Dishonest Diocese?

In Luke 16,  Jesus said the following to the disciples:

” The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? (Luke 16:10-11)

Only God can judge the state of each of our souls.  But anyone with access to factual information can tell when someone (or an organization) is being honest or dishonest.  Sadly, it does not take an awful lot of digging to reach a conclusion about whether the Archdiocese of Boston is being honest with Catholics lately.

What do Catholics do, hypothetically speaking, of course,  if they were to find a consistent pattern of their diocesan leadership not being honest with them?

This is particularly relevant because the Archdiocese just released a Code of Conduct policy on Friday that says, “Church Personnel will exhibit the highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity” and “The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston…places the highest value on the integrity and high moral standards of each of the bishops, priests…pastoral ministers, administrators, lay employees, officers, directors, trustees, governors, members, and volunteers (collectively, “Church Personnel”) in our parishes, agencies, schools and organizations sponsored by the Archdiocese.”

The policy has some problems that we will address in a separate post.  At the same time, if these standards are to be believed and taken seriously, they may need to start preparing letters of dismissal for a few people with offices at 66 Brooks Drive soon.

In a moment, we will go through the announcement about the renewal of Chancellor Jim McDonough’s term, but first, let us just review some recent history and questions BCI has for the archdiocesan code of conduct enforcers:

  • Does the deception propagated to all Catholics and members of the presbyterate by Jack Connors and the Vicar General, with help from Chancellor Jim McDonough, about the “sham search” for a new secretary for institutional advancement last year qualify under “highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity”?  If not, then what are the consequences for those who propagated the deception?  Or are violations of the code of conduct that occurred prior to its promulgation excused?
  • Does the deception propagated in the Catholic Schools Admission Policy to all Catholics by the Catholic Schools office also qualify for “highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity”?  Long-time readers remember we pointed out in November how the policy says, “In creating this policy we are guided by the words of the Holy Father…”, but unfortunately, the words of the Holy Father were in a totally different context.  And besides that, Fr. Bryan Hehir had already told everyone what the direction was back on May 20 in his WBUR interview (listen at 10:00-10:15, “Are we doing it already?  Yes.   And we intend to do it as the Cardinal indicated, with formal policies”) well before anyone met to start drafting the policy. What are the consequences for everyone who propagated this deception, or is everyone also excused from practicing integrity up to now?
  • Does the deception used to explain the “for sale” listing on Sothebys of Holy Trinity Church also qualify for “highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity”?

Now we get to the email communication from the Vicar General and the reappointment notice attributed to the Cardinal.  You can read the whole notice here.   We will comment on just selected parts of it.

Cardinal O’Malley said: “Among his many accomplishments, he has taken the lead in addressing clergy pension funding, insuring funding for clergy support, and implementing transparent financial reporting for the Archdiocese.”
BCI response: These are areas of responsibility, not accomplishments.  How can it be even suggested that the Chancellor has “accomplished” transparent financial reporting when for the first time in more than a decade, the results from the 2010 Catholic Appeal have not been publicly announced nearly two months after the campaign finished?  Nor have the results from the Campaign for Catholic Schools 2010 Initiative.

Cardinal O’Malley said: “In 2008 Jim oversaw the move of our central administration from the former Brighton campus to the Pastoral Center in Braintree.   Our parishes, schools and ministries have greatly benefited from the services provided at the new location.”
BCI response: Um, those were basically the same services provided at the previous location, weren’t they?

Cardinal O’Malley said: “Jim has also initiated an effort to overhaul our technology systems and institute efficiencies that benefit our parishes.”
BCI response: Would that include the $5.5 million spent over 5 years on the ill-suited Lawson system that everyone hates?

Cardinal O’Malley said: “During his first term, we have moved from systemic annual budget deficits to a plan for achieving a balanced budget.”
BCI response: This one is the real doozey.  Where is the “plan for achieving a balanced budget?”  If there is a plan for achieving a balanced budget, then that plan obviously needs to take account for paying back debts:

Maybe BCI is missing something, but where exactly is the plan for a balanced operational budget that shows how the Archdiocese plans to pay back about $183 million to these entities owed money? Is that plan going to be released shortly, along with the 2010 Annual Report?
Cardinal O’Malley said: “While we have experienced difficult reductions in work force in recent years, Jim led by example in making significant cuts in his secretariat to minimize the reductions in mission-based agencies and departments.”
BCI response: Does this include the hiring of John Straub (as essentially the “Chief Operating Officer” to complement the “CEO/Chancellor”), at more than $200K in salary + benefits, and lowering the Chancellor’s headcount by moving Carol Gustavson’s salary of about $149.9K into the benefits trust, so the former employees’ pension benefits get hit with the cost instead of Corporation Sole?  And if Jim “led by example,” why has he, a multi-millionaire who said 5 years ago he “didn’t need the job” not cut his own $250K/year salary to, say, $1/year, and cut his six-weeks paid vacation to the same level as the peons in the Pastoral Center?

Cardinal O’Malley said: “As Chancellor, Jim oversees the financial and material goods of the Archdiocese; he is also a dedicated and faithful Catholic who leads  by example in promoting a welcoming and evangelizing Church.
BCI response: The long-time Chancery employees pushed out in HR, finance, the Cardinal’s Office, and elsewhere would disagree that he has promoted a welcoming and evangelizing Church.  Does his rampant dropping of “F-bombs” in conversation also exemplify his welcoming attitude?

Cardinal O’Malley said: “Jim is first and foremost a man of God, a family man devoted to his wife and children and an experienced professional who has never lost sight of our mission to build a community of love in the image of Christ.”
BCI response: No comment on the “man of God” part.  As for the “family man devoted to his…children,” that part we can affirm.  In fact, he is so devoted to his children that he found a way for the “no nepotism” policy in Pastoral Center hiring which his department put in place to somehow apply to everyone else in the Pastoral center EXCEPT him and his children, so his son and daughter could be given jobs after they graduated from college.  We also struggle to understand how building a community in the image of Christ would allow for paying salaries in Boston that are unprecedented in other U.S. dioceses that also have built their communities in the image of Christ.  Did Christ imagine wasting the assets and temporal goods of the Church in Boston and taking scarce funds away from parishes, ministry to the needy, evangelization, and retirement needs of priests and former employees by paying three lay executives more than $1 million/year in combined salaries and benefits, and the top 10 archdiocesan employees  nearly $3 million in salaries and benefits?

BCI just does not understand how there can be such a disconnect between the words of the Cardinal and the actions of the Chancellor and diocese overall. If Cardinal O’Malley, Chancellor McDonough, Terry Donilon, or anyone else can explain this for the benefit of the Catholic faithful, please response via comments or just drop us a line.

What do you think faithful Catholics should do if they find a consistent pattern of their diocesan leadership not being honest with them?

13 Responses to Dishonest Diocese?

  1. FR B says:

    There must be a way for the Faithful to make donations to an established Escrow Accounts in each Parish … withdrawals from those accounts should require 2/3 signators ????
    That model can be expanded to account for ongoing financial support of Church Mission … needless to say this would be counter-corp. sole ???!!!

  2. Devoted Catholic says:

    This story makes me so upset. The parishes are struggling to stay open because of financial set backs and yet we are continuing to spend all of this money. I often think “Is Cardinal Sean allowing this?” He is either oblivious or plain stupid. I wish I knew the answer. However I do not want to judge. This man clearly should not be in charge in the diocese. The cardinal demands 18% from parishes soon and money for the Catholic appeal yet he continues to allow money to be spent uselessly. Pope Benedict needs to step in and stop this nonsense. And the case with Holy Trinity German. I have been following that case since 2006. I am in love with history and cannot make sense out of the situation except the RCAB wants some serious cash. Why not keep a historic church open even for one parish? I do not understand. Jesus after all said, “When two are three are gathered in my name…..” If two are three are gathered to give all worship and honor to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass why not keep their parish open? And by the way why not open all of the parishes that have been shattered. We should try filling our pews instead of closing Churches. Even if there is only one Mass on a Sunday that community is still open and the Church continues to stand strong. Closing a parishes makes us look weak to the Protestants. Wait the Protestant Church down the street only has one service on Sunday and 90 parishioners? What is the difference if Catholic Churches do the same thing? Other parishes allow for lay Eucharistic services but the RCAB — NO!! that way we can close a Church and make a profit. Sick.

    • FR B says:

      I am in sympathy with your sentiments. However, you are missing an important element … there are no vocations to replace the dying, sick and side-lined clergy !!!

      • Serviam says:

        Really? This is a cop out. How about the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Institute of the Incarnate Word, the Legionaries of Christ, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), the Fathers of Mercy (CPM), etc. and a host of other orthodox JP II generation orders. Shall I go on!!!???

        As far as Religious Teaching Sisters why do we continue to depend on dying orders, infected with constitutions and an ecclesiology heavily influenced by Gender (and Eco) Feminism, the New Age, the Occult, Eastern Mysticism and even Neo-paganism. Why do we continue to depend on those who refuse to wear the Habit and live in Community and give little or no material or spiritual Witness to the People of God. We use their bad fruit to claim there are no vocations. Why not invite vital young orders as the Dominicans of Mary Mother of the Eucharist (Ann Arbor,MI)or the Dominicans of Saint Cecelia (Nashville, TN) into the Archdiocese to staff at least one Catholic school? Almost all diocesan schools are now staffed solely with Laity whose Catholic religious formation is questionable at best. The Catholic culture in most of these schools is anemic.

        What will it take to convince the Cardinal to use a little imagination to invite any of these young orders into our diocese to embark on a serious reform, instead of perpetuating a tacit acceptance of institutional decline? TRADERE…

      • Devoted Catholic says:

        I understand what you are saying. However I am for a parish model that has been used in Diocese of Detriot where you have one priest to several parishes. It this case there could be one priest to serve with lay participation. The other fact is that the RCAB has refused to allow missionary orders to come into the RCAB. For example in Poland there are seminaries overflowing with clergy. Why not allow them to come and serve us? We are becoming a mission diocese and no one wants to live up to that fact. There are priests willing to serve they are just not given the opportunity. Even if a church were left open not people where able to gather there for prayer whether it be adoration or something. At least the church is open. Plus with the Holy Trinity German case they held not financial instability. Also Canon Law does not allow a bishop to close a parish because he wants to sell the property. The Vatican has been looking into these matters and I think they are coming to a head at this very moment.

  3. bitsnbytes says:

    Let’s be generous. If he gives up the big salary, let him have six weeks off. 🙂

  4. Angry Parish Council Member says:

    Just saw where the former Chancellor, David Smith, is blasting the oversight for the pension plan:

    Press conference is in Newton this afternoon. Will BCI be covering this?

  5. Lapsed and Loving It says:

    Vote with your wallet.

  6. […] week here in the Archdiocese of Boston.  If you have not yet read our post from this morning, “Dishonest Diocese,” give that a read when you […]

  7. JRBreton says:


    Do you remember, five year ago, the Cardinal repeatedly stated that the operational budget would be balanced by 2010? The date came, but clearly the goal was not reached.

  8. […] Dishonest Diocese? – Boston Catholic Insider […]

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