Today is a big day for the Archdiocese of Boston because Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson leads the regular Pastoral Center staff meeting and will try to explain to beleagured staffers how the “sham search” for the new head of development somehow did not involve deception by himself, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Jack Connors, and Cardinal O’Malley. If all goes according to plan, then he will ask people to trust their diocesan leaders and keep much more information confidential so it does not leak out to “the blogs.”
We call this a big day because if the leaders of the Boston archdiocese manage to pull off this sleight of hand, magician David Copperfield might find his illusion of making the Statue of Liberty disappear quickly eclipsed by a new generation of magicians at 66 Brooks Drive.
We now cover what appears to many people as being the deception, the explanation/coverup, and the disingenuousness of the requests for confidentiality.
We hope that by now our readers and the officials of the Boston archdiocese all agree that a search was announced, but then no real search that took place.
First off, is there any difference of opinion that a search was publicly announced to everyone in the archdiocese–priests, laity, and employees? Here is the June 16 press release that said:
The Archdiocese of Boston announced the appointment of a search committee to help in the selection of a new Secretary of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation.
And here is an excerpt from the June 24 Presbyteral Council meeting minutes where Fr. Erikson, in the presence of Cardinal O’Malley, informed the group representing priests of the archdiocese about the search. After attending Mass at the lovely Bethany Chapel the other day, we happened across the minutes of that June 24 meeting. If you click on the two images, you will see camera-phone shots of page 22 and page 23 where Fr. Erikson was quoted as saying:
“Catholic Foundation: I want to make a few comments about the Media Group and Catholic Foundation…Moving forward will have a far greater professional resourcing…we are searching for a permanent Secretary for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation. This is one person with two titles….”
Is there any question that the archdiocesan leadership told everyone there was a real search underway?
Yet, there were no job listings placed. Alert reader David Justen posted:
Did anyone see a job listing in the Chronicle of Philanthropy for the Secretary for Institutional Advancement? No. Let me tell you, in case you were not aware of the significance, if a fundraising job at the executive level for an organization as large as the archdiocese does not show up there, then it’s not really an open search. In fact, did anyone see a job listing anywhere?
This blog also has confirmed that a move of the Campaign for Catholic Schools people from their Newbury St offices to Braintree was discussed in the winter/spring timeframe, and Kathleen’s name specifically was discussed as the choice for the job in that same timeframe by Chancellor Jim McDonough, Jack Connors,Vicar General Fr. Erikson, and Cardinal O’Malley.
We know for a fact that the search committee met at the beginning of the search, and then was called back at the end when they were told Kathleen Driscoll was named to the position. There were no candidates interviewed.
The dictionary definition of “deceive” is “to cause to believe what is not true; mislead.” Were we all deceived? We believe the answer is objectively yes, but you decide for yourself.
2. EXPLANATION, OR COVERUP?
The explanation being floated right now, which will probably be floated again today is that there are two “tracks” of search committees. 1) The officially announced (and apparently window dressing) version and 2) The real search (which means Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jack Connors and maybe John Kaneb with the rubber-stamp affirmation Vicar General Fr. Erikson). So, if you are asked to be on a search committee you will be told that you can search–however, at any time the archdiocese can insert themselves with the candidate. Apparently this was presented to the presbyteral council last week as the explanation, as is if this were acceptable.
The way magicians perform their illusions is that they often get the audience’s attention distracted so their eyes focus in one place while the illusion happens. In this case, it is now being claimed that the public committee for the Driscoll search was told this all from the beginning. Excuse me, but even if that happened (which we do not believe), how does that explain the public announcement of the search to the entire archdiocese and to the presbyteral council on June 24? How does this explain the fact that the committee members were all outraged when they were called back in October and told the decision was made without them? Is it a plausible explanation, or an attempt to coverup the deception? You decide.
3.. THE REQUESTS FOR CONFIDENTIALITY
We could write a book here. In April 2006 we heard: April 19, 2006 – Archdiocese of Boston Launches Financial Transparency Initiative:
“Our commitment to financial transparency and accountability is an important step in the process of healing the Church of Boston and rebuilding the trust of the people of this Archdiocese” said Cardinal Sean “In releasing this financial information, we hope to achieve a shared understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities we share as a faith community. Together, we can work together to solve our problems and strengthen the Archdiocese’s ability to continue the good works it performs each and every day of the year.”
The diocese that made headlines for new standards of transparency back in 2005-2006 is now asking priests and staffers to keep everything confidential. Huh? Does the diocese want transparency when they are operating with integrity, and then calls for confidentiality and secrecy when they do not want their own deceptive practices to be publicly revealed? Could someone from the archdiocese help us out with an explanation of when transparency applies and when secrecy is called for?
How can the Vicar General and diocesan leadership team be “dedicated to building unity in Christ and Christian community within the Archdiocese” (as was said when they all first reacted publicly to this blog) while certain of these same leaders are operating in a way consistent with the dictionary definition of “deception”? Does anyone believe that deception as an operating principle builds unity in Christ and Christian community? Deception seems divisive to this writer.
So which is it? Do you want deception, division, and secrecy? If so, then the Vicar General and Chancellor should defend what they have done, stay in their jobs and just keep doing more of what they are doing. Or do you want the sort of transparency and integrity that was touted in 2005-2006 (and quickly disappeared) that is at the foundation of building trust and unity in Christ? If the latter, then something big needs to change.
A grave betrayal of trust has just occurred in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus. One acknowledged the betrayal and repented. The other did not.
Which sort of outcome do you want to see for the sake of the future of the Archdiocese of Boston?
ps. If anyone from the archdiocese disagrees, thinks we have bad information or are jumping to the wrong conclusion, please drop us a line with more details and we will be glad to correct any inaccuracies. We wrote to Fr. Erikson and Terry Donilon last week to ask a few questions and have not heard back yet.