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.
“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.
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.