Thanks-Giving Cronyism?

November 29, 2010

Welcome back! We hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

Before we get into the topic for today—another example of what one reader called the “dysfunctional personality of the RCAB”–we have another announcement about upcoming events.  Over the weekend we posted about one event this coming Saturday evening, December 4, with Cardinal Raymond Burke in Boston to raise money for scholarships at Thomas More College.  We had no sooner finished that post than it came to our attention we failed to mention the St. Johns Seminary scholarship concert fundraising dinner, also taking place this Saturday, December 4, starting at 5:30pm.  Click here for more information about the SJS event.  Both are worthwhile causes, and we are hard-pressed to advise which to attend and/or support.   Regardless of your event preference or financial means, you can also attend the St. Johns Seminary annual celebration of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 5 at 3pm for free.

Now to our topic for today, which is how cronyism and dysfunction occurs even when the archdiocese is doing something good, like giving thanks to outstanding workers and volunteers.

A few days ago, the archdiocese gave annual Cheverus Awards to 98 people. These recognize service by men and women from across the archdiocese to their parishes, schools and other Catholic entities.  The Pilot article says that recipients are nominated by their pastors or auxiliary bishops and approved by Cardinal O’Malley. (In reality though, there is not much of an approval process–if someone is nominated, they basically will get an award).

Most of the 98 recipients are long-time parish workers (who get paid very low salaries or no salary whatsoever), religious, or parish or local volunteers. Others fit in a category of being significant long-time benefactors to the archdiocese.  The huge majority of the award recipients are well-deserving of the awards as best as we can tell.  But the awards just would not be complete here in Boston without there being a few recipients who work for the archdiocese and collect 6-figure paychecks for their work—and they caused the “cronyism meter” here at Boston Catholic Insider to buzz.  First we highlight a few examples of the many recipients who are clearly well-deserving of the award, and then a few who are already paid in excess of $150K/year by the archdiocese and whose names do not feel to us like they belong on the same list as the others.

Well Deserving Award Recipients

As we said a moment ago, the huge majority of the recipients are clearly well-deserving of the awards.  We do not know about all of their backgrounds, and by highlighting several we know of, we do not mean in any way to minimize the outstanding contributions of everyone else—it is a matter of space and the reality that we do not know everyone.

  • Jack Schaughnessy, Sr. : Has given millions of dollars to the archdiocese over the years, as well as and to a wide range of Catholic Church related causes including the Blessed John XXIII Seminary, Caritas Christi, Catholic Charities, BC High School, Nativity Prep, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and others.  He is a humble, faithful man and keeps out of the limelight.  Jack Connors could learn more than a few things about humility from this “Jack.”
  • Merry Nordeen:  spearheaded the “Choose Life” license plate drive for Massachusetts.
  • Brother Bede Benn, a Xaverian Brother, taught children and adults for nearly 50 years, and recently celebrated his 70th anniversary as a brother in service to the Church.
  • Sr. Anne D’Arcy, CSJ: we are told she has worked for the Boston archdiocese for some 50 years. Coincidentally,  her brother is Bishop John D’Arcy, a former Boston Auxiliary Bishop who retired in 2009 as bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend (and was the oldest bishop governing a diocese) shortly after he took a strong stance opposing Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama.

We are not able to go into all of the other names–these just highlight a few we readily recognized and knew enough about to highlight for you.  Then there is the other category.

Do These Names Belong on the List?

Two names of people who collect paychecks in excess of $150K/year from the archdiocese jumped out at us as just not necessarily fitting with the other recipients—Kevin Kiley and Joe D’Arrigo.

  • Kevin Kiley is the deputy budget director who served as interim head of development for 4-5 months after the previous person in the role was pushed out by Chancellor McDonough and Jack Connors.  Kiley also had helped coordinate the move of the archdiocesan headquarters from Brighton to Braintree—a move that occurred in 2008, and for which he was amply recognized already by the Cardinal while, coincidentally, others at a lower level who did more work and really made the move happen went unrecognized. He has worked for the archdiocese for all but 2 years since 1991 and is also considered to be Chancellor McDonough’s most trusted and loyal advisor.  Does that make him worthy of an award, let alone to be recognized along with the others above?  And it should be remembered that he also already gets paid $150K+ for doing his day-job.
  • Also, sources tell us that back a few years ago, Kevin used to moonlight by doing the books for multiple parishes as their accountant while also, coincidentally, being in charge of the RCAB audits for those same parishes.  In other words, it would seem that he was both the auditor–who determined whether or not the parishes passed the “sniff test”—and the accountant whose work he was assessing.

  • Joe D’Arrigo: is a consultant working on the Clergy Retirement Fund. We are told he has done a great job stabilizing the fund, and we know he has also done work for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. We are not criticizing Joe personally, as we do not know exactly what he was recognized for.  The question is simply the following: while his current work for the archdiocese pays him handsomely, does he belong on the award recipient list at this time along with the other people whose service or contributions are largely voluntary or who are low-paid?

To be fair, the huge majority of the recipients are well-deserving of the awards and we think the awards are a good idea. But it seems dysfunctional and suggestive of cronyism to have recipients who collect six-figure salaries from the Church on the same list of award recipients as those who give six-figure or seven-figure contributions to the Church.  Shouldn’t there be some rule that if an employee is at a director-level or above and/or collects a six-figure salary already, that is sufficient recognition for their service?  Should there be some guideline that the awards should be limited to hard-working employees or volunteers who are not collecting $150K+ salaries already for their work? Beyond the matter of rules or guidelines, why would anyone even want to get an award for doing what is expected, and for which one is already being fairly compensated?

For those who want more straight-up corruption, join us here tomorrow as we continue with the next exciting episode in our series on Boston archdiocesan corruption that started with “Systemic Corruption“, “Finance Council: Conflicted, Contradictory, Corrupt?and “ Top Ethical Concerns: #3: Conflicts of Interest


Cardinal Burke in Boston, Sat. December 4

November 27, 2010

Today we take a break from our series on Boston archdiocesan corruption (“Systemic Corruption“, “Finance Council: Conflicted, Contradictory, Corrupt?and “ Top Ethical Concerns: #3: Conflicts of Interest“)  to let you know about an upcoming event Boston-area readers may want to attend and an associated cause  that any reader can contribute to.

On Saturday, December 4, the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, located in Merrimac, NH, will host its annual President’s Council Dinner in downtown Boston, featuring newly-installed Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as its keynote speaker.In addition to his keynote address, Cardinal Burke will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the evening’s Vigil Mass at 5pm at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine.

Here is an excerpt from the October 11 press release announcing the event.

“The President’s Council Dinner and Symposium are important events held each year in support of Thomas More College’s scholarship funds,” said Dr. William Fahey, President of Thomas More College. Thomas More College is a unique liberal arts college in the Boston area – ardently Catholic and academically rigorous,” said Fahey. “We are dedicated to offering the young people of Boston and the larger region an education that is deeply rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and completely faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church. We have moved this annual dinner to Boston to make it clear that we are committed to the region, and wish to play our part in re-evangelizing New England.”

Fahey referenced the College’s commitment to the Church by noting that this weekend the College will renew its consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, its faculty and teaching staff will make a public Profession of Faith, and that he will take the Oath of Fidelity, as requested by Canon Law.  Not all Catholic-affiliated colleges in the region observe these requirements. 

[Speaking of a public Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church, Boston Catholic Insider is wondering what would happen if this were required of all Boston Archdiocesan Finance Council members, Archdiocesan Cabinet members and director-level staff. Is it possible that perhaps some of the corruption we are blogging about might never have occurred, or could be prevented in the future?).

Anyway, the President’s Council events will be held at the Harvard Club in Boston.  A symposium begins at 2 pm, the Mass is at 5pm at St. Clements Eucharistic Shrine, followed by a 6 pm reception and a 7 pm dinner.

Tickets to Thomas More College’s President’s Council Dinner are $150 each, and tickets to the symposium are $15 each.  Details and a registration form may be found on the College’s web site at Rumor has it that the dinner event may sell-out, so if you are interested in attending, buy your tickets soon.

Disclaimer: Boston Catholic Insider has not been asked by the college or by anyone to promote this event–we simply heard about it and thought Catholics who read this blog might find it to be of interest. If you have questions about the event, contact Charlie McKinney at (603) 880-8308, ext. 21 or (603) 913-5939, or by email at cmckinney(at)

We will return to our regular fare next time.

Finance Council Top Ethical Concerns: #3: Conflicts of Interest

November 24, 2010

Yesterday we started what looks like it will be a series on our Top 10 conflicts, contradictions, and possible corruption around the Archdiocese Finance Council.  We only got to #1 and 2yesterday, and today we continue with #3: Conflicts of Interest.

3) Conflicts of Interest

If you are new to the blog, you might want to check out these posts in our “Conflicts of Interest” category to get up-to-speed on the extent of this problem across the Boston Archdiocese.  Regular readers may have already guessed that the Finance Council is not exempt from this problem.

  • Charter says:
  • Article III, Responsibilities, Section L.  “To receive periodic reports on the status of issues arising from the Conflict of Interest Policy”

    Article Xl. Conflict of Interest Policy. “The Finance Council shall adopt and keep in force at all times a Conflict of Interest Policy. Members of the Finance Council will annually complete a disclosure of conflicts of interest and submit it to the Archbishop.”

  • BCI Concerns:
  • 1) Where is the Conflict of Policy published?

    2) What teeth does it have?  Who enforces it?  What if the people who are “keeping it in force” themselves have conflicts of interest?

    3) What if people complete a disclosure of conflicts of interest and submit it to the Archbishop, and it sits and goes nowhere like nearly all of the letters and other paperwork that goes to his office these days?  Does the Archbishop read and sign these conflict of interest disclosures with a notary witnessing that he personally signed the statements?  Do the conflicts get discussed publicly?  Are people with conflicts banned from being admitted to the Council?  Are they asked to leave or not attend meetings and/or are they barred from discussing particular topics in committee, outside of meetings, or on the main Council?

    4) How do people who have prior relationships with the Chancellor reconcile those with assessing his performance?  Yesterday we talked about how a newcomer to the Finance Council member, Laura Sen, was formerly on the Board of the Abington Savings Bank when Chancellor Jim McDonough was CEO of the bank.  She was rewarded for her service there by realizing somewhere between $340,000 and $360,000 in stock value. What good is a paper the Conflict of Interest policy is written upon if it lets her on the Finance Council given that conflict of interest?  Whether she sold that stock and pocketed the gain at the time or or not, is everyone OK with the obvious conflict of interest that she profited from prior service with the Chancellor, and one of her core responsibilities now is assessing whether the Chancellor should stay in the job or be replaced?

    5) How do the conflicts in decision-making with St. Johns Seminary get reconciled?  In our series, “Seminary Squeezola” we talked about how Chancellor Jim McDonough, who is on the Finance Council, is also on the Board of St. Johns Seminary.  The main interest of the Chancellor—finding money anyplace he can to keep Corporation Sole afloat—is not necessarily aligned with the main interest of the seminary—whose mission is to educate and form future priests.  We know that Cardinal O’Malley, Chancellor McDonough and Vicar General Fr. Erikson have all voted according to documents online, in direct conflict with the best interest of the seminary in order to benefit Corp Sole. Given that the Archdiocese owes  $4.8 million to the seminary in January and another $36 million in 2017, how in the world can the chief finance officer of the archdiocese, McDonough–the borrower–sit on both the archdiocesan Finance Council and on the Seminary Board?  In case it is not clear, we have the person whose employer owes an entity $41 million sitting on the board of the entity to whom his employer is indebted.  Who made that decision and feels there is no conflict today?  What if McDonough representing the archdiocese, feels he needs to sell the rest of the seminary space in order to pay off the debts that he, representing the archdiocese, owes the  seminary?  How does that get reconciled?

    6) How do conflicts of interest with Partners Healthcare get reconciled?  The Boston Globe quoted Jack Connors in “The Invisible hand of Jack” as having “no greater passion than Partners HealthCare.”   Finance Council life member, John Kaneb, is also on the Partners board. How did the conflicts of interest of Partners potentially wanting some of the Caritas Christi assets in the future get reconciled with the archdiocesan interests of preserving Catholic healthcare?  Did they recuse themselves from any and all discussions relative to Caritas?  Let us go a step further.  Should, hypothetically speaking, the idea emerge of selling archdiocesan property such as Regina Cleri (the retirement home for priests) to their next-door neighbor, Partners/Mass General Hospital, will Connors and Kaneb be recused from all formal and informal discussions?   Is the weight of their presence and the ongoing relationship with them going to influence council members?  The Globe acknowledges, “Who is going to say no when Jack comes calling?”  Who would represent the needs of the present and retired clergy?

    7. How did the conflict of interest of the Archdiocese lending $20 million to Jack Connors’ Catholic Schools Campaign get reconciled, while the archdiocese was also deciding to not fund employee and retiree pension plans, including to current and former Catholic school employees?  Who floated the idea in the first place?  Was Jack asked to not be present for any and all discussions?  Did he vote?


Does it occur to anyone else but these bloggers that whatever Conflict of Interest policy is in place and whatever means through which it is executed is somewhere between just a little bit flawed and so ineffective as to be meaningless?

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has their Conflict of Interest policy publicly posted.  Among their standards, it is prohibited for responsible individuals to…

Use their position to secure personal gain or other benefits derived from such relationship.

Invest or hold a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any business entity, transaction or business endeavor that would create a conflict between the Archdiocesan/Affiliate employee’s duty to the Archdiocese/Affiliate and the individual’s private interest.

The Archdiocese of Boston has a Code of Ministerial behavior that says, “Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can call integrity and professional conduct into question.” That is all we could find, and that does not relate to the Finance Council.

Do we have people on the Finance Council whose actions give the appearance of a conflict of interest?  Do we have people whose actions or affiliations clearly represent a conflict of interest?  Do we have individuals who use their position to secure personal gain or gain for other organizations they have some interest in?  Are there conflicts you know about that we have missed? Who is watching and reconciling these conflicts?  Is the fox guarding the chicken coop? Do these conflicts of interest serve the greater good of the Archdiocese of Boston, the clergy, pastors, parishes, donors, and advancing the saving ministry of Jesus Christ? Do they serve God or Mammon?

Best wishes to all for a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday, and safe travels if you are heading out of town.

Finance Council: Conflicted, Contradictory, or Corrupt?

November 23, 2010

A few days ago we talked about how the archdiocese took a step forward by finally publishing the names of members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council.  But unfortunately, the more and more we look at the charter for the council and the membership, the more questions come up about potential conflicts, contradictions, and corruption.

The purpose of the Finance Council is defined in Canon Law as follows:

“In addition to the functions entrusted to it in Book V, The Temporal Goods of the Church [which talks about acquiring, retaining, administering, and alienating temporal goods independently from civil power],  the Finance council prepares each year, according to the directions of the diocesan bishop, a budget of the income and expenditures which are foreseen for the entire governance of the diocese in the coming year and at the end of the year examines an account of the revenues and expenses.”

Here in Boston, the Finance Council charter outlines a number of  specific responsibilities and aspects of how the council operates.  The manner in which that all gets executed in Boston is wrought with problems.  In fact, this blog post could have been called “10 Ways the Finance Council is Conflicted, Self-Contradicted, or Perhaps even Corrupted.”

Here is a high-level summary of the concerns.  We are listing them today and starting with descriptions of two, but will fill in more over the next several days posts.

1.  Consultation on Performance or Removal of the Chancellor

  • Charter Says:
  • Article III. Responsibilities, Section E. “To oversee and provide consultation on the appointment , performance, or removal of the Chancellor, who shall be the finance officer of the Archdiocese.”

  • BCI Concerns:
  • What exactly is the objective criteria that the performance of the Chancellor is being measured against?
    How are conflicts of interest dealt with?  For example, Laura Sen, President of BJ’s Wholesale Club, was added to the  Finance Council during the past year. Coincidentally, Ms. Sen was a former board member at the Abington Savings Bank when Chancellor Jim McDonough was CEO there.  Alert reader, “Clem” reminded us that she held 10,000 fully vested stock options in the bank when Abington Bank was sold to Seacoast Financial, and she had the choice of taking $34/share in cash (which would have been a $340,000 payout), or converting the Abington stock options to 14,468 Seacoast stock options (which, at an exercise price of $7.35/share and a closing price of $32.66, left Sen with $366,000 in stock value).  By virtue of her profiting handsomely by service on the Abington Bank board with McDonough, Sen has a built-in conflict of interest in assessing his performance as Chancellor.

2. Term of Service

  • Charter Says:
  • Article V. Term of Office: “No member may serve more than two consecutive 5-year terms…In the discretion of the Archbishop, based on the recommendation of the steering committee, a member turning 75 or completing two consecutive five-year  terms of office may be invited to become a Life Member, including committee membership.

  • BCI Concerns:
  • The first and second sentences above contradict themselves.  Either someone is a member for no more than two consecutive 5-year terms (10 years maximum) or they are not.  If the intention is to prevent someone from usurping too much power–a necessary condition here in Boston–then there needs to be a term limit.  Period. The idea of honorary members is nice-sounding in principle, but the “Life Member” provision means someone with an agenda other than advancing the good works of the Catholic Church could be there influencing the direction of the archdiocese for 30-40+ years if they happen to have good genes.

3. Conflicts of Interest

4. Compensation

5. Oversight for Asset Sales

6. Whistleblower Policy Oversight

7. Effective Information Technology

8. Manipulation of Committees

9. Membership

10. Approval

Sorry to leave you hanging with just a few at a time, but for those who like shorter posts, you get your wish this week!  See you tomorrow for more exciting developments.

“Systemic Corruption”

November 19, 2010

From today’s Boston Globe:

The state’s highest court, firmly embracing a …conclusion that the ___Department is riddled with fraud and “systemic corruption,’’ ordered…officials yesterday to move swiftly to fire the…commissioner, suspend his senior lieutenants, and ask prosecutors to weigh criminal charges.

“Such abuse and corruption are intolerable,’’ members of the Supreme Judicial Court said in a statement.

The independent counsel…concluded that…senior executives oversaw a hiring system that was rigged “on a grand scale,’’ conducting…phony job interviews when the positions had already been promised to politically connected candidates.

“The fraud begins at the top…and it extends through most of the hierarchy..who participate in interviewing candidates for hiring and promotion,” wrote …a prominent private lawyer tapped by the state’s highest court to investigate the Department after…documented its deep culture of politicized patronage hiring and described the…___Department as “an employment agency for the well-connected.’’

Who could the organization be?  Who would engage in such practices?

This article is about the Massachusetts State Probation Department.  But, without this blog mentioning any names, can any readers come up with any other Boston-area organizations whose name might be substituted in the blank?

The Globe article cites strong language by the court, and the criminal penalties could be significant for those involved.

Coincidentally, we have happened to observe the following occurring inside of a certain non-profit religious organization which the state has some oversight for by virtue of it being a tax-exempt organization:

Hiring Politically-Connected Candidates

  • This Catholic non-profit publicly announced a search for a new development chief with names of members of a search committee, when in fact no candidates were interviewed, the position was not advertised in relevant industry publications, and the position went to a person  politically and professionally connected to the search committee chair. The candidate had actually been identified before the search was even announced.
  • This Catholic non-profit hired as head of communications a person who had political and family connections to the PR firm who chaired the search committee.  More qualified candidates not considered.
  • This Catholic non-profit hired as chief financial officer, a person who had connections to a search committee member who happened to have served on the Board with him and profited handsomely from that service at the bank where he was previously CEO.

Overpaying Executive Leaders with General Donor Funds

  • This Catholic non-profit organization hired for a schools administration position, a person whose salary of $325,000/year is higher on a per-student basis than the publicly-disclosed salaries of any other public or parochial school superintendent in the country.  If adjusted on a per-student basis with the closest regional peer, the salary would be $67,000 per year less. The members of the search committee were never publicly disclosed, and sources indicate the person hired for the position may have actually served on the same committee that hired her.

Overlooking Conflicts of Interest

This Catholic non-profit has a “Finance Council” which is supposed to provide objective advice on finances, budgets, hiring/firing of the chief financial officer of the organization, and help with other financial management-related  matters. However…

  • The council’s Conflict of Interest policy is not publicly published.
  • The policy is sufficiently weak or unenforced such that it allowed onto the Council a former board member of the bank where the Catholic non-profit’s chief financial officer had been CEO, as though there was no conflict of interest today.  In the finance council role, that former board member–who personally profited from prior board service with the current chief financial officer–will be asked to objectively assess whether the chief financial officer should have his employment renewed or terminated.

Failing to Abide by Organization’s Own Governance Charter

The “Finance Council” for this Catholic non-profit states in its charter that members must be “Catholics in good standing.” Yet the council of the non-profit apparently violates its own charter by permitting on the council a person who is Chair of a private healthcare company that profits from performing more than 4,000 procedures annually that directly violate a core principle and belief of the Catholic non-profit.  If a “finance council” member of our Catholic non-profit benefits from his leadership of another organization that violates core principles and beliefs of the Catholic Church, how could they be still be “in good standing” with the Catholic organization?  What would it take for a person to not be “in good standing”?

There are many other concerns, but we will stop here for today.  As a commenter noted in our post of yesterday:

people who hold or who held the public’s trust are being dismissed from state government based on their participation in (or acquiescence to), fraudulent search and hiring procedures.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court said, “Such abuse and corruption are intolerable.”  Prosecutors are being asked to weigh criminal charges.

What if the Catholic non-profit were, hypothetically speaking, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston?

What is the reaction of the non-profit?

Where is the leader?  What does the leader say about this?

Who will be accountable for these practices?

By coincidence, here is what today’s Gospel says in Luke 19:45-48:

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Has the house of Jesus been made into a “den of thieves”?

Who will drive out the money-changers?

Stay tuned for more in our next exciting episode.

Archdiocesan Finance Council: New Compensation Committee Formed

November 18, 2010

Readers, anyone who feels we are not making slow but steady progress need look no further.

Last Wednesday, Nov 10, the archdiocese announced to all employees that now includes an up-to-date listing of the members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council.  That may seem minor, but it represents progress.  Along with the progress, we are not yet sure what to make of one more piece of news. We now have yet another committee–this one formed to review compensation for senior lay executives and recommend changes, where needed, to the Archbishop.

The publication of the members of the Finance Council is at least a small win for Catholics in the archdiocese, since the more transparency that exists, the more accountability there will be.  And if the archdiocesan leaders–current ones and/or new ones that come on-board–are truly accountable and get to the point where they are acting in concert with the values of Christ and are not in it just for the money or power, it is more likely that people will trust the archdiocese and the good works of the church can continue.  Maybe that is too much to expect yet today–we will see.

Anyway, the archdiocese used to publish the  list of Finance Council members through the time when the 2008 annual report was issued, but then they inexplicably stopped.  We have been asking them about this since August 23, and it only took ten weeks in which to get back to doing that which was being done previously.  This shows that things are just cranking at break-neck speed at 66 Brooks Drive.

At the end of this post, you will see the message that tells you where you can find the names of the people on the council.  But, before we get to the new people added to the council, we thought we should let you know about a major change to the charter of the Finance Council.

The current charter, amended November 10, 2010, has created a new “Compensation Committee.”  Here is a description of the committee:

The Compensation Committee shall develop and submit to the Finance Council for its review, and for approval by the Archbishop, a statement of the compensation philosophy of the Archdiocese for senior lay executive employees. The Committee shall review and recommend to the Archbishop all changes in senior lay executive compensation, including offers of employment for senior lay executive employees. For purposes of this Section H, “senior lay executive employees” shall have the meaning determined by the Committee. The Committee will perform an annual review of all compensation for senior lay executive employees to ensure that compensation falls within ranges that are consistent with the approved compensation philosophy. Where deviations are observed, the Committee shall either determine that there is an acceptable reason therefore, or recommend a plan to correct the deviation. The Committee shall submit to the Finance Council an annual report on the compensation practices of the Archdiocese, which shall be included in the annual financial release of the Archdiocese. The Committee shall from time to time appoint a qualified independent compensation consultant to advise the Committee in the performance of its duties, and shall direct the consultant to conduct an analysis of competitive compensation practices and report to the committee thereon, at least once every three years. The Committee shall also advise on other compensation matters as requested. The Committee shall consist of at least one member of the Finance Council, and shall have members with proven credentials in executive compensation or other relevant general business experience.

Seems to us that this could, coincidentally, be a response to criticism by some people that the 6-figure salaries in the Pastoral Center—especially those at the $300K+ level–have gotten out of control and are unwarranted.  overpaidOnce the committee convenes, if they are looking for somewhere to start, we suggest they begin with Schools Superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, whose salary of $325,000/year apparently makes her on a per-student basis the highest paid public or private school superintendent in the country. It is not clear those kinds of paychecks were ever justified, let alone at a time when  parishes are struggling to get out of the red and pay their bills and the archdiocese is cutting pension benefits to lay employees and retirees.

UPDATE: In response to several commenters, we are changing our perspective slightly.  We think some check-and-balance on compensation is a good idea. But, it is not clear that such a committee is the right approach, as it appears to give even more power to the Finance Council, treating it even moreso like it is the Board of Directors of a company, which it is not.  How many Catholic archdioceses have a “Compensation Committee”?  Since this committee is apparently a foregone conclusion for now, we hope and pray that they put someone in charge of this new committee who is neither independently wealthy nor the CEO of a company.  The chair of the committee should come with unquestioned integrity and no conflicts of interest, as should the committee members.

While we are looking at the new charter, we thought we should mention several flaws in the document, which suggest someone needs to still be watching carefully over the Finance Department and Chancellor’s office.

First off, this charter is not actually signed by anyone.  Article XII of the charter says that “Amendments become effective only upon approval by the Archbishop.”  Is this new amendment approved by the Archbishop?  If so, why is it not signed by him and notarized by a witness to his signature?

Secondly, the amendment history present in previous versions has now been removed for some reason.  Here is the version that was most recently amended in May of 2010.  Notice the amendment history, with a place for the signatures by both the Cardinal and Chancellor?  To maintain transparency and the history of changes, shouldn’t the amendment history be included in this version as well?

There are other aspects of the Finance Council Charter that we will get to in the coming days. When you have a few minutes, look over the May 2010 version to see if you can find the irregularities or areas where the Council is not actively fulfilling their chartered responsibilities.

In the meantime, here is an excerpt of the diocesan announcement of last week about the new information:


1.      Listing of Council Members

Our website was updated this week to include a listing of the full membership of the College of Consultors, Archdiocesan Finance Council, Presbyteral Council and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.    We are deeply grateful for great leadership these members provide to in service to Christ and His Church.

More next time on the irregularities and unfulfilled responsibilities, unless you beat us to the punch via comments.

Diocesan Deception and Coverup? The response.

November 17, 2010

Before we  get back to Boston, just another quick acknowledgement of what one blogger just described as “The Earthquake in Baltimore.”

The AP and most other publications are describing the defeat of sitting USCCB VP Bishop Kicanas of Tuscon and the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as an “upset“.  Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia described the result as a “seismic shift” and offers other interesting narrative about the climate in Baltimore before the “Timquake” vote.  The vote to elect the sitting USCCB vice president is usually close to unanimous, and this time around it was a whole ‘nother story.

Archbishop Dolan won by a vote of 128-111.  What impact the “Catholic blogosphere”  had on this election is impossible to measure.  But we can tell you that so many emails and faxes were being sent to bishops from our hastily set-up server that it got overloaded and shut down twice between Friday and Sunday–and we can tell you that your messages reached a lot more than 17 bishops.  (By the way, the technical Web guy from RealCatholicTV who worked nights and over the weekend to help us with the campaign on basically zero advance notice refuses to even accept the gift of a dinner out for him and his wife in appreciation for his work.  If you would like to support their ministry, you can make a tax-deductible donation to St. Michael’s Media here).

OK, now back to Boston, where we are seeing a number of small signs of progress.

Back on November 5 in our post “Diocesan Deception from Donilon?” we reported on the latest regarding the “sham search” for the new head of development.  A Catholic reporter on deadline had contacted Communications Secretary, Terry Donilon, to ask a few straightforward questions about the sham search and new “independent” development organization.  Terry responded to the reporter saying he would not answer “unfounded claims and attacks posted in Boston Catholic Insider,” while, coincidentally, not acknowledging that our reports of the sham search were indeed accurate and it was his repeated claim of “unfounded claims” that was unfounded instead.  A number of readers let us know that they wrote to Terry and the Vicar General, Fr. Richard Erikson.  We did too.   On November 15, we got a response.

Here is the email we sent to Terry and the Vicar General, and then the response back.  Let us count how many questions posed were actually answered by the archdiocese.

From: James Franklin
Date: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 5:21 PM
Subject: Terry Donilon’s response to reporter about blog

To Fr. Erikson and Terry,

As both of you know, the Boston Catholic Insider blog was 100% accurate in saying that the search for the new head of institutional advancement was a “sham search” and there never was an open search.  Spin it as you wish to try and now claim there are two flavors of searches and you reserve the right to pretend there is a real search and just place whomever you want. With your June press release/announcement, the archdiocesan leadership knowingly deceived the public into believing there was an open search for this position when there really was not. That is fact.  Do you disagree?

For Terry to respond to a reporter with the line about “unfounded claims” is troubling. In case you did not realize it, the blog is not suffering from credibility problems–it is the leadership of the archdiocese.

We need not be “enemies.”  If you guys will operate with integrity, then the blog will have nothing to write about and it goes away. Why is it so difficult for the archdiocesan leadership to operate with integrity?

As a faithful Catholic in the Archdiocese of Boston whose donations to my local church partially fund your salaries, I and thousands of other Catholics would like to know the answers to several questions regarding the changes just announced in the area of fund-raising.

–How does the newly established 501(c) (3) organization for fund-raising ensure donors of “independence” and “accountability”?
–What exactly was the problem with accountability to the Archdiocese of Boston before which this now solves?
–Who–by name of individual and canonically recognized body–will this be accountable to going forward?
–What is the new entity independent of?
–Who is on the “newly established Board of Trustees”?
–What is the “respective board” representing the Archdiocese” referred to in the press release?   Who is on it?  What is the canonical basis for that board’s existence?

These are not questions for the Boston Catholic Insider blog. These are not questions for an anonymous blogger.  These are questions that Catholics of the Boston Archdiocese deserve legitimate answers to.

Do you plan to answer these questions for the Catholic faithful of Boston?



OK, so we got a bit emotional in the wording of the email.  In hindsight, we could have been a little more even-keeled.  Here is Terry’s response, of November 15.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Donilon, Terrence <>
Date: Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 4:15 PM
Subject: RE: Terry Donilon’s response to reporter about blog
To: James Franklin
Cc: Vicar General <>, “Parrish, Reverend Bryan”

Dear “Jim”,

Thank you for your inquiry of November 5th.

As announced on November 1, 2010, Boston Catholic Development Services, Inc. (BCDS) is being formed to streamline the fundraising strategies of the Archdiocese.  It will serve as the development office for the Archdiocese, the Clergy Funds and the Campaign for Catholic Schools (CCS).  Catholic Charities has also been invited to join and benefit from the new development services and the final determination to participate will be made by their management and board of trustees.

We are in the early stages of identifying the Board of Trustees of BCDS and bringing together the various staff personnel that will conduct the important work ahead.

Cardinal Seán will name the trustees at the time BCDS is formally incorporated. It is anticipated that the new board of BCDS, which will oversee its operations, will include member(s) from the Archdiocese, the Clergy Funds, CCS and other participating entities. BCDS will also collaborate closely with the management and respective boards of the entities it serves. BCDS will not hold donated funds in its own name, but will provide strategic vision, planning and development programs for the funding of the primary Archdiocesan missions.  As is now the case with the ministries and related agencies of the Archdiocese, BCDS will be responsible to the Archbishop, who will have final oversight authority.

Consistent with the Cardinal’s commitment to financial transparency, each year BCDS will account for its financial activities from the previous fiscal year.

I hope this answers some of your questions.  Please continue to check in the days and weeks ahead for additional information.

Thank you,

First off, we view it as a big sign of progress that at least we and other readers got a response!  Terry, if you are reading this post, we do appreciate you taking the time to write back and we appreciate the archdiocesen leadership having taken the time and effort to formulate the response.

Did it answer all of our questions?  Not really, but it is a start.  Here is what we still do not know the answers to:

  • With your June press release/announcement, the archdiocesan leadership knowingly deceived the public into believing there was an open search for this position when there really was not. Do you disagree?
  • Why is it so difficult for the archdiocesan leadership to operate with integrity?
  • What exactly was the problem with accountability to the Archdiocese of Boston before which this now solves?
  • Who–by name of individual–will this be accountable to going forward?
  • What is the new entity independent of?
  • Who is on the “newly established Board of Trustees”?

Another reader copied us on their message, where they asked the following to members of the Archdiocesan cabinet and Cardinal O’Malley:

  • Is the archdiocese denying that there was deception?
  • Who exactly on the Cabinet knew this was a fake search?  When exactly did they know?
  • Who would be in charge of appointing an independent ethics commission to investigate this further?
  • What will the consequences be to the people who knowingly engaged in this deception?
  • How can the archdiocese claim that “transparency and accountability” are important steps in healing the Church of Boston and “rebuilding the trust of the people of this Archdiocese” and then destroy trust by engaging in deception?

So, we do not think the Driscoll affair is yet over.  At the same time, we are not holding our breath waiting for answers to these questions.

It is not Terry Donilon’s job at this point to justify and explain the “sham search” and deception which was carried out by others (though we hope he will stop sending up smokescreens any more by referring to “unfounded claims” on the blog).

Just as a reminder, the people mainly behind this whole development change were the Chancellor (Jim McDonough) and Jack Connors.  Those who knew about and/or were actively involved in the deception on the cabinet included the Chancellor and the Vicar General.  In our post “Diocesan Deception and Coverup?” we gave more details about how Cardinal O’Malley and others knew, and how this deception was propagated to clergy and everyone in the archdiocese.

The Code of Canon Law (Can 482 §2) says “The chancellor and notaries must be of unimpaired reputation and above all suspicion.” Can. 494 §1 says, “In every diocese, after having heard the college of consultors and the Finance council, the bishop is to appoint a Finance officer who is truly expert in Financial affairs and absolutely distinguished for honesty.”

Has the current Finance officer of the Archdiocese of Boston, who, coincidentally, is approaching the end of his 5-year team, “distinguished himself” for the attributes mentioned in Canon Law”?  If not, what do you think should be done about that?

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