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).
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.