Boston Catholic Insider Poll Results

Results of our 2-day poll from last Wednesday-Thursday about the hiring of Kathleen Driscoll as Secretary of Development and combination of all fundraising into a new “independent” 501(c)(3) entity are in.  If you have not already reviewed them, you can see a graphical depiction of the results in an easy to read form here. Today we give you some interpretation of the results.

First off, several readers commented that this could not be positioned as a “scientific poll.”  They are absolutely correct.  In the interest of full disclosure, we openly acknowledge that the Boston Catholic Insider bloggers do not see ourselves or this poll as being anywhere near the league of Rasmussen, Zogby, Gallup, or  another full-time professional polling organization.  You will see no “margin of error” listed in our results.  We gave response choices that allowed readers to choose whether they were in agreement, disagreement, or relatively neutral about the question, but indeed, you saw some sarcasm in the wording of the choices because we wanted to give readers a chance to voice how they really felt if they thought this situation was out-of-control.

Here are the five questions we asked, along with how you responded. (Note, if you are seeing this just via email notice, please click through to the blog to be sure you can see the graphics).

1. What do you think of the process that led to the hiring a new Secretary of Institutional Advancement with no candidates officially interviewed?

To the people who were in on this deception from the beginning–Jack Connors, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, and Cardinal O’Malley–allow us to briefly interpret these statistics.  Thousands of Boston-area Catholics regularly read this blog, and 73% of respondents think what you have done is deceitful, shameful, and scandalous–in other words, they are saying they do not think much of your integrity in this situation.  By the way, the priests and pastoral center employees who have heard the explanation given over the past few days for the “sham search” are also not buying the “Monday morning quarterback” explanation that there are two “tracks” for a search, one “real” and one known to be window-dressing.  We will share more on this with readers tomorrow.

2. To what extent do you trust the information you get from the leaders of the Archdiocese of Boston lately?

Need we even interpret the significance of 77% of respondents saying they trust the anonymously-written Boston Catholic Insider blog more than they trust archdiocesan leaders, and another 17% saying they trust no one?  We did not name names in the question, but it is safe to say that  the archdiocesan leaders whose names are implicit in the question include those complicit in the Institutional Advancement search deception, including the Chancellor, Vicar General, Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services, and others this blog has frequently named.

Several commenters to a previous post kindly suggested that in view of these trust issues, perhaps the archdiocese should invite the Boston Catholic Insider bloggers to present at the next Pastoral Center staff meeting, or instead direct staff members to read this blog during that meeting time.  We are pretty sure that we will not get any invitations to a staff meeting; however, if  the Vicar General or Carol Gustavson can let us know in advance what topics are planned for the next meeting, we will be glad to prepare a blog post reflecting just the factual information they intended to cover.

3. How do you view Jack Connors’ involvement in the Archdiocese of Boston?

The results pretty much speak for themselves.  Since 60% of respondents said “it’s scandalous that Jack Connors…is involved in any capacity with archdiocesan decision-making” and another 20% said, “Jack is a big part of the problem…not the solution,” that means in figurative terms, 80% of the people watching the football game are booing the quarterback  and would like him sidelined, if not expelled from the game.

4. What do you think of the plan being implemented without consultation with the presbyterate to merge fundraising for four separate Catholic entities?

People think about as poorly of the plan to combine fund-raising as they think of Jack Connors and distrust archdiocesan leaders.  Although 78% of respondents said “Terrible idea, and terrible process. Whoever pushed it should be fired, and the whole thing should be completely rethought,” does anyone seriously think the person who pushed it will get fired?  Based on what we have seen at 66 Brooks Drive, we are not holding our breath waiting.

5. Will you change your financial donations to the archdiocese (Catholic Appeal, Clergy Retirement Fund, Catholic Schools, Catholic Charities) as a result of this?

Responses to this question offered the biggest surprise to the Boston Catholic Insider bloggers.  Nearly 1/3 of respondents said they “long ago stopped giving to the archdiocese” and what just happened with the search just validates that decision.  That we have attracted many people who were already cynical is not surprising, but the percentage was still noteworthy.  Also noteworthy was seeing about 54% of respondents say they would now either reduce or stop their donations to the archdiocese because of this.  Granted, some of that could be the poll/survey because it is easy to respond to a poll, but even if half of these people do what they said when it comes to writing that Catholic Appeal or other archdiocesan donation check, that would make a dent.  It is no wonder that many dedicated Pastoral Center employees are wondering if their ministry will survive in the future should the funds raised across all of these combined entities fail to meet previous levels raised by the entities when they were separate.

Finally, the question anyone would logically ask about a poll is how many people were surveyed and responded.  Rasmussen and Zogby we are not.  We simply set-up a poll using a freely available tool which offers limited reporting and analysis capabilities.  We set this up on the Boston Catholic Insider blog that has had 61,500 unique visitors and 102,000 hits since we started in mid-June.  As best as we can tell, somewhere between about 77-80% of the site visitors are in Massachusetts, so that means a significant number of Boston archdiocesan Catholics are reading the blog, and you are a part of that elite group of well-informed Catholics!

Over the past month, 16,000 unique visitors came to the site, including 4,100 to 4,520 unique visitors per week over each of the past two weeks.  A very substantial number of those visitors responded to the 2-day poll, and as sample sizes go, respondents to this survey would indeed be considered as highly representative of the readership of this blog.

Our conclusion from the survey is that the Archdiocese of Boston has destroyed some amount of hard-earned trust with Boston-area Catholics, and the leadership is not currently seen as trustworthy by 80% of our readers–namely thousands to tens of thousands of faithful Catholics.  80% of readers who responded would like to see Jack Connors removed from any capacity where he can impact decision-making, and a similar percentage do not like what they have seen of this new fund-raising plan and entity.  And on top of that, more than half of respondents say they will pull back on donations to the archdiocese.  Other than that, things in the archdiocese are going just fine.

We believe, as we have for a while now, that the big brains at 66 Brooks Drive need to quickly rethink a few things about how they operate.  In case certain Archdicoesan cabinet members still have not noticed yet, the flock is no longer just lying down in the field letting the shepherds pull the wool over our eyes. 

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