Does Boston Archdiocese have a “gay network” of clergy too?

February 26, 2013

Today, we learned that the Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland resigned in the wake of charges he made “inappropriate” sexual advances to four men.  In the past week, most people have probably read media reports about a secret dossier claiming there is a ‘gay network’ inside the Vatican. There is speculation–denied by the Vatican–that this news contributed to the resignation of the Pope.

The drumbeat of these troubling reports from across the Atlantic has prompted BCI to tackle two topics that we have avoided for nearly the past 3 years. They are:

i) Does the Boston Archdiocese have a “gay network” of clergy
ii) Why and how is the gay agenda being advanced within the Boston Archdiocese in parishes and Catholic schools  with tacit approval by Cardinal O’Malley?

We start our coverage on this topic by publishing in its entirety a document titled,”Crisis and Reform in Boston.” What you are about to read was apparently written between the time when Cardinal Bernard Law resigned (December 2002) and when Bishop Sean O’Malley was appointed Archbishop of Boston (July 2003).  We do not know who wrote it or who has seen it.  We posted excerpts in January 2011 (“Musings on the Future of the Boston Archdiocese: Episcopal Leadership“) and in August 2011 (“Episcopal Leadership“).

Much of what was described in the document written about ten years ago still seems to apply today.  It describes the clerical “black wall”, behind which some priests have surrendered completely to the pagan culture of “gay” identity and behavior. It also describes the author’s view of a “perfect Archbishop of Boston” which also could be criteria for the “perfect next Pope.” We were especially struck by the passage about the archbishop needing to “be the pastor of the pastors”  and by the very last sentence: “he must be a passionately effective evangelist because he is first a thoroughly converted disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Crisis and Reform in Boston
(written late December 2002 or winter/spring 2003)

The next Archbishop of Boston will find his particular Church in the midst of a grave crisis of faith and discipline. The public scandals which led to the resignation of Bernard Cardinal Law point to deep and longstanding problems among the priests and people of the Archdiocese, and the nature and magnitude of these problems should be considered in selecting the new pastor of a profoundly troubled Church.

The sketch of life in the Archdiocese of Boston which follows is based largely on anecdotal evidence and the trustworthy testimony of faithful priests and laymen. While this description is necessarily unscientific, it is offered in good faith in the service of understanding the nature and range of the problems the next Archbishop of Boston must confront.

The Present Situation

Clerical Unchastity

The sexual crimes of the priests accused of molesting minors are but a small token of widespread unchastity among the presbyterate. A significant number of priests, both secular and religious, are engaged in regular sexual behavior (most of it homosexual), either with stable sexual partners or in anonymous encounters with strangers met in bars, parks, or through the Internet. Acceptance of such behavior, excused either with a wink and a nudge on the grounds of human weakness or because of rejection of the Church’s teaching on chastity, encourages further unchastity.

Clerical Homosexuality

Many priests in the Archdiocese, certainly a large minority of the presbyterate and perhaps a slight majority of those between 40 and 60, are homosexual men, and many of those have come to understand themselves by reference to their sexual identity as the gay subculture defines it. The open secret of their homosexuality is closely guarded by the silence of a solid clerical “black wall”, behind which some priests have surrendered completely to the pagan culture of “gay” identity and behavior. Many priests socialize only with other active homosexuals, and in this way loose networks of sexually active priests are formed to protect each other from scrutiny.

Clerical Heterodoxy

Widespread rejection by priests of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, marriage, chastity, birth control, abortion, and homosexuality has not been effectively challenged in Boston, and a culture of “faithful dissent” has taken deep root in the presbyterate. Priests who are no longer in full communion with the Church by reason of their refusal to believe doctrines that must be held (either de fide credenda or de fide tenenda) are nonetheless still holding ecclesiastical offices in which they are charged to teach, sanctify, and govern some portion of the flock. The fact that heterodox priests are not publicly corrected or disciplined encourages more priests to embrace false teaching.

Irish Tribal Clericalism

One under-reported dimension of the scandals of 2002 is the ersatz clericalism found among priests of Irish ancestry. With very few exceptions, both the priests accused of sexual crimes and the bishops who protected them from legal action were all of Irish descent. The instinct to protect members of one’s own “tribe”, no matter what the offense, is a common feature of embattled ethnic minorities, and the effects of this culture in the Archdiocese of Boston cannot be underestimated.

Clerical Mendacity

To protect themselves from accountability for all of the above and other forms of misconduct, many priests habitually lie about almost every part of their lives. The mendacity is then excused with vague incantations about “mental reservation” and “internal forum”, and a vicious cycle is established: unchastity leads to mendacity, and mendacity leads to more unchastity. It should surprise no one that in this poisoned environment prayer ceases, faith collapses, and every form of sinful self-indulgence finds a home. The result is men in the pastoral office who no longer seek to follow the Lord Jesus in the Way of the Cross.

Intellectual Dishonesty

The aberrant behaviors and beliefs described above are not secret. The movement called “Voice of the Faithful” has given a public face to what has existed for at least 35 years: stubborn and organized refusal to believe what the Church teaches about human sexuality. This heterodoxy, however, is described by its proponents in one way or another as “faithful dissent” i.e., something a Catholic can embrace without in any way damaging his communion with the Church. There are many engines of this dissent, but the Jesuits and theology faculty of Boston College must be ranked among the chief architects of this intellectual dishonesty. They must be challenged directly.

Ecclesial Crisis

The nature and authority of the episcopate is being seriously contested by various parties in the Archdiocese, and the next Archbishop will inherit a presbyterate and a flock in which leading voices implicitly or explicitly reject his authority to teach, sanctify, and govern the Church in Boston. The refusal of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities to obey the explicit instructions of Bishop Richard Lennon about accepting funds from “Voice of the Faithful” is a small but significant indicator of the sort of rebellion now taking hold in the Archdiocese. The priests and lay people who lead “Voice of the Faithful” are consciously dedicated to a vision of the Church which is not Catholic, and the next Archbishop must be prepared to remove from ecclesiastical office all persons who cannot (in truth and without evasion) make the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity.

Bait and Switch

To reform the Church in Boston, the next Archbishop must fully understand what this crisis is and is not about. The crisis confronting the Church was most emphatically not caused by pedophilia; it was caused by massive infidelity of priests and bishops to the promises of their Baptism and their Ordination. Psychological counseling is not the remedy for sin and infidelity to the Gospel, and the Church, therefore, cannot be reformed by sending more priests to St. Luke’s Institute and other centers of psychotherapy. Radical conversion to Christ is the only way forward.

The Next Archbishop

To Teach, To Sanctify, To Govern

To respond to these problems in Boston, the next Archbishop must be a man

+who grasps that this crisis is about faith in and fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ. True reform is impossible without a direct challenge to the various false religions now in competition with revealed Truth. The next Archbishop must take nothing for granted and be prepared to engage in the New Evangelization almost as a First Evangelization, beginning with his presbyterate. To do this will require both clear and persuasive preaching of the truth and effective and direct refutation of error.

+whose life is blameless. If there are any scandals or habitual sins in his life, the dissident priests whom he must discipline will find them and use them in the media to destroy him.

+who is not afraid to be hated. Responding to the crisis in Boston will require the effective use of sanctions and discipline, and this will make the next Archbishop a man reviled by some.

+who is not afraid of controversy. There is no way to reform the Church in Boston without public controversy, some of which will be bitter and vitriolic. A man who runs from conflict cannot reform this Church. The Boston Globe will doubtless continue its campaign against Catholicism in various ways, and the next Archbishop must be prepared to be a stumbling block, not a media darling. And the internal opposition from Boston College will be even more crippling to any effort for reform.

+who is a radically obedient disciple of Jesus Christ. An Archbishop who is more conscious of the power and prerogatives of his office than of the dignity of his Baptism will make himself an object of public ridicule. He must be prepared to live a simple, evangelical life and to speak always in clear, evangelical language. The legalistic evasiveness and psychological jargon so common in the public utterances of many bishops can have no further place in Boston.

+who is a priest in every part of his being. An Archbishop who prays and celebrates the Holy Eucharist in a way that draws others into the heart of the Paschal Mystery will lead lasting reform by priestly example. A man without great integrity of life and faith, of personality and action, will not be able to sustain the sacrifices that must be made for genuine reform.

+who is an evangelist. Boston does not need a manager, a financier, or a consultant for an Archbishop; Boston needs a prophetic preacher of the Gospel who can convince other people of the truth of God’s Word because he both knows and believes it himself.

+who is not captive to Irish clericalism. Any priest who is bound to the “tribe” of Boston’s Irish clergy will be absolutely incapable of reforming the presbyterate.

+who is willing to make the Church smaller in order to make it larger. The cancer of dissent has created an (until now) invisible schism which has already made the Church in Boston much smaller than it appears to be. The next Archbishop must be prepared to acknowledge this fact (with canonical sanctions when necessary) and then preach the Catholic faith in its fullness and integrity. For this to happen some institutions may have to be abandoned, and some persons will have to be shown the consequences of their ideas, but absent such honesty, there will be no reform in Boston.

+who understands the essential and intrinsic connections among doctrinal clarity, moral probity, and ecclesial order. The disintegration of ecclesial life now unfolding in Boston is the result of the effective sundering of these three legs of one stool by the guild of dissent among priests, lay catechists, and theologians. Restoring the integrity of ecclesial life, therefore, will require the next Archbishop to restore in public and effective ways the connections among faith, life, and order, and such restoration will be impossible without directly dismantling the guild of dissent.

+who can be the pastor of the pastors. The Archbishop cannot be the pastor of every parish in Boston; he must be the pastor of the pastors, and he must make his highest priority the pastoral care of his priests and the recruiting and training of future priests. To reform the presbyterate, he must be personally involved on a daily basis in teaching his priests…in exhorting them, encouraging them, correcting them, and when necessary reproving them. He must also be directly and personally involved in selecting and forming seminarians for priestly ordination. While he will, of course, need help in such work, these tasks simply cannot be delegated to anyone else.

+who has a clear and authentically Catholic vision of the sacramental economy as a coherent whole and as the essential means for unveiling the eternal Plan of Salvation for God’s people. The liturgical, doctrinal, and disciplinary fragmentation and incoherence of the past thirty years have obscured from sight the intrinsic order and beauty of the sacramental economy and made much more difficult the task of teaching revealed truth. The next Archbishop should be a priest capable of elucidating for his priests and people the internal logic, immeasurable beauty, and divine wisdom of the Logos tou Theou.

Reasons to Hope

The Faithful

The lay faithful of Christ in Boston continue by the hundreds of thousands to “believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”. These people deserve a shepherd willing to make personal sacrifices for the Gospel, and they will respond with heroic generosity and courage to his stewardship if he proves himself to be a fearless preacher and a genuine priest.

Young Priests

Despite the chaos in the Church and in large measure because of the witness of Pope John Paul II, many of the men ordained in the past 5 years are obedient disciples of the Lord Jesus and faithful priests of the Church. These young men will have to assume the burdens of leadership at an early age, and if they perceive in their next Archbishop a true father in God and witness to Christ, they will move heaven and earth to help him reform the Archdiocese of Boston.

Wavering Priests

Notwithstanding the decades of dissent, unchastity, and mendacity, many priests of Boston still hear the voice of God in their conscience and are yearning (even if unconsciously) for a prophet to come and lead them out of slavery to sin. A bold man of  God in the Chair of the Archbishop could ignite a divine spark in the hearts of those priests and bring them through conversion back to the grace of their ordination. The witness of such men would be a powerful force for reform.

Kairos

A providential opportunity is at hand in Boston—a rare moment of grace when dissent, confusion, degeneracy, and chaos can be challenged and overcome by the Word of God. For this opportunity to be seized, though, the Church in Boston needs a bishop who is not bound by clerical custom, tribal instinct, or personal fear. Given the causes of the crisis in Boston, business as usual will lead to disastrous consequences. The next Archbishop of Boston can and should be a bold disciple of the Lord Jesus who can bear powerful witness to the Resurrection of Christ and the truth of the Catholic faith; he must be a confident and persuasive teacher of the Gospel and a skillful shepherd of souls. Such a man in Boston, precisely because of the acute crisis and the public attention focused there, could help lead a true and lasting reform of the entire Church in the United States.

The next Archbishop of Boston should not be a “safe” candidate selected by the usual means from among the conventional candidates. Such men are largely responsible for the sorry state of the Church today; one more of that sort will not lead us out of crisis into reform. Boston needs an Archbishop who will teach, sanctify, and govern his people and priests with the courage, conviction, and confidence that come from personal conversion to Jesus Christ and a life-changing decision to follow Him in the Way of the Cross. For true reform to take place, the next Archbishop of Boston cannot be a chancery bureaucrat, an office manager, or a dialogue facilitator who understands his task as the mediation of internal disputes between “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics; he must be a passionately effective evangelist because he is first a thoroughly converted disciple of Jesus Christ.

#   #   #   #

We have heard reports for years about priests speaking in support of “gay marriage,” violating their vows of celibacy by living with men commonly known to be their “boyfriend,” or blessing “gay marriages”–and the complaints are largely ignored by Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese. We know the Cardinal and Schools Superintendent pushed through a policy rooted in deception to admit children of gay parents to Catholic Schools. Furthermore, the Schools Superintendent, paid $341K/year, claims to be unaware of any “gay agenda” and has ignored concerns about the gay agenda in Catholic Schools she has oversight for.

We need to pray fervently for our priests and for the Archbishop of Boston. If you have evidence or specific examples of the existence of a “gay network” of clergy in Boston and/or evidence of how the gay agenda is being advanced within the Boston Archdiocese, please email bostoncatholicinsider(at)gmail.com or contact us here.


Insider Questions: Is Cardinal O’Malley Really “Papabile”?: Part 1

February 21, 2013

All of the articles and buzz about the prospect of Cardinal Sean O’Malley becoming pope are asking the wrong questions and missing so much, it is almost impossible to know where to start. The latest, a column in the Boston Globe, says “One thing that is striking about Cardinal O’Malley and which makes him supremely “papabile,” or one who might become pope, is his sense of humor.”

Really?  Someone thinks a supremely important character trait for being Pope is a sense of humor, and it gets a column in the mainstream media?

First off, the responsibilities of the successors of the apostles are to teach, sanctify, and govern.  Before anyone continues promoting Cardinal O’Malley for pope–especially those in the media–they should ask themselves, “How would I grade him on those points?” How is he as an episcopal leader? What has his efficacy been as an episcopal leader in these areas and in making the salvation of souls a top priority for the Boston Archdiocese?  This is not about perceived humility. It is not about sense of humor. It is not about resolving sexual abuse cases. It is about efficacy as an episcopal leader and shepherd/leader of the flock to save souls.

Everyone will have their own opinion.  Here are some questions the media and other pundits should be asking, and the BCI perspective.

How is Cardinal O’Malley at Teaching? Does he give good homilies and write good pastoral letters (when written and propagated)? Yes. But how does he score for walking the talk and clarifying teachings when there is confusion? (e.g. “Catholics” who support pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Ted Kennedy funeral scandal, Gay Pride Mass at St. Cecilia in Boston, abortion referrals with the Caritas/Centene fiasco, Catholic identity in Catholic schools, pro-abortion advisers to Cardinal O’Malley). BCI gives him a B-/C+ for teaching.

How is Cardinal O’Malley at Sanctifying? We know that in order to sanctify, the bishop must be a holy person himself. (We are not in a position to grade that in Cardinal O’Malley and do not question his personal holiness). From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we know that the bishop (with his priests) sanctifies the Church especially through the Eucharist and by their ministry of Word, their ministry of sacraments, and by their good example. Furthermore, the bishop is commissioned to be a leader or motivator of building holiness for the priests of the diocese.  How is Cardinal O’Malley at the latter? We see little evidence that Cardinal O’Malley has invested a great amount of time and energy to make care and sustenance (spiritual and/or physical) for the presbyterate a high priority. BCI gives him a B for sanctifying.

How is Cardinal O’Malley at Governing? “Leadership” as defined by an expert in the field, means attributes like integrity (alignment of words and actions with inner values, walking the talk, sticking to strong values, and building an entire organization with powerful and effective cultural values), dedication (spending whatever time and energy on a task is required to get the job done, giving your whole self to the task, dedicating yourself to success and to leading others with you), magnanimity (giving credit where it is due and accepting personal responsibility for failures), and other traits.  On just the first three attributes–integrity, dedication, and magnanimity, what is the report card for the episcopal leadership of Cardinal O’Malley? BCI would rate it not very good. Depending on the day, BCI gives somewhere between a D and an F for governing.  Why is that?

Whether Bishop of Boston, Bishop of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, or Bishop of Rome, we extend the words of the late Bishop John D’Arcy to offer that the bishop’s role is as a loving, but tough-minded shepherd–a shepherd after the heart of Christ. “A bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Is that Cardinal Sean O’Malley?  Not as evidenced in recent years. Here are additional questions from BCI that we feel pundits and writers should be asking about Cardinal O’Malley based on objective evidence:

1) How does he handle  the load of his existing role?  Not well. We all know how in 2004 he wrote a letter to Boston Catholics in which he said, “At times I ask God to call me home and let someone else finish this job, but I keep waking up in the morning to face another day of reconfiguration.”

2) How engaged or unengaged is he as Archbishop of Boston in governing? (which most of the mainstream media are not aware of). Anyone who has attended meetings with him in recent years can attest to the concern.  Cardinal O’Malley is often largely, if not entirely, silent during important meetings. People presenting important concerns to him face-to-face report getting no response in the meeting, or in follow-up actions.

For those who would say the above is subjective, we beg to differ. These are objective observations.  In addition, a look at the number of important official documents that were supposed to have been signed by Cardinal O’Malley himself in recent years, but that were apparently signed with his name by someone else, makes it fairly clear that he is not entirely engaged in governance of the diocese. Analysis by a local handwriting expert shows evidence that important documents–including relegations to profane use of churches and perhaps even the sale agreement for St. John’s Seminary–were likely signed by someone other than the Cardinal O’Malley who tried to make it look like the signature was that of Cardinal O’Malley. Here is the forensic_handwriting_analysis report.

Certainly there are thousands of documents that cross the desk of the Archbishop of Boston and he cannot possibly review and sign them all. But one might reasonably ask, if the Cardinal is not sufficiently engaged to take the time to review and personally sign important official documents such as a relegation to profane use for a church, what else is he not engaged in?

3) How sound has the fiscal management of the Boston Archdiocese been?  To what extent has the Boston Archdiocese been upholding their fiduciary responsibility to donors to spend their contributions most effectively and efficiently to build the Kingdom of God and save souls?

  • How much debt does the Boston Archdiocese have?  Do they run a balanced budget? The Boston Archdiocese is nearly $140M in debt, with no way of repaying the debts to St. Johns Seminary and the Clergy Funds. Central Operations ran an $11M operating deficit over the last 2 year.
  • Are employees overpaid? They paid their top 16 lay executives $3.7M in salaries and benefits in the past year. Just two late-career executives are paid a combined $700K in salary and benefits a year.  the Superintendent of Schools is paid $341K alone in salary and benefits. The number of lay executives paid more than $150K/year today (16) is more than 5X the number in 2006, when just 3 execs were paid more than $150K. The amount paid to folks making $150K+ a year ballooned by 6X from 2006 to 2012. The Archdiocese acknowledges many are overpaid, and to add insult to injury, they even gave raises to many overpaid execs last year. The diocese is in clear violation of the Motu Proprio signed on November 11, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI and officially in effect December 10, 2012, that says salaries need to be in due proportion to analogous expenses of the diocesan curia.
  • How is the financial health of Boston parishes? 40-50% of parishes are in the red and cannot pay their bills.
  • How carefully are administrative expenses managed to preserve funds for ministry? Administrative expenses have been in the range of 33-36% of all Central Operations expenditures in recent years, an increasing share of expenditures from 6 years ago.
  • How are capital reserves? They have been drained. Parish Reconfiguration funds have been tapped out by spending $12.3M in recent years to subsidize Pastoral Center departments normally funded by the Central Fund. And during the past six years, insurance reserves that were $15M in 2006 have been depleted to zero or near zero (see this 2010 BCI blog post and p. 16 of the 2012 Annual Report).  If the model of over-paying lay executives and deficit spending were to carry over to the Vatican and global Catholic Church, what would the impact be?

BCI will continue in a separate post to discuss other questions that should be asked by the media and pundits.  Those questions surround the culture of deception in the Boston Archdiocese, hiring choices for senior roles (full-time and advisory), the creation of scandal by publicly defending decisions or actions that are objectively indefensible–with a failure to acknowledge mistakes, ignoring of Vatican recommendations or directives, and the apparent lack of courage of conviction to match actions with words. These have all been chronicled by BCI previously, but we will summarize them in our next post.

Ultimately, the election of the next Pope is in the hands of the Holy Spirit.  But for those writing and conjecturing about who is “papabile,” they should at least be asking the right questions.


Parallels between Vatican politics/corruption and Boston diocesan corruption

February 18, 2013

In follow-up of the abdication announcement by the Holy Father, a number of news reports about Vatican politics and corruption have coincidental parallels to what we have been seeing in Boston in recent years.

This piece discusses how “Pope Benedict XVI’s leaked documents show fractured Vatican full of rivalries.”

VatiLeaks, as the scandal came to be known…exposed the church bureaucracy’s entrenched opposition to Benedict’s fledgling effort to carve out a legacy as a reformer…

“We can reveal the face of the church and how this face is, at times, disfigured,” Benedict said in his final homily on Ash Wednesday. “I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the church, of the divisions in the body of the church.” He called for his ministry to overcome “individualism” and “rivalry,” saying they were only for those “who have distanced themselves from the faith.”

A radical transformation of the culture is unlikely. “We’re talking about people who have given their life to this institution, but at the same time the institution has become their life,” said one senior Vatican official. “Unlike parish priests, who have the personal rewards that come with everyday contact, their lot is not as human. It’s bureaucratic, but it becomes all-consuming.”

The Washington Post piece reiterates information published elsewhere previously about how the powerful #2, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, has consolidated power and pushed out Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was helping drive financial and operational reforms desired by Pope Benedict XVI. The pope’s butler sought an unconventional way to get the pope’s attention by leaking confidential memos, in the hopes that a shock, “perhaps through the media, could bring the church back on the right track.”

We also hear separately, from Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, that he had pleaded with Pope Benedict XVI to replace the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, but the Pontiff firmly refused:

Cardinal Meisner told Frankfurter Rundschau that he approached the Pontiff, speaking on behalf of several cardinals, to demand a change at the Secretariat of State because Cardinal Bertone had proven incapable of handling his office. The German cardinal said that Pope Benedict dismissed the suggestion immediately, showing his loyalty to Cardinal Bertone. Cardinal Meisner recalled:

During the Williamson affair, I even once, on behalf of a number of cardinals, went to the Pope and said: “Holy Father, you have to dismiss Cardinal Bertone! He’s in charge–as would be the responsible minister in a secular government.” He looked at me and said, ‘Listen to me carefully! Bertone remains! Basta! Basta! Basta!” After that I never brought up the subject again.”

A number of pundits and writers are opining that Benedict has been a great teaching pope, but he has a mixed record as a manager, governor and administrator.  Do long-time BCI readers see any parallels with Boston?

Cardinal Sean O’Malley gives a good homily. He writes a good pastoral letter. When he spends time and energy on teaching–which BCI thinks is insufficient–he can be a good teacher. But governing is another story. He has created a bureaucratic diocesan hierarchy and organization where internal politics rule far above anything having to do with the saving mission of the Catholic Church.  He has surrounded himself by people whose actions in many cases suggest they have distanced themselves from the faith or care little about the Catholic faith.  When people have complained about the bad eggs in the cabinet and problems with some of his senior cabinet officials, in all but one case, he has ignored them and kept supporting the problematic officials.  To his credit, he brought in a new Vicar General, who moved out the former Chancellor. That is the only one of many needed changes he has allowed.

But look at who still remains:

  • Fr. Bryan Hehir, who by his own admission at a talk several years ago, “couldn’t organize a 3-car funeral procession.”  This piece, The Eminence Grise, explains many of the problems. He has had his fingers in nearly every public scandal or fiasco since he returned to Boston to work for Cardinal O’Malley–honoring Mayor Menino at a Catholic Charities fundraiser, inserting himself into decisions on parish reconfiguration of 2004 and mucking-up that process, insisting that parish vigils not be broken up–thus costing millions of dollars to maintain and heat the occupied properties, hiring a lobbyist to head the Mass Catholic Conference who had given donations to pro-abortion politicians, advising the Cardinal to attend the Ted Kennedy coronation funeral, engaging and keeping Jack Connors, being involved in the initial Caritas/Centene deal that would have had Caritas profiting from referrals to abortion services, and the list goes on. Given his track record of mismanagement at St. Paul’s in Cambridge as pastor and at Catholic Charities Boston, as well as his history of involvement in Marxist causes and views on suppression of the Catholic Church’s moral views in the public square, he belongs on a list of people to not have in a Catholic archdiocesan cabinet. As written in The Eminence Grise, “At a moment when the Church is striving to launch a “new evangelization” in this Year of Faith, the Archdiocese of Boston under Fr. Hehir’s leadership is more concerned with conforming to the secular culture, appeasing a hostile liberal media, and protecting renegade pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their apologists in the Catholic community. Hehir calls this “rebuilding trust” with civil society, but that is a ruse for enabling dissent, as Fr. Hehir’s record over 40 years illustrates.Yet despite many people telling Cardinal O’Malley he should get rid of Hehir, he remains, with more power and influence than the Vicar General, Bishop Deeley.  Hehir helps consolidate power in the Terry Donilon/Rasky Baerlein/Jack Connors coalition (which is all about political power and money), does his best to thwart efforts around spreading the truths of the Catholic faith, and ensures the continued inefficacy of the Mass Catholic Conference and of communicating Catholic moral views in the public square and political process.
  • Terry Donilon: now paid $184K in salary alone, up from $166,304 a few years ago. Challenged by spelling, grammar, and basics of the Catholic faith, he is now overpaid by at least $70K for this role.  He is an excellent example for how the Compensation Committee report flat-out lied about performance and compensation of diocesan staff.
  • Jack Connors: multi-million dollar Obama fundraiser and abortion supporter, as a key member of the Finance Council and Catholic schools fundraiser
  • Carol Gustavson: Executive Director Lay Benefits:paid  $169,190. A proud ex-Catholic who lacks qualifications for this job (prior experience was as a labor attorney for a newspaper), paid about double what the position would be paid elsewhere, and who was  unable to respond to basic questions about pensions in 2011 public meetings around cuts to the lay pension funds.

We could go on and on about the problems. As a parallel to VatiLeaks, this blog was created for the main purpose of exposing the moral and financial corruption and deception in the Boston Archdiocese, in the hopes that perhaps through public exposure of the problems, we could help bring the Catholic Church in Boston back on the right track.

Despite the similarities, there is one big difference. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI said it was his declining mental and physical strength that led him to abdicate the papacy and resign from the office. The next step is a conclave in March where a new pope will be elected.  Cardinal O’Malley long ago abdicated governance of the Boston Archdiocese.  The next step for Boston is….?


Pope Benedict: Learn to make God central to life

February 14, 2013

We will return to Boston corruption in our next post. For today, we would like to share with you the words of Pope Benedict XVI from his Wednesday Feb. 13 general audience. A key message was that Christians should work to overcome “the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests, or to put Him in a corner.”

Highlights are immediately below, and the full text follows:

The tests which modern society subjects the Christians, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life.

It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases.

The temptation to set aside their faith is always present, and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times in life.

What is at the core of the three temptations that Jesus suffered? It is the proposal to manipulate God, to use him for your own interests, for your own glory and success.

Everyone should then ask: what is the role God in my life? And is he the Lord or am I?

Every Christian must undergo the journey of overcoming the temptation “to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner.”

Conversion means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by ‘losing’ our life in Him can we truly have it.

This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God.

Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.

Pope Benedict concluded his second to last general audience by calling on everyone to renew their commitment during Lent and the Year of Faith to “the process of conversion, to overcome the tendency to close in on ourselves” and to “make room for God.”

Here is the full address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the liturgical time of Lent, forty days that prepare us for the celebration of Holy Easter, it is a time of particular commitment in our spiritual journey. The number forty occurs several times in the Bible. In particular, it recalls the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness: a long period of formation to become the people of God, but also a long period in which the temptation to be unfaithful to the covenant with the Lord was always present. Forty were also the days of the Prophet Elijah’s journey to reach the Mount of God, Horeb; as well as the time that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public life and where he was tempted by the devil. In this Catechesis I would like to dwell on this moment of earthly life of the Son of God, which we will read of in the Gospel this Sunday.

First of all, the desert, where Jesus withdrew to, is the place of silence, of poverty, where man is deprived of material support and is placed in front of the fundamental questions of life, where he is pushed to towards the essentials in life and for this very reason it becomes easier for him to find God. But the desert is also a place of death, because where there is no water there is no life, and it is a place of solitude where man feels temptation more intensely. Jesus goes into the desert, and there is tempted to leave the path indicated by God the Father to follow other easier and worldly paths (cf. Lk 4:1-13). So he takes on our temptations and carries our misery, to conquer evil and open up the path to God, the path of conversion.

In reflecting on the temptations Jesus is subjected to in the desert we are invited, each one of us, to respond to one fundamental question: what is truly important in our lives? In the first temptation the devil offers to change a stone into bread to sate Jesus’ hunger. Jesus replies that the man also lives by bread but not by bread alone: ​​without a response to the hunger for truth, hunger for God, man can not be saved (cf. vv. 3-4). In the second, the devil offers Jesus the path of power: he leads him up on high and gives him dominion over the world, but this is not the path of God: Jesus clearly understands that it is not earthly power that saves the world, but the power of the Cross, humility, love (cf. vv. 5-8). In the third, the devil suggests Jesus throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem and be saved by God through his angels, that is, to do something sensational to test God, but the answer is that God is not an object on which to impose our conditions: He is the Lord of all (cf. vv. 9-12). What is the core of the three temptations that Jesus is subjected to? It is the proposal to exploit God, to use Him for his own interests, for his own glory and success. So, in essence, to put himself in the place of God, removing Him from his own existence and making him seem superfluous. Everyone should then ask: what is the role God in my life? Is He the Lord or am I?

Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. “Conversion”, an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by “losing” our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God. Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.

The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.

The major conversions like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus, or St. Augustine, are an example and stimulus, but also in our time when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God’s grace is at work and works wonders in life of many people. The Lord never gets tired of knocking at the door of man in social and cultural contexts that seem engulfed by secularization, as was the case for the Russian Orthodox Pavel Florensky. After acompletely agnostic education, to the point he felt an outright hostility towards religious teachings taught in school, the scientist Florensky came to exclaim: “No, you can not live without God”, and to change his life completely, so much so he became a monk.

I also think the figure of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she found Him looking deep inside herself and wrote: “There is a well very deep inside of me. And God is in that well. Sometimes I can reach Him, more often He is covered by stone and sand: then God is buried. We must dig Him up again “(Diary, 97). In her scattered and restless life, she finds God in the middle of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah. This young fragile and dissatisfied woman, transfigured by faith, becomes a woman full of love and inner peace, able to say: “I live in constant intimacy with God.”

The ability to oppose the ideological blandishments of her time to choose the search for truth and open herself up to the discovery of faith is evidenced by another woman of our time, the American Dorothy Day. In her autobiography, she confesses openly to having given in to the temptation that everything could be solved with politics, adhering to the Marxist proposal: “I wanted to be with the protesters, go to jail, write, influence others and leave my dreams to the world. How much ambition and how much searching for myself in all this!”. The journey towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly difficult, but Grace acts nonetheless, as she points out: “It is certain that I felt the need to go to church more often, to kneel, to bow my head in prayer. A blind instinct, one might say, because I was not conscious of praying. But I went, I slipped into the atmosphere of prayer … “. God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a lifetime spent dedicated to the underprivileged.

In our time there are no few conversions understood as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, moved away from the faith for years and then rediscovered Christ and his Gospel. In the Book of Revelation we read: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me”(3, 20). Our inner person must prepare to be visited by God, and for this reason we should allow ourselves be invaded by illusions, by appearances, by material things.

In this time of Lent, in the Year of Faith, we renew our commitment to the process of conversion, to overcoming the tendency to close in on ourselves and instead, to making room for God, looking at our daily reality with His eyes. The alternative between being wrapped up in our egoism and being open to the love of God and others, we could say corresponds to the alternatives to the temptations of Jesus: the alternative, that is, between human power and love of the Cross, between a redemption seen only in material well-being and redemption as the work of God, to whom we give primacy in our lives. Conversion means not closing in on ourselves in the pursuit of success, prestige, position, but making sure that each and every day, in the small things, truth, faith in God and love become most important.


Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

February 12, 2013

BCI was shocked, as everyone in the world was, over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  We have nothing new to add about the surprise factor that other commentators have not already said, or the concerns to Catholics about him abdicating.

We restate the Holy Father’s words:

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

Here are a few articles and posts that may help put this decision in even further context:

Pope Benedict XVI told interviewer Peter Seewald in remarks published in “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” he would consider resigning for health reasons in 2010:

“If a pope clearly realises that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of an office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign…When the danger is great, one must not run away. For that reason, now is certainly not the time to resign…” though, “one can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from danger and say that someone else should do it.”

In that same interview, he also said:

 “I trust that our dear Lord will give me as much strength as I need to be able to do what is necessary. But I also notice that my forces are diminishing. It is correct that as Pope one has even more cause to pray and to entrust oneself entirely to God. For I see very well that almost everything I have to do is something I myself cannot do at all. That fact already forces me, so to speak, to place myself in the Lord’s hands and to say to him: “You do it, if you want it!” In this sense prayer and contact with God are now even more necessary and also even more natural and self-evident than before.

In 2009 and 2010, the Holy Father visited the tomb of a medieval Pope named St. Celestine V and a cathedral where he venerated relics of the saint. Celestine was elected to the papacy shortly before his 80th birthday, and was the first pope to abdicate the papacy. This article tells us a bit about Celestine V:

On July 4, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made his second trip to the earthquake-ravaged town of L’Aquila to venerate the relics of his long-ago predecessor, Pope and St. Celestine V, who died in 1296. Few predicted then that just a few years later, Benedict and Celestine would be locked together in history as the two popes who retired, theoretically voluntarily, because of their age.

Here is what Celestine wrote: “We, Celestine, Pope V, moved by legitimate reasons, that is to say for the sake of humility, of a better life and an unspotted conscience, of weakness of body and of want of knowledge, the malignity of the people, and personal infirmity, to recover the tranquility and consolation of our former life, do freely and voluntarily resign the pontificate.”

When Pope Benedict went to write his letter of resignation, there can be little doubt that he turned to Celestine’s example, the “papal bull” (official letter) from 1296 that affirmed the right of the pope to resign and the legal canons that followed codifying the practice. For the Catholic Church, those 13th-century words stand as relevant and legally valid.

Commenting on Celestine at the time, the Holy Father said:

“St. Celestine V was able to act according to his conscience in obedience to God, hence without fear and with great courage even in difficult moments … not fearing to lose his dignity but knowing that it consists in existing in truth.”

He also defended Celestine’s retreat into seclusion: “In his choice of the hermit life might there not have been individualism or an escape from responsibility? This temptation does of course exist. But in the experiences approved by the Church, the solitary life of prayer and penance is always at the service of the community, open to others,” Benedict said.

“Hermits and monasteries are oases and sources of spiritual life from which all may draw.”

The brother of the Holy Father, Georg Ratzinger said: “The decision was no surprise. “He has been thinking about it for several months. “He concluded that his powers are falling victim to age….he feels that a younger person is needed to deal with the problems of the times.”

Here are several other pieces you might find worthwhile reading:

On Pope Benedict’s Resignation, by Thomas More College President Fahey

Did the Wolves Win? Or Has the Holy Father Discovered a Way to Outsmart the Wolf Pack?

The Holy Father, in his own words and those told through his brother, is clearly, not giving up the fight, but is instead handing over the battle to  a younger pope more physically and mentally capable of fighting the fight against evil for the Roman Catholic Church.

What to do now?  As commentator, Michael Matt, said: “Pray incessantly for a younger but still tradition-minded successor who will attempt to carry on the reforms Pope Benedict was quite obviously prevented from continuing. May God help us all, and may He bless and protect his Church under siege from the world and in near total chaos internally. We pray for Pope Benedict, and ask our merciful God to watch over and protect him now and always.”

How Boston Archdiocese Spends and Manages Your Money

February 10, 2013

BCI hopes that all in Boston are digging out well from the blizzard and have power and heat.

With the news Friday that the Catholic Appeal raised $14.2M in the most recent fundraising year–slightly above the $14M goal, and beating the goal for the first time in 3 years–BCI thought it would be appropriate for everyone to see exactly how the Boston Archdiocese is spending donor funds. In addition, it is interesting to see how all of the overpaid folks in the Pastoral Center with excessive six-figure salaries do in keeping to their budget plan.

There are four things that jumped out at BCI immediately from looking at the numbers.

1) Almost 50% of the $35M in Central Operations expenses in the most recent fiscal year were for Administrative costs (“Management and General”)–in other words, other than paying for programs that directly build the Kingdom of God.  Look at page 24 in the 2012 Annual Report.

2012 expenses

To BCI, it seems like $16.8M is a lot to spend in “Management and general” expenses in order to deliver $14.8M worth of programs.  But the Cardinal, the Finance Council, and 16 lay execs paid nearly $4M in salaries and benefits must think this is a pretty good ratio, because they continue to feel comfortable continuing with business as usual at 66 Brooks Drive.

2) The Boston Archdiocese Central Operations overspent their budget plan by nearly 30% in 2012.  They had a budget plan going into the 2012 fiscal year that called for spending $27.8M (see bel0w), and instead they spent $35.3M (see above), an overspend of nearly $8M or 28%.  You can find more details on the 2012 budget plan in this 2012 BCI blog post, including the table below from the 2012 budget plan:

Q. How many overpaid lay archdiocesan executives does it take to overspend a budget by 28%?
A. 16. Paid nearly $4M in salaries in benefits.
How many readers can afford to overspend their household, business, or parish budget plans and survive for very long?  Perhaps if the Pastoral Center paid lay salaries proportionate to what clergy are paid–as the Holy Father’s “Motu Proprio” directs, they might find their executives would be a little more careful with how they spend donor funds.

3) The budget plan for 2013 under new Chancellor John Straub– who said he wants to “maintain transparency and enhance it where we can“–is considerably less transparent than for 2012 (one high-level page vs a dozen pages previously), and shows a lot of money still paying for admin, legal, and fundraising costs, that do not advance the mission of the Catholic Church.

2013 budget

Of  a $27.8M budget, $9.5M is “Administrative services” and if you add that up with the General Counsel and Fundraising, you get $12M of $27M spent on expenses that do not contribute to the salvation of souls. For that matter, one can also argue that $1.6M spend on excessive salaries for Catholic Schools Office staff who do not actually deliver any Catholic education does not contribute to the salvation of souls, but that is a topic for another day.

4) Mr. John Riley, of St. Pauls in Wellesley is listed as a parish fundraising coordinator for the Catholic Appeal. BCI understands from readers that he is the brother of a diocesan priest and is a former private sector CFO. To be fundraising for the Catholic Appeal, surely, he must not be aware of the excessive six-figure salaries, wasteful spending and breach of fiduciary responsibility by the archdiocese.   If anyone has his email contact information, please send to BCI so that we can alert him to the problems and invite his participation in pressuring the archdiocese to solve them.


In Memoriam: Bishop John D’Arcy

February 7, 2013

Bishop Emeritus of South Bend Indiana and former Boston auxiliary bishop John D’Arcy passed into eternal rest on Sunday morning. BCI was saddened to hear of his passing and we pray for the repose of his soul.

This blog post could have also been titled, “What Cardinal O’Malley and all bishops can learn from Bishop John D’Arcy.” For those not familiar to him, we offer a few excerpts from articles as a tribute to his pastoral leadership–in both the sexual abuse crisis but also defense of the faith at Notre Dame and in the public square.

LifeSite News said:

Bishop John M. D’Arcy, best known in recent years for leading an unprecedented wave of episcopal opposition against the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 honorary doctorate to President Obama, has passed away.

The bishop died Sunday, February 3, at the age of 80 after battling lung and brain cancer.

He won praise for his efforts to uphold Catholic identity at Notre Dame, located in his diocese. But he also locked horns with university administration over contentious issues such as the university’s decision to invite President Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree, and the school’s continued approval of the performance on campus of The Vagina Monologues.

In 2009, Bishop D’Arcy boycotted the University’s commencement ceremony due to the president’s pro-abortion policies.

In a statement released by the diocese at the time, D’Arcy said he would not attend the event because “a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Eighty-three US bishops followed Bishop D’Arcy’s lead in expressing their disapproval of the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama.

This from ABC News:

D’Arcy received national attention when he was one of the few church officials commended in a scathing 2003 report issued by the Massachusetts attorney general about the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

D’Arcy also made headlines for opposing some decisions by leaders at the University of Notre Dame, which is in the diocese. He wrote a nine-page “pastoral response” in 2006 criticizing the decision by the Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, to allow “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus.

D’Arcy also boycotted Notre Dame’s commencement in 2009 because of the speaker, President Barack Obama, whose policies on stem cell research and abortion D’Arcy said ran counter to church teaching. But D’Arcy did attend an open-air Mass and rally on the campus that day, saying he wanted to support the students protesting Obama. “All of you are heroes, and I’m proud to stand with you,” he said.

The South Bend Tribune reported:

D’Arcy was also outspoken against child abuse by priests through his lifetime. In 2003, he disclosed that 16 priests in the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese had abused 33 children since 1950 — actions that ultimately cost the diocese more than $1.36 million in damages, according to a 2010 Tribune article.

D’Arcy said in a 2003 press conference that he decided to publicly announce the numbers because “there has been too much secrecy nationally.”

In fact, it was not the first time D’Arcy spoke up about the abuse — letters from D’Arcy to Catholic bishops as early as 1978 concerning abuse allegations have surfaced. While some have said D’Arcy was sent to Indiana from Boston because of his frankness about the abuse, D’Arcy always remained silent on the subject, according to Tribune articles.

D’Arcy was also one of the loudest voices against the invitation of President Barack Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree at the 2009 commencement ceremony at the University of Notre Dame. He stated he did not support the University giving Obama any honors based on his position on abortion. D’Arcy did not attend the 2009 commencement.

It was not the first time he disagreed with the actions of University President Fr. John Jenkins — a 2006 discussion of the performance of “The Vagina Monologues” on campus left D’Arcy and Jenkins at opposite opinions, though D’Arcy elected to attend the 2006 commencement exercises.

Disagreements with political leaders was not limited to just Obama, either. D’Arcy directed the leadership of St. Joseph High School to withdraw the invitation of then-Gov. Joe Kernan to speak at the 2004 commencement ceremony, citing Kernan’s stance on abortion.

He also didn’t attend the 1992 Notre Dame commencement ceremony because Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that year’s Laetare Medal recipient, had a pro-choice stance.

Here are excerpts from a National Catholic Register interview with D’arcy entitled, “Bishop John D’Arcy: a Legacy of ‘Tough Love‘:

BOSTON — Ten years ago, Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend (Ind.) Diocese got an urgent call from lawyers representing the Boston Archdiocese, where he had previously served as an auxiliary bishop from 1975-1985. He learned that The Boston Globe would soon publish the personnel files of the alleged serial predator, Father John Geoghan, and that a plaintiff’s attorney had obtained a 1984 letter he wrote opposing the priest’s assignment to a local parish….

Bishop D’Arcy would emerge as an uncommon hero as the clergy abuse scandal unfolded in the media. While the published personnel files of the Boston Archdiocese exposed a legacy of episcopal negligence, Bishop D’Arcy’s repeated efforts to raise the alarm would lead the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People to describe him as a “voice in the wilderness.”

Asked to discuss the reason why he spoke up when others remained silent, Bishop D’Arcy insisted that he should not be singled out for special credit. Rather, he viewed the 10th anniversary of the Boston crisis as an opportunity to reflect on both the vital role of the Catholic bishop, and the ongoing importance of screening candidates for seminary.

The safeguarding of the Catholic priesthood remains his primary concern, and bishops must act as loving shepherds and prudent gatekeepers for their seminary. They should know every seminarian under their jurisdiction, and ensure solid formation. Standards for admission should be high, despite the vocations crisis.

“It is important to have a healthy and beautiful sense of the priesthood — a shepherd after the heart of Christ.

In 1949, he entered the archdiocesan seminary, and then studied in Rome, receiving his doctorate in spiritual theology in 1968. But he received a shock when he returned to Boston to serve as the spiritual director and professor of spiritual theology at St. John’s Seminary.

“At the time, I was still learning what it means to be a spiritual director. But I soon realized that one of my jobs was to get people out of the seminary — while helping the good men become holy priests,” he recalled.

“We had some who should not have been there. At this time, the Vietnam war was raging, so some men were there for the wrong reasons. I was known by some of the seminarians as ‘D’Arcy the hatchet man.’ I was focused on whether their vocation was authentic.”

He continued to direct the office of spiritual development, organizing retreats and spiritual missions, even after he was made an auxiliary bishop in 1975, and then a regional bishop supervising appointments for 100 parishes in the northern part of the archdiocese. Throughout, he maintained a steady focus on the quality of pastors under his jurisdiction.

“If there was a pastor harming the faith, and if I found out that a parish had poor leadership, I would do my best with the personnel board to make a change. The parish is the heart of the diocese.”

During a time when the impact of clergy sexual abuse was poorly understood or ignored, Bishop D’Arcy also grasped its devastating, long-term consequences — whether victims were coerced or manipulated into accepting the advances of adult predators.

“Young people are open to priests and when assaulted in this way, their souls are often irreparably damaged,” he stated in one of several letters cited in the National Review Board’s 2004 “Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.”

That same report asserted that “Bishop D’Arcy appeared to be a voice in the wilderness, and shortly after he raised troubling questions about a number of priests he was asked to leave Boston and was installed as bishop of the Diocese of South Bend-Fort Wayne [sic].” Bishop D’Arcy rejected this assertion during his interview with the Register.

After he took charge of the diocese, Bishop D’Arcy acted on his understanding of a bishop’s role as a loving, but tough-minded shepherd.

One salutary lesson he absorbed from the abuse crisis was that bishops mistakenly ceded their judgment to others.

“That episcopal human judgment — not infallible, but enlightened by grace — was put aside.”

But those careful policies have been matched with a powerful awareness that a bishop must truly know and care for his seminarians and priests.

“The Greek word episkopein means to oversee. There are different models of management. The danger is keeping your distance from the crucial decisions.”

Sister Anne D’Arcy, for her part, is unsurprised by the attention her brother has received in the wake of the crisis.

“The thing about John is that he is not afraid to do the hard thing. If he feels it’s for the good of the Church, he will speak out,” she said.

BCI asks all readers to pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop D’Arcy. We also pray that we see Cardinal O’Malley and future leadership of the Boston Archdiocese learn from the pastoral leadership principles as Bishop D’Arcy and adopt them:

  • “Bishops must act as loving shepherds and prudent gatekeepers for their seminary”
  • “If there was a pastor harming the faith, and if I found out that a parish had poor leadership, I would do my best with the personnel board to make a change”
  • “Bishops mistakenly ceded their judgment to others”
  • “There are different models of management. The danger is keeping your distance from the crucial decisions.”
  • “The bishop’s role is as a loving, but tough-minded shepherd.”
  • “A bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”
  • “It is important to have a healthy and beautiful sense of the priesthood — a shepherd after the heart of Christ.”
For the soul of Bishop D’Arcy and the souls of the faithful departed, we pray:
Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetuae luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.
Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

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