Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican PR Campaign

In case you have been wondering how and why Cardinal Sean O’Malley is getting so much press in and around the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope, now we know why.  The Boston Archdiocesean PR machine is in high gear drumming up stories, as exemplified by the email below from Cardinal O’Malley’s cabinet secretary for communications.  A rational person seeing their press activity might wonder why the Cardinal and his PR team have embarked on such an active campaign in the days before the conclave starts.

Here at BCI, we would like to do our part to assist, and we invite our readers to help as well.

1) We suggest that Cardinal O’Malley revisit the list of publications he reads for input and those with whom he spends time interviewing.  In this interview with the National Catholic Reporter, published March 3, here are his answers to several questions:

How are you preparing yourself?

Spiritually, I’m trying to focus on the seriousness of this, asking for God’s help in prayer. I’m also trying to learn as much as I can about my brother cardinals.

How are you doing that?

I downloaded Mr. Miranda’s material, because he has a page of just the cardinals who are going to be at the conclave. [Note: Salvador Miranda of Florida International University maintains a web page on the cardinals.] I had my secretary go through and take out the biography of each one. A lot of them, of course, I knew, but this was one way of putting names to the faces of those I don’t know. That’s especially true of the Eastern Europeans and a couple of the Africans. I’m trying to read articles, to become acquainted with some of these issues in the past faced by conclaves. Your articles are all very interesting too.

Where do we start on this?  The “National Catholic Reporter” is not even Catholic–as exemplified by recent statements by Kansas City Bishop Finn that the paper should not call itself Catholic, and by Colorado Springs Bishop Sheridan that the National Catholic Reporter ‘is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.’ Why is Cardinal O’Malley even spending time or giving credibility to the paper by agreeing to an interview with them? Furthermore, since the paper publishes pieces by dissidents such as Joan Chittister and takes editorial positions that officially condemn Catholic Church teaching–including “on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues”–what does this say about the theological standards and discernment of the Cardinal? BCI would suggest that Cardinal O’Malley instead prepare for the conclave by reading writings of the saints and publications other than the National Catholic Reporter.

2) Here is the email just sent out by Terry Donilon asking for help on Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican public relations campaign:

Subj: Rome updates and 2 requests


As you know the Cardinal is in Rome preparing for the conclave.  This week will see the start of the meetings with the College of Cardinal’s.  Through The Pilot, Cardinal Sean’s blog and our social media team as well as CatholicTV we will keep you up to date as the proceedings get underway.

We do have two requests we hope some of you can help us with.

As you can imagine, the media has descended on Rome from all over the world.  This week the Boston media will be arriving to cover the events.

1.      We have a need for Boston folks in Rome either on pilgrimage, working or visiting during the week ahead to engage with the media which we will vet and who would have positive things to say about the Church.  The local media arriving and some national media have made requests to us

2.      We need local stories where parishes, schools and ministries are involved that are learning and celebrating Pope Benedict, the papacy and the universal church (perhaps Boston-based folks with a connection to Rome/Vatican).

Thanks so much for any consideration you give to this request.

Please email your suggestions and connections to me and Kellyanne Dignan (

Please continue to pray for Cardinal Sean and his fellow Cardinal’s as they undertake this most important responsibility.



Terrence C. Donilon
Secretary for Communications
Archdiocese of Boston
Work:  617-746-5775
Cell:  401-480-0171

Pastoral Center
66 Brooks Dr
Braintree, MA  02184

The main question people should be asking themselves is “Why exactly are Cardinal O’Malley and his team mounting this PR campaign?”   When Terry writes, “We have a need…,”  is it clear to any readers why they have a “need”?  What will happen if the need they have is not fulfilled?  The Boston Archdiocese is spending about $1 million annually on media (Terry Donilon salary and benefits, Scot Landry salary and benefits plus his media and CatholicTV team, and Rasky Baerlein) and yet they have to beg everyone in the archdiocese for Rome stories. Is there anything wrong with that picture?

In addition, BCI readers have heard us tell you for some time that Terry Donilon–paid $184K in salary, plus benefits, for total compensation of $208K–is challenged when it comes to spelling, grammar and knowledge of Catholicism.  This email is a great example.  There are meetings of the College of Cardinal’s. [Note: Students learn  how to make a noun possessive in 2nd grade. (e.g. “the boy’s ball”)  There is no possessive in “College of Cardinals”]  And how  exactly is it that parishes, schools and ministries would go about  “learning…Pope Benedict?  Also, we should pray for Cardinal Sean and his fellow Cardinal’s [again, what are they possessing?] as they undertake this most important responsibility. [Which responsibility is it the Cardinal’s are undertaking?  Is it fulfilling the “need” for stories?] . Is this quality of work worth $208K a year, subsidized by Catholic Appeal donations?  Does the Compensation Committee think someone who cannot spell at beyond a 2nd grade level and is paid $208K a year is somehow not being excessively compensated?

To help the archdiocese, BCI is going to do several things:

  • We will write to the Compensation Committee and suggest their first target for job standards and pay reduction.
  • BCI is going to offer to Terry and the PR team that BCI will speak to the press about our apostolic ministry as Catholic bloggers, where we are helping people learn about the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. (We even have a connection to Rome/Vatican, because BCI readers keep sending BCI blog posts to members of the Roman curia, hoping they will do something about the problems in Boston).
  • We are going to offer to Terry and the Rasky Baerlein team that, as long as Terry is still doing the communications job, we will help proofread and spell-check emails from Terry before they are sent out.

Lastly, if any BCI readers are in Rome, would like to talk to the press about the papacy of Benedict XVI or the papacy in general, or have a connection to the Vatican (e.g. by means of your having emailed or called the Papal Nuncio or others in the Roman curia), feel free to help out Terry Donilon and the Boston Archdiocese. Drop Terry and Rasky an email and offer to speak to a reporter.

60 Responses to Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican PR Campaign

  1. jbq2 says:

    I attended a Mass recently here in St. Louis at which Bishop Michael Sheridan officiated. He was an auxiliary bishop here. I was impressed. Bishop Finn also has influence from Kansas City toward St. Louis and the conservative movement. The National “Catholic” Reporter isn’t. This is also the “Cardinal’s home” field.

  2. jay says:

    That any Catholic proud of his faith would associate with The NC Reporter jars the mind but that a prince of the Church would give it credence by accepting to be interviewed by it and close his comments by giving it a veiled approval is crushingly disappointing.

    In rightly pointing out the inadequacies and truly embarrassing actualities of Terry Donilon’s English grammar, I would respectfully ask that BCI look to its own frailties in that regard. Careful proof reading of its own comments would discover typos and maladjusted wording in more than a few articles throughout its existence.
    Like two rather glaring ones in this very blog.

    • Jay,
      Thank you for your comment and feedback. We are in total agreement about the NC Reporter, and about the embarrassing level of Terry Donilon’s English grammar.

      Regarding the frailties of BCI in this area, we appreciate the feedback, but would point out that a comparison of a $200K paid full-time executive responsible for diocesan communications (who also has an expensive PR firm) vs an unpaid blog is not comparing apples and apples. The level of mistakes by Terry Donilon, poor quality of written communications, and lack of proficiency with something as basic as how to make a noun possessive suggests his writing skill level is not beyond that of a 3rd-grader.

      To date, BCI has written 408 blog posts. Some posts take up to several hours each to thoroughly research, fact-check and write. If you do the math, you will see this takes a lot of time. Beyond that, we spend even more time responding to messages and researching possible stories that are never published. Because BCI juggles other responsibilities along with the blog, due to time constraints we usually cannot proof-read multiple times before going live. So sometimes, we go out with a post and then realize we had a typo or grammatical error in the first version of a post. Then after rereading it, we catch the error(s) and quickly fix online. If you receive our blog posts via email, you could find errors, but if you also see any error remaining in the online version, feel free to email us and we’ll fix them.

      Your opening sentence highlighted what we believe is the most glaring problem–namely, a Cardinal and papal elector who is reading the National Catholic Reporter and views it as a “very interesting” source of information to guide his decision-making. That is where we urge readers to focus, and where prayers are needed.

    • Michael says:

      Betty, Your comment reads like you are threatening a mafia hit. What’s wrong with you?

      • Betty says:

        What is wrong with you Michael?
        Why don’t you spend one day of your immature
        life in a rehabilitaion center or unit?
        Automobile accidents, and/or strokes happen every day.

        Shhh…Don’t tell Piers Morgan: He will try to take our cars away!!

  3. marge says:

    I’m not a local, but I enjoy your blog. Got a good giggle out of this one. Of course, everybody makes mistakes when jotting blogs/comments. Formal letter, even e-mail should be proofread. I agree interview with NCR was, at minimum, careless.

    • Michael says:

      Nothing to giggle about when you are tlking about a “communications” professional who is stealing his bloated salary from the Catholic Church. There are churches right now being assessed exorbitant amounts of money for the Cardinal’s appeal which could be seriously reduced if just a few of the overpaid careerists rethought waht it means to work for the Church.

  4. Stephen says:

    Didn’t I read here on BCI that Donilon’s brother Tom is Obama’s National Security Adviser? And you need to ask why and how he got and keeps the job? The money on all the jobs BCI complains about are financially back filled – We have the person we want, what is the most we can pay them?-

    Having a ‘need’ is very strong statement in political parlance. Consider:

    It appears that Cardinal Sean is running for Pope. He is young, has experience with poverty and the third world (watch for pictures of his trip to Haiti) he is widely seen as having experience as a peace keeper and having the ability to compassionately intervene in time of crisis. He has visual appeal and is a Vatican outsider as a robed Franciscan. He is well traveled and mufti-lingual, and the first Cardinal in the known universe with a Blog. On a personal level how could he not consider his Franciscan roots of ‘rebuilding the church’? Is there somebody better for WYD @ Rio in July?

    A PR campaign is part of a strategy. A political strategy is a set of tactics designed with a mission in mind. (get elected) Missions have goals and objectives. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with seeking a position of power. Will Cardinal Sean work the room (Sistine Chapel) and be our next Pope? Stranger things have happen.

    • Carolyn says:

      But in fact he is not good at any of those things except being multi-lingual — he is to a certain extent a thespian. He gives great homilies and good interviews, but he was not directly involved in the dealinsg with abuse cases to bring them to conclusion (he was as one commenter said, the “faceplate”), and he had a terrible record of meeting with victims for the longest time. His own diocese is in a fiscal mess, including some financial sleights of hand that really should be looked into by the civil authorities. And Mass attendance has plummeted in Boston with no respite since his arrival.

      Those around him benefit when they make him look good. He does as they instruct (think Jack Connors, Bryan Hehir, et al) and they make life nice for him. Many electors know this about Sean. They know this does not make a man papal material.

      The papacy is the Cross. It really isn’t the job for the guy who likes a short day in the office and who asked God to take him to spare him the suffering of “another day of reconfiguration.”

      • As further documentation of the fact that Mass attendance has plummeted in Boston, see this article:

        “Statistics from the archdiocese indicate that 40 percent of its parishes are barely meeting their financial needs or operating at a loss, while the number of active diocesan priests is expected to diminish by nearly half – from around 400, to only 180 – by 2021. Mass attendance in Boston dropped by 23 percent between 2000 and 2009.”

        It astonishes BCI how all of the media reporting on Cardinal O’Malley are misrepresenting the recent Boston history. It is as though the Rasky folks have presented a fact-sheet for the media that spins the story using embellished or inaccurate information.

      • Carolyn says:

        The most galling thing about Sean is not that he found the job of archbishop depressing (a lot of people might have), but that he would write a pastoral letter admitting that he’d rather be dead than face another day with parish consolidation.

        All he did in 2004-2005 was read about reconfiguration and dread what people said about him. He never went to a closing parish, he never celebrated a last Mass, he never went to a regional meeting. So on top of finding the “job” he did NOT do difficult and depressing, he made it about him — not about the pastors and parishioners who experienced the actual pain of consolidation. As the going got tough, when his big moment came to lead, and to buck the people up who were doing the work out in parishes, he published a letter and ASKED THAT IT BE READ AT MASS IN EVERY PARISH, to say “Poor me.”

        One word when thinking about him as pope: Yikes.

    • Michael says:

      Finally, I undestand the need for the PR group in Boston.

      Stephen, great points. But you missed one. All campaigns need a payoff and Cardinal O’Malley has paid plenty of democratic lawyers off through the “charity” he paid to the survivors of the sexual abuse scandal (with 1/3 of the money going to people who were never abused). I’m sure that will go a long way toward his successful election.

      Congratulations to O’Malley. Another first. Buying Popehood.

  5. Jimmy says:

    The most corrupt popes in history have similarly campaigned for the papacy (really the power of the papacy) such as Alexander VI. Catholicism is all but dead in Massachusetts and Obamacare-Sean would take the entire Church? God save us from future popes who don’t know the Church’s teaching on subsidiarity and believe that large government is the solution. God save us from future popes who are embarrased by the Church’s teachings on human sexuality.

  6. I have heard several reports that the Cardinals want to end this conclave before Holy Week. If this is the case, then they must already have a candidate picked out. Unless they receive the intercession of the Holy Ghost and take their time to elect who God wants, then the wrong candidate will unfortunately claim the papacy.

    In my opinion, I don’t care how long this conclave takes, as long as the winner will restore Holy Mother Church. They could be there for a month, 2 months, 6 months, 6 years, I don’t care. But they have to get the right one in.

    It seems like that the Boston media is already declaring Cardinal Sean “Pope Sean”, because the only thing he really did here in Boston is actually remove priestly faculties for those committing sexual abuse crimes, and everyone (in Fall River and Boston) is going to put the tiara on his head prematurely. But based on what BCI has uncovered over the past three years, he clearly doesn’t deserve it.

    The scary part is that if Sean (or any other “wrong” candidates like Dolan, Wuerl, Schoborn, etc.) get in, then many more people might become sedevacantists, and self-declare that there is an Antipope. As a Traditionalist Catholic, I have never declared popes since 1958 illegitimate, and Pope Benedict was one of the reasons why I became a Traditionalist in a positive way. But I don’t want to take the sedevacantist position, so please pray that the right candidate sits on the Throne of Peter.

    • Kate says:

      History has shown that the ecclesiology of the likes of Cardinal O’Malley does not create sedevacantists. Diluted Catholicism creates apostasy. Question: is the laity of the Archdiocese of Boston more similar to the laity of the faithful Arlington Diocese or to European dioceses where even the bishops don’t deny their lack of relevance?

  7. Lazarus' Table says:

    Did he “fix” Boston? Sure, the ‘operation’ was a success. But the patient died.


      Very well said. He would sell the Vatican and then have it relocated to Braintree. .

  8. Stephen says:

    Is it possible that Mr. Donolin’s written foibles, that could easily be solved by a secretary, are intentional? They certainly bring out the disdain in BCI. As with the salaries, the diocese knows exactly what they are doing. I wonder if the sophistication of the strategies are beyond the grasps of BCI. Think agi/prop (agitation and propaganda). The Strategist is noted for describing Hanlon’s razor. “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” As these modernist (true heretics) campaign for the papacy what better strategy than to hide behind stupid.

    Benedict XVI by his single act brought the church to a sedevacantist
    position. I believe the validity and illicitness of the sacraments, the reality of Fatima and other uniquely Catholic issues must be seriously considered in the conclave. The new Popes position on The Latin Mass will be very telling. If he’s a liberal and takes the name Peter II, I’m building a bunker with Jack O’Malley.

    • Stephen, It is not likely Mr Donilon is making intentional spelling errors–this has been going on since Terry started in April of 2005. We do not see the spelling errors as having any strategies or malice behind them. This is par for the course. On the other hand, BCI does believe the salary issue is intentional.

      • Michael says:

        But is BCI agreeing to enter the bunker with Stephen, Jack and myself?

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        I think the bunker should have a traditional oratorio in it. Maybe Mike Voris would pitch in too. As to Tery Donilllonn, he is just the figurehead for the bad spell the archdiocese is going through.

        OMG, did I just write that awful pun?

  9. Dave Burns says:

    Thanks be to God for John Allen and company. NCR does not toe the party line. Truth is not in most of the tall hats, as they are aided and abetted by the puffs of L’Osservatore Romano and others. Neither U.S. News and World Report nor USA Today are official organs of our country or our government. Be thankful that they and the other free press are here so that we know more than government handouts of propaganda. Finn is a fine representative of our Church. He probably will be made a Cardinal for his exemplary representation. We laity of unwashed brains know where this “church” is headed. The gates of hell prevail ever closer, subsequent to its hijacking by the fossilized, hard heads, and hard hearts. Jesus is not in this mix except to protect the children mitres won’t.

    • Michael says:

      NCR is the Sunday bulletin of the secularist Left-catholyc division. An agenda fueled broadsheet such as NCR can only be considered a member of the free press by ideologues.

      • Dave Burns says:

        Must one assume that any questioning of the sad status quo is an affront to one’s salvation? The Holy Laity may be able to
        remove us from the septic tank of grave
        sins within the walls of the Vatican. May!
        I have been thoroughly educated in the knowledge that I can do anything and still achieve justification. Tall hats enable – and sometimes commit – child and innocents rape. Furthermore, we realize that there are those who consider child molestation
        a slight inconvenience and a bump in the road and reasonably acceptable – if not deserving of applause – and who promote its addition
        as the eighth sacrament. The same members of the club which defends zygotes at all costs while demonstrating little or no care
        for children already among us. A hard a__, dictatorial, lying, deceitful,
        arrogant hierarchy grows while sons and daughters of Jesus flee
        the decay and debauchery. A Council trumps executive orders. But don’t
        confuse those of the washed brain with facts before their eyes.
        Vatican Two is what we’ve been living and that’s much too progressive for the fossilized who will defend any cleric, no matter their filthy sin. Please, may the petrified continue to harshen and painfully tighten the forced march into the dark ages! (Although a firm stance against torn anal, oral and vaginal tissue of precious children would be refreshing). A new, beautiful and holy Church will be hastened to deliver us from evil. Maybe before I take my dirt nap. I’m happy to be associated with the rude and the jerks who are trying to clear the temple of the tall hats of satan.

      • Dave Burns says:

        Is isn’t it technically a tabloid? Not a broadsheet?

      • Michael, Thank you for your comment. FYI. BCI believes we now have two different people named, Michael, commenting here. You may want to use a first initial of last name or some other way of distinguishing yourself.

      • Betty says:

        One never knows, BCI. It could be the same
        Michael with a split personality.
        But, don’t tell the psychiatrists: They are
        busy adding “Internet Addiction” to their DSM IV or V.

      • They are two different people.

      • Michael W says:

        Ms. Betty:

        I’ll leave the psychobabble to you. However, the political use of psychiatry is one of the first reactions of the totalitarian who finds unfettered speech most distressing. I’m confident I would be sent off for very intensive analysis and political correction in the dystopia of your dreams.

    • Michael W says:

      Your screed against the Church would be right at home in the National Catholyc Reporter.

      The same sex abuse of post-pubescents is indeed a travesty and happily Benedict XVI shut the doors of the seminaries to those plagued by an inclination to same sex abuse. The massive decline in abuse since the 90s has been one bright spot for the hierarchy. However, the toleration of same sex abuse of post-pubescents from the 60s to the late 80s speaks to the utter failure of the faux “progressivism” championed by those who praise the so called “spirit of Vatican II”. The toleration and promotion of lax sexual ethics coincided perfectly with the “same sex abuse” crisis. Yet you call for more of the same. We see in disgraced “progressives” like Rembert Weakland, Cardinal Mahoney and Cardinal O’Brien where this diseased “progress” and toleration of deviance leads us. Yet you cry out for more. Apparently, you are “justified”, no matter what you promote. This degraded secularism has nothing to do with the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

      • Dave Burns says:

        A NICE SEEN SCREED, if you please! Yes, if one doesn’t agree, I must assume that one is pro child-and-young-human-person sexual sacrifice on the altar of clericalism. i.e., a cleric is not a servant leader and is never wrong. The teaching authority has, by explicit example, taught me that I can do anything and be justified. I am unanimous in that.

      • Dave Burns,
        Based on your comments, it is rather clear that you are coming from a place where you are not supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church, thus you will not find this is the right place for your comments. Your approach is as if you are a Yankees fan who has just barged into the Red Sox locker room at Fenway Park and it trying to tell us why the Red Sox are losers. Kindly find another venue for your comments.

    • Dave Burns,
      The NCR does not toe the line on the Catholic faith. If you are a fan of that publication and what they stand for, you are not going to find like-minded company here at Boston Catholic Insider. This blog is faithful to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, and you will probably find it an unproductive use of your time to comment here.

  10. Michael says:

    “Cardinal Sean” seeks to Oprahfy the Papacy!!

    • Michael says:

      I’m in agreement, but you are totally confusing me, with the same name as me. Maybe you should go as Michael the Second or the Great or something, since I have been commenting here for a while:-)

  11. teddyballgame says:

    Maybe Donlin could get a job as Tom Menino’s speech coach.

  12. Betty says:

    This is a genuine concept to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI I thought of “before” this post:

    What do you think of issuing all of the second grade children
    making their First Holy Communion this spring a copy of
    the following book:

    Friendship With Jesus

    Pope Benedict XVI Speaks to Children on their
    First Holy Communion

    Author: Amy Welborn

    Ignatius Press

    ISBN Number: 9781586176198

    Hardcover: cost is approximately $12.00 on Ignatius Press website

    The Pastor’s can sign the books and read it to them during
    a church service?

  13. Ray Neary says:

    Channel 5 has been running pieces on the Cardinal’s candidacy, and a couple of nights ago quoted him as being “very scary” about the prospect of being Benedict XVI’s successor. I silently agreed and said a prayer to the Holy Spirit for the intercession needed. I repeat this often each day and will continue to do so. The last encounter I had with Cardinal O’Malley brought home to me, as never before, that he is foggy and “on stage” – rather than engaging you in dialogue. What has happened in the Archdiocese since he returned to Massachusetts is not a mystery given the protagonists. The Harvard – Boston Globe – Planned Parenthood Axis is always visible, and is powering this campaign, as well. One aspect which seems always to be hidden from view: the Rasky history. How has he escaped that with which old-timers on the political scene have much familiarity?

  14. Pat says:

    Mark 12:38-39
    In the course of His teaching He said,
    “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. …”

  15. jay says:

    BCI, it appears the Terry Donilon affair has far exceeded its significance.
    My apology for creating a buzz saw of comment totally out of proportion to the serious business of the papal conclave and ITS significance.

    The worth of your blog is of paramount importance and no gotcha intent was meant by a reference to a grammatical faux-pas here and there on your part. Not only am I no authority on the subject, I commit more than my share as well.

    Let’s zero in on the grave matter at hand and pray for the humility it requires to inform and change minds toward the real mission of the Church.

  16. Chris says:

    From EWTN:

    The College of Cardinals has decided that its members will no longer speak to journalists after several cardinals leaked information to the Italian press.

    “Concern was expressed in the general congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops media director.

    “As a precaution, the cardinals have agreed not to do interviews,” she added in a March 6 statement sent to journalists who were hoping to attend a press conference with Cardinals Francis George and Theodore McCarrick.

    The American cardinals have been the only ones to organize press conferences during the general congregation phase of the Sede Vacante period.

  17. Readers,
    It has now become necessary for BCI to start moderating comments. You can submit a comment, but it will not appear right away and will be reviewed before it goes live.

    To “Bricks and Mortar”: you have demonstrated time and again that you are unable to post comments here without insulting attack language. You also seem unable to distinguish between the first part of Cardinal O’Malley’s tenure in Boston (2003-2007, where we generally agree with you), and the past 5-6 years, which is when more troublesome things have been occurring. You also seem unable to distinguish between good moves the Archbishop of Boston may have initially made, and how he has continually backed down in the face of criticism from dissidents. Still, each time we respond to your insulting attacks in a logical, rational way, you do not respond at all–then you take off for a week and come back with more venom on another post that has nothing to do with the topic of the post. As reference, see our last response to you–you still never explained your gripe with our post about Bishop D’Arcy of several weeks ago, even after we asked several times.

    If you would like to email us and include a valid email address for the response, you may do so at or use the Contact Us and include a valid email address.

    Other readers can still submit comments, but they will not appear live right away.

  18. Justyn Tyme says:

    Enough already! Any Franciscan priest who is offered the episcopacy, if he is a “real” Franciscan, in the spirit of St. Francis, and the vows he professed MUST NOT accept. It clearly states in the Rule of St. Francis that the brothers are NOT to accept such positions in the Church. They knew that when they made Temporary/Solemn Profession. For anyone to offer such a position to a Franciscan priest knowing this is to insult St. Francis and the priest himself who vowed to be a Friar 1st. and a Priest 2nd, ALWAYS! If the friar-priest wishes to accept such a position he needs to leave the Franciscan Order and become a Diocesan Priest!
    Brother Sean might do well to prayerfully re-read his Rule of St. Francis at this time. The habit does not make the friar! St Francis once said to his brothers “when you preach, use words if necessary.”
    To this writer Brother Sean is a poor preacher.

    Brother Sean is highly overated. Psychiatric Ilness has nothing to do with intelligence. To this professional in the field Br. Sean is a clear example of such. When a person makes a public statement to the effect that he would rather die then deal with all this reconfiguration that is considered a red flag. All one has to do is to observe how he presents himself in public, especially with the media: In habit which he recently referred to in the media as a “costume”: sandals, cord and rosary, bearded, flat and at times even blunted in affect (face),
    slightly tilted head to the left, soft spoken with mono-tone voice,
    no vocal intonation, seldom smiles/laughs and when he does it appears forced. These symptoms/characteristics are considered by many within Church circles as signs of a very holy/spiritual person. He also presents as a bit overly pious. A careful look at his eyes will exhibit blinking that is slightly slow along with a slight delayed response to questions. All these observed symptoms leads this professional to the conclusion that he may very well might be struggling with Dx. Major Depression/Major Anxiety and is perhaps highly medicated. Its like his “get up and go, got up and went.” One’s sanctity has nothing to do with one’s sanity. Overall, I am sure he is a very good person but he has been in over his head for a very long time and its shows glaring for those who have eyes to see.

    Br. Sean presents the image that his handlers wish of him.
    I believe that he is smart enough to know what he does not know but also smart enough to find the right people who know what he knows and will do what he cannot do personally which they will do. I cannot see him getting “down and dirty” with the lawyers in the board rooms of Fall River, W. Palm Beach, Boston or Ireland. Thats what lawyers are paid to do. When the task is complete he probably walks in with all of the above stated ” image-symptoms” and signs off on everying: taking full credit and leading people to believe he alone is a great reconciler and healer. To this person, not so.
    Its time for Br. Sean to be a “real” Franciscan and in the spirit of St. Francis and the Rule he vowed to live ,to follow after the example/ preaching of both St. Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict and resign his office, for the good of the particular/universal church, and to live as a simple friar/simple bishop. Certainly not a Pope!
    Let us all pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this time!

    • Jack O'Malley says:

      Justyn Tyme,

      If you are indeed a professional psychologist, then you seem to have failed a course in technical writing.

      Cardinal O’Malley may have his faults (for which I have criticised him) but your comment does not bespeak a “professional” of any sort.

      Further, your statements about the Franciscans are erroneous. The Pope Emeritus wrote a thesis on St. Bonaventure.

      I discount your [edited by BCI] until you can provide sources for your [edited by BCI]

    • Jack O'Malley says:


      May I respectfully request that, if you decide to “[edit by BCI]” my remarks, you just delete them in their entirety rather than play with the square brackets?. I have no wish that readers wonder whether that what I may have written had offended the sensibilities of the blog’s authors to the degree that they had to resort to [interpolation] to preserve their haughty sense of decorum. I don’t publish obscenities and vicious ad hominems. I rightly characterise bad writing and contumelious characterisations, even of the Cardinal.

      I made a rational and literary judgement on the written statements of Justyn Tyme. I would expect that that judgement see the light of day. If that does not pass muster in your judgement then this is the last comment I will ever post to this blog. You have surmounted the hyperbolity of censoriousness to the point of ludicrousness.

      What I had written was (in reference to the post of Justin Tyme insulting Cardinal O’Malley): I discount your doltish drivel until you can provide sources for your calumnious screed.

      Delete this whole comment or none of it.

      • Jack O’Malley,
        In the future, we will just delete entire comments by you or others if there is something objectionable in them. You and others commenting would make this a whole lot easier for BCI if you would just hold back from ad hominems, and vicious or judgmental language. You can disagree with someone else, discount what they said, and make a rational judgement on what they have written–but still express those opinions as opinions without insulting. That is where you crossed the line. What would have been so tough about ending your comment by saying, “Until you can provide sources for your insults of Cardinal O’Malley, I discount what you have written”?

    • Justyn,
      A fact check on one of your points shows that Cardinal O’Malley referred to his habit as a “uniform” not a “costume.” Big difference that one word makes. We have not fact-checked all of your points, but you should be aware that when one point, stated as fact, is inaccurate, it casts into doubt other points made.

    • Stephen says:

      The Rule of St. Francis was rewritten in 1968.
      “Br. Sean presents the image that his handlers wish of him.”
      You are absolutely right and there is a very powerful lobby that would want him to be Pope. I think he is a near ridiculous long shot, but again stranger things have happened.

  19. j says:

    I feel compelled to note that while BCI and readers are assuming that the “PR campaign” is a lobbying effort to elect Cardinal O’Malley Pope, it in fact fits well with using a period of intense interest in the Catholic Church to inform, instruct, and put a personal face on the Faith.

    Lobbying for the Papacy has already made certain Cardinals papa-impossible.

  20. bitsnbytes says:

    It’s pretty wasteful to have the PR machine promoting the Cardinal during the lead-up to a conclave. I think a couple of the complaints here are misplaced.

    John Allen works for a phony Catholic paper, but he’s an honest and competent journalist.

    Also, the varying statements from the Holy See’s spokesman about post-papacy protocol leave me no confidence that Terry D. is so very wrong to refer to Pope Benedict with that title. For BCI to complain about it seems pointless nitpicking at best.

    Those complaints from BCI are a distraction from the valid information here about the RCAB PR campaign.

  21. It's snowing says:

    There is a difference between John Allen and the rest of the garbage on the National Catholic Reporter. Not sure why he writes there.

    2 folks with considerably more orthodox cred than BCI and its commenters (George Weigel and Arbshp Chaput) said this about Allen (part of Chaput’s interview with Hugh Hewitt this week):

    HH: Now you mentioned commentary. Yesterday, I asked George Weigel who he read and listened to among the lay, and he said basically John Allen and himself, and that was it. What about, advice…obviously, as a bishop, you have your own sources, and stuff you can’t share, and that’s especially as a senior bishop. But for the average Joe Bag O’Donuts wandering around the United States, what do you recommend that they do read and they do pay attention to?

    CC: Well actually, George was giving you recommendations that I would give. I think John Allen is one of the finest commentators on the life of the Church, international life of the Catholic Church these days. He writes for the National Catholic Reporter. And every day since the announcement, almost, he’s been highlighting another cardinal as a possible candidate for pope, and has been presenting the positive and negative sides of that decision in a rather objective way. He does a great job. And George does, too. George is on NBC, I think, and he’s been commenting for them. John Allen’s on CNN, I think.

    The sad thing is that BCI is smart enough to know the difference between Allen and the rest of his “colleagues” yet BCI ignored it. Why? Probably because it would weaken their argument. Was BCI just looking for another reason to trash O’Malley and the archdiocese?

    BCI used to be more objective when it first began.

    • It’s snowing,
      Thank you for your sharing your insights. We are aware that there is a difference between John Allen and the rest of the garbage at the National Catholic Reporter, and we are not sure why Allen writes there either. But he does. It is said in Latin, qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent. (“He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas”).

      You are correct that George Weigel and Archbishop Chaput have considerably more credibility than BCI. Here at BCI, we are huge fans of Archbishop Chaput and have tremendous respect for him. (We also used to be big fans of George Weigel as well, but have begun to lose some enthusiasm based on a few things we have heard from him in recent years, but we digress). Still, being well-known is not necessarily a measure of orthodoxy.

      To be honest with you, BCI disagrees a little bit with Archbishop Chaput that John Allen has been “presenting the positive and negative sides” of each cardinal as a possible candidate for pope in a rather objective way. If he were presenting them in an objective way, he would list objective, universal criteria for each candidate (e.g. strengths/weaknesses of the candidates in teaching/evangelization, sanctifying, governing, foreign languages, etc), and then present each candidate in terms of those criteria and what they have accomplished. John Allen’s assessment of Cardinal O’Malley was based on his public image, not the reality of what he has done and how he has performed here in Boston in recent years. See this post for our response and rebuttal to John Allen’s profile of Cardinal O’Malley:
      People wrote to Allen to give him feedback on his column and never received a response.

      Thank you for your feedback that we are smart enough to know the difference between John Allen and the rest of his “colleagues.” We could have perhaps done a better job in explaining that difference, but it does not change our perspective. Allen works for a paper that objectively should not call itself Catholic and truly is ‘an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.’ That is who he is paid by. Maybe if more Catholics he wants to interview refuse those invitations because of his affiliation, he would leave the NCR and work for a credible authentically Catholic pub.

    • Joe Murphy, Jr. says:

      It’s snowing,
      Your head’s in the snow if you think John Allen is “objective.” I think Chaput rocks, but he’s just a little off saying that Allen’s presenting the positive and negative sides of each candidate in an objective way. Take a look at his profile of Card. Marc Ouellet:

      Allen spends 5 paragraphs early in his profile talking about Ouellet’s “baggage.”

      He says Ouellet’s tenure as archbishop of Quebec from 2002 to 2010 was rocky, and there’s little indication he turned around the steep decline in faith and practice in Francophone Canada.

      Excuse me. There’s little indication Card. O’Malley has turned around the steep decline in faith in Boston, so why was that not mentioned in Allen’s report on our Card. if Allen is being “objective”?

      The items of “baggage” that open Allen’s profile of Card. Ouellet bias the reader against him. Only later does Allen give 5 positives, but then he ends with another 5 negatives! That’s not “objective.”

      Allen may be a fine commentator on the life of the church, but he works for a tabloid and his writing is far from “objective.” I think BCI’s arguments are plenty strong and they have no need to apologize.

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