What would you like to ask of Cardinal Sean O’Malley?

June 21, 2013

BCI is coming up shortly on the 3-year anniversary of the start of the blog. To mark that occasion, we are inviting readers to share comments they would like passed along to Cardinal O’Malley and/or Vicar General Bishop Deeley. We did this 2 years ago and had phenomenal responses so we’re going to try again.

We repeat almost exactly what we asked 2 years ago:

Using comments below, please write whatever message you would like to deliver to Cardinal O’Malley–with the constraint that there be no personal attacks and no harsh language unsuitable for a public blog. BCI suggests the focus be on matters that will improve the ability of the Archdiocese to advance her mission.  (The mission of the Pastoral Center is “To continue the saving ministry of Jesus Christ”).  So, it could be a top priority or some top problems you would like for him to address, it could be a compliment, a criticism, a mix of positive and constructive feedback, a violation of the diocesan Code of Conduct, a suggestion, or anything relevant to his pastoral leadership in teaching, sanctifying, and governing the archdiocese.  The goal in the comments is to share feedback or a message that you believe will lead to the archdiocese being better able to continue the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.

Type the comments below by Sunday evening at 12 midnite.  We will aggregate them and email them to the Cardinal and his staff early next week, and we will also plan to re-post the best of them by Monday or Tuesday at the latest.

Guidelines for comments–please no personal attacks or harsh language.  (e.g. Do not post, “Cardinal O’Malley is word we have to delete). If you have a criticism, please do not make it personal but rather express in the form of behavior/action observed (or not seen happening) and then what you would like to see happen, and why.  If you have noticed your comments moderated or edited in the past, please do BCI a favor and avoid such language.  (You probably know who you are). If you need any ideas to stimulate your thinking, you can look at what readers said in 2011.

What would you like to say to the Cardinal that you think will help improve the ability of the archdiocese to better continue the saving ministry of Jesus Christ

Ideally, post your comments below in comments, anonymously or with your name. You can also send them via email to bostoncatholicinsider@gmail.com  Readers, have at it!

 


NEWSFLASH: Cardinal O’Malley named to Vatican Reform Committee

April 13, 2013

Today, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has set up a committee of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on how to reform the Roman Curia. Cardinal Sean O’Malley is one of the eight.  Here is the Vatican statement:

The Holy Father Francis, taking up a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregations preceding the Conclave, has established a group of cardinals to advise him in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, ‘Pastor Bonus’.

The group consists of:

- Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State;
- Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile;
- Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India;
- Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany;
- Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo;
- Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, USA;
- Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia;
- Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; and
- Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary.

The group’s first meeting has been scheduled for 1-3 October 2013. His Holiness is, however, currently in contact with the aforementioned cardinals.

News reports say that the committee will advise Pope Francis on how to reform the Catholic Church’s “troubled central administration.”  Reports say, “The basic failings of the Curia were aired, sometimes passionately, at closed-door meetings of cardinals before they retired into the conclave that elected Francis.”

BCI finds it ironic that Cardinal O’Malley has been appointed to a committee to reform the Roman Curia, when his own central administration is troubled and he has failed to effectively govern and reform it for the past decade.  Someone just suggested to BCI that Cardinal O’Malley serving on a committee to help reform the Roman Curia would be kind of like Hillary Clinton serving on a committee to help reform international embassy security.

In Boston, for nearly 3 years we have been documenting the ongoing problems of:

  • Nearly $4M annually in excessive six-figure salaries paid to lay executives
  • Moving around of funds from originally designated purposes to someplace else
  • Skyrocketing administrative expenses
  • Cronyism in hiring
  • Deception in communications and in policy making
  • Retention of Finance Council members and key advisers to the Cardinal who work against Catholic Church teachings
  • Routine violations of the archdiocesan Code of Conduct
  • Incompetence by high paid cabinet members
  • Draining of capital reserves to pay operating expenses
  • $140M in unpaid debt, with no plan to be able to repay the debt
  • 34% decline in Mass attendance between 2000 and 2012
  • 40-50% of parishes operating in the red
  • Abdication of leadership by Cardinal O’Malley and a failure by him to teach through his actions and words.

Other than those minor matters, everything is just great in Boston.  Just a few of these problems are described in this recent blog post.

As Cardinal O’Malley embarks on this new assignment, we humbly put forward the Gospel of Matthew 7:3-5:

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite,remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.

We hope and pray that Cardinal O’Malley takes time during the next 5-6 months before the Vatican committee meets to first clean up the house in Boston and remove some of the largest wooden beams here.


Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican PR Campaign

March 4, 2013

In case you have been wondering how and why Cardinal Sean O’Malley is getting so much press in and around the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope, now we know why.  The Boston Archdiocesean PR machine is in high gear drumming up stories, as exemplified by the email below from Cardinal O’Malley’s cabinet secretary for communications.  A rational person seeing their press activity might wonder why the Cardinal and his PR team have embarked on such an active campaign in the days before the conclave starts.

Here at BCI, we would like to do our part to assist, and we invite our readers to help as well.

1) We suggest that Cardinal O’Malley revisit the list of publications he reads for input and those with whom he spends time interviewing.  In this interview with the National Catholic Reporter, published March 3, here are his answers to several questions:

How are you preparing yourself?

Spiritually, I’m trying to focus on the seriousness of this, asking for God’s help in prayer. I’m also trying to learn as much as I can about my brother cardinals.

How are you doing that?

I downloaded Mr. Miranda’s material, because he has a page of just the cardinals who are going to be at the conclave. [Note: Salvador Miranda of Florida International University maintains a web page on the cardinals.] I had my secretary go through and take out the biography of each one. A lot of them, of course, I knew, but this was one way of putting names to the faces of those I don’t know. That’s especially true of the Eastern Europeans and a couple of the Africans. I’m trying to read articles, to become acquainted with some of these issues in the past faced by conclaves. Your articles are all very interesting too.

Where do we start on this?  The “National Catholic Reporter” is not even Catholic–as exemplified by recent statements by Kansas City Bishop Finn that the paper should not call itself Catholic, and by Colorado Springs Bishop Sheridan that the National Catholic Reporter ‘is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.’ Why is Cardinal O’Malley even spending time or giving credibility to the paper by agreeing to an interview with them? Furthermore, since the paper publishes pieces by dissidents such as Joan Chittister and takes editorial positions that officially condemn Catholic Church teaching–including “on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues”–what does this say about the theological standards and discernment of the Cardinal? BCI would suggest that Cardinal O’Malley instead prepare for the conclave by reading writings of the saints and publications other than the National Catholic Reporter.

2) Here is the email just sent out by Terry Donilon asking for help on Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican public relations campaign:

From: Terrence_Donilon@rcab.org
Subj: Rome updates and 2 requests

Friends,

As you know the Cardinal is in Rome preparing for the conclave.  This week will see the start of the meetings with the College of Cardinal’s.  Through The Pilot, Cardinal Sean’s blog and our social media team as well as CatholicTV we will keep you up to date as the proceedings get underway.

We do have two requests we hope some of you can help us with.

As you can imagine, the media has descended on Rome from all over the world.  This week the Boston media will be arriving to cover the events.

1.      We have a need for Boston folks in Rome either on pilgrimage, working or visiting during the week ahead to engage with the media which we will vet and who would have positive things to say about the Church.  The local media arriving and some national media have made requests to us

2.      We need local stories where parishes, schools and ministries are involved that are learning and celebrating Pope Benedict, the papacy and the universal church (perhaps Boston-based folks with a connection to Rome/Vatican).

Thanks so much for any consideration you give to this request.

Please email your suggestions and connections to me and Kellyanne Dignan (kdignan@rasky.com).

Please continue to pray for Cardinal Sean and his fellow Cardinal’s as they undertake this most important responsibility.

Thanks,

Terry

**********************************************
Terrence C. Donilon
Secretary for Communications
Archdiocese of Boston
Email:  tdonilon@rcab.org
Work:  617-746-5775
Cell:  401-480-0171

www.bostoncatholic.org

Pastoral Center
66 Brooks Dr
Braintree, MA  02184

The main question people should be asking themselves is “Why exactly are Cardinal O’Malley and his team mounting this PR campaign?”   When Terry writes, “We have a need…,”  is it clear to any readers why they have a “need”?  What will happen if the need they have is not fulfilled?  The Boston Archdiocese is spending about $1 million annually on media (Terry Donilon salary and benefits, Scot Landry salary and benefits plus his media and CatholicTV team, and Rasky Baerlein) and yet they have to beg everyone in the archdiocese for Rome stories. Is there anything wrong with that picture?

In addition, BCI readers have heard us tell you for some time that Terry Donilon–paid $184K in salary, plus benefits, for total compensation of $208K–is challenged when it comes to spelling, grammar and knowledge of Catholicism.  This email is a great example.  There are meetings of the College of Cardinal’s. [Note: Students learn  how to make a noun possessive in 2nd grade. (e.g. "the boy's ball")  There is no possessive in "College of Cardinals"]  And how  exactly is it that parishes, schools and ministries would go about  “learning…Pope Benedict?  Also, we should pray for Cardinal Sean and his fellow Cardinal’s [again, what are they possessing?] as they undertake this most important responsibility. [Which responsibility is it the Cardinal's are undertaking?  Is it fulfilling the "need" for stories?] . Is this quality of work worth $208K a year, subsidized by Catholic Appeal donations?  Does the Compensation Committee think someone who cannot spell at beyond a 2nd grade level and is paid $208K a year is somehow not being excessively compensated?

To help the archdiocese, BCI is going to do several things:

  • We will write to the Compensation Committee and suggest their first target for job standards and pay reduction.
  • BCI is going to offer to Terry and the PR team that BCI will speak to the press about our apostolic ministry as Catholic bloggers, where we are helping people learn about the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. (We even have a connection to Rome/Vatican, because BCI readers keep sending BCI blog posts to members of the Roman curia, hoping they will do something about the problems in Boston).
  • We are going to offer to Terry and the Rasky Baerlein team that, as long as Terry is still doing the communications job, we will help proofread and spell-check emails from Terry before they are sent out.

Lastly, if any BCI readers are in Rome, would like to talk to the press about the papacy of Benedict XVI or the papacy in general, or have a connection to the Vatican (e.g. by means of your having emailed or called the Papal Nuncio or others in the Roman curia), feel free to help out Terry Donilon and the Boston Archdiocese. Drop Terry and Rasky an email and offer to speak to a reporter.


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.


March for Life

January 26, 2013

Before we continue reporting on the financial situation for the Boston Archdiocese, we want to briefly commend all those who participated in the March for Life on Friday in Washington, DC. A report in LifeNews says an estimated 400,000-500,000 people attended.

Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities told a crowd assembled on the National Mall before the march, “Forty years ago, people thought opposition to the pro-life movement would eventually disappear…The march grows stronger every year.” He also read a Twitter message from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

The prior week, Cardinal O’Malley had called for nine days of prayer and penance to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.  BCI thinks that is a good move. But what else is Cardinal O’Malley himself doing?  Here are excerpts from and editorial by Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture that bear some consideration by Cardinal O’Malley:

Bishops must shoulder their responsibility in the pro-life struggle

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is certainly right to call for fasting and prayer this week, as we sadly observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The abortion issue—the ongoing slaughter of countless millions of innocent children—is not just another ordinary political question like the “fiscal cliff” debate. This is not merely a political contest but a spiritual battle.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

Pro-lifers have been fighting the political battle against abortion for 40 years, and still the bloodshed continues. Perhaps it is time to recognize that the culture of death is one of those evils that “cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Yes, certainly we should fast and pray… For that matter, in a struggle of this importance we should use every means at our disposal..All the different forms of pro-life work—the lobbying and educational campaigns, pregnancy-help centers…speeches and demonstrations—have their place…We should all be doing everything in our power, in the natural order as well as the supernatural, to end the abomination of legal abortion on demand.

But there is one powerful tool that has not yet been put to use in the pro-life struggle, and one group of people who have not yet done what they can do for the cause. I refer to the American Catholic bishops, and the use of ecclesiastical discipline.

Forty years after Roe there remain dozens of prominent politicians who identify themselves as Catholics, but actively promote the culture of death. These “pro-choice Catholics” are a source of confusion to the public and scandal to the Church.

The US Catholic bishops have issued many fine statements on the evils of abortion and the dignity of human life. But statements are one thing, actions another; and when one’s actions do not match one’s public pronouncements, those statements lose value. The bishops have warned that Catholic politicians who promote abortion are separating themselves from the communion of the Church. But they have not followed up, as necessary, by taking disciplinary action against those politicians who have not heeded their warning.

If a Catholic in his diocese is promoting abortion, a Catholic bishop has a solemn obligation to take three steps:

First, admonition. The bishop should call the erring politician to a private meeting, rebuke him, and warn him that he is putting his soul in jeopardy.

Second, denunciation. If the politician remains obstinate, the bishop should make his rebuke public, letting the world know that the Church views the politician’s actions as gravely wrong. A specific public statement, naming names, is necessary to address a public scandal…

Third, exclusion from Communion. The Code of Canon Law (#915) instructs clerics to protect the Eucharist from scandal, by refusing to administer the sacrament to those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” The enforcement of Canon 915 is not optional; it is a moral obligation. Yet the American bishops have chosen to ignore that obligation.

As long as our bishops are not doing all that they can do (and only they can do), the American pro-life movement is not doing its utmost to fight for an end to abortion. Yes, we should fast and pray. Yes, we should engage in practical pro-life activism. But we should also beg our bishops to shoulder their own responsibility in this battle….

Imagine that your doctor tells you that you must lose weight quickly or your life will be in danger. You pray that you will meet your weight-loss goals, and ask your friends to join with you in those prayers. Good. But if you continue routinely to tuck into second helpings of dessert, can you really expect those prayers to be answered?

Cardinal O’Malley, you have the bully-pulpit of being Chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the three years.  What action are YOU personally going to address the scandal of so-called “Catholic” politicians like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and others?

About a month ago, when Cardinal O’Malley said we need more true Catholics in politics and the media, we commended him for the words and said he needed to walk the talk.  Still we see and hear just talk, no walk.  We repeat what Fr. Roger Landry said in 2009, describing the controversy over  the funeral for the late Ted Kennedy:

…one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity.

Cardinal O’Malley, please look in the mirror.  YOU are one of the pastors of the Church who, for the most part, did little about Ted Kennedy beyond general teaching statements you hoped people like Kennedy would apply, but which they did not.  There have been no consequences, so the a “Catholic” politicians continued to act repeatedly in violation of Church teachings in defense of human life.   What are YOU personally going to do differently, besides ask Catholics to pray, fast, and do penance?

(Next time we will be back to the topic of Boston Archdiocese finances)


Cardinal O’Malley says need Catholics in politics and media

December 20, 2012

The Tenth Crusade and The Deacons Bench are posting about a Catholic News Agency interview with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in which he said some great things about the need for true Catholics in politics and media.  The words are fantastic!  If this is the direction we want to go in, we should all be behind it. The problem is that the walk does not really match the talk.

Here is what Cardinal O’Malley is quoted by Catholic News Agency as saying:

Rome, Italy, Dec 17, 2012 / 02:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston says the Church needs more and better prepared Catholic politicians and journalists who can bring the faith into the public square.

“We need to be much more proactive to prepare our laity and help them understand what a crucial role they have in public life and in the media where they’re forming public opinion and educating people through different means that have a great impact in society,” Cardinal O’Malley told CNA on Dec. 13.

He added, “if we’re going to evangelize the culture, we need to have evangelizers in those areas.”

During the last day of the Dec. 9-12 “Ecclesia in America” congress at the Vatican, Cardinal O’Malley said he believes things are “only going to get worse because Catholics themselves don’t worry about defending the unborn or teaching the true meaning of life.”

“There are just not enough legislators who favor life,” he said…

BCI commends the Cardinal for these comments!  But, unfortunately, this is not what the Boston Archdiocese under Cardinal O’Malley is doing. The Tenth Crusade writes:

Amen to that. I know the Cardinal sincerely believes this needs to happen. What then is the problem with its execution? Do you think they know how to roll out that plan? Maybe they really don’t know why their machines are spitting out apostates? I’m dead serious.

The chief fundraiser for Catholic schools happens to be a chief fundraiser for electing pro-choice politicians and training physicians to abort the unborn, and was the Chairman for the largest provider of abortions in the state.  The diocesan PR firm is staffed largely by former aides or fundraisers for pro-abortion politicians. The Secretary for Communications used to work for a pro-abortion politician. The HR Executive Director is a proud ex-Catholic.   How can the Cardinal possibly prepare the laity to evangelize a culture of life when a good number of those close to the Cardinal are working in opposition to that, or have in the past?

Cardinal O’Malley is correct–things are only going to get worse.  So, what should he do, and what should we do?  BCI is ready and willing to help!  Here are a few ideas for starters:

  • As suggested by The Tenth Crusade, the Cardinal needs to appoint a cabinet and advisors who, in their public and private lives, are evangelizing the true meaning of the sanctity of life in politics and journalism.  That means flushing the cabinet and advisors of people who work against the true sanctity of life and/or marriage between a man and woman,  who do not believe in those moral principles, and are not willing to work to advance those moral principles in society.  BCI would be glad to help with identifying exactly who should be moved out, writing job descriptions for the vacant positions and in phone-screening candidates.
  • In education, draft mandatums and ask adminisrators and teachers to sign and execute them. Fire teachers and administrators if they are unwilling to sign a mandatum.  He should also implement Ex Corde Ecclesia.
  • In hiring for diocesan positions, draft a statement of Catholic beliefs, similar to a mandatum, and require that all key employees sign it.

Despite our enthusiasm for most of the Cardinal’s words, there was one comment that we think is telling–and which suggests he does not fully grasp what it takes to execute against his words.   He said:

The cardinal mentioned the late Colombian Cardinal López Trujillo as an example to follow, since he brought pro-life politicians from the Americas together when he was in charge of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

“It was an opportunity for them to have ongoing formation in social teachings of the Church and to feel each other’s support in their faith and vocation,” Cardinal O’Malley recalled.

That is nice.  But the problem is not that pro-life politicians need more formation. They are already pro-life!  The problem is that a huge number of so-called “Catholic” politicians are pro-abortion.  And the Cardinal does not seem willing to confront that.

It is the so-called “Catholic” politicians who need the formation in the social teachings of the Catholic Church on life and marriage.  Where is the plan?  Where is the action?  Where is the walk behind the talk?

Fr. Roger Landry summed it up brilliantly in 2009 describing the controversy over the funeral for the late Ted Kennedy:

…one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity. It would be very hard for an abortion-supporting Catholic politician to have watched Senator Kennedy’s very public and panegyrical funeral rites and not have concluded that the Church’s teachings on life are, in the end, a very small matter indeed. It would have been even harder for such a politician or others who support the evil of abortion to have been inspired toward conversion.

This leads to one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed. There were many words given at the Senator’s exequies about his “private faith,” but private faith is not enough. “Faith without deeds is dead,” as St. James poignantly reminds us. The Church has a responsibility to help bring people from “private faith” to see the consequences of it in public actions, and, in the Senator’s case, we didn’t succeed.

When excerpts of his July letter to Pope Benedict were read at his committal at Arlington National Cemetery, those hoping for some sign of repentance for his formal cooperation in the blood of millions of unborn children were left disappointed: “I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic,” he wrote, “and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings.”

If we take him at his word as we re-read his many past statements and work in favor of abortion, same-sex marriage, and other evils — in which he showed a total material disrespect and disregard for the Church’s teachings — it’s impossible not to conclude that after almost 35 years of patiently pastoral pedagogy, he still failed to grasp that abortion and marriage are “fundamental teachings” of the Church to which every faithful Catholic must adhere in public and private. The pastors of the Church obviously need to come up with a more effective way to get politicians to grasp the importance of the Church’s teaching than the failed strategy that was employed with Senator Kennedy.

As we Catholics pray for Senator Kennedy, that the Lord will remember the good he has done and forgive him his sins, we also pray that God will strengthen all faithful Catholics with the courage and wisdom needed more effectively to bring to conversion those who follow, promote and celebrate the enduring, lamentable parts of the Senator’s legacy.

Beyond the points above, BCI humbly suggests that Cardinal O’Malley use his position as Archbishop of Boston and his role as Chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee to convene all Massachusetts “Catholic” legislators and all U.S. House and Senate “Catholic” legislators for a catechesis on Catholic Church social teachings regarding life and marriage. This should include a discussion of the consequences of their continued advocacy for immoral positions–the consequences for the unborn, for society, for the salvation of their souls, and for them continuing to present themselves to receive the Holy Eucharist.

BCI applauds the words, and prays the Cardinal develops the courage to walk the talk. What do you think?


More Boston Controversies: Chick-fil-A and Catholic Relief Services

August 5, 2012

The Boston Archdiocese has remained silent for yet another week on the Chick-fil-A fracas.  Nothing in the Friday edition of The Boston Pilot, and nothing on Cardinal Sean’s Blog updated Friday evening. Sources tell BCI that Fr. Bryan Hehir advised the Cardinal not to say anything, and the Cardinal listened. (The argument in the past from Fr. Hehir on similar matters has been, “we do not want to alienate our ally, ___, by speaking out.”)  At this point, we can assume the Cardinal intends to say and do nothing.

Instead, on Cardinal Seans’ blog, we see in the past week the Cardinal traveled to Puerto Rico for matters that had nothing to do with Boston (3 photo opps), and then attended a Jesuit education conference at Boston College (8 photos). BCI was hoping that the Jesuits spent time at their conference discussing how they should follow in the footsteps of St. Edmund Campion, (24 January 1540 – 1 December 1581), an English Roman Catholic martyr and Jesuit priest. Campion was conducting an underground Catholic ministry in officially Protestant England during the reign of Protestant Queen Elizabeth, was arrested by priest hunters for being a Catholic priest, and was then convicted of high treason, and hanged, drawn and quartered for his faith.  But we understand Campion and his willingness to die defending his Catholic faith was not on the agenda.

We are not sure why attending this event and blogging about it was a more important use of time for Cardinal O’Malley than fulfilling his canonical responsibility to teach, sanctify and govern–which would, at a basic level, have meant issuing a statement about Church teaching, religious freedom, and why Mayor Menino was wrong to criticize Chick-fil-A and threaten to block them from opening in Boston.

Then there is the Catholic Relief Services controversy.  This weekend, Boston parishes are all asked to take a second collection for Catholic Relief Services:

This week’s second collection for Catholic Relief Services supports emergency relief, human development, and peace initiatives in 99 countries around the world, where nearly half the population lives on less than $2.00 a day. The collection funds the ministries of five Catholic Church organizations: Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), Social Development and World Peace (SDWP), and The Holy Father’s Relief Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.usccb.org/crscollection.

Sounds like a good cause at first pass, until you realize that Catholic Relief Service’s top grant recipient, CARE, promotes contraception, and CARE’s president publicly promotes abortion.

As described at Catholic Culture, “at issue is a CRS grant of $5,380,466 to CARE, a humanitarian agency that integrates contraception into its emergency and relief efforts. Catholic Relief Services’ newly-released tax return states that the purpose of the grant was for “emergency”; CRS later stated that the grant was “used by CARE for water and sanitation programs in four Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), for food and nutrition programs, as well as water and sanitation in Madagascar; and for food and nutrition programs in Zimbabwe.”

Following a LifeSiteNews report, CRS said that a recent investigation of similar grants conducted by the National Catholic Bioethics Center found that

“none of the funding from CRS was fungible. That is, there is little to no risk of the grant funds being used either (i) for purposes outside those outlined in the grant request or (ii) for freeing up money in the receiving organization for immoral purposes by virtue of their having received the grant from CRS. The NCBC found that there could be a risk of scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that CRS was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues.”

But then, after the CRS statement was released acknowledging the NCBC review, Dr. Haas came out with his own additional clarification saying said that the proposed grant to CARE was “of grave concern to me” and he then quoted from the comments he had submitted to the CRS board:

On the anniversary of Roe v Wade in 2009 [CARE CEO Helen Gayle] called on President Obama to rescind the Mexico City Policy and fund abortions abroad. She issued this call on the very day hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators including many bishops called for the reversal of Roe v Wade. Her testimony and statement are both posted on the website of CARE.

Even though the grants going to CARE are for very laudable and indeed life-saving initiatives, I believe that these very strong public positions taken by the President of CARE in complete opposition to the policies and positions of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops would certainly give rise to legitimate theological scandal if not confusion as to why the bishops would fund such an organization.

In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.

“It would be different if [Gayle] weren’t so public about her opposition to the moral teaching in this area, and I said I had grave reservations about this whole thing going forward without the question of the scandal being addressed,” Haas recalled

What happened in the end?  Scandal.

LifeSiteNews responded with this editorial:

What happens when CARE undertakes these great ventures with the poor in all these countries with money from the US Bishops?

Naturally the poor who are served food and water are grateful—to the contraception-pushing group CARE. So when CARE comes back to those same poor people with contraceptives and suggestions for ‘safe and legal’ abortion, the poor will be receptive to the nefarious suggestions thanks to the goodwill CARE built up with these folks doing good projects with the cash supplied by the US Bishops.

Beyond that, there are many good pro-life and Christian groups in those nations who could go to them to do humanitarian work which does not include abortion promotion and distribution of contraception. Can the US Bishops not direct their multiple millions of dollars to these worthy organizations rather than CARE?

Finally, as Christendom College’s Dr. William Luckey noted in a conversation about the CRS grant to CARE, there is no way we would be having these kinds of debates if CRS had been dealing with a white supremacist group.

“We wouldn’t go near them. Even though they did charitable work, they might have schools for poor white kids all over the country, which would be basically a good thing. We wouldn’t even touch them. The scandal would be so bad. The outcry would be so bad,” he said.

Remember that Dr. John Haas, whom CRS consulted on the grant to CARE, warned CRS: “In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.”

And for the Catholic Church, abortion is at least as evil as racism.

HONESTY

In addition to all of the above CRS has painted themselves as above reproach regarding their activities. And with just a little research, that can be shown to be false.

In their first public response to LifeSiteNews, CRS adamantly defended the $5.3 million grant to CARE stating, “We do not fund, support or participate in any programming or advocacy that is not in line with Church teaching, including artificial birth control.”

However, LifeSiteNews has discovered that CRS is a member of the CORE Group, and according to the CORE Group’s explanation of dues, CRS appears to pay $3,000 in annual membership fees.  In addition to being a dues-paying member, CRS is represented on CORE Group’s board of directors by employee Mary Hennigan, and co-chairs CORE Group’s “working group” on HIV/AIDS through CRS employee Shannon Senefeld.

The CORE Group is a major advocate for the spread of birth control.

BCI urges readers to support your parish in the first collection, and instead of giving to CRS in the second collection this weekend, take any planned CRS contribution and use that to increase what you give your parish in the first collection.

In the meantime, pray for courage for Cardinal O’Malley–yet again. Last November, during the ad limina visit to Rome, Cardinal O’Malley preached the following:

Peter’s love for the Lord brought him to Rome, the cardinal said, but — according to legend — as persecution grew Peter decided to flee again. Leaving the city, he saw the risen Lord and asked him, “Quo vadis?” (“Where are you going?”), and Jesus replied he was going to Rome to be crucified again. Peter renewed his faith and returned to the city where he met a martyr’s death.

“Each of us has gone through a ‘quo vadis’ moment or two in our vocation as bishops,” the cardinal said. “Hopefully, our being together at the tomb of Peter and close to Benedict will renew us in our generosity, courage and faith in following Jesus up close so that we can say with all our hearts what Peter said, ‘Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.’”

The Chick-fil-A and CRS situations are yet more “Quo vadis?” moments for Cardinal O’Malley, and his silence gives the perception that he tacitly agrees with the secular forces at play and is fleeing, rather than following Jesus up close.  What do you think?


Holy Trinity: Relegation to Profane Use Update

July 8, 2012

With very little public attention, the Boston Archdiocese has undertaken the process of relegating to profane use Holy Trinity Church in Boston. Assuming Holy Trinity is relegated to profane use, the property will be sold. The future of the beautiful neo-gothic style 1877 church building and its potential demolition will likely be tied to large-scale redevelopment of the South End being driven by the City of Boston.

A short bulletin notice at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross says the following from the rector:

Holy Trinity Parish Church: After thought and consideration I have informed the Parish Council on May 9, 2012, that I will petition His Eminence, Sean Cardinal P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap. To begin the process of relegation of Holy Trinity Parish Church from sacred to profane use.

BCI wrote extensively about Holy Trinity in 2011, when the archdiocese listed the property for sale with a realtor but never went through a process of relegating the church to profane use.  See:

Boston Church Asks Vatican to Stop its Sale (March 15, 2011)

NEWSFLASH: Boston Archdiocese Pulls For-Sale Listing of Holy Trinity (March 18, 2011)

More Diocesan Deception (March 19, 2011)

Holy Trinity Trickery (March 31, 2011)

When the property was taken off the market, in 2011, note what the then-Chancellor communicated to former Holy Trinity parishioners:

The second step in this [relegation] process is the consultation of the Catholic faithful. At present, we are in the midst of this stage of the relegation consultation process for seven area churches. Holy Trinity was not included with this grouping because we had not yet obtained the needed information for the consultation. Cardinal O’Malley will be announcing a new series of consultations soon and this grouping will include Holy Trinity Church.

Please be assured that during the planned consultation period, you and all who wish to be heard will have ample opportunity to give your input to Cardinal O’Malley and to Father O’Leary, the pastor of Cathedral Parish, which welcomed the former parishioners of Holy Trinity. I hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity and provide thoughtful comments so that the Cardinal may make an informed and just decision as to the ultimate use of the church building.

Did we and others miss the announcement of the public consultation?  Did it even occur at all?

Here is what is in store for this area:

South End landscape getting a rapid makeover

Anchored by the dramatic rebuilding of the former Boston Herald property, the corridor of blocks between Harrison Avenue and Albany Street could soon host more than 1,000 new units of housing, dozens of new storefronts, improved roads, and new smaller roadways and sidewalks carved out of the large industrial blocks that dominate the area.

Boston Redevelopment Authority: Harrison-Albany Corridor Strategic Plan (South End)

Reader, “Servium” had this to say recently about the fate of Holy Trinity Church:

Its historic and patrimonial significance to the Church and the City of Boston at large should not be minimized. Currently, there is a move afoot by the Boston Redevelopment Authority [BRA] and developers to take the entire block. No longer a place of worship, the political apparatus of the City of Boston has imposed a stiff property tax on the property. The legalized extortion is now forcing the Archdiocese [RCAB]‘s hand to unload HTC into the hands of the BRA and interested developers, who have strong ties to both the City and the Pastoral Center. The potential ethical conflict of interest is astounding but continues to fester. Isn’t interesting that Peter Meade that formerly headed the Meade-Eisner Reconfiguration Review Committee for the Cardinal, now heads the BRA. Do you think any inside information has been shared with the City? Have properties been promised political allies before any transaction? One can only conjecture, given the track record exposed on this blog.

We excerpt from a previous post and reader submitted piece to give more details about Holy Trinity:

The beautiful neo-Gothic-style building located on Shawmut Avenue had a turreted white altar flanked by golden angels. Here you can see the now-empty tabernacle between them.

“The thought of what is planned for this Domus Dei (House of God) sickens me,” one concerned parishioner wrote to Boston Catholic Insider last year. “Two religious orders (the FSSP and the ICRSS), have previously expressed interest in maintaining the property and the Cardinal has showed no interest…A utilitarian understanding of ‘worship space’ seems to have been prevailed upon at least two generations of Catholics in Boston, reducing sacred architecture and the theology of the Domus Dei to a managed asset,” the parishioner said. “This has paved the way to massive church suppressions in Boston with little or no outcry from clergy or laity alike. Does anyone question the secular model of Church, currently peddled by the corporate wizards at the Pastoral Center?”

Holy Trinity was designed by noted architect Patrick Keeley. A massive 2,880-pipe organ dominates the loft; the church can seat 1,200.

At the highest point near the vaulted cathedral ceiling are images of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Six-foot high Stations of the Cross line the blue-and- gold walls. Above each station stands a tall hand-carved wooden statue of an apostle. These alternate with 30-foot-high stained-glass windows bearing images of Michael the Archangel and other saints.

Peering down from higher on the walls are frescoes of St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and other canonized Jesuits. The Society of Jesus ran the parish from 1848 to 1961, when it was transferred to the Archdiocese.

Pictorial pages of salvation history here surrounded generations of worshippers, who could point to them as they showed their children real faces from the Communion of Saints.

Over the years, this ethnic German parish opened schools, an orphanage and a home for the elderly. In 1990 it was designated to host the celebration of the Roman-rite in the Archdiocese, and soon a thriving Latin Mass community grew.

The German-Americans and the Latin Mass group did not just cohabit the building; they bonded. Together the parish had five active choirs, including a Gregorian chant ensemble, and a contributing membership from 94 zip codes. It hosted an Oktoberfest and a Christian Arts Series that offered orchestral and choir music concerts free to the public.

In 2008 it was closed and its assets transferred to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. BCI understands from knowledgeable sources that the structural condition of the building may not be good, but in the absence of seeing an independent engineering report, we cannot say unequivocally what condition the building is in today.

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BCI will close with the words of former Vicar General Fr. Erikson, who told Catholic faithful how important it is to consider input from former parishioners before churches are relegated to profane use. He said in the Globe:

“Our buildings are important to us in the Catholic faith,” said the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, the archdiocese’s vicar general. “They’re places of high honor, where many of us have experienced first communions, marriages, the burial of loved ones. Church is like another home for us, so any time we consider a use other than the sacred, it’s a very serious matter, a very serious decision.”…

“To those skeptical” that their input will be considered, Erikson said, “I ask them to put their confidence in this process, which may be unprecedented, which is designed to be thorough, thoughtful and efficient, and which was developed with sincere intent.”

BCI hates to see any churches sold and/or demolished. Admittedly, BCI has a soft spot for older churches with stunningly beautiful architecture such as Holy Trinity. The relegation to profane use of Holy Trinity and its sale are no doubt a fait accompli.  Has a thorough, thoughtful process of consultation been followed for Holy Trinity?  If so, it has been a rather private one.  To what extent did the RCAB ignore or otherwise dismiss potential Catholic buyers of this building? Are there conflicts of interest in this situation that have not been addressed by key players recusing themselves?

Sadly, this is probably not the last church to be closed and sold off in Boston.  Following an open process, free from conflicts of interest, where the faithful can at least participate and be heard is very important.  Did that happen here, or did it not?  If not, why is it so difficult for this archdiocese to do what they say they will do?


Bishops told they must embrace new media for the new evangelization

June 14, 2012

Cardinal O’Malley has been in the news a few times this week, based on comments at the U.S.C.C.B. meeting in Atlanta.  We will get to the interview with the Globe about the Catholic nuns in our next post. First, we get to the embracing of new media for the new evangelization. Here are a few select comments from Cardinal O’Malley, and below is the full context:

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told the assembly that the church and the Vatican do a poor job of “communicating around controversial topics.” He said a spokesperson would be welcome and would help frame information in light of church teaching rather than having it distorted by voices in the media.

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The recent Vatican crackdown on the largest organization of U.S. nuns turned into a public relations “debacle” for the bishops, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.

He complained that the Vatican’s decision to put bishops in charge of rooting out “radical feminist” elements within the nuns’ group was linked in the secular media to unrelated events, such as the bishops’ investigation of the Girl Scouts, with negative consequences for the church’s image.

“Our church, both in the States and at the Holy See, does not do a good job of communicating around controversial topics,” O’Malley said. “We need more help and more sophistication in our messaging.”

Bishops told they must embrace new media for the new evangelization (Catholic News)

The new evangelization calls for using new forms of media to reach people in their everyday lives, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Communications.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to be where the people are getting their news,” Bishop Wester said. “The advantage is the instantaneousness of it. Others are getting the news out there, and so if the church doesn’t get her message out there, than other messages are going to be sitting there … and then it’s settled in people minds.”

In a 20-minute presentation June 14 at the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting in Atlanta, Bishop Wester discussed a series of steps his committee is undertaking to build stronger relationships with millions of parishioners in American pews.

He said there are serious questions revolving around how to effectively communicate the church’s work while remaining true to authentic church teaching.

“We used to ask ourselves, ‘What do we need to tell the people?’ Now we have to ask ourselves, ‘What do people want to hear from us?’ he said.

The USCCB is developing a new business model that incorporates best practices for its communications work and takes into consideration the way people seek information today and how they might seek information in the future.

The USCCB will continue to depend on traditional print forms of communication such as diocesan newspapers, but also will utilize multimedia primarily through the Internet to reach new audiences and to draw non-practicing Catholics back to the church, he said.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, USCCB president, told the bishops that the effort will include the naming of a spokesperson for the conference who would be available around the clock to respond to media inquiries and to be pro-active in seeking to share church views and teaching.

That prospect drew broad support from the bishops.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told the assembly that the church and the Vatican do a poor job of “communicating around controversial topics.” He said a spokesperson would be welcome and would help frame information in light of church teaching rather than having it distorted by voices in the media.

“More than a few of us have raised the possibility of having a spokesperson who could respond to situations that appear,” said Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta. “I think that’s vital because we waste a second and a second could be vital.”

He also cautioned that the eventual spokesperson must have the full trust of the bishops so that he or she will have the confidence to know he or she “will not be shot down,” he said.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami urged that more emphasis be made on developing messages for the growing segment of Spanish-speaking Catholics.

Bishops also raised questions about the cost of a stronger communications effort, saying that the commitment to keep the effort going must be continuous and have the understanding such outreach is “well worth it.”

U.S. bishops plan PR campaign to soften image (Reuters)

ATLANTA | Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:34pm EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. Catholic bishops announced plans on Thursday for an ambitious public relations drive to soften and shape their image and reach out to the younger generation using social media.

In a lively session at their national conference in Atlanta, several bishops expressed dismay that they are slow to get their talking points across and are perceived as too confrontational.

The recent Vatican crackdown on the largest organization of U.S. nuns turned into a public relations “debacle” for the bishops, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.

He complained that the Vatican’s decision to put bishops in charge of rooting out “radical feminist” elements within the nuns’ group was linked in the secular media to unrelated events, such as the bishops’ investigation of the Girl Scouts, with negative consequences for the church’s image.

The bishops are looking into concerns that the Girl Scouts sometimes work with groups that promote access to contraception. The U.S. church’s image also has been hurt sex abuse scandals.

“Our church, both in the States and at the Holy See, does not do a good job of communicating around controversial topics,” O’Malley said. “We need more help and more sophistication in our messaging.”

BCI has just two comments.

1) Do we really need bishops with a softer image?

2) We wholeheartedly support the Cardinal’s statement that “a spokesperson would be welcome and would help frame information in light of church teaching rather than having it distorted by voices in the media.”  BCI is very serious that we support the Cardinal on that point, assuming that spokesperson actually understands, agrees with, and enthusiastically embraces church doctrine and church teaching.  When can Boston get one of those?

What do you think?


Boston Archdiocese Punts on Religious Freedom Lawsuit

May 22, 2012

On Monday, May 21, Cardinal Dolan, President of the USCCB, applauded 43 dioceses, hospitals, schools and church agencies for filing 12 lawsuits around the nation saying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraception coverage mandate violates religious freedom.

The Boston Archdiocese was not one of those dioceses.

St. Anthony of Padua said, “Actions speak louder than words” and the actions of Cardinal O’Malley make it  increasingly obvious that our Cardinal is lacking in courage.

Here is an excerpt from the AP report on the news:

NEW YORK – Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, and other groups sued the Obama administration Monday in eight states and the District of Columbia over a federal mandate that most employers provide workers free birth control as part of their health insurance.

The 12 federal lawsuits represent the largest push against the mandate since President Obama announced the policy in January. Among the 43 groups suing are the University of Notre Dame, the Archdioceses of Washington and New York, the Michigan Catholic Conference, and the Catholic University of America.

“We have tried negotiation with the administration and legislation with the Congress, and we’ll keep at it, but there’s still no fix,’’ said New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.’’

The suits bring the total number of cases now pending over the mandate to more than 30.

The Archdiocese of Boston did not join the effort, although it supports the legal challenges. “There is no need for every single diocese or other Catholic organization to sue,’’ Terrence Donilon, archdiocese spokesman, said in a statement. “The various plaintiffs reflect a broad cross-section of Catholic institutions, and together they represent the wide variety of issues, impacts, economic consequences, and divergent facts that exist among Catholic organizations nationwide.’’

In other words, while the Archdioceses of New York, Washington and St. Louis; the Dioceses of Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Rockville Centre, Springfield, Ill., Erie (PA), Jackson and Biloxi (Miss.) and others, along with the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America; and Our Sunday Visitor dig in and fight the battle (see here for list), the Boston Archdiocese will sit back and do nothing.  All the plaintiffs are being represented pro bono by the law firm Jones Day, so the out-of-pocket cost to Boston would be zero.

BCI literally is almost speechless upon hearing that Boston is bailing. Several times in recent months Cardinal O’Malley has called publicly for courage. Now he fails to demonstrate it via his actions.

September 2011 at diocesan Red Mass for lawyers and jurists: “We are called upon to defend the gospel of life with courage and resolve…Your very profession invests in all of you a great responsibility to ensure that all laws are just.”

November 2011 at the “ad limina” visit to Rome: Here is most of the CNS story reporting on this:

Bishops from northeastern US begin ‘ad limina’ visits with prayer

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Praying together at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and meeting Pope Benedict XVI should be a moment for bishops to reconfirm and strengthen their faith, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

In his homily, the cardinal told his fellow bishops that after Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, “Peter flees. He’s trying to follow the Lord at a safe distance, something we all try to do at one time or another. But Peter discovers it’s impossible; you can only follow the Lord up close.”

“Jesus doesn’t ask Peter if he’s excelled in his intellectual prowess or his organization skills or his fundraising capacity or his Myers-Briggs score. Jesus only asks, ‘Do you love me?’” he said.

Peter’s love for the Lord brought him to Rome, the cardinal said, but — according to legend — as persecution grew Peter decided to flee again. Leaving the city, he saw the risen Lord and asked him, “Quo vadis?” (“Where are you going?”), and Jesus replied he was going to Rome to be crucified again. Peter renewed his faith and returned to the city where he met a martyr’s death.

“Each of us has gone through a ‘quo vadis’ moment or two in our vocation as bishops,” the cardinal said. “Hopefully, our being together at the tomb of Peter and close to Benedict will renew us in our generosity, courage and faith in following Jesus up close so that we can say with all our hearts what Peter said, ‘Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.’”

The comment by Terry Donilon suggests that Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese are, like Peter, fleeing and trying to keep a safe distance from this crucial issue. Apparently, the hope for renewal of courage nearby the tomb of Peter from last November has already worn off.  More and more, when the Cardinal calls upon the Catholic faithful to have courage, the words ring hollow because he fails to match his actions with his words.

We close today with a quote sent by a reader from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  That is what is happening in Boston on this issue. We hope and pray that those who have the courage to fight will prevail, and those currently lacking the courage to fight will realize they are allowing evil to triumph and will change their ways.


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