Welcome Home!

March 5, 2011

Today, we welcome several people back to the archdiocese after time away.

First, we welcome back Cardinal O’Malley. This weekend the Cardinal opens the 2011 Catholic Appeal with Mass at Blessed Mother Teresa Parish – St. Margaret Church in Dorchester on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. He is also celebrating Mass tomorrow, Sunday, March 6 at 9:00 am at St. Michael in North Andover, and then finally at St. Brigid in Framingham on Sunday as 12pm.  We think it is very good that the Cardinal is in town visiting parishes and we encourage him to spend more time in the Boston archdiocese visiting parishes and also engaging in governance of the diocese.

Much to our dismay, there is still no word about what was raised in the 2010 Catholic Appeal.  The Boston Herald reports “Like last year, archdiocesan officials didn’t set an official fundraising goal because of concerns that parishioners might feel stretched by several ongoing campaigns, including one for school improvements.”  School improvements?  Is that the Jack Connors’ Catholic Schools 2010 Initiative–the one that was supposed to end last year, where all of the  $70 million to be raised was supposedly coming from deep-pocketed friends of Jack?  Is that millstone now hanging around the necks of everyone in the archdiocese?

Can anyone get a straight story from this archdiocese about what goal the team of 15 people under Kathleen Driscoll is accountable for hitting?  BCI hears the top three people on her team are collectively paid somewhere in the range of about $700k in salaries alone.  How can they ask Catholics to give towards the 2011 campaign without ever telling us what they raised in the 2010 campaign?

We said it before and we will say it again about the hypocracy from 66 Brooks Drive. Last November, when Kathleen Driscoll was announced as the new Secretary for Institutional Advancement and the new Boston Catholic Development Services was formed to centralize fundraising, we were all told this new effort would “ensure donors of…accountability.”

For an archdiocese who publicly criticized this blog last August, for “unfounded claims,” it would seem to us that the real “unfounded claim” is that the new archdiocesan fundraising structure would ensure accountability.

If the new archdiocesan fundraising efforts are characterized by “accountability,” then why is it that no one is accounting for what they have raised for the Catholic Schools 2010 Initiative or the 2010 Catholic Appeal?  Exactly who is this fundraising group accountable to, and if they are not accounting to donors in the pews before they open their hands and ask for more money, who exactly are they accounting to?

Sorry, we got so wrapped up in the Catholic Appeal, we almost forgot the other welcome home.

Secondly, welcome back to Fr. James Flavin and Fr. Michael Medas, who just returned from a boondoggle conference in New Orleans.  They were attending the 2011 convention of the NOCERCC.  For those not familiar with the organization, it is the National Organization for the Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy.

In case you do not know some of these names, here is who these people are:

  • Father Flavin has a degree in counseling who has been director of pastoral care of priests since 2008.  That means he primarily oversees treatment plans for priests with psychological problems including substance abuse, and as best as we can tell, he is liked and respected for his work in this area. However, the archdiocese also asked him since 2008 to oversee the Clergy Retirement Fund, even though he had no specific financial training or qualification for that function. To say the fund’s performance in recent years has not been good is an understatement. Then Carol Gustavson, who also had no skills in that area, got involved helping.  Now Joe D’Arrigo, a consultant who has been trying to stabilize the fund, has just been officially named Executive Director, Clergy Funds.  Fr. Flavin is no longer the fund facillitator, but maintains his role as director of pastoral care of priests–a very important role.  We wonder how the trustees of the fund would grade the fund performance since 2006.  Coincidentally, it may not matter anyway because the trustees have now changed, but that is a topic for a different post.
  • Fr. Medas is Director of the Office for Clergy Personnel.  According to this Pilot article, he was formerly director of the Apostolate for the Deaf and has lived in residence at parishes, including Our Lady Help of Christians, Newton, St. Mary, Ayer and at Holy Family Parish, Concord.

The NOCERCC and their convention are interesting when one digs a little deeper.  Here is a look at the 2011 NOCERCC convention schedule and here are the related links from the NOCERCC website to other websites.  We will leave it to you to reach your own conclusions after checking it out further.  Suffice to say, we need to pray for our priests.

The conference, coincidentally, took place just before Mardi Gras, when a number of pre-Mardi Gras parades take place. The Loews New Orleans Hotel is “within easy walking distance of…the French Quarter” and cost $149/night for a room. Conference registration cost for members was $500 per person.  Assuming the priests from Boston are NOCERCC members, the trip probably cost somewhere around $3,500 for 3 nights, 2 people, with airfares, conference registration and meals.  Last July, when the archdiocese cut 20 positions to save money and Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson said, “Nearly all travel and conference budgets have been reduced,” some of us thought the archdiocese was actually trying to save money.  Apparently we misunderstood the memo.

So, a hearty welcome back to Boston to Cardinal O’Malley.  We sincerely hope you will be in town for a little while now and can work on reducing spending on excessive six-figure salaries.  And welcome back to Fr. Flavin and Fr.  Medas. We hope and pray that the learnings from the convention and benefits to the Boston presbyterate will pay off the expense many times over.



Chancellor Spills Beans; Priest Cleared!

October 5, 2010

Our main focus today is to share  the good news of a priest being cleared of an accusation of sexual abuse.  But, first we have to take a minute to respond to all of the emails about Chancellor Jim McDonough and his blabbing to the vigilers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Boston regarding possible plans to close churches or parishes.  More on governance-related topics in our next post.

Chancellor Spills Beans

Here is the first Boston Globe article reporting  on the current fracas.  This will take us several posts to cover and we are still verifying all of the facts.  Here are a few things to note just for now, but more is coming soon.

1) Loose lips sink ships.  We have never interacted directly with the Chancellor, but here are a few comments we got from readers:

“Probably one of the worst ‘loose lips’ things McDonough could have possible said or done”

“He has a vulgar mouth, a sometimes total lack of discretion and zero sensitivity.”

“He makes scathing remarks about people he often barely knows”.

“He offers sweeping generalizations that tend to reveal a profound lack of understanding of the fundamentals of ecclesiology, or canon law, or even basic accounting.”

“Why was he even there?  Yet another example of why the Chancellor should be shown the door.”

2) The vigil parishes are still costing millions of dollars a year.  The archdiocese’s own annual reports show more than $10 million in costs over the past 5 years and $1.5 million in 2009 alone toward reconfiguration-related expenses.    And that expense is mostly keeping the lights and heat on at shuttered parishes and taxes and insurance paid, with precious little of that money actually having been used for welcoming parishes to support ministering to the increased number of families. We are told that a new report has been prepared by the archdiocese that refutes or clarifies our mere restatement of the archdiocese’s previously-published numbers.  If the archdiocese has clarified their own numbers with a full breakdown and accounting of what has gone where (shuttered parish operations, welcoming parishes, taxes, insurance, etc) we look forward to seeing it!  In the meantime, the canonical appeals are over.  This cannot go on forever. Are these vigilers contributing financially to the upkeep of the church buildings they are forcing the archdiocese to keep open?  Does anyone believe keeping the lights on for vigils at closed parishes is a good use of nearly $1.5M/year that is siphoned from other pastoral ministries and parishes that need that money to pay their bills? 

3) The distinction between a “parish” vs a “church” will be an important one.  The vigilers quoted in the second Boston Globe article assumed there was no difference between a “parish” and a “church.”  There is, and the distinction will be important going forward.  A “church” is going to be thought of as more of the physical building where people come together to worship.   A “parish” is considered more of an operating area/region, and could include several “churches” led by a pastor.  This is not a new concept–we already have a number of “parish communities” comprised of several “churches” in the archdiocese, led by one pastor or a “team ministry.”

A pastoral/parish planning process has been underway for some time in Boston, the most recent one launched several years ago (2007, we believe).  The interim outcomes of that process have been published at various times, so Chancellor McDonough should not start running around again trying to figure out who is blabbing to us.  (The person whose blabbing got this out in the Globe sits in the Chancellor’s suite on the 4th floor at 66 Brooks Drive).  Many more details on this next time.

Priest Cleared!

1) It is always sad to see a priest accused of sexual abuse, and so it is a very good news to see when a priest is cleared!  Friday’s Pilot reported the following:

The Archdiocese of Boston announced Sept. 29 that Father Charles Murphy has been restored to the status of senior priest after being cleared of allegations that he sexually abused a minor 40 years ago. The move came after an investigation by the archdiocese’s Review Board found sexual abuse accusations against him were unsubstantiated.

We do not know Fr. Murphy, but hope that the archdiocese can do whatever possible for him and other priests who have faced unsubstantiated charges to restore their reputation.  Towards that end, we would like to share a few things sent to us by readers related to this same topic.

2) As the clearing of Fr. Murphy exemplifies, not all that we read or hear about various aspects of the sex abuse situation is necessarily founded. Sometimes there are unfounded claims–against individuals or against the Catholic Church by the media. Towards that end, we have been asked to pass on word of a new book:  “Double Standard:  Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church” by David F. Pierre, Jr.  It is described at www.themediareport.com.   Here is a description of it from Amazon.com.

Yes, Catholic priests terribly abused minors, and bishops failed to stop the unspeakable harm. That’s an undeniable truth. However, major media outlets are unfairly attacking the Catholic Church, and this compelling book has the shocking evidence to prove it. This book addresses numerous topics, including:
… appalling cases of abuse and cover-ups happening today – but they’re not happening in the Catholic Church … proof that Catholic clergy do not offend more than teachers or those of other religious denominations … data that shows that the Catholic clergy scandal is not about “pedophilia” … affirmation that the Catholic Church may be the safest place for children today … research that uncovers the shady relationships between SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), lawyers, and the media … convincing documentation that the national spokesperson of SNAP once failed to report suspected child abuse himself – while he was SNAP’s spokesperson … the astonishing connection between SNAP and ACORN … the surprising truth about “repressed memories” … unheard, agonized priests who deny the accusations against them … evidence of how the “documentary” Deliver Us From Evil deceived moviegoers … plus much more.

We have not read the book ourselves yet, but are told by a credible source that it contains a good deal of “insider” information about what took place in Boston. You may want to check it out.

3) This last bit of information was sent to us about a month ago, during our Whistleblower series, and right after the Boston Globe published a report of new claims against Fr. Thomas Curran, who had been cleared in 2007 of a previous charge made by a prison inmate.

I find your concern for a whistleblower policy to be of interest, however I have a whistle of my own to blow in your direction.  It’s the sort of thing that I and some others of your readers think you should be calling public attention to.  I have read the 9/9 Globe account of the claims against Fr. Thomas Curran.  Ths link below is to a well-written article, Sex Abuse and Signs of Fraud, describing how some Boston area priests have been set up by Massachusetts prison inmates.  I have no way to know who is advocating for Fr. Curran, but this information should be passed on to his advocates as well as to your readers.

The article discusses how some prisoners or previous prisoners have filed false abuse claims against priests to collect settlement money.  It is scary to think that this might happen, and in this case to see clear documentation of how it has happened.  Pray for all of our faithful, hard-working, dedicated priests that they will never experience what is described here.

We know you want to see us get back to the governance-related topics.  Do not despair–we will cover a lot more in that area in our next posts.


Priest Appreciation

September 12, 2010

With Boston’s 2010 Priest Appreciation Dinner coming up this Thursday and because today is the day when most Catholics are in church and see their local parish priests, we are taking a moment to thank the many outstanding priests in Boston for their ministry AND to invite you to “shout out” the same on this blog.

To be fair, we and a lot of our readers still have issues with the archdiocese and suggestions for improvement over clergy-related matters such the management of the Clergy Retirement Fund (which the Thursday dinner benefits), the anonymity of fund trustees, the compensation and qualification levels of those managing the fund, stabilization of the fund, how priests are often treated when on disability or infirm, changes to clergy benefits, the manner in which priests’ reputations are harmed when an unfounded claim of sexual abuse is made against them, retaliation against outspoken priests who call it like it is, the “independent contractor” employment status of clergy, and more.

But that all does not diminish our admiration and appreciation for the faithful, dedicated priests in Boston who give their lives to God and do so much–particularly in ministry at the local parish level and at colleges, hospitals, and with the poor–to continue the works and saving ministry of Jesus Christ  and to make His name known and loved.  Towards that end, we are asking our readers to do two things today and over the next few days.

First,  we invite you to “shout out” a compliment for a Boston priest who you appreciate via comments on this blog and spread the word about the priest appreciation “shout out.”   Suggested guidelines for those comments of appreciation can be found below.

Secondly, we invite you to pray this prayer for priests by St. Therese of Lisieux.

Prayer for Priests

O Jesus, eternal Priest, keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Your Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.
Let Your holy love surround them and shield them from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation
here and in heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown. Amen.

Guidelines for Shouting Out Appreciation to Clergy

  • You may identify the priest as “Fr. A”, or you can mention his full name.  If a priest’s name is mentioned, that does not mean that the priest should be seen as associated with this blog in any way, that you or the priest is endorsing or supporting this blog, or that the priest is even aware of this blog.  It simply means that someone who knows the priest appreciates the good work of that priest and thought this was a useful venue for expressing that appreciation.
  • A short sentence or two indicating why you are grateful to this priest is also very welcome.
  • Please post comments only about priests who are in active ministry today or in senior priest status.
  • You can use your real name, first name and last initial, or post anonymously—it does not matter.
  • Responses to comments of clergy appreciation are OK only if you are agreeing with it and saying something positive.  If you have something negative to say about a priest who has been complimented, please do not post it here, as that will force us to moderate and clear every post from that point forward.

We hope and pray this turns out to be a positive effort.  Since we have no idea of what direction it will take, we reserve the right to moderate or shut-off comments at any time if we see this getting out of control or see agendas surfacing other than just expressing appreciation for the clergy.


Responses to Injustice? Inconsistency?

July 16, 2010

Our post “ Injustice? Inconsistency?” (about how priests are treated by the Archdiocese in various situations) has stimulated some comments and emails that we feel compelled to share with readers and with the Archdiocese.  Here’s what we received from a reader, ‘Marilyn.”  We are publishing it exactly as written, but we have added a few extra details in [brackets] for additional clarity.

 To Boston Catholic Insider:

One of your examples [Fr. C.] is said to live with the man commonly understood to be his longtime “boyfriend,” also a priest [Fr. K], in a rectory [St. A.] where the “boyfriend” is assigned as parochial vicar.  If it were his longtime girlfriend, would it be tolerated?  Their close friends, another pair of ordained men, keep busy as a pastor [Fr. J.] of a parish near 128 [St. S], the other one allegedly no longer in ministry [Fr. B], but tell that to the people who are devoted to him at a church downtown. [P.C.]

These men enjoy full benefits in exchange for toning down their rhetoric bashing the church, and no longer publicly promoting same sex marriage.  They live in rectories.  They have vacation homes and lots of time off and cars that few priests can afford (because two of them have private incomes).  And they will have pensions and benefits from the RCAB.  Two of them were not allowed to remain as pastors due to audits that showed significant financial misconduct.  (Ask the auditors.)  Meanwhile, the combined Mass attendance served by the parochial vicar and the pastor at the two parishes don’t total 500 people.  Give those micro parishes to the priests in the next parishes to cover, and shutter the rectories that are now home to the men who shatter their vows.

If these men’s domestic arrangements involved women, what would happen?  When a priest thumbs his nose at his vows, let’s get him out, no matter who the other party is.  Priests who are living the vowed celibate life as it was meant to be lived, meanwhile, work without days off, have only their stipends to pay their expenses, and cannot retire until their wheels fall off.  (One pastor I know of is over well over 75 and celebrates nine Masses per week, including one at the nursing home.)

Where’s the leadership?  Why are the vows of matrimony expected to be kept by those to whom they are made (spouses), but vows made to the ordinary aren’t expected to be kept if the parties involved are sufficiently obnoxious?  And why does the ordinary think the people don’t notice?

 [Wow!  Marilyn, thanks so much for writing this powerful message.  Just to expand on what you have written, as was mentioned in our previous post, one of the priests cited above testified to the Massachusetts Legislature in favor of gay marriage, and though his testimony was corrected by the Mass Catholic Conference, the act of his testifying against the Church was never publicly addressed  by the Archbishop or Archdiocese of Boston.  Yesterday, Catholic News Agency reported that Archbishop Carlos Jose Nanez of Cordoba has begun canonical proceedings against a priest in Argentina who promoted same-sex ‘marriage.’  

Fr. Jose Nicolas Alessio received an enormous amount of media attention for his statements supporting gay “marriage” while he was pastor of St. Cajetan’s in the city of Cordoba. According to AICA, the priest has continued to make statements to the media in support of same-sex “marriage.” “As a cautionary measure, the archbishop has prohibited him from the public exercising of the priestly ministry, which means he cannot celebrate Mass or administer the sacraments of the Church publicly, and therefore, cannot continue as pastor,” the news service reported.

Regarding Fr. J , we also extend Marilyn’s powerful message.  As she mentioned, he was on the record in support of gay marriage, and a commenter on an article at Boston.com in 2004 wrote te following about him:

I am reminded of how he was chased out of St. B’s. Fr. J verbally attacked and threatened a group of parishoners for whom he blamed for his demise. Telling one woman she would “rue the day”. In fact, Fr. J performed a “homosexual marriage” in the church even though it was against the doctrine of the Catholic Church. That is the reason he was told to leave St. B’s and never come back. Fr. C was guilty by association. Fr. J managed to alienate several parishoners and his friend, Fr. B wrote scathing letters to several parishoners in St. B’s.

Beyond that, his current parish, St. S, near Route 95/128 was targeted for closing in 2005 but he and the parish fought the decision.  Fortunately for the pastor, they had an ally on the Meade-Eisner Reconfiguration Review Committee, namely powerbroker Jack Connors, Jr, who is a native son from the same town as the parish.  The parish got an unusual reprieve by the Meade-Eisner Committee. They were to stay open until March of 2008, when the six-year term of the pastor was to end, at which point Cardinal O’Malley said he would reassess the future of that parish. They are still open today with the same pastor, so apparently the pastor’s term was renewed and the Cardinal did not have a problem with the situation described above. 

In Argentina, a priest publicly opposes the Church’s teaching on marriage, and when he refused to “amend his ways and retract his statements” in support of same-sex “marriage,” the archbishop undertook a canonical procedure to remove him from public ministry.  In Boston, they give a priest who has done the same thing a nice job in campus ministry where he can get a second income or they keep him in a pastoral leadership role.  And apparently they also let them live in a rectory with their “boyfriend” to scandalize the faithful, while also rubbing this scandal in the faces of hard-working priests who are living their priestly vows working tirelessly with no days off on a small stipend, and who can’t retire until they are 75. 

Meanwhile, back at the Pastoral Center (Friday afternoons off in the summer), they wonder why there are morale problems in the Boston presbyterate, thereby making it tough to get new vocations to the priesthood.  Perhaps the senior Cabinet steering committee might want to take this post up as a topic of discussion at an upcoming meeting.  We welcome comments and additional confidential messages. Just click on Contact Us.


Injustice? Inconsistency?

July 11, 2010

We pause from our discussions of archdiocesan finances, layoffs, and the Caritas Christi sale to respond to email requests that we discuss certain practices by the Archdiocese that seem unjust and inconsistent.  These practices have to do with how priests are treated in various situations—ranging  from what happens when an accusation of sexual abuse or wrongdoing comes forward, to how the archdiocese goes about reducing or eliminating medical or retirement benefits . We have received so many comments on the clergy retirement and employee pension funds that they will merit their own future post.  We are not sure how exactly to tackle this topic and are trying to make sense of what we have gotten as input.  Here goes…

As we all know, the sexual abuse crisis resulted in many legitimate claims against priests for inexcusable and deplorable acts which deserved to be punished both in civil law and canonically.  Given the media visibility, large numbers of claimants who filed and negotiated as a group, and availability of cash settlements, one cannot help but believe that the huge majority of legitimate claims are behind us. To be fair, there may still be unreported claims, new cases, or repressed memories that suddenly become unrepressed.  And if the situation of a Walpole priest recently arrested for allegedly making unwanted sexual advances on a 21-year-old in the woods at a known gay cruising spot in Canton turns out to be as reported, then we have further evidence of active homosexuality in the Boston presbyterate. The latter would be the topic for a future post (around the theme of “Crisis and Reform.”)  None of this should be trivialized.

But, what happens to priests who face claims that are questionable or have never been proven?  The worst nightmare some priests have faced was getting a phone call telling them there has been a claim.  They had to move out of the rectory immediately and a press release was issued whose wording suggested a presumption of guilt that would forever damage their reputation.  And what has happened to priests who did stumble or commit a sexual sin, but with an adult woman, not a child or a minor?  Is the rule, “One strike and you’re out,” with no possibility for mercy and redemption, ever?   And what about priests whose main failing is not a sexual sin at all, but rather is health-related?  There is a sense by some priests that they can be cast-off too easily if they become a burden.   Here are some examples:

  • Fr. B, then 67-years-old, was accused in 2001 of molesting a youth 30 years earlier. The one allegation that was made against him could not be substantiated. At the time, Father B. was prevented from proclaiming his innocence to the public or his peers. Although the claim was dismissed after a 2-year investigation and he was returned to full ministry in 2003, according to his January 2010 obituary, Father Bolduc’s “reputation was shattered and his life was changed forever. Due to this ordeal his health suffered greatly and continued to decline as time went on.”  Several bloggers reported earlier this year that he was one of six falsely accused priests, ages 71 to 88, thrown out of Regina Cleri who also had medical benefits cut off for no apparent reason.
  • Fr. Gordon McRae, a 57-year-old priest of the Diocese of Manchester, has been imprisoned since 1994 for alleged crimes where there was never any evidence or corroboration whatsoever. The claims were accompanied by lawsuits settled for hundreds of thousands of dollars despite substantial evidence of fraud. On April 27 and 28, 2005, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Wall Street Journal published an account of the travesty of justice by which Father Gordon MacRae was convicted, a story described in First Things magazine as one of “a Church and a justice system that seem indifferent to justice.”  Current Bishop of Manchester, John McCormack, was formerly a senior aide to Cardinal Law in Boston, and has done little to help McRae’s cause.  Fr. McRae blogs at These Stone Walls: Musings from Prison of a Priest Falsely Accused.
  • Fr. M. of Boston, 82-years-old, was just placed on administrative leave for a claim of sexual abuse alleged to have occurred 50-years-ago, the only charge ever made against him.  Shortly after that charge was made public, attorney Mitch Garabedian came forward with a client who alleges he was abused by the same priest between 1963-1968.  Garabedian said his client began recovering repressed memories of the abuse last year, and recent media coverage of the Rev. M complaint led his client to tell his story.
  • Fr. G, who drunkenly propositioned and made inappropriate sexual comments to a woman and her daughter on one occasion at a restaurant/lounge in 2005 admitted he was drunk at the time, underwent evaluation and treatment over more than a year, had all charges dismissed by the court in 2007, and was deemed fit to return to ministry. He is on the Emergency Response Team unassigned to a parish.
  • Fr. T, who got rid of bingo and instead brought perpetual Eucharistic adoration to a parish in the western suburbs, had a consensual relationship with a woman in 1999, left the parish in 2001, underwent 14 months of counseling and treatment, and publicly admitted his sins to parishioners in 2003.  He has been gone from the archdiocesan Catholic directory since then, is off the diocesan payroll and lives in a religious community outside of the archdiocese.

The circumstances around each of these situations and dozens of others are uniquely different.  For some priests, indeed their sins (or crimes) are such that they cannot be assigned back to full-time ministry for any of a variety of reasons, while for some priests, the outcome seems to be unjust or extreme.  At the same time priests who may not be a threat to anyone are removed from ministry,  people see the following occurring:

  • Fr. C, who advocated in favor of gay marriage to the Massachusetts legislature and to his parishioners and was later removed from his parish for financial irregularities is assigned as chaplain at a local college campus, where he educates young people and is free to share his values with them.
  • Shortly after Fr. L resigned as pastor of a South Shore parish for stealing significant amounts of money from his parish, the Archdiocese sent in as a replacement, Fr. P, who himself was caught stealing significant amounts of money from his prior parish several years earlier.
  • Fr. B blogged in April about how priests should not be celibate, how the priest who laid on the chausible at his first Mass after ordination had abused “countless altar boys” but Fr. B had said nothing about it even 19 years later, how the sexual abuse crisis in the Church was not “about being gay”, and how the crisis is about an unwillingness by the Church to deal honestly with the psycho-sexual health of Church leaders — both priests and bishops, gay and straight.”  Apparently no one in the archdiocese read this, or if they did, no one reached out to Fr. B.  2 months later he was arrested for sexually assaulting a 21-year-old man in the woods.
  • A different Fr. C, known for preaching against the teachings of the church on marriage and other moral issues, was reassigned from his South shore parish to the Emergency Response Team, but later made pastor at another South Shore parish where his recent parish bulletin invited parishioners to a book-signing by noted dissident Catholic James Carroll, sponsored by two affiliates of Voice of the Faithful.  Carroll’s new book criticizes the Church’s teachings on abortion, gay marriage, papal infallibility, birth control, male-only priesthood, celibate clergy, and other issues.

Boston Catholic Insider readers see somewhat of an inconsistency here.  The Archdiocese wants to protect children and ensure that any priests who could harm children are not in a position to do so—which is of course the right thing to do.  At the same time, we are told that priests who may not pose any threat to children are put in limbo and/or cleared off the payroll, or for priests with health issues, their  benefits are slashed when they become a financial burden in their old age–while those whose preaching and false teachings may lead hundreds of “children of God” to sin continue in active ministry in good standing.  (“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42)

We know what we have written is likely to spur controversy.  Is the Archdiocese putting millstones around the right necks or wrong necks?  What do you think?


Reaction to Layoffs and Trust

July 7, 2010

Based on the emails we are getting–over yesterday’s Boston Globe puff-piece about mandatory payments from all parishes to the diocese, the Caritas sale, and layoffs–it feels like the archdiocese is in a very tenuous situation right now.  Here is a small sample of what we received in the last few days:

From “Carol”

Two truths:
1.  The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has no business paying anyone more than $150,000.00, and then only when there is great demonstrated competency.  The schools are going down the drain (Grassa-O’Neill), the chancellor and Mr. Hehir work for Jack Connors (a/k/a Partners and Boston College) and Mr. Donilon, based on his news releases, struggles with English as a written language (e.g. in today’s email about the Wangsness soft-toss, it’s “assess,” not “access” when you’re evaluating parish financial health).  When salaries have benefits and FICA/Medicare employer contributions added in, the top salary is over $350,000.00.  How many people are paid over $100,000?  What’s the total payroll for those people?  What’s the average salary of those paid less than $100,000?

2.  Skimming from parish revenue (offertories, rents and all other donations except bequests) to the tune of about 24% per annum (schools tax + RCAB tax)is just plain wrong.  When salaries in Braintree look more like the paychecks of those giving the money, we can talk.  Parishioners have already caught on and begun plans to find other ways to support their parishes.  Why didn’t the Globe article interview someone besides those whose job it is to sell the plan, and those who were most caustic about parish closings?  There are hundreds of priests (particularly pastors) and thousands of lay people who are saying, “Not so fast.”  The Globe didn’t seek them out it seems.

Meanwhile, why has no one asked what the RCAB spends on heating, plowing, mowing and capital repairs to the not-really-occupied former parish churches?  My guess is $750,000.00 per year, based on what it costs to maintain one parish church — and they are maintaining a half dozen of these places at a residential standard.  Show us the common sense, RCAB, and then maybe we’ll show you the money.

Last, but not least, who would be willing to take the bet that Cerberus has had discussions or some pre-existing agreement with Partners to sell the hospitals in 2012?  $25M is a drop in the bucket to buy off the “Catholic” part of the deal.  How can the cardinal sleep at night?  Or is he asleep all the time?

From “Paul”

What Boston Catholic Insider is doing is a good start, but you guys have barely scratched the surface on the corruption in the Pastoral Center.  Talk to some more chancery workers and pastors.

One of the laid-off staff members has been at the Archdiocese for 30 years; she is the main source of family income as her husband is ailing and they rely on her insurance…all that will be gone in 4 months…Not that the Archdiocese should employ everyone if there is simply no job.  But, hey, J. Bryan Hehir: What about social justice for the little people, not just more big “ideas” to solve the “complex” multi-dimensional problems in our  complex pluralistic society?  Meanwhile, there are at least 20-25 people earning 6-figure salaries, not including benefits.  Not one was laid-off.

The Clergy Retirement Fund has been mismanaged.  Based on what was promised when it was created, it needs more like $200 million to be funded as promised, but what’s a promise anyway?  That is not alot of money when you’re flushing millions down the toilet elsewhere, like for PR, law firm fees, Catholic school superintendent and associate superintendent salaries and at schools to educate mostly non-Catholics (like Pope John Paul II Academy in Dorchester) or  hospitals and charities that are mostly not Catholic any more and will disappear in a few years anyway.  How exactly they will close even a $100 million retirement fund gap is still mostly smoke and mirrors.

The annual report for the year ending June 2009 came out in June of 2010.  The Chancellor is paid $250,000/year and has a $100K+/year administrator and it takes them a year to issue a financial report?  FY 2010 just ended.  People should ask when they will see the 2010 report and all of the supplemental reports missing from 2009 still. Because the Chancellor controls the money, everyone kow-tows to him.

Meanwhile, older priests still in active service have been pushed off private medical plans  onto Medicare at a considerable extra out-of-pocket cost to the priests for office visits and prescription medications. 

 If 1/3 of the pastors stood firm and said they would NOT participate in the new mandatory parish payment program and curtailed the money-flow from parishes to the chancery, that would immediately stop the insanity.   If Boston Catholic Insider has a way to communicate with more priests and pastors, you guys will get an earful, and you should definitely publish what you hear.


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