2012 Boston Archdiocese Year in Review

Before we get too far into 2013, BCI thought we would offer a quick review of some of the highlights and lowlights of the past year in the Boston Archdiocese.

In our opinion, the most significant milestones were the departure of the previous Chancellor, the approval of the new pastoral plan that will shape parish life for many years ahead, the Question 2/Physician Assisted Suicide campaign, the continued inaction on excessive six-figure salaries even in the face of the new Motu Proprio, and the unwillingness or inability of Cardinal O’Malley to get rid of people like Jack Connors whose personal actions work against the Catholic Church.

2012 started with a bang in January with Fr. Bryan Hehir appearing on a panel “Truth, Lies, and Politics.” that featured anti-Catholic U.S. Rep. Barney Frank. A number of people complained to the office of Vicar General Msgr. Deeley. Fr. Hehir commented on the panel that “telling the moral truth about how we make decisions is important for people whose faces we will never see, but who are touched by American power.”  We are still unclear on how Fr. Hehir would expect political figures such as Barney Frank to possibly tell the “moral truth” about their decisions that are fundamentally immoral, such as supporting abortion.  The appearance with Barney Frank is not surprising, given the other venues Fr. Hehir has spoken at during his time as a priest.

Late January brought the Obama administration’s “unconscionable” birth control mandate upon Catholic institutions, which violates our religious freedom. This was a part of Obamacare, whose passage was supported by the Catholic Health Association. Naturally, Fr. Hehir had publicly praised the CHA in 2010 for their “intelligent and courageous leadership” in pushing for passage of Obamacare.

Late January also brought the first pass at the framework for the new pastoral plan, with the foundation being the new concept of Pastoral Service Teams to serve multiple parishes in a collaborative.

The really big news of January was that former Chancellor Jim McDonough resigned.  BCI had been pushing for his removal for some time, and we were pleased to see that happen. John Straub was named Interim Chancellor.

2011-2012 fiscal year results were announced just before the resignation of Jim McDonough. The archdiocese claimed a balanced budget, but the Chancellor prior to Jim McDonough did an analysis that found the budget was not actually balanced, and our analysis of the numbers found the same concerns.  A comparison between 2006 and 2011 found that Management and Overhead expenses were up $8 million or 71% and Pastoral Programs were down $6.1 million or 27%. BCI found that administrative expenses have grown from 26% of the expenses to 36% of expenses over the past 6 years.

The 2011-2012 annual report also showed that 17 people earn compensation of $150K+ a year. That sums more than $3.5M--and represents an increase of 600% in six years in the cost of compensation for people making $150K/year or more. The Compensation Committee that was supposed to deal with this problem wrote a short statement saying they had hired an outside consultant and were hoping to do something in June, when annual reviews would be done. No meaningful action has been taken as best as we can determine.

In March, the Catholic Appeal was launched and the previous year results were announced–another miss for the new fundraising “dream team.” The 2011 Catholic Appeal raised $13.7M, against their goal announced in April 2011 of $14M.  No explanation was provided for the team that is supposed to be “transparent and accountable.” Years after the Campaign for Catholic Schools 2010 initiative ended, we still heard nothing about how they did towards their original goal of raising $70M by the end of 2010.

In March, we also saw the Pastoral Center officially offer a yoga class to employees, even though the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had stated concerns that Eastern practices such as yoga, Zen, and transcendental meditation posed a danger, in that they could “degenerate into a cult of the body” that edged out “the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit.  It was offered by the private yoga instructor of the HR Exec. Director, a proud ex-Catholic, and this fell under the auspices of Interim Chancellor Straub, who did nothing to stop the class. Complaints to the Vicar General resulted in him acknowledging the spiritual dangers of yoga, but defending the class as just “stretching exercise.”  If it was just a “stretching exercise,” then why not just offer a stretching class?

In April, the Boston Herald wrote “Up in Alms About Salaries, noting how, since 2006, the archdiocese has cut 50 staff members but payroll costs increased by nearly $1 million. The payroll went from $8.3 million in 2006 to $9.2 million last year despite dramatic job cuts. Spokesman Terrence Donilon, with total compensation and benefits of $193,000, defended the excessive six-figure salaries saying, “These folks are immensely talented people who are helping one of the largest archdioceses in the country repair itself.”  Meanwhile, 40-50% of parishes cannot pay their bills and have to pay the archdiocese 18% of collections to help sustain the bloated bureaurcracy.

In April, the archdiocese also ended the seven-year parish vigil at Our Lady of Mount Carmel by changing the locks on the doors of the church–something BCI had been suggesting for almost two years.

In May, the archdiocese got more active promoting the cause of religious freedom and opposition to the HHS contraception mandate, including promoting the USCCB “Fortnight of Freedom” and a Boston “town hall meeting” with Cardinal O’Malley on June 25.

In June, the archdiocese announced a search for a new Director of Pastoral Planning. Consistent with almost all of their job descriptions and searches for key roles, they do not in any way  explicitly require that the person in the job be a practicing Catholic who believes what the Catholic Church believes.

On June 25, Cardinal O’Malley hosted the town hall meeting on religious freedom. The same day, his chief fundraiser for Catholic Schools and member of the Finance Council, Jack Connors, hosted a $40,000/person fundraiser for the campaign of President Obama. Faithful Catholics asked, “How we can have a member of the Archdiocese of Boston Finance Council responsible for Institutional Advancement who is working against the Catholic Church by publicly fundraising for a politician who wants to violate our religious freedom?  No response.

In July, it was announced that Holy Trinity was in the process of being relegated to profane use. Several months later, the beautiful neo-gothic style church built in 1877 was officially relegated to profane use, the last step before it could be sold, and likely demolished.

In August, the Boston Archdiocese explained how they justify keeping Jack Connors as a Finance Council member despite his support for anti-Catholic pro-abortion politicians and for abortion. As long as the money is green, it does not matter what Connors does in his “private” life, even if those actions publicly harm the Catholic Church.

In September, the final Pastoral Planning proposal was published. It reflects some changes from the original proposal to better address the need for evangelization.

In October, the archdiocesan effort to oppose Question 2, Physician-Assisted Suicide, kicked into higher gear, including a town-hall meeting on the topic. A narrow victory on Question 2 was ultimately achieved.

In November, the Pastoral Plan was approved by Cardinal O’Malley.The organization of parishes into collaboratives with one shared pastor will impact the diocese and how individuals worship for yearrs, if not decades to come.

In December, the Boston Archdiocese found itself in violation of the new Motu Proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI.  The Motu Proprio says, salaries and operational expenses are to be in “due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.”  That is clearly not the case in Boston.

Last but not least, BCI hit new readership milestones in 2012.  In 2012, BCI was read by 234,000 unique visitors, with 313,000 pageloads.  In sum total since we started BCI, the blog has been read by 536,000 unique visitors with 764,000 pageloads.  With the majority of our visitors coming from Massachusetts, that means most Mass-attending Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese have read BCI at least once if not multiple times. About 1/3 of our visitors are repeat visitors. See below (click on graphic to zoom).

visitor report

When Cardinal O’Malley, Bishop Deeley, John Straub, Terry Donilon and others try to pretend that a blog like BCI does not matter or does not get much readership, they might want to think again.

We thank our readers for your continued readership and support, and hope and pray that BCI can continue to make a difference in bringing the Boston Archdiocese back to a stronger practice of the Catholic faith.

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16 Responses to 2012 Boston Archdiocese Year in Review

  1. CRAB says:

    Wow, this is a great synopsis, no matter your political/religious positions. Thank you.

  2. George Williams says:

    An excellent synopsis of the year in Boston; I am even happier that we moved to NJ. BTW, here in the Trenton Diocese there is a monthly collection for the Bishop. Our parish is expected to give $11K and must make up the difference. The actual amount donated to that collection is dismal but our weekly parish collection is a bit more than $18K (there is no school). The Church in South Jersey is vibrant and orthodox.

  3. [...] 2012 Boston Archdiocese Year in Review – Boston Catholic Insider [...]

  4. Boston priest says:

    BCI, thank you for the tremendous service you provide Boston-area Catholics! I know many priests who follow BCI and find your fidelity to Church teachings, outspoken candor, humor, and ability to cut to the chase to be a welcome relief from the bureaucratic watered down pablum coming out from the Pastoral Center, which usually not very “pastoral.” May God bless you with continued energies to pursue the truth in 2013!

  5. Michael says:

    Just wondering … how many readers do you think the Pilot gets? And how many do you think read that riveting beacon of journalistic excellence, Cardinal Sean’s blog? In the interest of transparency, I would like to know if the Pilot or Cardinal Sean’s blog would be willing to post their actual numbers.

    Congratulations on another great year. Your entire team should get some kind of award. Maybe the Cardinal could honor you like he has other great Catholics, like Tom Menino, Jack Connors, and Ted Kennedy.

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      I’ve heard the print edition of the Pilot has readership of somewhere between 23,000-26,000 people. I don’t know how many people get their emails. BCI is far better.

    • Michael, Thank you for the positive feedback. BCI does not expect to receive any awards from the Boston Archdiocese. The greatest recognition BCI hopes for is recognition by Cardinal O’Malley that he needs to substantially change his leadership team, reduce excessive six-figure salaries, lead (walk the talk), govern, and run all aspects of the archdiocese consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. If that happened, then BCI would have nothing to write about!

  6. Objective Observer says:

    Bravo (brava?) BCI. Your fiscal reporting is fabulous.

    Perhaps an entry on exactly what the Appeal counts as income would be interesting. I noticed on their report of donors going back to 2006, every year they list Verizon and other companies THAT DO NOT EVER DONATE TO RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS. So did RCAB commit fraud by taking matching gift money from those companies under some guise, or was the money given to some other entity and the Appeal took the money? Or listed it among their total while allowing some other entity to keep the funds?

    Whether they took the money or merely inflated their numbers by including the amounts, they committed fraud didn’t they? Either they bamboozled Verizon and others and somehow got their money, or they claim they got those amounts, artificially inflating the Appeal’s actual take. Either way, they have committed fraud, haven’t they?

    How much did the Appeal really take in? Or did it take money that was not intended for it? This goes back to 2006, so it isn’t just at the feet of the current fundraising oligarchy.

    What would Verizon and the other companies do if they knew the Roman Catholic Appeal boasts income from them?

  7. BettyDraper says:

    Dear BCI:

    Please read: Campaign Pumps Millions into Catholic Schools
    Boston Business Journal ….Friday December 14, 2012.

    They have raised 62 million since the launch in 2007.

    But the Good News does not stop there!!

    God works in mysterious ways, indeed. PBS/Frontline just produced a MAGNIFICENT film illustrating how badly our country needs more catholic schools. The title of this weeks campaign
    for Catholic Schools should be: “Educating Michelle Rhee”.

    God Bless You: PBS and Frontline

    Sincerely,

    Betty Draper @ Holy Day Hill Advertising Agency

  8. Carolyn says:

    Dear Betty,

    How appropriate that you are a character from Mad Men, and delightful that your ad firm’s name scrambles Hill Holliday’s own moniker.

    You must need your rose colored glasses to see out of Jack’s office windows, now that he has sole use of the Hancock Building’s 60th floor.

    An old friend of ours used to say, “If you can’t laugh, don’t go.” Thanks, “Betty,” for a good laugh.

    Carolyn

    • BettyDraper says:

      Carolyn.

      It wasn’t meant to be for a laugh. It was a creative gift
      for the church. I was hoping the someone would want to
      us the name Holy Day Hill as a division for creative
      concepts to help the parishes.

      Maybe someday I will have the 61 st floor…..Are there 61
      floors?

  9. BettyDraper says:

    Boston Archdiocese announces 1st phase of overhaul

    “This is a time where we take those ideas of “my priesthood”
    and “my ego” and put them aside and understand what’s more important to the church. ” he said.

    WHAT???

    Um, the fact that the NINETY SEVEN PERCENT (97%) of
    priests in the frontlines did not resign is evidence
    of who they are and how they think.

    Please apologize to them.

    Holy Day Hill Advertising Inc.

    • Carolyn says:

      There aren’t 61 floors, but maybe there should be to give someone the chance to beat Jack at something… for the first time in his life.

      In fairness, something in parishes has to give. Back in 2004, I saw on Chronicle that in the late 1950s, there were 1,500 Sunday Mass goers for every priest in the Archdiocese of Boston. Southie alone had 10,000 at Mass on a Sunday, and had 10 priests assigned in seven parishes.

      Now, we have a priest for every 1,500 Mass goers, but the whole City of Boston doesn’t have 10,000 Mass goers on a weekend. A priest at Mass this week expressed the problem very well:

      We all have a lifeboat mentality; we think we can’t afford to make a move for fear of sinking, or of making ourselves uncomfortable. But in truth, boats are for moving, not for standing still. We have treated our parishes like lifeboats where we should do nothing that would mean taking a risk, when in truth, parishioners are meant to pull on oars in order to take the faith forward to others.

      My parish closed as part of Reconfiguration. No doubt through the “new” pastoral planning process, the parish I’m in now will collaborate with the 600 pound gorilla parish to our north. Frankly, it would all be worth it if the “survivor” pastor doesn’t treat the Eucharistic celebration like a tailgater. But given the Mass I attended last Sunday at the “big” parish, we’re in for everything but beer and pretzels at Communion time.

      If they are going to offer “formation” to staff and councils, maybe they could offer the priests a refresher course in the reverential celebration of the Mass, and the fine points of Exposition and Benediction. Then we wouldn’t feel like we are being pried from our lifeboats to sink or swim.

  10. Mack says:

    Thanks, BCI, for your informative updates on RCAB and its doings. Much to pray about here!

  11. Dan Brown says:

    Is it true the previous annual appeals (pre-‘dream team’) were $15m and hitting their targets? If so, why not go back to the original formula? Those numbers were also during much more difficult financial times. It just seems like a no-brainer. Any insight?

    • Dan, Yes it is true that the previous Catholic Appeal team hit a goal of more than $15M in 2008 and 2009. See this BCI blog post from March 2011, where we charted the fundraising from 2002 to 2010: http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/fundraising-fiasco-2-5m-miss-on-catholic-appeal/

      Why not go back to the original formula? Because this is the Jack Connors’ “dream team” that, coincidentally, missed their goals for the Campaign for Catholic Schools then went to apply their same expertise to the Catholic Appeal, and they they can’t admit failure. They now have a Secretary for Institutional Advancement, and two VPs of Development, all paid more than $200K annually. Last BCI heard, they were on-track to have hit their goal of $14M for 2012. So, for 2012, they will have achieved their goal of raising 7%, or $1M LESS THAN was raised three years ago when they changed to the fund-raising “dream team.”

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