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 BostonCatholic.org 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. Once 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 BostonCatholic.org 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.