In view of the newspaper articles about the major reorganization planned for parishes in the Boston archdiocese and reader feedback to our last post on this topic, “Radical Reshuffle for Boston Archdiocese,” we thought we would start a series on the top ways to improve the Boston archdiocese and try to get it growing and improving instead of shrinking.
We did something similar last December, and will get this started by drawing from our December 2010 post, Top 10 Ways to Improve Cardinal Sean’s Blog and/or Help Address Governance Concerns in Boston. A lot has happened since then. So, we will update this as we go along, and post could be thought of as more like “Top Priorities for the Archbishop of Boston and Vicar General.”
- Teaching: The key responsibilities of the bishop are to teach, sanctify, and govern. However he wishes to do it, the Archbishop of Boston should use the pulpit, The Pilot, Catholic TV, his blog, pastoral letters to the faithful and/or other mediums to teach on a regular basis. Maybe it is a written excerpt from the Cardinal’s homiletic preaching on the Sunday Mass readings, something about Catholic teachings and the intersection with the public square on faith and morals, or other teaching. It just should happen regularly an in a visible way.
- Parish Support and Outreach: We assume that the Cardinal and his team are meeting with pastors of the 40% of parishes currently in the red to brainstorm, apply the best minds and resources from the Pastoral Center, cut archdiocesan fees, share best practices from other parishes, and figure out how to help as many as possible become financially solvent ASAP.
- Central Ministries Governance (Salaries): Besides formation of a Finance Council Compensation Commitee comprised of mostly very wealthy executives, there is no evidence anything else has happened to address the very high salaries paid to a small group of archdiocesan leaders and how this takes away from funding other important initiatives to advance the mission of the Church. This blog has documented many times how the archdiocese can cut $500K-$1 million or more in unnecessary expense from those salaries, so those funds can be freed for ministries and advancing the main mission of the Church in Boston. This should be made a high priority for the Archbishop of Boston and his lay executives, instead of what appears to be a back-burner effort by outside consultants and wealthy Finance Council members.
- Central Ministries Governance (Team): A key challenge for the Archbishop of Boston going forward remains to make sure he has the right team in-place, and also determine to what extent the current Archbishop of Boston wants to be in his own job. There should be no question that Jesus himself, wanted his job and mission. And among Jesus’ first public ministry actions was picking his team. He chose the disciples and immediately began proclaiming a powerful new vision of the Kingdom of God. Does Cardinal O’Malley even want to be here himself? If not, what is he doing about that? If so, does he have a team of senior people who share a sense of holy dissatisfaction with the status quo of corruption, conflicts of interest, ethical breaches, cronyism, excessive compensation, and deception? If he does not have a team with these views, then he personally– or with the help of a new Vicar General–should undertake a process of reviewing his team and replacing people (full-time staff and outside advisors) with Catholics who accept and believe what the church teaches and first and foremost want to serve the Church in an ethical manner and build the Kingdom of God. HR and functional managers need to define job descriptions for each key executive role, objectives, accountabilities, and measurements of success (credit blog commenter, A.J. Constantino, who recommended this as Standard Operating Procedures last year in his Dec. 9 comments). Those goals, high-level job descriptions, and measurements of success should be shared by the Vicar General in communicating new hires internally and made a part of the fabric of how the archdiocese operates.
- Pastoral Leadership and Support for Priests: If the Archbishop of Boston cuts his travel schedule outside of Boston and also cuts his blogging time to tell a small number of blog readers about his travels, that time could instead be put towards meeting one-on-one with 4 priests a week for 30 minutes each to listen to and respond to their needs and concerns. This is not just for seminarians or young, recently-ordained priests, but should apply to ALL priests. In a years’ time, he will have met with 200 priests and in two years, it will be 400 priests. Abiding by established diocesan guidelines for how pastors are appointed would be an excellent idea to improve presbyteral morale, instead of allowing people who know the Cardinal to circumvent the established process by going directly to him, as recently occurred with the appointment of the new pastor to fill an opening at an excellent parish in Norwood.
There is much more for us to cover: Central ministries governance and spending, evangelization, boosting Mass attendance, shoring up of Clergy and Employee retirement funds, Catholic schools mission and direction, communication between the Cardinal and parishes, a credible anonymous whistleblower policy, dealing with people who publicly support people and causes contrary to Church teachings, the need for the Cardinal to respond to mail.
What do you think of this list for starters?