile triclinium, the noble resting place of the Holy Trinity (St Thomas Aquinas, Exposito Salutationis Angelicae, I). The Immaculate, full of grace, will always be Mother and Queen for that elect part of the Church that we hope one day to join, that will one day joyfully sing before the Almighty.


O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Is Boston Archdiocese Violating ‘Motu Proprio’ on Charity?

December 4, 2012

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has just issued a “Motu Proprio’ , “On the Service of Charity.  Based on our read of it, we agree with the take of others that this could be one of the most important papal directives in the last fifty years, with the potential for significant impact in Boston if abided by.  It not only helps the Catholic Church more effectively speak with one clear voice in the defense of the most vulnerable in society–such as the poor and unborn–but it also sets clear guidelines for how Catholic Church organizations should and should not operate–in terms of compensation, adherence to the truths of the Catholic Faith and other important areas.  

Given everything we know is going on in Boston, a big question emerges–is Boston in violation of the “Motu Proprio” already? Between the the excessive six-figure salaries for lay executives, allowing a Finance Council member to work against the mission of the Catholic Church, allowing parishes to run faith education programs contrary to Church teachings, and sponsoring second collections that support organizations whose work has been shown to violate Church teachings, we have quite a mix to choose from here. Below we will highlight just a few passages from the Motu Proprio, with our commentary following.





The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia) and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable” (Deus Caritas Est, 25).

The service of charity is also a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being (cf. ibid.)…

With regard to this diakonia of charity, in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est I pointed out that “in conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches” the service of charity (No. 32); …

In view of this, with the present Motu Proprio I intend to provide an organic legislative framework for the better overall ordering of the various organized ecclesial forms of the service of charity, which are closely related to the diaconal nature of the Church and the episcopal ministry.

Dispositive Part

Consequently, upon the proposal of the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and after consultation with the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, I establish and decree the following:

Art. 2. – § 1. The Statutes of each charitable agency referred to in the preceding article must also contain, in addition to its institutional offices and structures of governance in accordance with canon 95 § 1 CIC, the guiding principles and objectives of the initiative, the management of funds, the profile of its workers, as well as the reports and information which must be presented to the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Art. 4. .

§ 3. It is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop to ensure that in the activities and management of these agencies the norms of the Church’s universal and particular law are respected, as well as the intentions of the faithful who made donations or bequests for these specific purposes (cf. canons 1300 CIC and 1044 CCEO).

Art. 7. – .

§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life.

[BCI Commentary] Given this, is the ongoing involvement of Finance Council member and Catholic Schools fundraiser, Jack Connors in the archdiocese a violation of the Motu Proprio?  How can Connors’ financial support for abortion on-demand and fund-raising for President Obama–who not only supports abortion on-demand but also is imposing laws on the country that threaten and violate our religious freedom–be considered to “give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity”?  What program of theological formation would lead Connors to repentance and conversion?

§ 3. It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.

[BCI Commentary] A look at our post, Boston Parish Adult Faith Formation: Good and Bad shows a few of the problems.  At St. Susanna in Dedham, Fr. Steve Josoma offers an adult faith formation program with discussions of Buddhism,  Mormonism, and nuns under attack by the Vatican.  At Holy Family in Concord, the faith formation series under pastor Fr. Austin Fleming features speakers from the recent Voice of the Faithful conference in Boston, including Thomas Groome , a national co-chair of “Catholics for Obama” and a former priest. At Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, under Adult Faith Formation their Book Club recently read the fictional sex novel, Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. 

Furthermore, the Boston Archdiocese continues to promote a second collection each November to benefit the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, even though there is a long paper-trail of evidence that their grants continue to go to pro-abortion and anti-family groups.

Art. 10. – § 1. It is the responsibility of the Bishop to supervise the ecclesiastical goods of the charitable agencies subject to his authority.

§ 4. In a particular way, the Bishop is to see that the management of initiatives dependent on him offers a testimony of Christian simplicity of life. To this end, he will ensure that salaries and operational expenses, while respecting the demands of justice and a necessary level of professionalism, are in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.

[BCI Commentary] Two years after the Boston Finance Council formed a “Compensation Committee” to supposedly work on the matter of the bloated payroll filled with excessive six-figure salaries, there still has been no meaningful action taken. At long last, it sounds like there could be some canonical teeth as the basis for action.  Is the $325K salary of Schools Superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill in “due proportion” to the analogous expenses of the diocesan Curia, where priests are paid about $41K annually?  When exactly will the do-nothing Compensation Committee issue their long-awaited salary report and actually do something?

I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of particular mention, and I decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and enter into force on 10 December 2012.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 November, in the year 2012, the eighth of my Pontificate.

With publication of the ‘Motu Proprio’, there is hope that these provisions will be codified in the Code of Canon Law at some point in the future. We also hope Boston takes action on these matters before that.

Just to help speed that along, please forward this post to the Apostolic Nuncio for the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò at nuntiususa(at)  Tell him you are a faithful Catholic in Boston concerned about violations to the Motu Proprio and are asking for his intervention to help Boston comply with the Motu Priorio.

Dec 1: Feast of Martyr, St. Edmund Campion

December 2, 2012

BCI forgot to mention that Saturday, Dec 1, not only marked the last day of the liturgical year, but also, historically, is the feast of St. Edmund Campion, Jesuit martyr, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, also called “the Pope’s Champion”.

These pieces give excellent summaries of the life and death of St. Edmund Campion:
St. Edmund Campion (Wikipedia)
St. Edmund Campion at CatholicCulture (below)
St. Edmund Campion at UCA News

Of all those martyred during England’s Elizabethan era, none was more gifted in mind and word than Edmund Campion. And no one exemplified the crisis of conscience between God and country better than he did.

The country’s politics at that time were in tension between the ‘old religion’, Catholicism, and the new allegiance to the ruler of the realm, Anglicanism. As a young scholar from Oxford, Edmund had every worldly success. He had accepted the Anglican faith and been made deacon. This required his taking the Oath of Supremacy to the queen, in civil as well as religious matters. He endeared himself to Queen Elizabeth I by his erudition and his eloquence and there were whispers that he would be made archbishop of Canterbury.

But Campion’s conscience was in turmoil. While pledging his political loyalty to the Queen, he knew that his faith demanded obedience to Christ alone and to his vicar on earth, the Pope.

Campion accepted death–he was hung and quartered–rather than compromise his faith. BCI wonders the extent to which Cardinal O’Malley is familiar with the life of St. Edmund Campion, agrees with statements from the likes of people such as Archbishop Chaput that “we’re all called to martyrdom,” and builds a culture with his executive leadership team that they are all called to martyrdom.  BCI suggests that Cardinal O’Malley ask his executive leadership team to read up on the lives of St. Thomas More and St. Edmund Campion, and at the next cabinet meeting, the topic be a discussion of how each person on the team is called to martyrdom–Cardinal O’Malley, Bishop-elect Deeley, John Straub, Mary Grassa O’Neill,  Beirne Lovely, Scot Landry, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Kathleen Driscoll, Terry Donilon.  The same holds for each one of us.

St. Edmond Campion
The most famous of the English martyrs, Edmund Campion (1540-1581) gave up a promising career at Oxford and an invitation to enter Queen Elizabeth’s service in order to become a Catholic priest and minister to the abandoned Catholics who greatly desired the sacraments.

Campion was born in London of Catholic parents who later became Protestant. He attended St. John’s College, Oxford, where he gained renown as a lecturer and a following of students who called themselves “Campionites.” When he was 26 years old, he gave a speech of welcome in Latin to Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Oxford; he made such an impression on the queen that she and Lords Cecil and Leicester tried to recruit him for her service. He probably took the Oath of Supremacy, and was ordained a deacon for the Established Church. The more he studied to be a priest, the more convinced he became that the Catholic Church had the true faith. He moved to Dublin in 1569 in an effort to find a place to live as a Catholic, but the Irish capital showed an anti-Catholic feeling that drove him back to London. In June 1571 he left England for Douai, Belgium where the recently founded English College trained seminarians for England.

Campion finished his degree in 1573 and set out soon after for Rome with the intention of becoming a Jesuit. Within a month of his arrival in Rome, he was accepted into the Society. At that time there was neither an English province nor an English mission, so he was assigned to the Austrian province and went to Prague and Brno to make his novitiate. He remained in Prague after he took vows and was ordained there, expecting to spend the rest of his life teaching in that city. He wrote and directed plays for his students and won renown as an orator.

The English Jesuit’s life changed course suddenly when the Superior General in Rome decided to open a mission in England. Father Campion was one of the first to be assigned to it. He stopped in Rome on his way back to England and joined Father Rober Persons and Brother Ralph Emerson. They turned north and joined other recruits for the new mission at Saint Omer in Flanders. English spies in Flanders learned of their impending departure and informed the English ports of entry, who awaited their arrival. Campion and Emerson left the Continent on the evening of June 24. Campion disguised himself as a “Mr. Edmonds,” a jewelry merchant. Port authorities were suspicious, but Campion answered their questions adequately and they let the merchant enter.

It had been eight years since Campion had left England. He briefly remained in London where he wrote a manifesto of the mission which has become known as “Campion’s Brag.” Its point was that the mission was religious, not political; so well-written and powerful was it, that copies were made and widely distributed to confirm Catholics in their faith. Campion himself moved on to Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. He would stay at a Catholic house for one or two nights or visit households where Catholics were employed. His pattern was to arrive during the day, preach and hear confessions during the evening, and then celebrate Mass in the morning before moving on to the next location. He continued to write and composed a book addressed to the academic world; entitled Rationes decem (“Ten Reasons”), the book gave arguments to prove the truth of Catholicism and the falsity of Protestantism. It was printed by the end of June 1581. Many of the 400 copies printed were left on the benches of Oxford’s University Church of St. Mary. Campion was still well-enough known that the book was eagerly read.

Campion’s freedom to minister to Catholics soon ended. In July he left London and stopped at the Yate family in Berkshire. The family’s Catholic neighbors learned that the Jesuit priest had been there and pressed the Yates to invite him back. Mrs. Yate sent word to Campion who returned, unfortunately at a time when a professional priest-hunter was in the congregation pretending to be Catholic. After Mass the hunter slipped away to notify the authorities who quickly returned to the house but could not find any priests. The guards remained on the grounds, listening for sounds of unusual activity. They alertly heard a group of people leaving a meeting that Campion had addressed. The guards searched the house again, this time finding Campion and two other priests.

The three were taken to the Tower of London on July 22, where Campion was put in a cell so small he could neither stand upright nor lie down. After three days there he was brought to Leicester house, where he met Queen Elizabeth for a second time. She offered him the opportunity to renounce his Catholic faith and become a Protestant minister, with the offer of great advancement. He refused and was returned to his cell; five days later he was tortured on the rack. He had four conferences with Anglican divines, something he himself had requested in the book rationes decem, but the disputations were inconclusive, partly because the first one was held shortly after he had been tortured. The government determined that he should be executed, but they needed a stronger charge than the fact that he was a Catholic priest. On Nov. 14, the priests were led to Westminster Hall where charges were raised against them that they had formed a conspiracy against the life of the queen, had exhorted foreigners to invade the country and had entered England with the intent of fomenting rebellion to support the invaders. At his trial six days later, Campion was asked to raise his right hand and take an oath; he was unable to do so because of recent torture, so another one of the priests had to lift his arm for him. Campion attempted to defend all the priests by pointing out their motives were religious, not political; but they were found guilty of high treason and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The priests joined in singing the Te Deum when they heard the verdict.

Campion remained in chains for another 11 days, and then was dragged through the muddy streets of London to Tyburn. With him were Briant, and Father Ralph Sherwin, a diocesan priest. As Campion forgave those who had condemned him, the cart he was standing on was driven from under him and he was left hanging. The executioner then cut him down and tore out his heart and intestines before cutting his body into pieces. Briant had been tried a day after Campion, but was executed soon after the other Jesuit. He was cut down while still alive after being hung so that he could be disemboweled and his body cut into quarters. He was only 25 years old.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 572 other followers

%d bloggers like this: