Boston Archdiocese Search Firm Looking for Schools Superintendent in the Wrong Place

March 28, 2014

A number of readers have asked us to share a bit about what is happening in the Archdiocese of Boston’s search for the new Superintendent of Schools.   As you may recall, Mary Grassa O’Neill stepped down from the position last summer.  She went back to Harvard.  At that time, the archdiocese said: “A process will be implemented for the selection of a new Secretary for Education/Superintendent and further announcements will be made regarding an interim appointment for this position.”  Now we find that the search firm retained by the Boston Archdiocese is advertising to fill the role in none other than the National Catholic Reporter, a publication known for professing views that are against Catholic Church teachings.rcab_superintendent of schools

The search is being run by Bellwether Education, and the position description can be found here.  The first responsibility listed is: “Strengthening the Catholic identity and the quality of religious education in the schools.”  That is great!  (though other aspects of the job description raise questions for us).  So,if they want to strengthen Catholic identity in the schools, it is exactly why the search firm would be advertising in a publication read by people who like to read a paper condemned by the local bishop last year, who admonished that it should not advertise itself as a “Catholic” publication:  

In a column appearing in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Finn notes that he, as the bishop of the diocese in which the Reporter is located, has the duty to “call the media to fidelity.” He cites the Code of Canon Law, which (in #1369) calls for “a just penalty” for anyone who “excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.”

The National Catholic Reporter, Bishop Finn remarks, has taken an editorial stance that puts the publication at odds with the Church, by “officially condemning Church teaching 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.” He reveals that he has received numerous complaints about the Reporter’s editorial policies.

One might reasonably ask, who from the Boston Archdiocese is leading the search?  Who is on the search committee, and who is leading the search?  Is it someone such as Sr. Janet Eisner (again) or Fr. Bryan Hehir? Why must an outside search firm have been engaged–at a cost of typically 20-25% of the annual salary for the position–which will probably amount to some $40-50K?  Is the Boston Archdiocese aware that the search firm they have engaged is advertising in a newspaper known for dissent from Catholic Church teaching?  What do they plan to do about that?  Is the search firm also advertising in the National Catholic Register and other pubs known for Catholic orthodoxy? Will it be made a requirement for the job that the person not only be a “practicing Catholic” but that they also accept and support all of the teachings of the Catholic Church?

Authentic Catholic education is very important, and it is extremely important that the Boston Archdiocese gets the right candidate for this role, who enthusiastically embraces and supports all of the teachings of the Catholic Church.  If you have a moment, drop an email to the new Vicar General, Bishop Uglietto (vicar_general@rcab.org) and let him know you would like for a leader of Catholic Schools who supports all Catholic Church teachings, and ask him the questions above while you are at it.


Boston Archdiocese Giving Award in Honor of Obama Fundraiser

October 8, 2012

For those who missed it, the Boston Archdiocese just announced they will be giving out an award on Oct 9 named in honor of Archdiocesan Finance Council member and Obama fundraiser, Jack Connors, Jr, who also financially supports pro-abortion causes. There are several aspects of this award and honor that Boston Catholics should be concerned about. Read on.

Here is the archdiocesan announcement:

October 5, 2012 -Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy’s 2012 Eileen And Jack Connors’ Founders Award

RECIPIENTS:          John and Cyndy Fish / Suffolk Construction

AWARD:                   Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy’s (PJPIICA) –Dorchester and Mattapan –
Boston’s largest elementary school (private or public)
2012 Eileen and Jack Connors’ Founders Award

DESCRIPTION:       The Eileen and Jack Connors Founders Award is a prestigious honor that is to be periodically presented by the Trustees of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy to recognize outstanding and exemplary service to the school, those who have made very special personal or professional commitments to the Academy, and/or who exemplify/personify the Catholic values we teach.

The person the award is named to honor is Jack Connors, Jr.  While he sits on the Archdiocesan Finance Council and raises money for Catholic schools, he is also out publicly raising millions of dollars for Obama, when Obama policies clearly threaten our religious liberties, kill the unborn and are in opposition to moral law along with Catholic Church values and teachings.  We have written about this multiple times, most recently in this post, Boston Catholics call on archdiocese to end relationship with Obama-backing multi-millionaire. You can also see in this Lifesite News article where the Connors-funded Connors Center for Women’s Health’s Family Planning Fellowship, led by abortionist and Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) head researcher Alisa Goldberg, partners with Planned Parenthood to offer  a nationally-recognized two-year program to “improve access to, and the quality of, pregnancy termination services through research and training.”

The person being honored this year is Suffolk Construction CEO, John Fish. He is listed here as #1 on this 2012 list of Most Powerful People in Boston, just ahead of Jack Connors.  This September 2008 Boston Business Journal article describes his philanthropy and role as a leader of the Archdiocese of Boston’s 2010 Initiative to improve Catholic schools. Coincidentally, besides his work for Catholic schools along with Connors, he has been making a lot of financial contributions to various political campaigns–him personally giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee, while his company has donated tens of thousands to the Romney super PAC: Obama bundler’s firm backed Romney super PAC.

BCI is not disputing the contributions of Mr. Fish to  Catholic schools. But, we also would be remiss if we did not remind readers about some of the controversy with the projects, including the Pope John Paul II project.  See this post, Lending Money: Part 2, from September 10, 2010, where we wrote:

We are also told, and see validated by press articles, these were apparently single-source, no-bid deals for the contracts on school reconstruction, new construction, and demolition.  Our sources say this was  expensive in Brockton, and very expensive in Dorchester. [Update: BCI is told that at least one Suffolk Catholic schools job was "a mess," where Suffolk was made to take off the roof and rebuild it more than once.]

As best as we can determine from multiple sources, the $26M loan was because John Fish insisted that Suffolk get its construction money up-front.  We are unclear if he is still personally involved in the initiative (no PR in 2 years) or if he is no longer personally involved after having secured the construction contract, funds, and good publicity.  Sources working in the schools tell us that from a construction perspective, they cut as many corners as they could in Dorchester, and ran behind in the construction schedule.  Rumor has it that the school custodian and a well-paid employee from the Catholic schools office were still painting the evening before the school opening and dealing with a problem of live rodents in the building.

The fund-raising status of the 2010 Campaign and the Pope John Paul II Academy have never been explained with any degree of transparency.  The 2010 Campaign was supposed to raise $70M by 2010 and had borrowed $26M from the Archdiocesan Revolving Loan Fund.  No accounting was ever publicly made of whether the $70M goal was  achieved. Their last public comment from November 2010 said they had raised $58M.  BCI asked the archdiocese about the fundraising status in January of 2011, and 21 months later, we are still awaiting their response.  According to the 2011 RCAB annual report, around $21M of those loans are still outstanding. The report says, “The Fund for Catholic Schools, Inc. has pledges that are expected to be collected over the next 5 years that will be used to substantially pay down the loans to the Corporation Sole.”

Back in 2010, we also observed the following:

1) Magnitude of project in this location. The fund-raising and tapping of a limited donor pool for a sum of $70 million was a major undertaking.  Why did the archdiocese decide to spend $70 million on one school, and in an area where it is known that Catholic schools enrollment and the Catholic population in general are declining?  Did it have anything to do with Jack Connors having grown-up in nearby Roslindale, or was that just a coincidence?

2) Sustenance of the school: Given those population shifts, can the Dorchester academy be sustained at this size even 5-10 years the future?

Here we are two years later, and the same questions remain largely unanswered.  The first regional director of the academy, a pal of $325K-salaried superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, abruptly resigned in August 2009 after just a year on the job. The school originally opened with 5 campuses, but was scaled back to 4 in 2010.  BCI hears that even 4 campuses may not be sustainable. 21 teachers left at the end of the last academic year and just 12 new teachers joined this fall.

Back in 2010, a reader, “Catholic School Advocate,’ commented:

I think the 2010 Initiative should be described by a parody of the song, “Promises, Promises.” (OK so not everyone reading this blog remembers Dionne Warwick) What was promised was laudable, but the outcome belies the intelligence, wealth and connections of those who made the promises.

When the most powerful people in Boston gather Tuesday night, BCI hopes that Cardinal Sean O’Malley at least takes a few minutes to have a side conversation with some of the honorees to re-educate them about the threats to religious liberties and the sacrifice of life of the unborn brought on by President Obama, whose reelection they are publicly and financially supporting. He should also remind them that he feels it is “bordering on scandal” to vote for pro-abortion politicians. Better still, he should try to persuade Jack Connors and John Fish to help women with crisis pregnancies and support alternatives to abortion in Boston.

We also hope that in addition to honoring the wealthy folks like Connors and Fish, they take the time to honor those who “Catholic Schools Advocate” described as the “dedicated teachers, custodians and school secretaries who show up every day and deal with a million issues, and somehow find a way to work hard on educating children from varied backgrounds in the midst of all the problems. And they succeed – just ask the Admissions Board at Boston Latin.”


Schools Superintendent Salary Explained: Part 1

May 9, 2011

After many months of people asking how the Archdiocese of Boston justifies paying Superintendent of Schools, Mary Grassa O’Neill, $325,000/year, an answer has finally been offered by the archdiocese.

Sort of.

According to an anonymous archdiocesan official responding via Ethicspoint to an anonymously submitted Ethicspoint report:

“…the Cardinal is well within his authority to make such an appointment. The compensation package offered to Ms. O’Neill is commensurate with her experience and acknowledges her departure from a much coveted position at Harvard to serve the Archdiocese.”

In other words, the Cardinal and the Archdiocese, a public charity, can do whatever they darned well want to do and pay people whatever asking price they demand.

Here is the original report, sent to BCI, followed by the full Ethicspoint response.  We have edited it slightly to save space.

ORIGINAL REPORT

What is the general nature of this matter?

Poor stewardship of assets via excessive compensation of lay executives.

Details

Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education currently makes $325,000 from the archdiocese, on top of a state teachers’ pension worth at least $75,000 annually. No other Catholic archdiocese pays at her level. You can check with NY, Chicago, LA, and others.

In the larger public school system in Boston with 56,000 students, Carol Johnson makes $275,000.

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/our-money/For_what_its_worth_the_Boston_.html

[Superintendent Carol] Johnson told the Herald she won’t take any pay hikes or bonuses during the rest of her contract in Boston.

“I don’t think in a period where schools are cutting resources for children, any of us can expect to take raises,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s contract pays her an annual salary of $275,000 through June 30, 2012. She has also refused annual performance bonuses, a 2.5 percent pay raise each year and a $600-a-month car allowance.

“I don’t expect anyone to do what I’m doing,” said Johnson, the city’s highest-paid worker. “But in the public sector, you’re held to a higher standard of accountability with the use of public resources, and that’s how it should be.”

Public schools in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles that serve as much as 10X to 25X the number of students and where the operational responsibility is greater–namely, they  have management responsibility for budgets, hiring/firing, curriculum, transportation, labor negotiations–pay their top administrators $250,000:

Joel Klein, chancellor of the NY City public schools [editorial note, the largest school system in the country], makes $250K/year. They teach 1.1 million students in 1600 schools with an annual budget of $17 billion. Ramon Cortines, the superintendent of the second-largest school system in the country, Los Angeles, also makes $250K/year. They have 694,288 students, 45,473 teachers and 38,494 other employees, and 1044 schools. The total school district budget for 2009-2010 is $7.3 billion. In her last superintendent job running the Milton Public Schools, her annual compensation was $138,000.

Supposedly, she sat on the search committee to fill this role, and then was asked to apply for the position herself. The members of the search committee have never been disclosed, except for chair, Sr. Janet Eisner.

Objectively, there is no basis for paying somebody at this level inside the Catholic Church, and her compensation is wasting donations and assets.

ARCHDIOCESAN RESPONSE VIA ETHICSPOINT:

4/5/2011 6:08 PM:

“After careful consideration and review the Cardinal is well within his authority to make such an appointment. The compensation package offered to Ms. O’Neill is commensurate with her experience and acknowledges her departure from a much coveted position at Harvard to serve the Archdiocese.

Additionally, the compensation offered to Ms.  O’Neill is not in violation of any Archdiocesan policies nor is it in violation of any applicable laws or regulations governing compensation.

The Finance Committee of the Archdiocese is in the process of formulating a Compensation Committee to, among other things, review compensation of Archdiocesan employees greater than $150,000. This Committee will be provided the resources necessary to engage a private consulting firm that can aid in the assessment of current compensation levels if necessary. Ultimately, the Committee will be charged with providing a formal report with the release of the annual financial statements report each year. Ms. O’Neill’s compensation will be part of that first review.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

The person who submitted this report and shared the response with BCI said they were “livid” with the Ethicspoint-brokered response and submitted a follow-up Ethicspoint report saying: “I am most disappointed in your response. It suggests this new Ethicspoint whistleblower process is already rigged and corrupt.”

We will publish that follow-up report next time.  This is another one of the four reports sent to us where the response seems to have ignored some of the fundamental issues raised in the report. See Is Archdiocesean Anti-Corruption Effort Corrupted and Conflicted? for the first example.  Needless to say, as we blogged about last Friday in “Questionable Composition of Compensation Committee,” BCI does not think the concept of a Compensation Committee is the right solution to the problem of excessive compensation, and the fact that the committee chair and several members are multi-millionaire CEOs and business executives leaves it subject to criticism from the get-go.  We wrote to the committee members to share our concerns and will keep you posted if and when we heard back, but do not hold your breath waiting.

To whomever is responding to these, we are starting to see a vaguely familiar pattern of dismissiveness and defense of the status quo (with a hint of arrogance in the tone), rather than acknowledgment that the report might have merit.  Is this coming from the top?

For the integrity of the new whistleblower process, BCI suggests that those behind the program adopt a perspective that instead genuinely acknowledges the merits of the claim, even if that upsets the status quo.  As for the school superintendent’s salary and the explanation that $325K is what it took to lure Mary Grassa O’Neill from Harvard, we will leave that to our readers to comment on.

What do you think?


Closing St. Mary’s School in Lawrence

April 17, 2011

Many readers have been writing to us about the recent announcement that St. Mary of the Assumption School in Lawrence will close at the end of this school year.  The parish serves a very poor population in North Lawrence and was running an annual deficit.  Reading between the lines in the various press reports and looking at some of the archdiocese’s annual reports, it sounds like the Catholic Schools Foundation and the archdiocese owe the folks in Lawrence a bit more of an explanation than they have provided.

Here are a few pieces of information we thought you would find useful:

1. From the Boston Pilot we  learn that the pastor tried everything he could, but was unable to get the archdiocese to support the school this past year or commit to supporting it in the coming year. Sounds like the archdiocese is putting all of their proverbial “eggs” in the basket of the Jack Connors’ Catholic academies:

Father Reyes said the kindergarten through grade 8 school is closing because of significant operating deficits which the school has faced over the past few years. Presently, the school is running a $300,000 debt, and more deficits are anticipated as operating costs continue to rise.

“It has also become painfully clear over the past several months that the parish no longer has the fiscal resources to fund the school at the level required,” Father Reyes wrote. “I have made every effort and reviewed every possible opportunity to overcome our financial burdens but have concluded that we have no alternative but to close.”

Speaking with The Pilot, Father Reyes said the school erased last year’s deficit through a loan from the Archdiocese of Boston.

According to Father Reyes, the school did not receive support from the Catholic Schools Foundation this year. He also said he did not anticipate the school would receive CSF funding for the 2011-12 school year.

The Catholic Schools Foundation provides scholarships for students with financial needs. Mike Reardon, executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, said that St. Mary’s had submitted a grant request for the next school year and said final decisions are made in May.

He expressed the foundation’s desire to support Catholic education in Lawrence.

“The Catholic Schools Foundation is committed to Catholic education in the city of Lawrence and we need to ensure the dollars entrusted to us by our donors have the most long term impact they can have so the students in Lawrence can be assured the benefits of Catholic education would be available for years to come,” Reardon said.

In September 2010, Lawrence Catholic Academy (LCA) opened from the merger of St. Patrick School in Lawrence and Our Lady of Good Counsel School in bordering Methuen.

When local Catholic school officials were planning LCA, there were discussions with St. Mary’s officials inviting the school to join. However, St. Mary’s opted to remain open as an independent parish school.

“We could not afford to join the academy,” Father Reyes said. Father Reyes said it would have cost his parish $80,000 per year plus half of the proceeds from the rental or sale of the existing school building.

Father Reyes said he opted for closure, as well, because he could not wait until May to receive a definitive answer from the Catholic Schools Foundation as to whether St. Mary’s would receive funding.

2. From the 2010 Annual Report (p.35), we know that in the year ended June 30, 2009,  $126,000 was transferred to Trinity Catholic Academy, Inc., a related organization that in 2007 consolidated the operations of certain parish schools in Brockton.  That is on top of the $2.5M that was given to Trinity Catholic Academy in August of 2007 (as we described in (“Is the Archdiocese of Boston Committing Fraud?”)

3. From a September 12, 2010 press release by the Catholic Schools Foundation, we know that the CSF gave $425,000 in grants and scholarship assistance to the new Lawrence Catholic Academy:

Mike Reardon, Executive Director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, announced a $125,000 grant to the newly opened Lawrence Catholic Academy…The funding will be used to enhance the curriculum and environment of the newly established Academy.   “This grant, along with our recent gift of $300,000 for scholarship support, is a testament to our belief in the students and teachers at Lawrence Catholic Academy.”, said Mr. Reardon following the announcement. “We are proud to partner with LCA to make a first-class Catholic education available to these students and families.”

4. Several local newspapers, the Eagle Tribune and Valley Patriot today described how about 500 students, parents and supporters of Saint Mary’s School of the Assumption in Lawrence rallied and held a vigil Saturday to oppose the decision of the Boston Archdiocese to close the schoo.

Parishioners complained that the Archdiocese had plenty of money and even increased funding (nearly double) for the catholic school in South Lawrence, Lawrence Catholic Academy.

“What we can accomplish is, we want to send a message to the Cardinal,” he told The Valley Patriot. “… you can’t spend $35,000 on this school? But you can spend twice that much on the other school in South Lawrence? They’re getting So much more. So, there is the money.”

“Lawrence Massachusetts residents are outraged about the fact that the only Elementary Catholic School, St. Mary of the Assumption, in the North side of the city has announced that it will be closing its doors June, 2011.

The Community of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish is demanding answers from the Boston Archdiocese in particular, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

“We want to know why if the Catholic School 2010 Plan” took in to account the ethnic, economical and social differences called for the initiative of two catholic schools in Lawrence, one in South Lawrence and the other in the North, and we are now blind sided with the news of the closing of the school in the North.”

That would leave the Lawrence Catholic Academy in the south to which the majority of the students from the north can not financially afford nor do they have the physical space to accommodate them.

5.  In the 2010 Annual Report released last week, we heard that “Catholic schools remained a priority.”  Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill had her total salary reduced slightly in 2010 but increased back to $325K in 2011.  Defending against criticism of the high salaries, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson said in The Pilot, “Cardinal Seán has attracted world-class talent to his team, and the fruits of their labor can be seen in what they have accomplished.”

Catholic school enrollment is declining year after year, now down to about 42,000 students.  More and more Catholic schools are closing.  Can someone share with BCI exactly what is it that Mary Grassa O’Neill (paid $1 million over 3 years) and her team of six-figure salaried associate superintendents have accomplished?

BCI does not know the right answer for the Lawrence situation, but simply is sharing this information with Catholics interested in this specific situation and in the future of Catholic education in Boston.


Assessment of Catholic Schools Admission Policy: Part 1

January 14, 2011

In response to emails asking when we will weigh-in on the new Catholic Schools admission policy, we have been collecting our thoughts and are going to do so in two parts.

Warning #1: if you approve of the policy itself or the manner in which this policy has come about, you will probably not like either Part 1 or Part 2 of our assessment, so you might want to just skip this post. Warning #2: if you want to see BCI go into the doctrinal issues or whether there should or should not be such a policy, you will also be disappointed. There are plenty of other blogs already going there.  Frankly, we are so troubled by the deception that underlies the policy, the process behind its creation, and the fast-tracking of this initiative while other archdiocesan priorities languish unattended, that it will take us two posts just to cover that.

We already pointed out some of the deceptive aspects of the draft policy in our November 10, 2010 post, Diocesan Deception in Catholic Schools Admission Policy? If you did not read that post, do check it out.  We were hoping maybe the archdiocese would fix the problems with deception once we published them, but instead, they have gotten even worse since then. If a policy or initiative like this clearly relies on deception out the gate, then one cannot help but question the whole thing.

We expressed our initial reaction to the policy in an email that we sent Thursday morning to Cardinal O’Malley, members of the Presbyteral Council, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.  This was in response to an email we received from a BCI reader. We checked our regular email and spam filter a few times Thursday looking for the response, and for some reason, whatever substantive response we are sure they have written did not make it to us yet.  Must be an Internet delay due to the residual effects of the Boston snowstorm. Below is the main substance of our email, with a few edits and additions.

Cardinal O’Malley, Presbyteral Council, and Archbishop Sambi,

As you know, the Boston Catholic Insider blog exists to promote integrity, good governance, and transparency.  When the archdiocese starts operating that way, the purpose for the blog and content for the blog will simply go away.

Can someone explain to Catholics why they should accept this policy when it opens with a deception?  Why does the policy open by saying, “In creating the Catholic Schools Admission Policy, we are guided by the words of the Holy Father,” when the words used were actually expressed by the Holy Father in the context of his request that ON A FINANCIAL BASIS, all children would have access to Catholic education?  How can you expect anyone to trust this archdiocese when the opening line of the policy is deceptive and misleading?  Did anyone actually ask the Holy Father and the Vatican for their guidance on this specific issue? See here for more details, where we give you the exact quote by the Holy Father:

“This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.”
How is the principle of subsidiarity maintained when the policy says pastors, principals, advisory and/or governing boards may develop specific admission policies for their school, but only provided they conform with the Archdiocesan policy? Are pastors not trusted to create their own policies to suit their local needs, as subsidiarity would actually call for?  Why is the spin explaining the policy in the Globe and The Pilot different than the actual wording in the policy? If the spin in the newspapers was really intended to be a part of the policy, why is the wording not in the policy? This is deceptive and disingenuous.

 

How can Mary Grassa O’Neill feel OK making the disingenuous statement, “We sought a process that would allow us to reach consensus on a policy” when she knows such a process was not attained, nor was consensus on a policy?  Sources familiar with the process say no consensus was reached, and that a great deal of input received from people who felt strongly about their positions was ignored.  Making this statement when in fact no such process was used or consensus reached is misleading and deceptive.  It is like saying, “We hoped to operate with integrity” when in fact they did not.  How much of the input from clergy and laity that you received in the “consultation” process was summarily ignored?  Why not at least try to be even a little more honest and say, “Initially we thought it might be nice to  have a process that would let us reach consensus, but could not in the end come up with such a process or reach consensus.”

 

Why was the policy announced to the Boston Globe before being announced to Catholic faithful via The Pilot and other archdiocesan communications? Was the intent of the policy to please the Globe rather than to preserve and enhance Catholic education for Catholics?

 

Why was this rushed through in about six months, when you are letting efforts to cut $2 million in wasteful spending of donor funds languish with no attention, setting the Church up for more layoffs of dedicated employees, cutting of important ministries–again–as well as possible state or federal sanctions? Why has this policy gotten significantly more attention by the Cardinal, his cabinet, the Presbyteral Council, and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council than cutting $1M+ in excessive six-figure salaries that could otherwise be used to fund the lay pension or clergy retirement funds?   The archdiocese continues to breach its fiduciary responsibility to faithful Catholics with no public statements or actions to address this grave problem.  Is appeasing Jack Connors a higher priority for the Cardinal and archdiocesan leadership team than sound governance of the archdiocese, prudent use of donor funds, and satisfying legal commitments to the pension and retirement funds?

 

Why did work on this schools admission policy evidently take higher priority for the Cardinal, Vicar General, and archdiocesan leadership than fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to fund the estimated $200M+ shortfall in the lay pension and clergy retirement funds, which represent ethical and legal commitments to thousands of lay employees and priests?  Aside from the once/year priest appreciation dinner to raise $1M for the clergy funds, what is being done to raise $100-200M or more to fully fund the plan?  What is Fr. Bryan Hehir doing from his tony residence in Wellesley, 4th floor office in the Pastoral Center, office in Harvard yard, and with his six-figure salary and guaranteed cushy Harvard pension to solve this problem?  What is Jack Connors doing about the underfunding in pension and retirement funds?  Who decided, and why was it decided that this policy was a higher priority for the time and energies of our archdiocesan leadership, at the expense of time spent working on the retirement security of thousands of priests and lay employees? 

 
 Why did work on this schools admission policy apparently take priority for the Cardinal, Vicar General, and archdiocesan leadership rather than ending vigils at 5 closed parishes and saving $850,000 per year in wasted money?  The final canonical appeals for the vigil parishes were denied on July 15, 2010, nearly six months ago. As we wrote about in our last post, the vigils at these closed parishes are costing the archdiocese and donors approximately $850,000/year.   When will the archdiocese take the decisive action to end the protest vigils at these 5 parishes that have been going on for the past 6 years?  On what exact date will the archdiocese block access to the buildings, with no people allowed to enter those closed churches so as to end the vigils?

 

Why did the archdiocesan leadership have time to work on this policy, but no time to publish the budget of how you are spending $15M+ in donations by the people and another $16M+ in fees from parishes and other Corporation Sole entities? As part of the archdiocesan-touted Improved Financial Relationship Model, a 2010 Central Ministries budget was published, but we are now more than half-way through the 2010-2011 fiscal year, and no budget for the current fiscal year has been published. When will the 2010-2011 budget be published publicly?

 

In 2005, the Cardinal said that a policy to deal with banning Catholic speakers who publicly dissented from Church teaching from archdiocesan events should be developed, shortly after Fr. Bryan Hehir created a public scandal for his plans to honor Mayor Tom Menino at a Catholic Charities fundraiser.  More than five years have passed since then, but no policy is done yet.  Why has the policy to ensure that Catholics who publicly dissent from the faith not lead Catholic faithful astray by speaking at archdiocesan events been slow-tracked since 2005, yet this policy was fast-tracked?

 

Why was this policy a higher priority for the Cardinal, the Vicar General, and the archdiocesan leadership team, than writing letters to dozens or hundreds of pastors in the archdiocese who are still waiting to receive an official reappointment to their pastoral assignment.  When will the Cardinal and Vicar General stop treating pastors like itinerants or employees at will and leaving them hanging in limbo, and issue a letter that canonically renews their term?

 

Why was this policy a high priority for the Cardinal, the Vicar General, and the archdiocesan leadership team, when Cardinal O’Malley does not take time to respond to confidential letters he receives from priests and laity?  Will he ever take the time to respond to letters?

 

Why was this policy a higher priority for the Cardinal, the Vicar General, and the archdiocesan leadership team than communicating the goals for the Catholic Appeal, which needs to raise at least $15M to keep the lights on in the Pastoral Center and fund critical ministries.  When will those goals be shared–before or after the Appeal year ends in two weeks?

 

Why was this policy a higher priority for the Cardinal, the Vicar General, and the archdiocesan leadership team than implementing the anonymous whistleblower policy, recommended 4-5 years ago by archdiocesan auditors to help save money and avoid corruption. Why has the whistleblower policy languished for 4-5 years?  Why does the whistleblower policy finally now being implemented send claims of questionable behavior or ethical breaches right back to the same person, Chancellor Jim McDonough, under whom many of the infractions may have occurred?  Why has more time been spent on this Catholic Schools policy than has been spent on protecting the integrity of fiscal operations?

 

Why has this particular schools policy been fast-tracked with a lot of attention in the press, Presbyteral Coucil and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, when teaching, sanctifying, and governance for the archdiocese is being so clearly neglected by the Archbishop of Boston?

 

That is what we have to say for Part 1, but there is more coming in Part 2.  Comments are welcome, but please do us a favor and do not comment on the doctrinal issues concerning the policy, as we will be moderating such comments.  There are other forums already deep into the debate over whether children of gay parents should or should not be admitted to Catholic schools.

 

ps. You may have heard that the director of the Catholics Come Home initiative, David Thorp, died on Sunday.  The wake will be held at St Edward the Confessor Church, 133 Spring Street (Rt 27) in Medfield from 3–8 pm on Friday, January 14. The funeral Mass will be held at St Edward’s on Saturday, January 15 at 11:00 am. The obituary can be found here.  We pray for the repose of his soul and that he rest in peace.

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