The Boston Archdiocese has announced that a search is beginning for a new Director of Pastoral Planning. With changes expected in how parishes are organized and pastorally led that will impact the archdiocese for decades, this is a very important position. So, we hope the archdiocese pays attention to two important things to make sure they get a fantastic person in the role. A look at the announcement and job description give cause for concern already.
Here is an excerpt from The Pilot announcement about the position:
“This position will be critically important in coordinating the activities of pastoral planning on behalf of Cardinal Seán,” said Father Bryan Parrish, assistant vicar for administration and special assistant to the vicar general and moderator of the curia. “Cardinal Seán and Msgr. Deeley are encouraging clergy, religious and lay leaders, with experience and interest in the essential work of pastoral planning for evangelization, to express interest.”
According to the archdiocese, the principal objectives of the pastoral planning process are to strengthen the Church’s ability to evangelize and hand on the faith in all areas of the archdiocese by a better structuring and allocation of the Church’s personnel resources.
We looked at the job description, and it looked pretty good, except for what is not said. Besides a typo in the second paragraph (“principle responsibilities” should be spelled with an “a” as “principal”), the thing that most struck us was the absence of any explicit requirement that the person be a practicing Catholic who also believes what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. Does that not matter?
Here are excerpts from the job description:
As a key leadership role, the Director of Pastoral Planning is a member of Cardinal Seán O’Malley’s extended Cabinet and a key member of the leadership team of the Archdiocese of Boston. As such, s/he will represent the Archdiocese in many ways as part of his/her normal duties.
Principle Responsibilities include implementing a new pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Boston as one of Cardinal Seán’s top priorities. After the completion of an extensive consultation period, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission (APPC) will submit a recommendation to Cardinal Seán for consideration and approval. This key role is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the approved plan, in close collaboration with the Vicar General, the Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership, the Regional Bishops and Vicars Forane, and other members of the Cabinet as appropriate. The scope of work includes, but is not limited to:
- Leading consultations and managing an ongoing process of consultation.
- Assisting the APPC on the drafting of the recommendation of a Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese
- Project-managing the preparation phase and the implementation phase of the Pastoral Plan.
- Managing the full-time, part-time and volunteer resources in the Pastoral Planning Office.
- Communicating about the pastoral planning process to build alignment and positive momentum.
- Executing the charges given to the Office of Pastoral Planning efficiently and effectively.
- Serving as a staff resource for the Archbishop, Auxiliary Bishops, Vicar General and Vicars Forane on tasks related to the Archdiocese and our planning efforts.
- Contributing to ongoing research in the area of Church planning and management.
S/he will interact heavily with the Archdiocese’s pastors, priests, parish staff and central administration leaders.
Must have a Master’s degree; advanced degree in Theology and/or the field of planning is strongly preferred. One must be a creative and collaborative leader with a proven track record of organizing and managing implementation of major initiatives within a complex organization. Must understand the Mission of the Church to “go and make disciples” and have in-dept familiarity with the Roman Catholic Church, its structure, teaching, beliefs and attitudes, with particular emphasis on the parish environment. Must be able to integrate and inspire those in the proposed pastoral collaboratives and pastoral service teams (PSTs) to advance this Mission locally. Must embrace the opportunity to help Cardinal Sean lead the Archdiocese through this critical and challenging stage in its history to make a lasting impact on the Archdiocese and instill confidence and trust of those served by the Archdiocese and specifically the Pastoral Planning Office. Specifically, this leader will display the following characteristics:
- Significant experience in explaining the structure, teaching, beliefs and attitudes of the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on the parish environment
- Strong knowledge of the Catholic Church, ideally within the Archdiocese of Boston.
- Masters degree required; advanced degree in Theology and/or the field of planning is strongly preferred.
- Unquestioned integrity and accountability.
- A personal commitment to and passion for the mission of the Catholic Church. Ability to take a long-term perspective combined with the ability to set clear goals and the practical ability to get things done.
Call BCI a nit-picker if you wish, but this archdiocese already has had experience with people like the former Director of Human Resources, a proud ex-Catholic, who introduced yoga classes to the Pastoral Center this year among other concerns BCI has documented in the past. We have Jack Connors, Jr, supposedly supporting Catholic Schools while he works against the Catholic Church by raising money for pro-abortion, anti-Catholic politicians. Why is it not possible for the Boston Archdiocese to explicitly require that the person in this job be a practicing Catholic who believes what the Catholic Church believes?
Were we to ask so-called “practicing Catholics ” such as Jack Connors, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, and VP Joe Biden, about whether they “understand” the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church or “understand the Mission of the Church” they would likely say “yes.” In public comments, they claim to be “practicing Catholics.” But do they accept and agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church as handed down by the Magisterium of the Church, and actually embrace, accept, and believe them?
It seems to BCI that the job requirements should say explicitly that a candidate must be a practicing Catholic in good standing who enthusiastically accepts and embraces authentic Catholic doctrine as entrusted and handed down by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Think of it like a version of a mandatum for key diocesan executives or key employees, where the candidate is asked to affirm that they agree with and will not dissent from Church teachings on the Holy Trinity, sin, salvation, celibate male priesthood, non-negotiable moral issues (eg. abortion, homosexual acts, marriage, euthanasia), role of the Pope as head of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Immaculate Conception. Candidates for the job should agree to refrain from representing in actions or words as Catholic teaching anything that is contrary to the Magisterium of the Church, and they should also agree to not give their support (e.g. jobs, hiring, endorsements, donations) to any individuals or organizations that advance positions contrary to the Magisterium of the Church.
Beyond the job description, it will be interesting to see who is on the search committee. As with almost every search that has taken place in recent years, BCI expects that the hand of Fr. Bryan Hehir will be present in this one. Do not be surprised if at least one person on the search committee is currently on the Catholic Charities board or was on it in the past few years. Also look for the visible or invisible hand of Jack Connors. We wish that Vicar General Msgr. Deeley was given the freedom to choose the search committee members, but that is not how his boss and the bureaucracy works, and Fr. Bryan Hehir is still expected to wield influence, just as he did in the reconfiguration of 2004.
Our hope and prayer for Cardinal O’Malley and Vicar General Msgr. Deeley is that they at least insist all members of the search committee–along with the candidates and final hire–be practicing Catholics who enthusiastically embrace authentic Catholic doctrine as entrusted and handed down by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The pastoral planning effort is a difficult enough one in the years ahead, and it would be a tremendous grace for the whole archdiocese to have a person in this key role who is a faithful Catholic and who believes what the Catholic Church believes. Is that too much to ask? What do you think?