We know everyone is waiting for the latest in the employee pension saga–both the issues raised by former Chancellor David Smith on behalf of former employees, and the mediation session yesterday between the Daughters of St. Paul and the Archdiocese of Boston to try and resolve the stalemate over them getting their lay employee pension funds out of the archdiocesan pension plan.
To be honest with you, we are afraid that we have not got much news we can report.
There is no public word from Attorney General Martha Coakley or Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin about whether they will intervene to take over and manage the archdiocesan plan. Perhaps Martha is so busy looking at the issue of board of director fees paid by the state’s large health insurers that she has simply not had the time yet to look at the problems of coercion, deception, withholding of information, diversion of funds from one corporate entity to benefit a different one, material non-disclosure, and broken promises that affect 10,000 lay employees dealing with the $70 million underfunding of the Archdiocese’s employee pension fund. As an aside, it baffles BCI how she can justify being so committed to dealing with the problem of director stipends at some non-profits (like Blue Cross), but not concerned at all with vastly greater excessive spending at other non-profits, like the Boston archdiocese. The AP reported earlier in March that she said this about Blue Cross:
“Blue Cross enjoys certain tax benefits as a non-profit in exchange for being committed to a purpose other than making money. Paying directors makes it look a lot like a regular business, and Blue Cross can’t have it both ways.”
Is it not be case that paying excessive salaries to lay executives instead of using those scarce monies to fund the lay or clergy pension funds would also be problematic for a non-profit charity like the Catholic Church, whose purpose is also other than making money? (Sorry, we digress…)
Back to the pensions, as far as the mediation between the Daughters of St. Paul and the Boston archdiocese, sources indicate that no meaningful progress was made in the day-long mediation session on Tuesday. The absence of any announcement by either side today would serve to validate that. In terms of next steps in the lawsuit and court case, we need to confirm those before we can share more details, but by all indications, it appears they will be headed to court.
The silence by Terry Donilon on this issue today is particularly noteworthy. Terry was “Mr. Interview” on Monday when he was leading the smear campaign to counter the bad press about the latest pension flap. Today, nada. You will all also recall how confident he was just a week ago to Catholic News Service that the situation with the Daughters would get resolved amicably:
“Terrence Donilon, archdiocesan secretary for communications and public affairs, told Catholic News Service in an email March 23 that the archdiocese has been working “for some time” with the Daughters of St. Paul “regarding their request to withdraw from the lay pension plan.” Donilon said archdiocesan officials believed they were “making progress toward resolving any outstanding concerns” and found the December lawsuit “unexpected.” Since the suit was filed, he said, the archdiocese reached an agreement with the Daughters of St. Paul “on a number of issues.” He also noted that the archdiocese has “a long-standing and good relationship” with the sisters. “We will resolve this disagreement through mediation and continue to work closely together in the future for the good of the church.”
Terry, how confident are you now that the disagreement will get resolved through mediation?