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:
- $5M owed to St. John’s Seminary in January of 2011, and another $36M owed in 2017
- $5M owed to the lay pension plan by closed parishes from reconfiguration funds and $39 million owed to the fund by open parishes
- $95 million to refund the clergy retirement plan (according to the 2009 fund statement, p. 14
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?