Every few months we find people asking questions about BCI–why are we doing what we are doing, who exactly is behind BCI and what “agenda” does BCI have, where do we get information, why are certain archdiocesan officials frequently singled out for what they see as “personal attacks,” what sort of readership do we have, and more. Since our critics–and there are many–will often float their own assumptions and answers to these questions, we thought we would share the “Top 10 Myths About BCI” over the course of a few different blog posts.
We start with just Myth #1 today: “BCI is out to destroy the Church.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our hope is to make the Catholic Church in Boston stronger by holding archdiocesan officials accountable for the promises and commitments they have made, for the good of the Church. We wish the blog was not needed at all. It is a big time commitment and BCI hopes at some point we can give this up. If various archdiocesan officials operated in a manner consistent with the mission of the archdiocese and policies already set forth, the blog would have nothing to write about. Unfortunately, that is not happening. Instead, we have a situation more akin to that described in the 2nd reading today, from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians:
“Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.” (Eph: 5:8-14)
BCI did not make commitments such as the following to transparency and accountability. The archdiocese did.
This commitment [to financial transparency] was motivated out of respect for people of the Archdiocese as donors and members of our Church and to demonstrate to the general public that the Archdiocese is fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities.
“Our commitment to financial transparency and accountability is an important step in the process of healing the Church of Boston and rebuilding the trust of the people of this Archdiocese” said Cardinal Sean “In releasing this financial information, we hope to achieve a shared understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities we share as a faith community. Together, we can work together to solve our problems and strengthen the Archdiocese’s ability to continue the good works it performs each and every day of the year.”
“In order to strengthen and enhance the resources needed to fulfill the mission we received from Jesus Christ and His Church the Archdiocese is establishing a more effective, coordinated and strategic development approach. The new entity…will ensure donors of independence and accountability.”
Since financial transparency and accountability are important to rebuild and maintain trust in the Church, why is the BCI attention on accountability not considered helpful? For example:
- 63 days have now passed since the 2010 Annual Appeal closed, and results have not been released to the Catholic faithful. Here are the annual results dating back to 2002, and here is an article citing the 2001 figure. This is the first time in a decade that results have not been disclosed. Why has the transparency and accountability disappeared in this area?
- 7 years have passed since Catholics were promised in 2004 that the archdiocese would repay employee pension obligations due from closed parishes using reconfiguration funds. $5 million is due, but that has not been repaid, while $2.5 million from reconfiguration funds was directed to another purpose. Why is it a problem for BCI to call attention to this, or to the lawsuit by the Daughters of St. Paul that was listed in an archdiocesan pension plan disclosure document?
- The archdiocese is claiming they have a plan for a “balanced budget”; however, as we wrote here, no provision has been made for the annual expenses needed to pay back the $41 million debt to St. Johns Seminary, the $70 million needed to re-fund the employee pension fund, or the roughly $95 million needed to re-fund the clergy retirement fund.
- Assuming the 2011 central ministries budget was “balanced” if they raised a minimum of $14 million from the Catholic Appeal, what happens if they missed the goal and raised only $12.5 million in 2010 as the Feb. 4 Parish Results suggests happened?
If the archdiocese came out and acknowledged these in the spirit of transparency and accountability and said exactly what they were doing about each situation, BCI would have had nothing to say. But the archdiocese did not. Instead, officials said one thing and did something entirely different, so we call out the individuals by name who are involved.
BCI is trying to keep people accountable for what has been promised by exposing deception, conflicts of interest, unfulfilled promises, poor stewardship of assets and temporal goods, and inconsistencies between words and actions. We are also not perfect. When we make mistakes and learn about them, we issue a correction and apology, and we invite readers to let us know about any inaccuracies either via comments on any post or via email. That being said, people from across the archdiocese tell us that our record of accuracy and credibility on key issues over the past 9 months is much better than the archdiocese on those same issues.
As BCI said on September 9, 2010:
“the archdiocese has expressed no concern whatsoever over the harm done to the individuals or the Christian community by the well-documented climate and instances of deceit, cronyism, ethical and financial conflicts of interest, excessive spending, and unanswered questions over management of donor funds. These are the sorts of “negative attitudes of the world” that the Holy Father describes as the “greatest danger” to the Church.”
In summary, to those who think BCI wants to hurt the Church or is hurting the Church, we strongly disagree. Archdiocesan officials promised to conduct business in the light and instead those works are being done in secret. That is what hurts the Church. BCI is simply exposing these works to the light.
Jim M, Jack C, Terry D, Carol G, Cardinal Sean, Fr. Erikson, and Fr. Hehir: Are you willing to start conducting such business in the light as promised instead of in the dark? The sooner you fulfill the promises made by the archdiocese, the sooner BCI can go away.