Diocesan Deception with Daughters

BCI has been very busy this past week and has wanted to say a bit more about the overall deception by the archdiocese regarding the Daughters of St. Paul legal action to recover pension funds for their lay employees.

Among the more troubling aspects of the situation is the deceptive “spin” from Communications secretary Terry Donilon sent out late last Thursday night saying that the archdiocese played no role in the leadership changes inside of the Daughters of St. Paul.  The archdiocese knew that the Boston Globe was going to publish a story the next day (Daughters of St. Paul replace local leader), so this was an attempt to protect the image of the Cardinal and archdiocese. Here is the email he sent out Thursday night around 9:30pm.

Good evening,

I want to make you aware of a story we expect to be published in the Boston Globe tomorrow (Friday, May 27th) regarding the Daughters of St. Paul and changes in the local leadership.  We were asked for comment about the leadership changes and what if any role the Archdiocese had in advancing such changes because of the recently settled lay pension plan lawsuit.  Neither the Cardinal nor the Archdiocese had any role in the leadership changes and in fact has made it a priority to look past the lawsuit to continue the strong and effective shared ministry on behalf of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Thank you and my apologies for the lateness of this notification.


In the opinion of BCI, a key problem with this message is that it is simply untrue. We do not know if Terry Donilon knew the truth and sent a message he knew was not true, or if he was given this message by someone else higher up who knew it was untrue and was asked to just send it along.  Regardless, BCI thinks it says a lot about the archdiocese that they would send a message they know is not accurate.

It is undisputed that Cardinal O’Malley knew the Daughters were looking to recover pension funds for their lay employees and he and the archdiocese let the pension complaints from the Daughters drag on for 5 years.  It is undisputed that Cardinal O’Malley called the Superior General Sr. Bruscato in Rome to complain about the lawsuit.  It is also undisputed that not long after that, the provincial leader Sr. Sato and other leadership team members were abruptly removed.  A benefactor to the Daughters was quoted in the article saying: “the cardinal had called Bruscato in Rome and told her that he was embarrassed by the lawsuit. As a result, Nicotra said the nuns told him, Bruscato…ousted Sato.”  Hello?  No role in “advancing such changes”?

Some have suggested to  BCI that we begin applying this expression to the archdiocese and various officials when it comes to their communications:

Q. “How can you tell when [insert name] is lying?
A. “Their lips are moving.”

As we wrote in some of the comments last week, had the Cardinal and his staff acted on 5 years of complaints (which started before the the provincial leadership just removed was installed in July 2008)–including advance word to him and the Trustees that legal action was imminent–there would have been no legal action and thus no removal of the provincial leadership.

Trustees of the lay pension fund include Cardinal O’Malley, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, priest-secretary to Cardinal O’Malley Fr. Robert Kickham, Fr. Bryan Parrish and Fr. Joseph K. Raeke. Are all of these people willing to go on the record and say that there was never any advance word at trustee meetings and they never saw anything in writing to them as Trustees that informed them legal action was a next step if this dispute was resolved? If they had acted to preclude the legal complaint and resolve the situation, then there would have been no lawsuit, no call from the Cardinal to the Superior General, and no removal of the provincial.

The Daughters’ legal complaint was quietly filed on December 20, 2010 and the archdiocese did little to resolve it before word got out. See this post and this court information about the complaint. As we wrote in our March 9 post, citing publicly available information on the archdiocesan benefits website, “During December 2010, a Complaint for Equitable Relief and an Accounting was brought against the Plan’s Trustees by the Daughters of St. Paul, a participating entity in the Plan. The entity is seeking a transfer of the assets and liabilities allocable to it relative to its current and former employees who have been participants in the Plan.” Nearly 3 months had passed since the complaint was filed when BCI wrote our March 9 post. The general public beyond BCI readers did not even know about the complaint until March 21 when the Boston Globe published their article about the legal action–3 months after the action was filed.

If the Cardinal was really troubled by the lawsuit, he could and should have worked double-time to settle it in the days and weeks right after it was filed. We know unequivocally from comments made by the Cardinal that he was particularly disturbed by BCI’s March blog post about the legal action and the subsequent mainstream media coverage by the Globe and other publications which he felt were embarrassing and hurt the Church. Yet, he has never expressed openly to the Pastoral Center staff or clergy to the best of our knowledge that he was disturbed by the 5 years of foot-dragging by his staff at the archdiocese or by the lack of progress by his team in the weeks after the legal action was filed. This whole thing is reminiscent of how the archdiocese initially treated complaints of sexual abuse years ago–it was the parents and victims legitimately complaining who were the problem, not those in the hierarchy who ignored the complaints for years. Once again, had the Cardinal himself pushed to settle the lawsuit in December, January, or February within 3 months after it was filed, there would have been no Globe story, no embarrassment, no call to the Superior General, and genuinely no role in advancing the removal of the provincial.

BCI does not know exactly when the Cardinal called the Superior General in Italy to complain about the situation. We believe it was somewhere around the time of the Globe article in late March but we do not have the date. Did the Cardinal specifically ask the Superior General to remove the provincial leadership? Doubtful.  But was it because of Cardinal O’Malley complaining to the Superior General that the removal action followed?  Put another way, had the Cardinal not called the Superior General to complain, would the Superior General have removed the provincial?  Unlikely.

Had the Cardinal taken responsibility for his own actions and those of the archdiocese for 5 years before the legal action and/or precluded the negative media coverage by settling the case after it was filed and before it hit the mainstream media, and had he not called the Superior General to complain after the proverbial “doo-doo” hit the fan, would the Superior General have removed the provincial? Probably not.

The question was: What if any role did the Archdiocese have in advancing changes in local leadership of the Daughters of St. Paul because of the recently settled lay pension plan lawsuit?”

The answer was “Neither the Cardinal nor the Archdiocese had any role in the leadership changes.”

If the archdiocese is really asking us to believe there was no cause-and-effect between the complaint from Cardinal O’Malley (with associated playing of “red hat” trump card to the Superior General) and the action against the provincial leadership, then BCI has a bridge in Brooklyn up for sale.

Going forward, beyond a need to address what went wrong internally that led to the 5 years of frustration for the Daughters, the associated legal action, and failure of the RCAB to act on the legal complaint quickly, the archdiocese needs to do a better job at rebuilding and maintaining trust.  We suggest the archdiocese look at this overall situation and also the most recent communication.  Was Terry the author of the deceptive statement acting in cooperation with those who have actual knowledge of the situation, or was he told a lie by those in the know and directed to use it as a public statement? Either situation calls for corrective action.

Lastly, if the Cardinal and archdiocese have “made it a priority to look past the lawsuit to continue the strong and effective shared ministry on behalf of the faithful,” how exactly did the removal of the provincial leadership team and associated decimation of morale with the Daughters play into that plan? And more importantly, what are you doing to repair situation?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Obituary: Senior Priest, Fr. Jim Lyons, “one of the archdiocese’s best liked priests, especially among his brother priests,” died unexpectedly at 77-years-old.  It is unusual for Cardinal O’Malley to celebrate the funeral of a priest, so you know he was special in the eyes of many.  Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon him, and may his departed soul remain in peace in heaven!

22 Responses to Diocesan Deception with Daughters

  1. David S. says:

    In regards to Fr. Jim Lyons, you stated that “It is unusual for Cardinal O’Malley to celebrate the funeral of a priest.”

    If the Cardinal celebrates the funeral of notorious “Catholic” politicians such as Ted Kennedy, he should certainly celebrate the funeral of Catholic priests who are faithful to the Pope and Magisterium.

  2. Former Employee says:

    Two comments:

    First, the most telling line is when you say “protect the image”, O’Malley has very carefully created an image of a humble Friar who doesn’t know what is going on. And from experience, yes, they will on record and lie

    Second, I need to wonder aloud why Fr. Lyons was included but not Fr. Pied who died last week, I think you should make it a habit of including all Priest’s obits that you catch, many of these men have served faithfully for many years before being forgotten by their Archbishop – I knew neither man just offering an opinion

    • Thanmks for your comments. BCI has not listed obituaries at all up to now. It is tough for us to keep up with the standard contnt we offer, and obituaries are already available from The Pilot. BCI listed this one because it was brought to our attention by someone we respect.Rather than BCI commit to somethig new, we are probably better off leaving this to The Pilot and sticking just with what you can only find at BCI.

  3. Chris says:

    Don’t forget, the cardinal celebrated the Mass for David Thorp, a chancery employee, as well. That was an untimely event in all ways, however, coming as it did just before the launch of “Catholics Come Home.”

  4. Gabriel Austin says:

    The basic principle in such stories is “do not trust a bishop, especially an American bishop, until he has proven himself innocent”. The story of the sexual scandals is one of inaction if not of cover up by the American episcopacy. The rule seems to have been “do not embarrass brother bishops”.

    The trouble with rot, as with weeds, is that it spreads rapidly if not regularly corrected and rooted out. [The Boston archdiocese is a sad example]. In the case of the sisters, it is an error to give the benefit of the doubt to the Cardinal Archbishop. There has been too much hesitation waltzing. And when it comes to money, common experience tells us to ask “who’s been fiddling with the cash?”.

  5. bitsnbytes says:

    I used to wonder if the Cardinal might be moved to Rome sometime to head the Congregation for Religious. Now, I pray to God that it may never happen.

  6. Pension Pete says:

    Deception is indeed SOP at Brooks drive and anything relating to the pension issues. You can add three card monty and brow beating to the list as well. Lie about what we owe, who we owe it to and promise that as long as there is life in the body that we will continue to wish things were not as they are.

    These folks will not change how they do business. Its time to change these folks, starting with the red hat.

  7. Jerry says:

    This still doesn’t add up, and the critical bit of information is whether the superior general approved the lawsuit. If she did, and if Cardinal Sean browbeat her into punishing her daughters, then yes, this is absolutely deplorable. However, I suspect she didn’t know, but got blindsided by Cdl. Sean’s phone call. In that case, she did what any superior would do.

    The events don’t support that the superior general approved the lawsuit. Things would have happened differently, as courtesy and protocol would dictate. The superior knew the cardinal, as they spoke Portuguese together in 2008. They have a mutually beneficial financial operation in Boston. Before she would have authorized legal action outside the Church, a highly irregular and monumental action, she would have contacted the cardinal herself. She would have given him the final chance to avoid the suit. She would have informed him of her decision; there’s no way she would have let him get blindsided. Also, she would have gotten friends in high places to advise her, i.e., she wouldn’t fly solo and risk destroying the DSP.

    Hence, if she authorized the suit, the negotiations would have taken place behind the scenes, and she wouldn’t now be running the shakedown of the US provincial leadership.

    There is a third option that comes to the mind of this fan of the old TV series “Mission Impossible.” That would be if the superior authorized the suit as a covert operation. As the old TV show began, “… should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary [Superior General] will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim.” This would be a bit much for good Catholic sisters, I suspect.

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      Regardless of whether the superior general knew about the lawsuit in advance and approved it, didn’t will know about it and was blindsided, or she authorized the suit as a covert operation, I think it’s disingenuous and deceptive for the archdiocese and Cardinal Sean to claim that they had ‘no role’ in the Daughters’ leadership changes.

    • Catholic Gal says:

      You said, “I suspect….” Do you have any actual facts? No, it’s all just your speculation.

      You said the S.G. would not have let the cardinal get “blindsided.” What? He wasn’t blindsided! He knew all about it!

      You said, “she would have…she would have…she would have.” How do you know that? How can you say what anyone else would or wouldn’t have done?

      Please, will you stop your baseless speculations about this and admit the truth: that you know absolutely nothing about what transpired with the superior general. And if you think you do know something, produce some facts. Please, enough is enough.

      • Jerry says:

        Catholic Gal, everything I read on this topic is speculation: In the opinion of BCI, a key problem with this message is that it is simply untrue. … Did the Cardinal specifically ask the Superior General to remove the provincial leadership? Doubtful. But was it because of Cardinal O’Malley complaining to the Superior General that the removal action followed? …

        I’m just trying to understand what happened, but thinking aloud isn’t appreciated here, I guess. Your unwillingness to allow that heads of religious congregations behave better than shoot-from-the-hip bloggers isn’t surprising. But we have to do better to have a hope of shaming our evil cardinal into doing good. BTW, the next round of downsizing has been announced. One way to look at it is that once our fearless destroyer is done with Boston, there won’t be enough money to pay Donilon and the other parasites.

      • Jerry,
        We have been at this blog for close to a year, and there are only a handful of comments during that time that have made us really mad. Your most recent one just made the list. Some of your judgments and opinions are objectively wrong. Here are two examples.

        First, you said, “everything I read on this topic is speculation.” You picked one or two sentences in the post where no one else was privy to a conversation that took place as though that is the only thing we have ever said here. Perhaps you are just now starting to follow the blog and have missed a lot of other information so that is the reason for you misinformed opinions. Did you not read the paragraph in our post that starts with “it is undisputed”? How do you come out yourself “shooting from the hip” saying everything you have read on this topic is speculation?

        We have been giving readers facts and objective information about this lawsuit and the whole situation since March 9. Please go back and read every one of our posts on the pension issue and on the Daughters issue specifically. Please also read the responses from BCI and other readers to your recent comments on our other Daughters post, where we also tried to correct you for the opinions you expressed.

        Secondly, we are not “shoot from the hip” bloggers at BCI. It is frankly insulting to hear that characterization of BCI. If you see us as that, then that is perhaps also part of the problem we are having with your comments. BCI is not just an “opinion” blog. We research what we post and try to verify the content via multiple sources before we post it. When we express an opinion rather than objectively verifiable facts, we tell you it is our opinion. Your comments, on the other hand, have a tone of expressing as fact that which is clearly opinion or speculation.

        In case you did not notice, we broke the news about the Daughters’ lawsuit, and then the Globe followed about 2 weeks later, citing us as the original source for the factual information. We knew about the change in leadership from earlier in May and confirmed from multiple sources there was a cause-and-effect between the call by the Cardinal to the Superior General and the result. We posted news of the change in leadership the afternoon of May 26, and the following day, on May 27 the Globe published their news story on the same topic, which they obviously had been researching earlier. Read the quote from their benefactor who talked about what he heard directly from the Daughters.

        Objective facts not in dispute:
        –the Daughters tried to recover pension funds for 5 years
        –members of the U.S. Provincial leadership team spent time in Rome and Brazil meeting with other members of the Pauline family during the course of the past year.
        –they filed a lawsuit as a last resort on December 20, 2010
        –the Cardinal and his staff who were trustees of the pension fund received information during the course of the 5-years of negotiation informing them that if the matter was not resolved soon, legal action would be taken.
        –the Cardinal told a meeting of Pastoral Center employees and a separate meeting of priests that the Daughters never let him or the Vicar General know they were dissatisfied with the progress of negotiations until they filed the lawsuit. He made these comments not immediately after the lawsuit was filed in December, but rather, after the Globe’s reporting of the lawsuit in late March and the subsequent international coverage of it. We know the dates when the Cardinal said this, we know what was said, and we know it is untrue that the Cardinal and the Vicar General–who both serve as trustees of the pension fund–were oblivious to the fact that the Daughters were dissatisfied with the progress of the 5 years worth of negotiations.
        –the Cardinal was embarrassed by the lawsuit and media coverage of it and called the Superior General to complain.
        –not long after that, 4 of 5 members of the provincial leadership team were removed, about 2 months before the end of their 3-year term.

        BCI does not know unequivocally what was communicated to the Superior General internally prior to the filing of the lawsuit, nor do we know unequivocally what words the Cardinal conveyed to the Superior General on the phone call he made to her when he complained about the lawsuit. But we do know that within a relatively short period of time after his call to the Superior General, the provincial team was abruptly removed before the end of their term. Multiple sources we cannot identify had confirmed to us there was some cause-and-effect between the phone call to the Cardinal and the removal of the team even before the Globe quoted the Daughters benefactor saying, “the cardinal had called Bruscato in Rome and told her that he was embarrassed by the lawsuit. As a result, Nicotra said the nuns told him, Bruscato…ousted Sato.”

        The point of this post was that it was deceptive for the archdiocese to say that the Cardinal and archdiocese had “no role” in the leadership changes. We stand by that, regardless of whether the Superior General knew or did now know about the lawsuit beforehand. Feel free to take your speculation about that specific narrow topic elsewhere–but we would ask that you stop inserting that speculation into this discussion.

        Lastly, Jerry, before you post another comment on this topic, will you do us the basic courtesy of both reading all of our previous posts on this topic and acknowledging the basic undisputed facts we have put forward multiple times. If you have first-hand verifiable information to dispute the facts above please either post it with some indication of how you know what you have said is factully correct, or send to bostoncatholicinsider(at)gmail.com?

        BCI has spent more than an hour writing responses to you already on this topic to try and set the record straight in the face of your speculation, and we need to use our very limited time for other things.

    • Michael says:

      ignoring a problem for five years is not being “caught blindsided.” It is being arrogant.

  8. Agnes says:

    In the Culture of Corruption, Michelle Malkin exposes Joe Biden as a corrupt individual who pretende to be stupid. Cardinal Sean is the Joe Biden of the Catholic hierarchy.

  9. Claire Martin alias Gatekeeper says:

    Did you read the Globe new last night on the minutes of the Prebyteral Council sent to Peter Borre?

    Wouldn’t that be one of their own?

    signed, Gatekeeper

  10. bitsnbytes says:

    What’s the worst the Archdiocese could have done to the Daughters if the suit had continued? They couldn’t make the DSP move out, right? They could stop doing business with them, but what else? Deny them a chaplain? I think the order could have worked around that in about 30 minutes.

  11. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    …There is some speculation and certainly second hand knowledge indicating that the Cardinal was “Embarrassed”. Unless he told somebody – I am embarrassed – how could anybody possibly know his motive? The assumption is that he is vindictive and somehow wanted some dear sisters ‘head to roll’.
    It certainly is pretty easy to believe…BUT is it true?

    At this point in the game. Has the Cardinal shown such bold application of the will in other local matters that would suggest…he would bother? Who really would gain by creating animosity between the Diocese and the Daughters of St. Paul? A well recognized media focuses orthodox order. Is it just me who thinks “The Strategist” probably planted the seed and dialed the phone?

    As the diocese continues to free-fall is it plausible that the Cardinal is intentionally heavily medicated with anti-depressant pharmaceuticals? And the enemies within and the church Professionals (as Benedict XVI has pointed out) are actually pulling strings making things happen?

    Slipping the boss a few “happy pills” in order make him more compliant with the New Vision?
    Maybe paint him into a few political corners in order to further isolate the man?

    – What an outlandish suggestion!

    Come on Jerry, tell us what you really think.

  12. Cheryl Maurer says:

    My heart, in which the heart of Christ beats, is saddened. Has nothing been learned in over 2 thousand years. Was it not the result of self-entitlement and control of power that man believed he was so godly that he was blind to the Lord God standing in front of him? Once again, was it not man cloaked in the garments of high priests who paid 6 pieces of silver to bring the Son of God before the Governor for persecution under false accusations? My eyes, which would be blind if not for the site Christ, clearly see that man continues to repeat such injustices, for once again through the actions of one cloaked in the garments of high priests, the Lord has been unjustly treated and falsely portrayed and his apostolate of the Daughter’s of Saint Paul persecuted.

    I commend and support the Sr. Sato’s perseverance which lead her to respectfully and legally pursue recovery of pension funds for the lay employees of the Daughter’s of Saint Paul, after 5 years of failed leadership of Archdiocese under Cardinal O’Malley to exercise due diligence. The following words are as true today as the day they were first spoken, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.’ In this case, they are the same, give to the Daughter’s of Saint Paul what belongs to the

    Daughter’s of Saint Paul and give to God what is God’s.
    Blessed are you Sister Sato, and all those of holiness who serve the mission of the Daughter’s of Saint Paul, for it has been spoken, ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

  13. JAW says:

    It seems to me that what the DSP leadership did in asking for accountability for their employees was not only commendable and courageous, but, was the “just” thing to do. The “Christ-like response.” The Cardinal and the Mother General, apparently, have not yet got the message.

    May I suggest that the cardinal’s “embarrassment” didn’t require a telephone call to a MG of a community, (who’s sisters have patiently , yet, persistently requested a response and an accounting of their employees’ life savings …for a period 5yrs!) The embarrassment looks to be, possibly, the result of being dishonest by omission, and seeing it in print. The bigger embarrassment should have been using one’s position of authority in retaliation (which is called intimidation no matter how you look at it).

    Unfortunately, the MG did a great disservice to her sisters by, what appears to be, a deceptive and heavy handed response without consideration and making the decision not to stand with her sisters. How disheartening for them. What a lack of respect for all these very special, dedicated, prayerful women, to whom we say thank you for all that they do, day in and day out, with the grace of God. You are our heroines…the best face of the Catholic Church today.

  14. Mark Frances says:

    The “Big O” is a “used car salesman”. You have to be very naive to believe that he did not use canonical pressure on the leadership of the Daughters of St. Paul. Italian women, especially religious, are taught to bow down to the male heirarchy even if they are selling used cars.

  15. […] for the Daughters of St. Paul situation, as BCI posted in “Diocesan Deception with Daughters” and “Daughters Lawsuit Settled, But…” , the claim by the Cardinal suggesting he […]

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