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.
ISSUED ‘MOTU PROPRIO’
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
ON THE SERVICE OF CHARITY
“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.
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)nuntiususa.org. 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.