Boston Archdiocese Spending $100K+ to Survey Apostates

According to an article just published in the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston “has hired a top Democratic consultant to poll Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts – most of whom no longer attend weekly Mass – to find out what they think about thapostatee church and its leaders.”  A random phone survey will be taken  of whomever of 1,600 people want to respond, plus there will be six focus groups of fallen away catholics.   Participants will be asked a series of 90 questions including their views on church teaching such as abortion and contraception as well as their opinion of Cardinal Sean. (Since when are the prelates of the Church of Christ up for a popularity contest?)

While Terry Donilon, the Archdiocesan spokesperson refused to share the cost of the poll, sources tell BCI that the cost was $100K or more. Not only does BCI question the morality of giving church funds to John Martilla, who has served as a strategist for the likes of John Kerry, Joe Biden and Deval Patrick, we also question the purpose for marketing the Bride of Christ. After all, She alone has the words of eternal life.

What exactly does the Archdiocese hope to find by polling baptized Catholics who are no longer attending weekly Mass? The ills that afflict them are the same ills that have caused every apostate since Jesus first began preaching the Gospel to leave the bosom of Holy Mother Church. They leave because they refuse to accept the teaching authority of Christ and His Church. The only remedy for the situation of these unfortunate people is repentance.

As Christ ascended to Heaven, when the Church consisted of only a handful of disciples, Christ commanded the apostles to “Teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them all things whatsoever I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) “And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.” (Luke 24:47). By Apostolic Succession, this is the mission also for the bishops of today.

Instead of teaching with the authority and confidence of men who know that they have been given the keys to eternal life and that those who reject the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith will put their souls in grave danger, the Archdiocese of Boston plans to invert Christ’s command and in the words of Terry Donilon “learn” from those who do not show respect or reverence for God and His Church.

What might we expect from this inversion? The likely answer is more of the same. Instead of sound doctrine clearly stated with authority, we are likely to see the Archdiocese pander to the godless multitude with lukewarm statements, cleverly worded to remain as inoffensive as possible while stating the bare minimum in terms of doctrine. Only a halfwit could imagine that this will fill the pews again. It certainly is not the way Christendom was built.

Pope Leo XIII clearly condemned this approach in his 1899 encyclical Testem Benevolentiae:

The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order the more easily to attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. … Let it be far from anyone’s mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ.”

The mere fact that such a survey is being employed by a prelate whose primary duty is to guard the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints is capitulation to the spirit of the age.

That the Boston Archdiocese is spending even $1 on such a boneheaded initiative is a travesty and scandal, let alone donor funds at a time when most parishes are operating in the red.  Readers, please take this post, forward it to Terry Donilon (, and ask him to cut the Archdiocese’s losses on the survey and stop this waste of time and money.

(This post was contributed by a local Catholic who wishes to remain anonymous)

27 Responses to Boston Archdiocese Spending $100K+ to Survey Apostates

  1. D Paul says:

    The Church has moved away from a concentration on doctrine (Benedict) to one of social justice (Francis). The Democrats are the party of social justice. Basically, there are bishops here in the U.S. who have merged with the Democratic Party. It was no accident that Archbishop Raymond Burke was removed as the ordinary here in St. Louis in 2008 just before the election of Senator Obama. Abortion and gay marriage are seen as residues of social injustice and the capitalism of the Republican Party. Naively and simplistically, the view is held that if you do away with capitalism, then you will create a socially just utopia where people will return to Catholicity. JPII fought the social justice views of the Bolsheviks and carried a bullet around in his gut for 18 years. This is all about world socialism and the destruction of the Republican Party. You can very well bet that the survey done by the Democrats has a hidden agenda with interpretable results well beyond a religious base.

  2. Iwassurveyed says:

    I attend Sunday Mass and consider myself a practicing, not perfect, Catholic. I stopped using the offertory envelopes about a year ago. I think those who no longer “donate” via envelope may have been targeted.

    Having experienced this survey, it is result driven. You are missing the boat here. I do not fault using a survey but the questions chosen and possible answers compel certain findings.

    Also, I have to say that I was very unsure that this was an authorized survey. I assume many people just hung up the phone.

    • Mary Sweeney,
      BCI is very much open to readers posting comments relevant to the blog post, but you posting a link to something you wrote on Facebook nearly 4 years ago, and expecting BCI or our readers to read your 500+ word post to try and figure out your viewpoint is not helpful or productive. If you have a comment relevant to the blog post you wish to share, please write a sentence or paragraph where you state your viewpoint.

      To save readers the trouble you are asking them to go to, we read your post and the links to the article talking about the results of the “Why They Left” survey done by the Trenton diocese several years ago. Our conclusions:
      –We strongly disagree with your viewpoint that “Churches as denominations and as individual entities are on perpetual audition.” If that is part of your opinion on this blog post, then you totally miss the point. The Catholic Church and teachings of Jesus Christ are never “on audition.”
      –You link to an article in America Magazine. That is NOT a pub known for adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church. In June they published a lengthy column supportive of the Supreme Court’s decision to “legalize” so-called “gay marriage.” BCI is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. If you are a fan of America Magazine, we suggest you ought to direct your comments on the Catholic faith elsewhere.
      –Lastly, we read the article in America Magazine about the “Why They Left” survey responses. The conclusion–a hodgepodge of eclectic answers (none surprising), no trends, and they learned nothing that was not already already known. When asked, “Are there any changes your parish might make that would prompt you to return?” the researchers said “we found no easily discernible trend in their replies.” In other words, the survey was a waste of time. Yet another reason why the Boston survey effort should be abandoned.

      • Mary Sweeney says:

        Audition literally means “hearing”. It is more than obvious that the institutional Church is not communicating the message. It is not being heard. Francis is being heard. You and your pharisaical legalism are not. Your words drip with arrogance and contempt. They are not the words of Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

      • BCI does not know where to start in trying to respond to you. Our blog post and response to you were based on objective facts, absolute truths and magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church. Nothing about them could or should be construed in the false way you claim. Your link and response reflect your personal opinion and feelings. If you do not believe what the Catholic Church had taught for 2000+ years, as appears to be the case, this is probably not the right blog for you.


  3. The New Don't Convert, but Destroy and Pervert Plan says:

    If you go on certain parish sites in Baltimore diocese will also find a survey – if you click you can read the pastoral letter, take the survey

    Click on the “light brightly visible” pastoral letter

  4. Coincidentally, Terry Donilon sent an email to all clergy in the Boston Archdiocese this morning regarding the topic of the survey. Here is a copy of the email:

    From: “Donilon, Terry”
    Date: 12/03/2015 11:37 AM (GMT-05:00)
    Subject: Background on Survey Effort

    Dear Monsignor/Father,

    During the course of the past year, the Archdiocese of Boston has been planning to gain a broader understanding of what is in the hearts and on the minds of Catholics. The reason for this effort is we believe that we should be in an ongoing conversation with our people. Recently we convened a series of focus groups and conducted a survey of 1,600 respondents from across the Archdiocese. This effort involves surveying practicing Catholics and those who have fallen away from the Church.

    In 2012, the Archdiocese was a member of a coalition which defeated the physician assisted suicide ballot initiative in the Commonwealth. In conducting research at that time we gathered valuable information about the thoughts and concerns of Catholics on a wide range of issues statewide. The current effort has been focused specifically on the Archdiocese.

    This type of research is a standard practice for other nonprofits, colleges and universities including many Catholic institutions. We have conducted similar surveys on a more informal level from time to time. In the spirit of evangelization our hope is to learn more about the people we serve as well as learn how we can help those who have fallen away from the church to consider rejoining us on their faith journey. The project is not quite completed and there will be an extensive analysis of the information gathered.

    We are confident that this initiative will help us to be more engaged with our people, to be better communicators in spreading the beauty of our faith and in helping Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ.

    Thank you for all you do each and every day in your priestly ministry.

    Sincerely Yours,
    ​Terry Donilon

  5. Agree but disagree says:

    Ours is the mystical body of Christ present here on earth. However, it was left in the hands of men some of whom were true vicars of Christ on earth and others who failed in their duty in the role of Holy Father and more acutely in the priesthood. Men who sinned, failed the Church and did not practice mercy or a Christ-like approach. I agree that the Church should not pander to various publics but to suggest that the “The ills that afflict them are the same ills that have caused every apostate since Jesus first began preaching the Gospel to leave the bosom of Holy Mother Church. They leave because they refuse to accept the teaching authority of Christ and His Church. The only remedy for the situation of these unfortunate people is repentance.”

    This is an arrogant response that fails to reflect on the failings of this divine institution that has been left in the hands of humans who are innately sinners. Do we expect to be able to convert hearts by waiting for people to repent after being turned away? Or should we meet them where they are and help love them and see God’s love for them and hope they see the Church as a loving mother to whom they can return?

    Is it about being “right”? Or is about changing hearts and bringing people to the “truth”?

    • Iwassurveyed says:

      So well said.

    • South Shore Catholic says:

      I think the BCI post is charitable, not arrogant and am not sure I follow the line of reasoning above. Jesus Christ’s mission and that of the Catholic Church is the salvation of souls and converting sinners, not “listening” and making people feel good. If someone separates themselves from God and the Catholic Church, they put their soul at risk of spending eternity in hell, regardless of their reason or personal justification. Is that what you want? Every priest, bishop, cardinal and the Pope should be focused on salvation of souls, which comes from bringing people to the truth, which is the exact same thing as being right. I don’t understand why you have an issue with the BCI post. Do you just want to coddle people and no bring them to the truth that will save their soul from an eternity in hell?

      • Agree but disagree says:

        If Jesus were present among us would be seek to divide or unite people around his message and reach out to the disaffected? One of his closest friends was a prostitute to whom he reached out and through his being and example she was turned to be in relationship with Christ. This is an example of Church leadership reaching out as fellow sinners and in a spirit of love and mercy see how the Spirit can unite us all in Christ and hopefully his Church. It does not condone sinful behavior, but does as Jesus did, which is meet people where they are at and present the core Gospel values of love of God and neighbor. It also acknowledges that the Church is a divine institution run by humans – some saintly and some failed. How to bring people to the Truth is real question. Do you do it by declaring you are right and everyone is is risking their soul?

        I also think caution should be used in suggesting that being separated from the Catholic Church equates to separation from God regardless of reason. For example, If I or a family member were abused by a Catholic priest or had some other significant wrong done to me in the name of the Church and then the Church chose to protect itself instead of me, if God is not present to this person, then I truly wonder what God that I believe in.

  6. Ferde Rombola says:

    Mary Sweeney, it’s obvious you have an agenda at odds with that of BCI. Your “pharisaical legalism” remark is telling. What it means in context is faith to the doctrines of the Church. I have to agree with you that faith to the doctrines of the Church is largely ignored today by alleged ‘Catholics’ like yourself and King Francis the First.

    You accusation of arrogance and contempt directed to BCI is a shabby insult worthy of contempt. I’ve been reading BCI for years and have yet to see a disrespectful message by BCI addressed to anyone, including those BCI disagrees with.

    I thank BCI for keeping us informed about the shenanigans of our bishop and his merry men(?) in the bunker. I’ll thank you if I never have to look at your name again anywhere.

    Ferde Rombola

  7. A Catholic says:

    If only Terry Donilon had contacted one of us, we could have really made his ears turn scarlet red. Just where is he getting $100,000 to do this survey and why is it going into the hands of a known Democrat strategist????? The Dems are the worst party, they didn’t even want God mentioned in their platform at their last state gathering

    Then there is Cardinal O’Malley, he isn’t the least bit concerned with who he appoints to run different departments, such as Fr. Hehir, the manager of the Pro-Life department. It is my understanding that the ruling to NOT HELP with the signature drive to amend our state constitution to stop the tax payer funding of abortion. The pastors were told NOT TO HELP with this, but thankfully, not all listened.

    Then there is Jack Connors, a close associate in the education and finance departments. He funds the Mary Horrigan Connor’s Womens Health Center at B&W Hospital. Their director is a former PP CEO, and some in the staff train abortionists from outside the US.

    From those who are orthodox practicing Catholics, Cardinal O’Malley is not a role model. Rather, we’d rather stay away from any of his events. If I didn’t believe that Jesus is in the Eucharist, I might be looking for another church who leadership do follow the teachings of Jesus.

    God help us.

    • Iwassurveyed says:

      No, that would not have helped. I tried to explain in a prior post but gather folks want to discuss the propriety of doing the survey rather than the design flaws of this survey. I do not think doing the survey is a bad idea. How else do you know why people are turned away or staying?

      First, there were direct questions with multiple choice answers such as strongly disagree, disagree, disagree somewhat, agree, somewhat agree, strongly agree etc. Many questions concerned Card. SOM’s being chosen for the Pope’s circle of 8 and also as head of the new sex abuse unit at the Vatican. Not one question concerned Card SOM’s performance as head of RCAB.. Another question concerned the RCAB handling of sex abuse by clergy TODAY, not in the past. Another question was do you intend to see SPOTLIGHT or have you seen it. Some questions about contraception, abortion etc.

      Not one question concerned RCAB finances; church closures and sales; the new and improved collaboratives; mergers and takeovers, school closings, EVANGELIZATION. WHERE IS IT ANYWAY?

      Soooooo, I suggest that the questions were carefully formulated to minimize any real criticism of RCAB and Card. SOM. Not many people are going to criticize his participation in circle of 8 or the new sex abuse unit of the Vatican, no matter their feelings on what is happening locally.

      There was no opportunity to control the interview. No open ended questions and no opening for you to reformulate the questions into something else. This was as programmed as possible.

      I found the article posted by Mary Sweeney quite interesting aside from appearing in America. It was on point and was supportive of BCI’s position.

  8. AD1965 says:

    Just trying to read between the lines of this survey…Is the Church actively trying to remedy its own deficiencies, including the many unresolved injustices connected to the scandal – or is it trying to tweak its pop culture image hoping it will enhance operational revenues? Given the construct of the survey presented here, I don’t see how it is supposed to get to the root cause of the disillusionment presently experienced by so many Catholics. The issue for most is misused Catholic authority, not the pure teachings of the Church. Aren’t we supposed to be more than simply “butts in pews”?

    In my parish, a small group of volunteers is presently serving many in our cachement area who cannot pay for their prescriptions or groceries, and forget about oil bills with the cold weather coming. The financial reserve is entirely donation-driven (totally separate from weekly Mass collections). That $100,000 sure would go a long way in serving ordinary people who are down on their luck – and at the same time, displaying what we are supposed to be about. I have seen one woman coming to Church (who isn’t even Catholic) because our parish gave her a no-strings attached $50 Stop and Shop grocery card. What a return for the investment!! Maybe the the Pope and the Archdiocese need to keep it a little simpler and stop worrying about what Elton John thinks about our teachings and get on with the business of silent service. Sadly, it seems that the survey doesn’t capture this sort of detail

    I actually came into the Church in the midst of the scandal because I felt that the need for “reinforcements” was extreme and that is why I was called. It pains me when I see the leadership trying to blend more with secularism to make itself more appealing. I know I can only speak for myself, but I needed something strong to hold onto. Based on what I am seeing in the streets, I think that is what others are looking for, too.

    Thankfully our Church affords many opportunities for “doing our jobs” in spite of our leadership’s weaknesses.

  9. Jack Davenport says:

    What nonsensical comments. Taking the pulse of customers, constituents, or clients is standard operating procedure for any business or non-profit organization. Would you prefer that the Archdiocese do nothing and fly blind? What if the disturbing secular trends that so many rant about on these pages have taken hold and corrupted some portion of the Catholic population? Do you have a crystal ball that can discern such things? Might the way to a solution or fix to such things be an accurate diagnosis of the problem? Would you feel better if the Archdiocese used a Republican-leaning firm? What are you all afraid of?

    • Catholic Faithful to Tradition says:

      I think there is no doubt that disturbing secular trends have corrupted the Catholic Church–both inside it and in the laity who attend Mass and who no longer attend Mass. That’s objective fact and has been for years. Tell me something we don’t all know already. Besides, the Church is not just any non-profit! Our teachings come from Jesus Christ. I suggest readers check out this excellent piece:

      There is, without question, a marked difference between Our Lady’s Message at Fatima and the whole spirit of Vatican II. At Fatima, Our Lady gave a dire warning about the sins of the world, a world that persists in offending God, a world desperately in need of conversion; on the other hand, the dominant attitude in the aftermath of Vatican II has been one of dialogue with the world and adaptation to a fallen world. At Fatima, Our Lady pointed to true Catholicism as the only thing that can save man and bring peace to the world, whereas in the post-conciliar era, man seems to already be saved, and what is generally called “Catholicism” is something that has been diluted, stripped, and altered, so as to make it more acceptable and appealing to the sinful world and to protestant heretics. There is a remarkable difference between God’s Plan revealed at Fatima, and the plan of man which has been carried out in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.

    • Wyrd says:

      “Flying blind?” Hardly. Jesus outlined how the Church is to operate. Preach the Gospel, in season and out — pretty simple. He also made it clear that many would reject the Gospel. It’s no mystery why so many people fall away; Church is “boring,” they’d rather sleep in, they think the doctrine of the Church is “mean” or “outdated,” they just don’t think it’s that important.

      Which leads to your second point — would I be more comfortable with a Republican firm. This survey is pretty pointless, but all things being equal the answer is yes, I’d rather a Republican firm. The democrat party has abortion and gay marriage enshrined in their platform. The democrat party booed God at their convention. The democrat party wants to strangle all opposition to their brave new world, which necessitates squelching the faith. The very reason that people have stopped going to Church is because they’ve been led astray by the very false doctrines that the democrat party preaches. Hiring democrats to figure out why people have rejected Christ is like hiring a fox to conduct a survey in the chicken coop.

  10. […] Energized Dioceses Put Year of Mercy in Motion – Peter Jesserer Smith, The N.C. Register Boston Archdiocese Spending $100K+ to Survey Apostates – Boston Catholic Insider Book Preview: Taking Rites Seriously – Francis J. Beckwith […]

  11. John Doe says:

    To BCI /- thank for providing a timely example of how fundamentalism corrupts authentic tradition. Pharasaical legalism is the kindest modifier that can be used for the tone and tenor of this post. I pray the year of mercy msg open your heart to the possibility that God can reveal himself to many different people in many different ways. While you and your loyal readers will most likely condemn me as an apostate I assure you of my prayers and active participation in my parish and Church. Before you further condemn me as a wayward liberal know that I attend a Tridentine rite liturgy. I just don’t believe I have the ability to tell the Spirit how to move the Church and have an openness and desire to see God reveal himself through people and experiences that are different from mine.

    • CaptCrunch says:

      @JohnDoe, no you are not an apostate just very very confused about what Jesus actually taught. Please read the following article and quotes from Jesus from the Bible

      Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. . . . For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:17-20)

      You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matt 5:21-22)

  12. […] Christ”, then how can Terry Donilon explain this feedback on the survey provided by “Iwassurveyed” about the design flaws of the […]

  13. andrew kayser says:

    there is no John 24:47 in the bible….as quoted in the original article…is this a typo or a desire to add to the bible?

%d bloggers like this: