Catholic Bloggers Respond to Archdiocese

The current news  about how the Archdiocese of Boston has blocked access to the blog is not at all about the blog distracting workers from doing their jobs–rather it is about the governance issues such as cronyism, conflicts of interest, and corruption that the Boston Archdiocese continues to conveniently ignore.  If you have a few minutes, do listen to radio station WBUR’s program on this topic yesterday.  We feel compelled to respond to the misleading aspects of the archdiocese’s statement about the blog:

Cardinal O’Malley and his staff are dedicated to building unity in Christ and Christian community within the Archdiocese.  Toward that end, we have reached out to bloggers on numerous occasions to ask them to enter into a professional and  Christ-centered conversation with us.  We are concerned about the harm caused to individuals and to the community by anonymous and unfounded claims on blogs.

The reality is that we have sent Cardinal O’Malley and members of his cabinet 4 emails since July 23 asking for answers to simple questions, and the archdiocese has not responded to a single one of these.  (One is published below).  Nor have they once asked to enter a conversation with us. All claims on our blog are thoroughly researched and well-documented (as much so as is practical on a blog), and if the archdiocese feels any claims are “unfounded” we encourage the archdiocese to send us an email and let us know of any indavertent errors so that we can make any necessary corrections.  In the past two months, we have received no such notices from the archdiocese, so their statement that we do harm by publishing “unfounded claims” is itself unsubstantiated.

Just for comparison, we thought you might like to see how the archdiocese commented about meeting with Voice of the Faithful back in 2006.  VOTF, as many may recall, had as one of its three goals “to shape structural change within the church.”  Here is what Terry Donilon said in this July 29, 2006 Boston Globe report about the upcoming meeting between the Cardinal and VOTF:

By way of the request, the VOTF representatives expressed a desire to be helpful to the Archdiocese. Cardinal Sean continues to demonstrate a willingness and openness to dialogue, and is committed to vibrant parish life throughout the church of Boston. We welcome the participation of all people who wish to assist with this work.”

After the meeting, here is what Mr. Donilon said in this August 25, 2006, National Catholic Reporter article, “Cardinal meets with reform group leaders

It was “helpful conversation about important issues and the continued renewal of parish life in the archdiocese,” Terrence Donilon, archdiocesan director of communications

We are not looking to structurally change the Catholic Church.  Since we have now heard the archdiocese is concerned that the blog has distracted Pastoral Center employees from their jobs, we would not want to consume the valuable time of archdiocesan cabinet members in a meeting.   At this point, their reaction to the blog and unfounded claim about “unfound claims” suggests that would be fruitless. 

As a first step, we ask that our Open Letter from yesterday be shared and discussed with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Presbyteral Council, and the Finance Council. Meanwhile, we invite Terry Donilon or another archdiocesan official to begin the “professional conversation” with us if that is desired by publicly responding to the email below, sent July 23, 2010.  We will publish their response.

To: Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Mr. James JcDonough, Mr. Terrence Donilon, and Mrs. Ann Carter

Date: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 7:40 AM
 
From: Boston Catholic Insider
 
We have become aware of a significant financial and ethical conflict of interest at the Archdiocese of Boston in the employment of Ann Carter of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and in the retention of her services to hire two Cabinet secretaries who have decision-making authority over her firm’s current compensation by the Archdiocese.  We have described this situation in two blog posts at bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com.  The most recently updated post is below:
 
https://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/conflicts-of-interest-part-ii/
https://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/conflicts-of-interest-part-i/
 
We request that the Archdiocese and Ms. Carter respond to the following questions in writing:
 
-Why was this clear conflict of interest permitted for not one, but two key cabinet positions?
-Who approved Ms Carter, a vendor, serving on the search committees for two positions that would have decision-making authority over her firm’s compensation and employment?  On what basis were archdiocesean staffers who raised concerns overruled?
-How did Mr. McDonough come to apply for the Chancellor position in early 2006?
-When it became known that Mr. McDonough was applying for the Chancellor position and Ms. Carter, a key member of the search committee for the position, had a prior business relationships with him and an additional conflict of interest with having profited from the sale of McDonough’s Abington Bank while she was a board member, who determined that it was appropriate for Ms. Carter to remain on the search committee, rather than resign immediately so as to avoid this additional level of conflict of interest?
-Given Ms. Carter’s long-term business relationship with Mr. McDonough and her having profited significantly from the sale of Abington Bank and her having played a key role in his hiring as well as that of Mr. Donilon, does the Archdiocese belive that Mr. McDonough and Mr. Donilon can be perceived today as able to make non-biased decisions about current or future use of Rasky’s services? 
-Given Ms. Carter’s role in the hiring of Mr. McDonough and Mr. Donilon, can either person be perceived as able to make non-biased decisions to cut fees, engage competitive PR vendors, or terminate Rasky services?
-What are the collective billings of Rasky across the Archdiocese communications office, Office of the Delegate, Caritas Christi, and Catholic Charities?  Do these collective billings qualify Rasky as a “top vendor” for annual financial disclosures?
–What steps are being taken to immediately address these conflicts for the common good of the archdiocese and to restore trust with priests, chancery workers, donors, and laity.?
 
Thank you for your prompt response to the questions.
 
Jim Franklin, for Boston Catholic Insider

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