Diocesan Deception and Coverup? The response.

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: Vicar_General@rcab.org, Terrence_donilon@rcab.org
Cc: ReverendBryan_Parrish@rcab.org

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 <Terrence_Donilon@rcab.org>
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 <Vicar_General@rcab.org>, “Parrish, Reverend Bryan” ReverendBryan_Parrish@rcab.org

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 www.bostoncatholic.org 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?

3 Responses to Diocesan Deception and Coverup? The response.

  1. Hoodwinked Priest says:

    Major kudos to BCI for the effort on Kicanas! It’s clear to many of us that the Catholic blogs had an impact. Oh that you would have a similar impact on our beleagured archdiocese! It is not unnoticed in the presbyterate that you guys are proving yourselves to be making the right call far more often than some people in Braintree lately.

    You’ll probably never see the archdiocese acknowledge the Driscoll deception, but I think you know that already. Just the foul language by the Chancellor and his role in this deception would suggest he does not have an “unimpaired reputation” and is not “absolutely distinguished for honesty.” In my opinion, priests should start writing letters to the Cardinal and handing those letters directly to him whenever possible that let him know the Chancellor’s contract should not be renewed.

  2. Michael Cole says:

    The Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts also has its problems:http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com/2010/11/spirit-of-rebellion-in-diocese-of.html

    Faithful Catholics everywhere need to work and pray for deliverance and for a return to fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium.

  3. […] the situation in multiple posts, including “Diocesan Deception and Coverup?” and “Diocesan Deception and Coverup: The Archdiocesan Response.” We repeatedly asked the archdiocese to respond to the issue of the sham search and they never did. […]

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