How Boston Archdiocese Spends and Manages Your Money

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.

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7 Responses to How Boston Archdiocese Spends and Manages Your Money

  1. I am appalled by numbers regarding cathedraticum. According to the figures, only $325K was collected from cathedraticum, and on based on 290 parishes and a 17.5% tax, each parish gave an average of $1121 (rounded)!!! and had an average income of $6404 per year!!! 6404?! This doesn’t sound right!

    Now on the “Parish Life & Leadership” line, the parishes supposedly paid $583K (with an average of $2010 per parish). Why are the parishes paying the Archdiocese for “Parish Life & Leadership” when they are supposed to pay these in salaries at the parish level? What does this actually mean?

    To my understanding, cathedraticum is the diocesan tax on parish income (regular collection baskets), which is designed to subsidize the cathedral, chancery, and bishop’s house. Each bishop sets the tax rate in his diocese, where in Boston it was set to 17.5% a few years ago.

    Even though 40% of the parishes locally are in debt, I do not believe one bit that each parish grosses an average of $6404 per year. There are accounting errors for sure.

    • Chris, Trying to decipher the numbers can be challenging. You ask good questions. We did not have sufficient time today to fully answer them.

      For now, we will just say that it is not going to be accurate to try and do the math that way. Most parishes are not on the IFRM program yet, so most of their fees to the archdiocese show up a “revenue” to each department that charges them fees (eg. Finance, parish services, Catholic schools, IT, etc.) Even if they were on IFRM, their IFRM taxes would not be reported as cathedraticum, which represents donations specifically to support the bishop.

      There is good reason to be appalled. But BCI would not lose sleep over the cathedraticum contributions.

  2. St. Paul parishioner says:

    BCI, John Riley is from a solid Catholic family, and his brother is Fr. Ed Riley, a diocesan priest who’s dean of students at St. Johns Seminary. I believe he’s an alum of Boston College and previously had been a long-time benefactor of Nativity Prep school, before the school went “off the reservation” and started honoring the likes of Fr. John Unni and the parishioners at St. Cecilia’s in Boston as they’re doing this year in March:
    http://www.nativityboston.org/nativity-spirit-dinner.html.

    He lives in Natick and he’s actively involved in an effort to bring study of Latin and Greek into grade schools and high schools.I don’t have his email addess but I think it’s safe to say he probably doesn’t know about the fiscal waste and wrongdoing in the RCAB.

  3. 509jrb2301 says:

    Thank you for your vigilant scrutiny of RCAB financial affairs. I would on this correction. After I contribute to the Archdiocese, it is no longer my money, but the Lord’s . Mismanagement of the Lord’s money is the Cardinal’s responsibility–that is something he will have to respond to.

    Let us all pray for the poor man!

  4. jbq2 says:

    Impressive nitpicking. Well researched. Well done!

    • jbq2, Er, thanks for the compliment. But, BCI does not see this as “nitpicking.” A huge amount of donor funds, and a sizable portion of the total archdiocesan budget is being put towards administrative expenses and overhead instead of ministry programs that build the kingdom of God. We see this as yet another very significant problem.

  5. bitsnbytes says:

    I hope BCI will able to present, at some point, a comparison of the RCAB budget with that of some other large dioceses.

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