As we get to the end of the year, BCI is catching up on some news from the fall we never got to cover. Today, we give an update regarding the “financial transparency” or lack thereof of the Boston Archdiocese under newly appointed Chancellor/Chief Financial Officer, John Straub.
Straub was serving as interim chancellor after previous Chancellor Jim McDonough left, and Straub was officially given the job in early October. When he was interviewed by the Boston Globe, Straub said:
“the Archdiocese had come a long way both with financial stability and financial transparency” and one of his goals would be to “continue to maintain that stability and transparency and enhance it where we can.”
Straub said that when Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley took the helm of the archdiocese in 2003 the church was financially “hemorrhaging.” Now, he said, “I would suggest we’ve reached a very stable point.”
“Maintaining that stability is a challenge for any organization,” he said, but he also noted that “the goal is never just to be stable, the goal is to be thriving.”
The words are great! But where is the action behind the words? We have three points today.
- If Mr. Straub wants to continue to maintain the financial transparency that was in place prior to his arrival, we suggest that he should post the 2012-2013 Central Ministries operating budget on the archdiocesan website, as has been done in years past but has not been done this year. This lets faithful Catholics know exactly how and where their donations are being spent. It is now already half-way through the fiscal year and surely it is about time that they post this important document. Here is the 2011 Central Ministries Operating Budget and here is the 2012 Operating Budget. Where is the 2013 operating budget? We do not know. If a few people reading this post would take a moment to write to Mr. Straub to ask for the 2012-13 budget, the personal outreach will no doubt make an impact. His email is: John_Straub(at)rcab.org,
- How can the Boston Archdiocese have “reached a very stable point” financially when 40-50% of parishes are in the red and can’t pay all of their bills? How are those bills being paid today ? Are parish deposits in Revolving Loan funds being used? Are they raiding BCTV, or pension or health funds? How long can whatever means of subsidizing parishes expenses from central funds keep up? Is the Boston Archdiocese nearing our own “fiscal cliff” of sorts?
- Where is the transparency around the effort to reduce $3.5 million in excessive six-figure salaries for the 17 lay executives earning more than $150K/year? The Finance Council formed a Compensation Committee in November 2010 to work on this. Here we sit more than two years later, and except for commissioning an expensive consultant report which has still not been published publicly, nothing appears to have happened. Mr. Straub, are you trying to reduce excessive costs and drive the Boston Archdiocese to be a good steward of donor funds, or is it just business as usual?
BCI hopes this little prod will help the new CFO/Chancellor uphold the commitment he made when he was appointed to this position that he would continue to maintain stability and transparency and enhance it where he can.