The Politics of Fr. Bryan Hehir

April 10, 2013

Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Social Services and Healthcare, is off to Washington DC April 9-10 for a conference on “peacebuilding.”  In view of this conference and a piece that appeared during the time of the papal conclave, “Another American pope candidate embraces the far-left”, we are highlighting some aspects of Fr. Hehir’s political leanings. Given these leanings and publicly expressed views–as well as the lack of any real job for Fr. Hehir do any more–one might reasonably ask Cardinal O’Malley and Vicar General Bishop Deeley why they keep Fr. Hehir around.

At a high level, there is no real job that requires Fr. Hehir in the Cabinet at the Boston Archdiocese. Catholic Charities of Boston (“social services”) has a full-time paid president who runs the organization. And there is no longer Catholic “healthcare” because Caritas Christi was sold off to Cerberus/Steward. Yet Fr. Hehir remains the most important advisor to Cardinal O’Malley and involved in almost every major decision. Since he spends part of his time in his roughly $200K/year job at Harvard and associating with people and organizations that support left-leaning Democratic politicians and causes, why should this archdiocese keep Fr. Hehir as a cabinet secretary?  After you read the piece, you will probably ask the same question.

Now, here are excerpts from the piece, published in the run-up to the conclave, It was also published with the title, “Is God a Marxist? Top American Catholics and the far left“:

A top aide to a left-wing American Catholic Cardinal, reportedly in the running for the job of pope, taught a course called “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” at a pro-Marxist think tank in Washington, D.C. The course included a discussion of “the future of the Christian alliance with Marxism” and the “theology of the oppressed.”

The aide, Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, is described in the book Religious Leaders and Faith-based Politics: Ten Profiles as “one of the most important and influential voices in U.S. Catholicism.” A professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Hehir spent 20 years working for the Catholic Bishops and crafting policy positions on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy matters.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, who hired Hehir as the Archdiocese of Boston’s Secretary for Social Services in 2003, has been “generating buzz in Rome as a possible contender to be the next pope,” says a recent report from NBC News.

If Hehir follows O’Malley to Rome, he could be in a position to exercise considerable power from the Vatican over global affairs, such as by promoting President Obama’s vision of a world free of U.S. nuclear weapons. But even if O’Malley doesn’t get the nod, Hehir could be a force in the Vatican. He has connections to Cardinal Peter Turkson, another candidate for the papacy, and played a role in formulating a Vatican document calling for creation of a “central world bank.” One of Hehir’s Harvard courses is “The Politics and Ethics of the Use of Force,” reflecting his desire to be taken seriously as a global affairs expert.

Hehir led the bishops in writing a 1983 letter titled “The Challenge of Peace – God’s Promise and Our Response,” which called the building of nuclear weapons “a folly which does not provide the security it promises.” Hehir was a member of a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) task force which produced a 2009 report on “U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy” saying that while “the geopolitical conditions that would permit the global elimination of nuclear weapons do not currently exist,” steps could be taken “to diminish the danger of nuclear proliferation and nuclear use.”

But Cardinal O’Malley is not without controversy himself. He had to personally explain and defend himself after presiding at the funeral Mass for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal Catholic who undermined church teachings on social matters such as abortion and homosexuality and lived a personal life characterized by debauchery.

A controversial figure in the American Catholic Church, Hehir has been the subject of fawning coverage in the liberal press. But blogs run by conservative Catholics in Boston have targeted him for years, with the Catholic paper The Wanderer once urging his ouster from church affairs because of his “relentless advocacy of left-wing politics.”

It was the “Bryan Hehir Exposed” blog which noted that his left-wing activities included lecturing for “a Socialist, pro-Communist think-tank back in the 1980’s.”

That think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), is where Hehir taught his course on “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John.” Hehir was then the director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Catholic Conference.

The IPS came under strong criticism in the 1980s, even from a New York Times Magazine article “Think Tank of the Left,” for being a mouthpiece for anti-American and communist regimes from Cuba to North Vietnam. It conducted joint conferences with Moscow entities considered conduits for Russian KGB propaganda.

At the same time IPS was sponsoring the “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” course, it was featuring a “Liberation Theology Lecture Series” with Gustavo Gutierrez, author of A Theology of Liberation.

Hehir’s history of involvement in Marxist causes includes not only lecturing at the IPS on several occasions but receiving its 7th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Memorial Award in Washington D.C. in 1983. It was named for Orlando Letelier, a Marxist IPS fellow who was assassinated in 1976 in Washington by the Chilean government’s secret police. Letelier was exposed as a Cuban agent in briefcase papers found by law enforcement authorities after his death.

Hehir was known as a critic of U.S. foreign policy in the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan was preventing a Communist takeover of Central America and countering the Soviet Union’s nuclear buildup by deploying U.S. nuclear missiles in Western Europe. The IPS was then the center of much of the opposition to the Reagan agenda.

For example, in Nicaragua, where a Marxist regime that included Catholic advocates of “liberation theology” had seized power, Reagan armed freedom fighters to take back their country. Hehir and the U.S. Catholic Bishops opposed the use of military force to stop the Communists in Central America or anywhere else.

Even without an O’Malley appointment as pope, Hehir has exercised considerable influence in the Vatican and can be expected to do so in the future. He participated in a symposium hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican in October 2010.

This is significant because the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is the arm of the Vatican run by Cardinal Peter Turkson, another possible candidate for pope. In the 2011 document, “Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority,” Turkson endorsed a “central world bank” that “regulates the flow and system of monetary exchanges, as do the national central banks.” It spoke of “the need for a minimum, shared body of rules to manage the global financial market which has grown much more rapidly than the real economy.”

A “world political authority,” a euphemism for a world government, was endorsed in Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), a papal encyclical issued by Pope Benedict, who was considered “conservative” by some. The new global structure is supposed to “manage the economy,” bring about “timely disarmament,” and ensure “food, security and peace,” his document said.

The Turkson document expanded on this concept, saying, “In a world on its way to rapid globalization, orientation towards a world Authority becomes the only horizon compatible with the new realities of our time and the needs of humankind. However, it should not be forgotten that this development, given wounded human nature, will not come about without anguish and suffering.”

Hehir and Turkson are scheduled to participate in a major “Catholic peacebuilding” conference in April to commemorate the 50th anniversary of another paper encyclical, Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”), and promote a “just world order.” More than a dozen Catholic universities and agencies are involved in the event.

Pacem in Terris called for world disarmament under the auspices of the United Nations and other global institutions. It said, “Nuclear weapons must be banned. A general agreement must be reached on a suitable disarmament program, with an effective system of mutual control.”

It also declared “[o]ur earnest wish that the United Nations Organization may be able progressively to adapt its structure and methods of operation to the magnitude and nobility of its tasks.”

All of this fits in perfectly with the global approach of the Obama Administration. Obama himself talked of a “world without nuclear weapons,” while his new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, was involved in the “Global Zero” approach that would eventually dismantle the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Not surprisingly, another scheduled speaker at the upcoming “peacebuilding” conference is Stephen Schneck, the “Catholics for Obama” operative who serves as director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America. He had invited Cardinal Turkson and former AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney to one of his own left-wing conferences at CUA.

It looks like Stephen Schneck may have since dropped off the conference program , but a look at just a few other speakers confirms the concerns:

  • Scott Appleby (Notre Dame): said the Nobel committee chose “brilliantly” in selecting Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize.. He said, “consider a president who acknowledges human dignity based not on color, faith or citizenship, but inherent in our common humanity. Decidedly not a man who closes his eyes and ears to evil.”  How about the dignity of human life and the evil of abortion? Appleby also supported the decision of Notre Dame to have Obama as their commencement speaker in 2009.
  • John Carr (former Executive Director, USCCB Dept. of Justice, Peace & Human Development, now at Harvard’s Kennedy School): This piece, “The Scandal of John Carr at the USCCB” reports, “Mr. Carr has, while serving the USCCB, also chaired the board of the Center for Community Change, not to mention other leadership positions with this progressive, pro-abortion political group. During this time, the USCCB awarded $150,000 to the Center for Community Change through a 2001 Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grant, promotes the group on its website, and has exchanged speakers at various events. Furthermore, at least 31 other CCHD grantees have worked with the Center, giving the Center’s political work unofficial but very substantial support from a powerful Catholic body.”
  • Fr. Drew Christiansen (editor of America magazine): This article describes how USCCB leaders clashed with America magazine over America’s criticism of the bishops’ strategy forcefully opposing the HHS contraception mandate.  America magazine apparently thinks the HHS mandate, though imperfect, fulfills Catholic social teaching and preserves the common good, and that the U.S. bishops were overreaching and being too political by threatening lawsuits and demanding the mandate be rescinded. Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., chairman of the USCCB’s Ad-Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, complained that the magazine’s editorial board believes the bishops are at their best when they speak in generalities and “go along to get along…Maybe Moses wasn’t at his best when he confronted Pharaoh. Maybe the Good Shepherd was a bit off his game when he confronted the rulers of his day.”

Not to be forgotten is this overview of Fr. Hehir’s history from “The Eminence Grise“, summarized with this passage:

 “At a moment when the Church is striving to launch a “new evangelization” in this Year of Faith, the Archdiocese of Boston under Fr. Hehir’s leadership is more concerned with conforming to the secular culture, appeasing a hostile liberal media, and protecting renegade pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their apologists in the Catholic community. Hehir calls this “rebuilding trust” with civil society, but that is a ruse for enabling dissent, as Fr. Hehir’s record over 40 years illustrates.

Many people have told Cardinal O’Malley he should remove Hehir. Yet he remains–with more power and influence than the Vicar General, Bishop Deeley. Hehir helps consolidate power in the Terry Donilon/Rasky Baerlein/Jack Connors coalition, does his best to thwart efforts around spreading the authentic truths and moral teachings of the Catholic faith, and ensures the continued inefficacy of the Mass Catholic Conference and or any efforts to communicate Catholic moral views in the public square and political process. And unlike diocesan priests who are paid about $42K/year with limited benefits, Hehir is paid an estimated $200K/year as a professor at Harvard (average full professor salary is $203K) with full pension and medical benefits.
BCI thinks Fr. Hehir should at last be set loose from his official Cabinet secretary role and duties. He can continue to collect his big paycheck from Harvard, but not sully the name of the Boston Archdiocese with his public excursions into left-leaning politics. We further suggest he be assigned as a parish parochial vicar in an inner city area such as Roxbury, Lawrence, or Chelsea where he can practice social justice much more effectively than living in the rectory at St. John’s in the affluent town of Wellesley.  Email this post to Vicar General Bishop Deeley at

Boston archdiocesan pay hits cathedral heights

March 18, 2013

The Boston Herald on Friday ran an article about the excessive pay for Boston Archdiocesan lay execs.  Coincidentally, on Saturday, Pope Francis said he wanted to see the church be poor, and for the poor. 

At the rate the Boston Archdiocese is paying salaries, giving pay increases to the already overpaid execs and running up debt, we are well on the path to being poor–but for reasons much different than Pope Francis apparently intends. The excessive salaries inhibit the ability of the Boston Archdiocese to carry out her mission–namely, salvation of souls and continuing the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.

Here is the Herald article.  The biggest thing to note after you read the article is the explanation for how the Boston Archdiocese is dealing with this situation. [Hint: to address a problem of excessive salaries, the solution should be to reduce them.]  Read on:

Archdiocesan execs pull in top salaries: Pay hits cathedral heights

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nearly one-third of the Archdiocese of Boston’s top execs ranked among the highest paid people in their field, according to a compensation study that prompted church officials to take a hard look at many of their six-figure salaries — and withhold some merit-based raises.

The study, performed by a third-party firm at the archdiocese’s request and released with its 2012 financial report, is the first in the archdiocese’s history, according to church officials, examining how their pay stacks up to nine comparable archdioceses, other Catholic organizations and a mixture of nonprofit and for-profit groups.

It found that five of the 16 lay executives making more than $150,000 are paid above the 75th percentile when compared to those in similar jobs, while six more make between the 50th and 75th percentiles.

The five remaining have “attributes that are unique to our archdiocese,” officials wrote in their financial report, adding that they are “paid comparably” to those with similar levels of responsibility.

The committee’s goal, officials said, is to have “most” of the top-earning executives be paid around the 50th percentile, though John Straub, the archdiocese’s chief financial officer and chancellor, acknowledged that can’t happen “overnight.” He declined to release additional details, including exactly where the executives fell in comparison or which ones outpaced their peers.

“I wouldn’t say anyone was surprised … about it,” Straub said. “It gave (the compensation committee) a clear path to make the recommendations they wanted to make.”

The findings, Straub said, have already prompted changes. No senior lay executive at or above median pay got a performance-based raise this fiscal year. Meanwhile, two new hires and one promoted employee — Straub — are being paid at the 50th percentile.

It still didn’t quiet critics, including Peter Borre, chairman of Boston-based Council of Parishes, who called the salaries “appalling, without getting into percentiles.” The archdiocese’s general counsel, for example, made more than $340,000 in 2011, its secretary of education more than $360,000 and eight others topped $200,000.

“In absolute terms, an institution that is downsizing itself with church attendances down … shouldn’t be lavishing money to this extent,” Borre said.

Readers probably know by now that it took years of public complaints in order for them to finally do this study. They then claim they are capping merit increases for people who are overpaid, meanwhile, they had just given a number of people salary increases before they decided to cap the excessive salaries.

Did they think that no one would notice how some of the bloated salaries have increased in the past year? Of the “senior lay executives,” some have salaries that have increased at a rapid pace. The committee writes about its “philosophy” in the annual report, and they claim the first step in dealing with excessive salaries is to withhold merit increases. But how does that explain the following?:

  • Mary Grassa O’Neill, schools superintendent, getting her pay increased from her $325,000 original salary now up to $343,705?
  • Beirne Lovely, general counsel, getting his pay raised from his original $300,000 now up to $311,219?
  • Carol Gustavson, exec director of benefits reported at $169.200, who was previously paid $149K, meaning her raise was at least 12.8%.
  • Terry Donilon, communications secretary. having his salary jump 13.4% from 2010 to 2011 ($162.5K to $184.4K)

As we wrote in “Fleecing the Flock,” Mass attendance continues to drop in Boston, Central Operations is running a $6M annual deficit, the diocese has almost a $140M debt, the financial situation in parishes continues to get worse with 40-50% unable to pay their bills, and Catholic schools are being closed. Yet, the salaries remain excessive and some are increasing.RCAB salaries 2012

Michael Voris explained the situation well in this recent video:

The right solution is to start reducing the salaries of the people. At 10% every three months, it will not take too long to get them all down to the right level. But that will not happen at the rate we are going.

Furthermore, it is clear that the Boston Archdiocese is violating the Motu Proprio from Pope Benedict XVI that says salaries and operational expenses are to be in “due proportion” to the analogous expenses of the diocesan Curia. The Boston Archdiocese says they want to be responsible stewards of donor funds, but overpaying lay execs would directly contradict that ideal. It is also clear that no one at the Pastoral Center, including Cardinal O’Malley or Vicar General Bishop Deeley, is going to take meaningful action.

For today and generations to come in the future, it is important that the Catholic Church have the financial resources to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and continue the ministry of Jesus Christ to save souls and help people grow in holiness, become saints and get to heaven. What can faithful Catholics do? Take a moment to forward this blog post to the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano <> and ask him to intervene to address this breach of fiduciary responsibility and squandering of precious donor funds.  Also, pray for Cardinal O’Malley and the diocesan leadership.

This is what BCI thinks. What do you think?

Conclave Commentary: Did Cardinal Violate Oath of Secrecy?

March 16, 2013

The hot news is mostly still about the conclave from this past week. BCI will share several news highlights for you today, among them, the question of whether certain cardinals openly violated the conclave oath of secrecy. Then we will be back to local Boston Archdiocese fiscal governance issues in our next post.

Comments from Cardinal O’Malley and Others After the Election

This Boston Globe article has a photo of Cardinal O’Malley taking the oath of secrecy before the election.  The oath says:

“In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff.”

In view of that oath, what should we make of these post-conclave comments by Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal Brady in the AP article, “So what really happened inside the papal conclave that selected Pope Francis? Here’s a cardinal’s-eye view“:

VATICAN CITY — Three rounds of ballots had been cast with no winner, but it was becoming clear which way this conclave was headed.

When the cardinals broke for lunch, Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston sat down next to his Argentine friend, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio.

“He seemed very weighed down by what was happening,” O’Malley said.

Hours later, the Buenos Aires archbishop would step before the frenzied masses packed into St. Peter’s Square as Francis, the first pope from the Americas.

Cardinals take an oath of secrecy when they enter a conclave, promising never to reveal what goes on inside.

“The conclave is a very prayerful experience,” O’Malley said. “It’s like a retreat.”  Each man wrote a few words in Latin on a piece of paper: “I elect as supreme pontiff…” followed by a name.

One by one, they held the paper aloft, placed it on a gold-and-silver saucer at the front of the room, and tipped it into an urn.

“When you walk up with the ballot in your hand and stand before the image of the Last Judgment, that is a great responsibility,” O’Malley said.

And then the tallying began, with three cardinals — known as scrutineers — reading out the name on each slip.

When they finished counting, it was clear the field remained wide open, said Sean Cardinal Brady, leader of the church in Ireland. “There were a number of candidates,” he said.

A cardinal threaded the ballots together and put them in a stove.

Outside in St. Peter’s Square, as black smoke billowed from the chimney, the cheering crowd fell silent and began to thin.


On Wednesday morning, the cardinals filed in again and repeated the ritual of voting. There were two votes before lunch, and the field was narrowing. But the smoke was black again, and the crowd was again disappointed.


At lunch, O’Malley sat down besides Bergoglio.

“He is very approachable, very friendly,” he said. “He has a good sense of humor, he is very quick and a joy to be with.”

But with the vote going his way, Bergoglio was uncharacteristically somber.


The cardinals were getting close to a decision. They started over, and the scrutineers read out the names.

And it began to dawn on the men that their work was done.

In the Globe article, Cardinal O’Malley is quoted as saying that after the election, Francis seemed to be at peace.

Does it not occur to these Cardinals that they were sworn to secrecy regarding “everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff”?

Beyond this, we then see a comment from Cardinal O’Malley in the Globe about why he is glad he was not elected pope: “He’s a prisoner in a museum,’’ O’Malley said of the pope, drawing laughter from Boston area reporters. “It’s not a wonderful life.’’

This response feels like yet another lost teaching moment and opportunity for Cardinal O’Malley.  Last we checked, the role of the Holy Father was to be the Vicar of Christ on earth. He is the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.  If you read Matthew 16:17-19, we see Jesus promised that He would build His Church on Peter and He gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter alone. “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”

The immensely important role of the successor to Peter is to ensure that the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven can be attained by the faithful, as exemplified by the instruction “feed my lambs”, “feed my sheep.”  The Holy Father continues the role St. Peter instituted after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who instructed Peter in establishing His Church on earth. Peter then handed down this authority from Pope to Pope until the present day.

To BCI, it seems that to publicly characterize the Vicar of Christ on earth as a “prisoner in a museum” who does not have a “wonderful life” is to misrepresent and diminish the nature of the role.

Boston Catholic Media and PR/Communications at the Conclave

This article in the Boston Herald discusses the presence of the Boston Catholic Media team at the conclave:

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s moment in the papal sun in Rome this past week was beamed back to Boston thanks to a team of plugged-in assistants.

“My purpose in coming on this trip was to let Boston Catholics and other Catholics from the area experience the buildup for the announcement and the announcement itself,” said Scot Landry, secretary for Catholic Media.

Landry said cardinals from the U.S. tended to be much more open with the press than did their colleagues from the rest of the world.

“I would say there was a clash of cultures in terms of the way the church engages the media, particularly the secular media” he said. “When we first arrived, the American cardinals were going to press conferences and doing interviews every day. In a way, they felt honored that so many were there to cover them and through their coverage bring it home to Catholics around the world.”

Thanks for thinking of us back here, but for future reference, we were actually doing just fine by reading the hundreds of articles available to us in the regular news media.

As for the media briefings, it seemed to many people that the U.S. cardinals doing the briefings forgot that the main purpose of the pre-conclave meetings was for the cardinals to prayerfully consider the needs of the universal Catholic Church and the attributes for the next Supreme Pontiff, so they would each be prepared for the crucial vote. If we understand Landry correctly, the U.S. cardinals felt honored that the media was giving them attention?  In other words, their egos were stoked by the media attention, so they addressed that situation by engaging in the press briefings and interviews (which would have the effect of further stoking their egos) to “bring it home” for us?  Thanks again.

Even if it were the case that the cardinals arrived in Rome and suddenly discovered the media wanted stories, and the selfless cardinals could help us poor saps starving for news, how does that explain Terry Donilon and the Boston Archdiocesan PR team starting their media campaign weeks before Cardinal O’Malley travelled to Rome, and continuing with Terry live in Rome?

And how does that explain this shameless self-promotion of Terry Donilon in the Washington Post, suggesting that Terry Donilon could become a key aide to a new Holy Father if Cardinal O’Malley were elected pope, while Donilon’s brother was National Security Advisor to Obama?:

One Donilon brother “working for the most powerful man on the planet and the other one could work for the most powerful religious leader on the planet?” mused Terry.

We have one word for the above. Pathetic.

Another American Pope Candidate Embraces the Far Left

This article about Cardinal O’Malley and his senior aide/advisor, Fr. Bryan Hehir, made the rounds this past week. It opens by saying:

A top aide [Fr. Bryan Hehir] to a left-wing American Catholic Cardinal [Cardinal O’Malley], reportedly in the running for the job of pope, taught a course called “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” at a pro-Marxist think tank in Washington, D.C. The course included a discussion of “the future of the Christian alliance with Marxism” and the “theology of the oppressed.”

This last one will have to be the subject of a future blog post.

Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican PR Campaign

March 4, 2013

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.

Does Boston Archdiocese have a “gay network” of clergy too?

February 26, 2013

Today, we learned that the Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland resigned in the wake of charges he made “inappropriate” sexual advances to four men.  In the past week, most people have probably read media reports about a secret dossier claiming there is a ‘gay network’ inside the Vatican. There is speculation–denied by the Vatican–that this news contributed to the resignation of the Pope.

The drumbeat of these troubling reports from across the Atlantic has prompted BCI to tackle two topics that we have avoided for nearly the past 3 years. They are:

i) Does the Boston Archdiocese have a “gay network” of clergy
ii) Why and how is the gay agenda being advanced within the Boston Archdiocese in parishes and Catholic schools  with tacit approval by Cardinal O’Malley?

We start our coverage on this topic by publishing in its entirety a document titled,”Crisis and Reform in Boston.” What you are about to read was apparently written between the time when Cardinal Bernard Law resigned (December 2002) and when Bishop Sean O’Malley was appointed Archbishop of Boston (July 2003).  We do not know who wrote it or who has seen it.  We posted excerpts in January 2011 (“Musings on the Future of the Boston Archdiocese: Episcopal Leadership“) and in August 2011 (“Episcopal Leadership“).

Much of what was described in the document written about ten years ago still seems to apply today.  It describes the clerical “black wall”, behind which some priests have surrendered completely to the pagan culture of “gay” identity and behavior. It also describes the author’s view of a “perfect Archbishop of Boston” which also could be criteria for the “perfect next Pope.” We were especially struck by the passage about the archbishop needing to “be the pastor of the pastors”  and by the very last sentence: “he must be a passionately effective evangelist because he is first a thoroughly converted disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Crisis and Reform in Boston
(written late December 2002 or winter/spring 2003)

The next Archbishop of Boston will find his particular Church in the midst of a grave crisis of faith and discipline. The public scandals which led to the resignation of Bernard Cardinal Law point to deep and longstanding problems among the priests and people of the Archdiocese, and the nature and magnitude of these problems should be considered in selecting the new pastor of a profoundly troubled Church.

The sketch of life in the Archdiocese of Boston which follows is based largely on anecdotal evidence and the trustworthy testimony of faithful priests and laymen. While this description is necessarily unscientific, it is offered in good faith in the service of understanding the nature and range of the problems the next Archbishop of Boston must confront.

The Present Situation

Clerical Unchastity

The sexual crimes of the priests accused of molesting minors are but a small token of widespread unchastity among the presbyterate. A significant number of priests, both secular and religious, are engaged in regular sexual behavior (most of it homosexual), either with stable sexual partners or in anonymous encounters with strangers met in bars, parks, or through the Internet. Acceptance of such behavior, excused either with a wink and a nudge on the grounds of human weakness or because of rejection of the Church’s teaching on chastity, encourages further unchastity.

Clerical Homosexuality

Many priests in the Archdiocese, certainly a large minority of the presbyterate and perhaps a slight majority of those between 40 and 60, are homosexual men, and many of those have come to understand themselves by reference to their sexual identity as the gay subculture defines it. The open secret of their homosexuality is closely guarded by the silence of a solid clerical “black wall”, behind which some priests have surrendered completely to the pagan culture of “gay” identity and behavior. Many priests socialize only with other active homosexuals, and in this way loose networks of sexually active priests are formed to protect each other from scrutiny.

Clerical Heterodoxy

Widespread rejection by priests of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, marriage, chastity, birth control, abortion, and homosexuality has not been effectively challenged in Boston, and a culture of “faithful dissent” has taken deep root in the presbyterate. Priests who are no longer in full communion with the Church by reason of their refusal to believe doctrines that must be held (either de fide credenda or de fide tenenda) are nonetheless still holding ecclesiastical offices in which they are charged to teach, sanctify, and govern some portion of the flock. The fact that heterodox priests are not publicly corrected or disciplined encourages more priests to embrace false teaching.

Irish Tribal Clericalism

One under-reported dimension of the scandals of 2002 is the ersatz clericalism found among priests of Irish ancestry. With very few exceptions, both the priests accused of sexual crimes and the bishops who protected them from legal action were all of Irish descent. The instinct to protect members of one’s own “tribe”, no matter what the offense, is a common feature of embattled ethnic minorities, and the effects of this culture in the Archdiocese of Boston cannot be underestimated.

Clerical Mendacity

To protect themselves from accountability for all of the above and other forms of misconduct, many priests habitually lie about almost every part of their lives. The mendacity is then excused with vague incantations about “mental reservation” and “internal forum”, and a vicious cycle is established: unchastity leads to mendacity, and mendacity leads to more unchastity. It should surprise no one that in this poisoned environment prayer ceases, faith collapses, and every form of sinful self-indulgence finds a home. The result is men in the pastoral office who no longer seek to follow the Lord Jesus in the Way of the Cross.

Intellectual Dishonesty

The aberrant behaviors and beliefs described above are not secret. The movement called “Voice of the Faithful” has given a public face to what has existed for at least 35 years: stubborn and organized refusal to believe what the Church teaches about human sexuality. This heterodoxy, however, is described by its proponents in one way or another as “faithful dissent” i.e., something a Catholic can embrace without in any way damaging his communion with the Church. There are many engines of this dissent, but the Jesuits and theology faculty of Boston College must be ranked among the chief architects of this intellectual dishonesty. They must be challenged directly.

Ecclesial Crisis

The nature and authority of the episcopate is being seriously contested by various parties in the Archdiocese, and the next Archbishop will inherit a presbyterate and a flock in which leading voices implicitly or explicitly reject his authority to teach, sanctify, and govern the Church in Boston. The refusal of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities to obey the explicit instructions of Bishop Richard Lennon about accepting funds from “Voice of the Faithful” is a small but significant indicator of the sort of rebellion now taking hold in the Archdiocese. The priests and lay people who lead “Voice of the Faithful” are consciously dedicated to a vision of the Church which is not Catholic, and the next Archbishop must be prepared to remove from ecclesiastical office all persons who cannot (in truth and without evasion) make the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity.

Bait and Switch

To reform the Church in Boston, the next Archbishop must fully understand what this crisis is and is not about. The crisis confronting the Church was most emphatically not caused by pedophilia; it was caused by massive infidelity of priests and bishops to the promises of their Baptism and their Ordination. Psychological counseling is not the remedy for sin and infidelity to the Gospel, and the Church, therefore, cannot be reformed by sending more priests to St. Luke’s Institute and other centers of psychotherapy. Radical conversion to Christ is the only way forward.

The Next Archbishop

To Teach, To Sanctify, To Govern

To respond to these problems in Boston, the next Archbishop must be a man

+who grasps that this crisis is about faith in and fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ. True reform is impossible without a direct challenge to the various false religions now in competition with revealed Truth. The next Archbishop must take nothing for granted and be prepared to engage in the New Evangelization almost as a First Evangelization, beginning with his presbyterate. To do this will require both clear and persuasive preaching of the truth and effective and direct refutation of error.

+whose life is blameless. If there are any scandals or habitual sins in his life, the dissident priests whom he must discipline will find them and use them in the media to destroy him.

+who is not afraid to be hated. Responding to the crisis in Boston will require the effective use of sanctions and discipline, and this will make the next Archbishop a man reviled by some.

+who is not afraid of controversy. There is no way to reform the Church in Boston without public controversy, some of which will be bitter and vitriolic. A man who runs from conflict cannot reform this Church. The Boston Globe will doubtless continue its campaign against Catholicism in various ways, and the next Archbishop must be prepared to be a stumbling block, not a media darling. And the internal opposition from Boston College will be even more crippling to any effort for reform.

+who is a radically obedient disciple of Jesus Christ. An Archbishop who is more conscious of the power and prerogatives of his office than of the dignity of his Baptism will make himself an object of public ridicule. He must be prepared to live a simple, evangelical life and to speak always in clear, evangelical language. The legalistic evasiveness and psychological jargon so common in the public utterances of many bishops can have no further place in Boston.

+who is a priest in every part of his being. An Archbishop who prays and celebrates the Holy Eucharist in a way that draws others into the heart of the Paschal Mystery will lead lasting reform by priestly example. A man without great integrity of life and faith, of personality and action, will not be able to sustain the sacrifices that must be made for genuine reform.

+who is an evangelist. Boston does not need a manager, a financier, or a consultant for an Archbishop; Boston needs a prophetic preacher of the Gospel who can convince other people of the truth of God’s Word because he both knows and believes it himself.

+who is not captive to Irish clericalism. Any priest who is bound to the “tribe” of Boston’s Irish clergy will be absolutely incapable of reforming the presbyterate.

+who is willing to make the Church smaller in order to make it larger. The cancer of dissent has created an (until now) invisible schism which has already made the Church in Boston much smaller than it appears to be. The next Archbishop must be prepared to acknowledge this fact (with canonical sanctions when necessary) and then preach the Catholic faith in its fullness and integrity. For this to happen some institutions may have to be abandoned, and some persons will have to be shown the consequences of their ideas, but absent such honesty, there will be no reform in Boston.

+who understands the essential and intrinsic connections among doctrinal clarity, moral probity, and ecclesial order. The disintegration of ecclesial life now unfolding in Boston is the result of the effective sundering of these three legs of one stool by the guild of dissent among priests, lay catechists, and theologians. Restoring the integrity of ecclesial life, therefore, will require the next Archbishop to restore in public and effective ways the connections among faith, life, and order, and such restoration will be impossible without directly dismantling the guild of dissent.

+who can be the pastor of the pastors. The Archbishop cannot be the pastor of every parish in Boston; he must be the pastor of the pastors, and he must make his highest priority the pastoral care of his priests and the recruiting and training of future priests. To reform the presbyterate, he must be personally involved on a daily basis in teaching his priests…in exhorting them, encouraging them, correcting them, and when necessary reproving them. He must also be directly and personally involved in selecting and forming seminarians for priestly ordination. While he will, of course, need help in such work, these tasks simply cannot be delegated to anyone else.

+who has a clear and authentically Catholic vision of the sacramental economy as a coherent whole and as the essential means for unveiling the eternal Plan of Salvation for God’s people. The liturgical, doctrinal, and disciplinary fragmentation and incoherence of the past thirty years have obscured from sight the intrinsic order and beauty of the sacramental economy and made much more difficult the task of teaching revealed truth. The next Archbishop should be a priest capable of elucidating for his priests and people the internal logic, immeasurable beauty, and divine wisdom of the Logos tou Theou.

Reasons to Hope

The Faithful

The lay faithful of Christ in Boston continue by the hundreds of thousands to “believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”. These people deserve a shepherd willing to make personal sacrifices for the Gospel, and they will respond with heroic generosity and courage to his stewardship if he proves himself to be a fearless preacher and a genuine priest.

Young Priests

Despite the chaos in the Church and in large measure because of the witness of Pope John Paul II, many of the men ordained in the past 5 years are obedient disciples of the Lord Jesus and faithful priests of the Church. These young men will have to assume the burdens of leadership at an early age, and if they perceive in their next Archbishop a true father in God and witness to Christ, they will move heaven and earth to help him reform the Archdiocese of Boston.

Wavering Priests

Notwithstanding the decades of dissent, unchastity, and mendacity, many priests of Boston still hear the voice of God in their conscience and are yearning (even if unconsciously) for a prophet to come and lead them out of slavery to sin. A bold man of  God in the Chair of the Archbishop could ignite a divine spark in the hearts of those priests and bring them through conversion back to the grace of their ordination. The witness of such men would be a powerful force for reform.


A providential opportunity is at hand in Boston—a rare moment of grace when dissent, confusion, degeneracy, and chaos can be challenged and overcome by the Word of God. For this opportunity to be seized, though, the Church in Boston needs a bishop who is not bound by clerical custom, tribal instinct, or personal fear. Given the causes of the crisis in Boston, business as usual will lead to disastrous consequences. The next Archbishop of Boston can and should be a bold disciple of the Lord Jesus who can bear powerful witness to the Resurrection of Christ and the truth of the Catholic faith; he must be a confident and persuasive teacher of the Gospel and a skillful shepherd of souls. Such a man in Boston, precisely because of the acute crisis and the public attention focused there, could help lead a true and lasting reform of the entire Church in the United States.

The next Archbishop of Boston should not be a “safe” candidate selected by the usual means from among the conventional candidates. Such men are largely responsible for the sorry state of the Church today; one more of that sort will not lead us out of crisis into reform. Boston needs an Archbishop who will teach, sanctify, and govern his people and priests with the courage, conviction, and confidence that come from personal conversion to Jesus Christ and a life-changing decision to follow Him in the Way of the Cross. For true reform to take place, the next Archbishop of Boston cannot be a chancery bureaucrat, an office manager, or a dialogue facilitator who understands his task as the mediation of internal disputes between “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics; he must be a passionately effective evangelist because he is first a thoroughly converted disciple of Jesus Christ.

#   #   #   #

We have heard reports for years about priests speaking in support of “gay marriage,” violating their vows of celibacy by living with men commonly known to be their “boyfriend,” or blessing “gay marriages”–and the complaints are largely ignored by Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese. We know the Cardinal and Schools Superintendent pushed through a policy rooted in deception to admit children of gay parents to Catholic Schools. Furthermore, the Schools Superintendent, paid $341K/year, claims to be unaware of any “gay agenda” and has ignored concerns about the gay agenda in Catholic Schools she has oversight for.

We need to pray fervently for our priests and for the Archbishop of Boston. If you have evidence or specific examples of the existence of a “gay network” of clergy in Boston and/or evidence of how the gay agenda is being advanced within the Boston Archdiocese, please email bostoncatholicinsider(at) or contact us here.

Insider Questions: Is Cardinal O’Malley Really “Papabile”?: Part 1

February 21, 2013

All of the articles and buzz about the prospect of Cardinal Sean O’Malley becoming pope are asking the wrong questions and missing so much, it is almost impossible to know where to start. The latest, a column in the Boston Globe, says “One thing that is striking about Cardinal O’Malley and which makes him supremely “papabile,” or one who might become pope, is his sense of humor.”

Really?  Someone thinks a supremely important character trait for being Pope is a sense of humor, and it gets a column in the mainstream media?

First off, the responsibilities of the successors of the apostles are to teach, sanctify, and govern.  Before anyone continues promoting Cardinal O’Malley for pope–especially those in the media–they should ask themselves, “How would I grade him on those points?” How is he as an episcopal leader? What has his efficacy been as an episcopal leader in these areas and in making the salvation of souls a top priority for the Boston Archdiocese?  This is not about perceived humility. It is not about sense of humor. It is not about resolving sexual abuse cases. It is about efficacy as an episcopal leader and shepherd/leader of the flock to save souls.

Everyone will have their own opinion.  Here are some questions the media and other pundits should be asking, and the BCI perspective.

How is Cardinal O’Malley at Teaching? Does he give good homilies and write good pastoral letters (when written and propagated)? Yes. But how does he score for walking the talk and clarifying teachings when there is confusion? (e.g. “Catholics” who support pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Ted Kennedy funeral scandal, Gay Pride Mass at St. Cecilia in Boston, abortion referrals with the Caritas/Centene fiasco, Catholic identity in Catholic schools, pro-abortion advisers to Cardinal O’Malley). BCI gives him a B-/C+ for teaching.

How is Cardinal O’Malley at Sanctifying? We know that in order to sanctify, the bishop must be a holy person himself. (We are not in a position to grade that in Cardinal O’Malley and do not question his personal holiness). From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we know that the bishop (with his priests) sanctifies the Church especially through the Eucharist and by their ministry of Word, their ministry of sacraments, and by their good example. Furthermore, the bishop is commissioned to be a leader or motivator of building holiness for the priests of the diocese.  How is Cardinal O’Malley at the latter? We see little evidence that Cardinal O’Malley has invested a great amount of time and energy to make care and sustenance (spiritual and/or physical) for the presbyterate a high priority. BCI gives him a B for sanctifying.

How is Cardinal O’Malley at Governing? “Leadership” as defined by an expert in the field, means attributes like integrity (alignment of words and actions with inner values, walking the talk, sticking to strong values, and building an entire organization with powerful and effective cultural values), dedication (spending whatever time and energy on a task is required to get the job done, giving your whole self to the task, dedicating yourself to success and to leading others with you), magnanimity (giving credit where it is due and accepting personal responsibility for failures), and other traits.  On just the first three attributes–integrity, dedication, and magnanimity, what is the report card for the episcopal leadership of Cardinal O’Malley? BCI would rate it not very good. Depending on the day, BCI gives somewhere between a D and an F for governing.  Why is that?

Whether Bishop of Boston, Bishop of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, or Bishop of Rome, we extend the words of the late Bishop John D’Arcy to offer that the bishop’s role is as a loving, but tough-minded shepherd–a shepherd after the heart of Christ. “A bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Is that Cardinal Sean O’Malley?  Not as evidenced in recent years. Here are additional questions from BCI that we feel pundits and writers should be asking about Cardinal O’Malley based on objective evidence:

1) How does he handle  the load of his existing role?  Not well. We all know how in 2004 he wrote a letter to Boston Catholics in which he said, “At times I ask God to call me home and let someone else finish this job, but I keep waking up in the morning to face another day of reconfiguration.”

2) How engaged or unengaged is he as Archbishop of Boston in governing? (which most of the mainstream media are not aware of). Anyone who has attended meetings with him in recent years can attest to the concern.  Cardinal O’Malley is often largely, if not entirely, silent during important meetings. People presenting important concerns to him face-to-face report getting no response in the meeting, or in follow-up actions.

For those who would say the above is subjective, we beg to differ. These are objective observations.  In addition, a look at the number of important official documents that were supposed to have been signed by Cardinal O’Malley himself in recent years, but that were apparently signed with his name by someone else, makes it fairly clear that he is not entirely engaged in governance of the diocese. Analysis by a local handwriting expert shows evidence that important documents–including relegations to profane use of churches and perhaps even the sale agreement for St. John’s Seminary–were likely signed by someone other than the Cardinal O’Malley who tried to make it look like the signature was that of Cardinal O’Malley. Here is the forensic_handwriting_analysis report.

Certainly there are thousands of documents that cross the desk of the Archbishop of Boston and he cannot possibly review and sign them all. But one might reasonably ask, if the Cardinal is not sufficiently engaged to take the time to review and personally sign important official documents such as a relegation to profane use for a church, what else is he not engaged in?

3) How sound has the fiscal management of the Boston Archdiocese been?  To what extent has the Boston Archdiocese been upholding their fiduciary responsibility to donors to spend their contributions most effectively and efficiently to build the Kingdom of God and save souls?

  • How much debt does the Boston Archdiocese have?  Do they run a balanced budget? The Boston Archdiocese is nearly $140M in debt, with no way of repaying the debts to St. Johns Seminary and the Clergy Funds. Central Operations ran an $11M operating deficit over the last 2 year.
  • Are employees overpaid? They paid their top 16 lay executives $3.7M in salaries and benefits in the past year. Just two late-career executives are paid a combined $700K in salary and benefits a year.  the Superintendent of Schools is paid $341K alone in salary and benefits. The number of lay executives paid more than $150K/year today (16) is more than 5X the number in 2006, when just 3 execs were paid more than $150K. The amount paid to folks making $150K+ a year ballooned by 6X from 2006 to 2012. The Archdiocese acknowledges many are overpaid, and to add insult to injury, they even gave raises to many overpaid execs last year. The diocese is in clear violation of the Motu Proprio signed on November 11, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI and officially in effect December 10, 2012, that says salaries need to be in due proportion to analogous expenses of the diocesan curia.
  • How is the financial health of Boston parishes? 40-50% of parishes are in the red and cannot pay their bills.
  • How carefully are administrative expenses managed to preserve funds for ministry? Administrative expenses have been in the range of 33-36% of all Central Operations expenditures in recent years, an increasing share of expenditures from 6 years ago.
  • How are capital reserves? They have been drained. Parish Reconfiguration funds have been tapped out by spending $12.3M in recent years to subsidize Pastoral Center departments normally funded by the Central Fund. And during the past six years, insurance reserves that were $15M in 2006 have been depleted to zero or near zero (see this 2010 BCI blog post and p. 16 of the 2012 Annual Report).  If the model of over-paying lay executives and deficit spending were to carry over to the Vatican and global Catholic Church, what would the impact be?

BCI will continue in a separate post to discuss other questions that should be asked by the media and pundits.  Those questions surround the culture of deception in the Boston Archdiocese, hiring choices for senior roles (full-time and advisory), the creation of scandal by publicly defending decisions or actions that are objectively indefensible–with a failure to acknowledge mistakes, ignoring of Vatican recommendations or directives, and the apparent lack of courage of conviction to match actions with words. These have all been chronicled by BCI previously, but we will summarize them in our next post.

Ultimately, the election of the next Pope is in the hands of the Holy Spirit.  But for those writing and conjecturing about who is “papabile,” they should at least be asking the right questions.

Parallels between Vatican politics/corruption and Boston diocesan corruption

February 18, 2013

In follow-up of the abdication announcement by the Holy Father, a number of news reports about Vatican politics and corruption have coincidental parallels to what we have been seeing in Boston in recent years.

This piece discusses how “Pope Benedict XVI’s leaked documents show fractured Vatican full of rivalries.”

VatiLeaks, as the scandal came to be known…exposed the church bureaucracy’s entrenched opposition to Benedict’s fledgling effort to carve out a legacy as a reformer…

“We can reveal the face of the church and how this face is, at times, disfigured,” Benedict said in his final homily on Ash Wednesday. “I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the church, of the divisions in the body of the church.” He called for his ministry to overcome “individualism” and “rivalry,” saying they were only for those “who have distanced themselves from the faith.”

A radical transformation of the culture is unlikely. “We’re talking about people who have given their life to this institution, but at the same time the institution has become their life,” said one senior Vatican official. “Unlike parish priests, who have the personal rewards that come with everyday contact, their lot is not as human. It’s bureaucratic, but it becomes all-consuming.”

The Washington Post piece reiterates information published elsewhere previously about how the powerful #2, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, has consolidated power and pushed out Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was helping drive financial and operational reforms desired by Pope Benedict XVI. The pope’s butler sought an unconventional way to get the pope’s attention by leaking confidential memos, in the hopes that a shock, “perhaps through the media, could bring the church back on the right track.”

We also hear separately, from Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, that he had pleaded with Pope Benedict XVI to replace the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, but the Pontiff firmly refused:

Cardinal Meisner told Frankfurter Rundschau that he approached the Pontiff, speaking on behalf of several cardinals, to demand a change at the Secretariat of State because Cardinal Bertone had proven incapable of handling his office. The German cardinal said that Pope Benedict dismissed the suggestion immediately, showing his loyalty to Cardinal Bertone. Cardinal Meisner recalled:

During the Williamson affair, I even once, on behalf of a number of cardinals, went to the Pope and said: “Holy Father, you have to dismiss Cardinal Bertone! He’s in charge–as would be the responsible minister in a secular government.” He looked at me and said, ‘Listen to me carefully! Bertone remains! Basta! Basta! Basta!” After that I never brought up the subject again.”

A number of pundits and writers are opining that Benedict has been a great teaching pope, but he has a mixed record as a manager, governor and administrator.  Do long-time BCI readers see any parallels with Boston?

Cardinal Sean O’Malley gives a good homily. He writes a good pastoral letter. When he spends time and energy on teaching–which BCI thinks is insufficient–he can be a good teacher. But governing is another story. He has created a bureaucratic diocesan hierarchy and organization where internal politics rule far above anything having to do with the saving mission of the Catholic Church.  He has surrounded himself by people whose actions in many cases suggest they have distanced themselves from the faith or care little about the Catholic faith.  When people have complained about the bad eggs in the cabinet and problems with some of his senior cabinet officials, in all but one case, he has ignored them and kept supporting the problematic officials.  To his credit, he brought in a new Vicar General, who moved out the former Chancellor. That is the only one of many needed changes he has allowed.

But look at who still remains:

  • Fr. Bryan Hehir, who by his own admission at a talk several years ago, “couldn’t organize a 3-car funeral procession.”  This piece, The Eminence Grise, explains many of the problems. He has had his fingers in nearly every public scandal or fiasco since he returned to Boston to work for Cardinal O’Malley–honoring Mayor Menino at a Catholic Charities fundraiser, inserting himself into decisions on parish reconfiguration of 2004 and mucking-up that process, insisting that parish vigils not be broken up–thus costing millions of dollars to maintain and heat the occupied properties, hiring a lobbyist to head the Mass Catholic Conference who had given donations to pro-abortion politicians, advising the Cardinal to attend the Ted Kennedy coronation funeral, engaging and keeping Jack Connors, being involved in the initial Caritas/Centene deal that would have had Caritas profiting from referrals to abortion services, and the list goes on. Given his track record of mismanagement at St. Paul’s in Cambridge as pastor and at Catholic Charities Boston, as well as his history of involvement in Marxist causes and views on suppression of the Catholic Church’s moral views in the public square, he belongs on a list of people to not have in a Catholic archdiocesan cabinet. As written in The Eminence Grise, “At a moment when the Church is striving to launch a “new evangelization” in this Year of Faith, the Archdiocese of Boston under Fr. Hehir’s leadership is more concerned with conforming to the secular culture, appeasing a hostile liberal media, and protecting renegade pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their apologists in the Catholic community. Hehir calls this “rebuilding trust” with civil society, but that is a ruse for enabling dissent, as Fr. Hehir’s record over 40 years illustrates.Yet despite many people telling Cardinal O’Malley he should get rid of Hehir, he remains, with more power and influence than the Vicar General, Bishop Deeley.  Hehir helps consolidate power in the Terry Donilon/Rasky Baerlein/Jack Connors coalition (which is all about political power and money), does his best to thwart efforts around spreading the truths of the Catholic faith, and ensures the continued inefficacy of the Mass Catholic Conference and of communicating Catholic moral views in the public square and political process.
  • Terry Donilon: now paid $184K in salary alone, up from $166,304 a few years ago. Challenged by spelling, grammar, and basics of the Catholic faith, he is now overpaid by at least $70K for this role.  He is an excellent example for how the Compensation Committee report flat-out lied about performance and compensation of diocesan staff.
  • Jack Connors: multi-million dollar Obama fundraiser and abortion supporter, as a key member of the Finance Council and Catholic schools fundraiser
  • Carol Gustavson: Executive Director Lay Benefits:paid  $169,190. A proud ex-Catholic who lacks qualifications for this job (prior experience was as a labor attorney for a newspaper), paid about double what the position would be paid elsewhere, and who was  unable to respond to basic questions about pensions in 2011 public meetings around cuts to the lay pension funds.

We could go on and on about the problems. As a parallel to VatiLeaks, this blog was created for the main purpose of exposing the moral and financial corruption and deception in the Boston Archdiocese, in the hopes that perhaps through public exposure of the problems, we could help bring the Catholic Church in Boston back on the right track.

Despite the similarities, there is one big difference. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI said it was his declining mental and physical strength that led him to abdicate the papacy and resign from the office. The next step is a conclave in March where a new pope will be elected.  Cardinal O’Malley long ago abdicated governance of the Boston Archdiocese.  The next step for Boston is….?

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