Is Boston Archdiocese Violating ‘Motu Proprio’ on Charity?

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has just issued a “Motu Proprio’ , “On the Service of Charity.  Based on our read of it, we agree with the take of others that this could be one of the most important papal directives in the last fifty years, with the potential for significant impact in Boston if abided by.  It not only helps the Catholic Church more effectively speak with one clear voice in the defense of the most vulnerable in society–such as the poor and unborn–but it also sets clear guidelines for how Catholic Church organizations should and should not operate–in terms of compensation, adherence to the truths of the Catholic Faith and other important areas.  

Given everything we know is going on in Boston, a big question emerges–is Boston in violation of the “Motu Proprio” already? Between the the excessive six-figure salaries for lay executives, allowing a Finance Council member to work against the mission of the Catholic Church, allowing parishes to run faith education programs contrary to Church teachings, and sponsoring second collections that support organizations whose work has been shown to violate Church teachings, we have quite a mix to choose from here. Below we will highlight just a few passages from the Motu Proprio, with our commentary following.





The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia) and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable” (Deus Caritas Est, 25).

The service of charity is also a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being (cf. ibid.)…

With regard to this diakonia of charity, in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est I pointed out that “in conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches” the service of charity (No. 32); …

In view of this, with the present Motu Proprio I intend to provide an organic legislative framework for the better overall ordering of the various organized ecclesial forms of the service of charity, which are closely related to the diaconal nature of the Church and the episcopal ministry.

Dispositive Part

Consequently, upon the proposal of the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and after consultation with the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, I establish and decree the following:

Art. 2. – § 1. The Statutes of each charitable agency referred to in the preceding article must also contain, in addition to its institutional offices and structures of governance in accordance with canon 95 § 1 CIC, the guiding principles and objectives of the initiative, the management of funds, the profile of its workers, as well as the reports and information which must be presented to the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Art. 4. .

§ 3. It is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop to ensure that in the activities and management of these agencies the norms of the Church’s universal and particular law are respected, as well as the intentions of the faithful who made donations or bequests for these specific purposes (cf. canons 1300 CIC and 1044 CCEO).

Art. 7. – .

§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life.

[BCI Commentary] Given this, is the ongoing involvement of Finance Council member and Catholic Schools fundraiser, Jack Connors in the archdiocese a violation of the Motu Proprio?  How can Connors’ financial support for abortion on-demand and fund-raising for President Obama–who not only supports abortion on-demand but also is imposing laws on the country that threaten and violate our religious freedom–be considered to “give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity”?  What program of theological formation would lead Connors to repentance and conversion?

§ 3. It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.

[BCI Commentary] A look at our post, Boston Parish Adult Faith Formation: Good and Bad shows a few of the problems.  At St. Susanna in Dedham, Fr. Steve Josoma offers an adult faith formation program with discussions of Buddhism,  Mormonism, and nuns under attack by the Vatican.  At Holy Family in Concord, the faith formation series under pastor Fr. Austin Fleming features speakers from the recent Voice of the Faithful conference in Boston, including Thomas Groome , a national co-chair of “Catholics for Obama” and a former priest. At Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, under Adult Faith Formation their Book Club recently read the fictional sex novel, Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. 

Furthermore, the Boston Archdiocese continues to promote a second collection each November to benefit the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, even though there is a long paper-trail of evidence that their grants continue to go to pro-abortion and anti-family groups.

Art. 10. – § 1. It is the responsibility of the Bishop to supervise the ecclesiastical goods of the charitable agencies subject to his authority.

§ 4. In a particular way, the Bishop is to see that the management of initiatives dependent on him offers a testimony of Christian simplicity of life. To this end, he will ensure that salaries and operational expenses, while respecting the demands of justice and a necessary level of professionalism, are in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.

[BCI Commentary] Two years after the Boston Finance Council formed a “Compensation Committee” to supposedly work on the matter of the bloated payroll filled with excessive six-figure salaries, there still has been no meaningful action taken. At long last, it sounds like there could be some canonical teeth as the basis for action.  Is the $325K salary of Schools Superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill in “due proportion” to the analogous expenses of the diocesan Curia, where priests are paid about $41K annually?  When exactly will the do-nothing Compensation Committee issue their long-awaited salary report and actually do something?

I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of particular mention, and I decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and enter into force on 10 December 2012.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 November, in the year 2012, the eighth of my Pontificate.

With publication of the ‘Motu Proprio’, there is hope that these provisions will be codified in the Code of Canon Law at some point in the future. We also hope Boston takes action on these matters before that.

Just to help speed that along, please forward this post to the Apostolic Nuncio for the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò at nuntiususa(at)  Tell him you are a faithful Catholic in Boston concerned about violations to the Motu Proprio and are asking for his intervention to help Boston comply with the Motu Priorio.

28 Responses to Is Boston Archdiocese Violating ‘Motu Proprio’ on Charity?

  1. jbq2 says:

    There are forces at work in the American Catholic Church to blend church and state. Kathleen Sebelius is well known to be Catholic and involved in aid to Catholic hospitals and, for instance, the Mercy Health System from whence Sister Carol Keehan came (962K salary). Mercy is now Coventry and is no longer Catholic. There are guidelines for state aid. The corpus crosses came down and replaced with a metallic logo which is half cross and half company. My dying recently deceased Irish mother could not even have a priest as a lifelong Catholic at her death. At first glance, what appeared to be negligence is now seen as a clever Mercy killing. The Archdiocese of Boston is more open than most in what they are doing. They do not want to duplicate services that can be obtained through the government. There are so-called Catholics such as Jack Connors who are bridging the gap between Church and State. Unfotunately in most all cases, these are pro choice and pro gay individuals who have reached out to their compadres in the hierarchy. The Church is being bled intentionally to destroy it and such as the Archdiocese of Boston has knuckled under.

    • Michael says:

      Could you explain your mother’s situation in a bit more detail? My friend told me about something similar.

      • Still Horriffied says:

        Same here. Unattended death in hospital. 92 years old. No one present, let alone a priest. Cleverly disguised “Mercy” killing.

  2. How about enforcing Summorum Pontificum in every parish?

    Catholic Charities is not Catholic anymore!

    Thank you, Your Holiness!

  3. Time for a change says:

    How about letting 40% of parishes operate at deficit. They have never said how these losses are being funded. Are they looting pension funds, health funds, BCTV, perpetual care, parish deposits in revolving loan? Money has to come from somewhere and the plan is just to continue to allow it. Please tell us where they are coming from, if BCI knows.

    • Anni says:

      In my parish we assume that the money is coming from parish deposits. Before our current pastor, we know that the parish had about $500K in the archdiocesan deposit account. This was primarily from the sale of a church and rectory of a parish that was suppressed in the same town. The people joined our parish and the property became part of our parish. The previous pastor sold the property and used some of the proceeds to pay off all parish debt. The rest went into the depository.

      Since the new pastor arrived seven years ago, the weekly collection has decreased significantly. This is largely in response to having a part-time, generally absentee pastor who spends more time at his vacation home than he does in the parish and who has abolished almost every parish ministry that run by the deacon. He has provided exactly TWO parish financial statements since he has been in the parish and both are prime examples of writing a statement to make everything balance. We know it is all fiction! He has to be raiding the depository. Both of the statements that we have received were given to us 8 months after the Sept. 30 deadline set by the RCAB. We do not have the FY12 statement yet. We have asked for an accounting of “all accounts and deposits” as stipulated in the RCAB guidance for finance councils, but we have never received that information. We do not know who is on our parish finance council. We have not had a parish pastoral council election since this pastor has been here. Our parish is being run by smoke and mirrors by the “Business Manager” who is really the Pastor! The Pastor is the “Occasional Dispenser of Sacraments”. Because our parish finance report is not online on the RCAB page, we have no idea if what we are getting is the same as what RCAB is getting.

      Because of the complete lack of transparency and accountability, many of us have responded by putting a buck in the collection basket and sending the rest of our contributions to worthwhile Catholic endeavors, including the Parish St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the local food pantry.

      How this parish passes audit is beyond me. I think they all do it with smoke and mirrors at RCAB!


      • Anni says:

        I meant to say that he has abolished every ministry that ISN’T run by the Deacon! Our Deacon, a completely orthodox Catholic with a wife, family, multiple grandchildren and a full time professional position spends more time in service to the parish than the pastor!


      • Still Horriffied says:

        Oh, Anni, this sounds all too familiar. Absentee pastor; no Finance Council; no one donating; no sodalities or ministries; nothing online; cash supposedly in trust from closure of “merged” parish.

        Really pathetic.

      • tryingtofigurethisout says:

        why would you post this without naming the parish?…a pointless , dubious post ma’am…name the parish or you are wasting everyone’s time

  4. Ready for Battle says:

    What about the situation at St. C’s where we have the priest (Father John) encouraging a dialogue that is in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church? It isn’t just about the lay people we absorb into the fold; those seeking to destroy from within come in many varieties. Sadly, each can boast of measurable “successes” in their objective to bring the Church down. Parishioners as a whole seem so very weak in their catechism, it is no wonder those seeking to take us down from the inside feel victorious (for now). If nobody is reading the playbook, how can we be ready for the game?

    • tryingtofigurethisout says:

      again , as above, why post something like this without offering specifics…what is the dialogue that is being encouraged that is problematic…how are things supposed to be confronted is no one knows what you are talking about….

      • tryingtofigurethisout says:

        BCI , letting posts like this stay up does nothing for the site… you should make it clear to people that if they are really sincere and trying to expose real wrong’s that they need to stop playing cryptic games with dubious postings and shoot straight….

      • parispal says:

        To; Tryingtofigurethisout

        Sincere people comunicate directly with whatever person
        or institution they have an issue with. They say it like it is
        and identify themselves. RFB should not be citing a specific
        priest because there are probably thousands with this name
        all over the globe. RFB does not appear to be so
        “ready for battle.”

      • BCI first wants to remind everyone of our two main guidelines for comments.

        First, please keep comments relevant to the topic of the post. It feels like we are starting to drift off-topic. Second, avoid personal attacks.

        If there is a problem in a specific parish, it should be reported in writing to the regional bishop followed by a phone call. Assuming nothing happens, then write and call the Vicar General. To improve the likelihood of response, you should leave your name and phone number, and in your letter or email you might threaten to write to the Papal Nuncio along with the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and BCI. You will probably get a response. If not, then follow through with the next letters and cc: Cardinal O’Malley.

        If you want to report a problem publicly here at BCI, we ask that you share objectively verifiable information. Fir example, as you can see in our original post on faith formation programs, we linked to the parishes where you can find the questionable programs listed in the bulletin. If a problem is a big one, there is usually a paper trail somewhere. If the problem is objectively observable and verifiable, then provide references, links or correspondence (emailed to BCI) and you can name the parish or name names. That is the only way these matters get addressed if you have exhausted other avenues with no action.

        But, if there is no objectively verifiable information you can share privately or publicly so the specific problem can be dealt with, then we ask that it not be discussed in comments.

      • The situation at St Cecilia Church in Boaton with Fr John Unni is well documented. People complained by name extensively in 2011. It was written up by local and national mainstream media extensively. BCI has written about various issues at the parish. Google: St Cecilia Boston gay pride and you will get the answer to your question about that one. Many people have “done battle” on that situation. There has been slight improvement there since those battles of 2011 as best as we can tell.

  5. Lazarus' Table says:

    Forget about the Motu Proprio; consider how the RCAB treats falsely accused priests, SIsters, retired employees, straight priests. “Charity” is not in their lexicon. If they can be indifferent to the Divine Command “Love your neighbor as yourself” don’t expect them to pay attention any motu proprio.

  6. […] Is Boston Archdiocese Violating ‘Motu Proprio’ on Charity – Boston Catholic Insider […]

  7. Anonymous says:

    God bless BCI. This is a very important post.

    I wish every parishioner in Massachusetts read this.

  8. Objective Observer says:

    “To this end, he will ensure that salaries and operational expenses, while respecting the demands of justice and a necessary level of professionalism, are in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.”

    “I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of particular mention, and I decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and enter into force on 10 December 2012.”

    OK that pretty well sizes up the situation. As of December 10, Sean Patrick cuts the salaries across the board until they are “in due proportion to his diocesan Curia,” or he is in flagrant violation of this particular Motu Proprio…”notwithstanding anything to the contrary.”

    Due proportion to this diocesan Curia would surely be not more than the Archdiocese of New York’s Curia. As we have read many months ago, Boston’s manager salaries are 2-3 times those of New York. Very basic, very clear: Boston needs to make big changes fast. No committee necessary… the buck(s) stop on Sean’s desk.

    • Lynne says:

      I frequently listen to WQOM (1060 AM), the Catholic radio station here in Boston. The morning show is very good, the afternoon show, the Good Catholic Life, based here in Boston, not so much. The host, Scott Landry, was discussing the motto proprio with his brother, Father Roger Landry. Scott wondered how important this message was and what is a motto proprio anyways… His brother gave an excellent description on how important this particular one is.

    • Time for a change says:

      Seems to me that the Moderator of the Curia is the COO. Someone should tell the Pope that our Moderator can never get his own Diocese because he ignores directives from the Holy Father. Where is he in all of this??

  9. Boston Priest says:

    The announcement of this is wonderful news. I agree with Objective Observer. December 10 is a day of compensation reckoning.

    Has BCI or have your readers considered that BCI may have played some role in this document being issued by the Vatican? I recall BCI played a role in the defeat of Bishop Kicanas two years ago for USCCB president, paving the way for the election of Timothy Dolan. You have run a number of letter writing campaigns to the Congregation for Bishops and Papal Nuncio and suggested readers email the nuncio. I know that people well placed in the Roman Curia have spoken privately of what is happening in Boston, with details that suggest either they are reading BCI or they are hearing complaints directly from Boston Catholics. The Holy Father surely got input from the Congregation for Bishops in the writing of this. These things don’t come out ofthe blue. BCI, I thank you for your ongoing efforts to get the Boston problems out into the open. If your efforts opened the eyes in the Roman Curia to the extent of Boston problems in even a small way, you have my hearty appreciation.

    • Boston Priest, Thank you for the kind words. BCI is doing our best to get the important concerns and issues out into the light of day so they can be addressed for the good of the Catholic Church. Regardless of the impetus for the Motu Proprio, BCI is very glad to see it. Now, we will see what is done to comply with it.

  10. […] there is the Boston Archdiocese.  As discussed in “Is Boston Archdiocese Violating ‘Motu Proprio’ on Charity?” as of Monday, December 10, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, will be in […]

  11. Chris says:

    A late entry — but the bishop of Madison has cracked down on nuns who espouse New Age beliefs and “indifferentism” and refused to allow them to preach or teach at any parish in the diocese. Isn’t that good news? If only the archdiocese would actually take a look at what is being taught in parishes and publicly prohibit the promotion of talks by known heretics, gay rights activists, Obama lovers and ex-priests (who aren’t supposed to have any teaching role in the church once they are laicized). The story is here:

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