Fleecing the Flock in Boston

February 4, 2013

As we continue exposing the violation of fiduciary responsibility in the Boston Archdiocese, we wanted to share with you another excellent video by ChurchMilitant.TV, called “Fleecing the Flock.”

Here are some highlights from the Michael Voris video:

[Voris] “The Boston Archdiocese .. which it needs to be stressed, has been a hotbed of dissent and wildly unorthodox treatment of Church teachings .. not to mention the epicenter of the homosexual clergy sex abuse crisis ten years ago .. also, unsurprisingly finds itself over a hundred million dollars in debt. That’s what you get when you depart from the truth – Catholics falling away like snowflakes in a blizzard.

A dozen chancery personnel are each making gross amounts of money for the work they do. The top dog on the list is the secretary for education. This woman needs a wheel barrel to take home her pay each week .. get this .. over a third of a million dollars each year in pay. Compare that to the NY City Superintendent of Public schools .. who only makes $250,000 a year.”

[BCI] Are there published, measurable goals for Catholic schools?  Are they being met?  What is the program and what are the standards for Catholic faith formation in Catholic schools? Why has the excessive salary of Schools Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill increased in recent years? What exactly has she achieved?

[Voris] And as you move down the list of Boston Archdiocese workers .. the numbers .. the gross salaries are nothing if not .. well gross. It’s one thing to make a living wage .. its another thing to be cashing in on dying particular church. 16 people are pulling down nearly 4 million dollars between them in annual pay and benefits.

A little history beyond the numbers here will help. A couple years back when lay people began complaining about the exorbitant salaries being paid .. out of a sense of embarrassment, the archdiocese put together a “committee” to look into it. One gets the sense that this is NOT what Our Blessed Lord meant when He said .. do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

So this committee canvassed other archdioceses around the country and came up with a salary range for each position. It found that many of its workers were on the high end of the range, so in response .. the archdiocese just halted some pay raises.

[BCI] The “committee” is, once again, how Cardinal O’Malley removes himself from responsibility or accountability for fleecing the flock.

[Voris] That people who are working for the Church are in fat cat positions .. whether in Boston or other places smacks of unethical or immoral .. if not down right sinful. Armed with this knowledge .. one begins to wonder if the reason so little actually changes in chanceries all over the country is because those who work in have a VESTED interest .. a REALLY VESTED interest in not rocking the boat.

Why on earth would they rock the boat and risk a quarter million dollar pay check and retirement plan? Another question – Is it even just for people in the Church to be making
that kind of money, when they have so clearly failed, in epic fashion to advance the Church, grow her numbers, heck even hold serve.

The Church is in all out retreat across the country, thousands of parishes closed, many hundreds of schools shuttered, millions having walked away from the faith and yet the
people who operate the machinery and pull the levers are practically laughing all the way to the bank. This situation is approaching spiritually criminal.

The money that goes into these people’s paychecks and retirement plans comes from the faithful and the collection basket. How many are sitting in those pews struggling in a
wrecked economy .. only to be feeding a bloated bureaucracy and not even really aware of it.

And what about the idea of working for the Kingdom, also, primarily being a vocation? Not that a living wage can’t be earned, of course it should be. But isn’t a hundred
thousand dollars a year enough. After all, that’s more than TWICE the average income for a family of four in the United States. Would $75,000 suffice. All over the country .. good hard-working faithful Catholics labor away to advance the truth of the faith .. to help save souls .. to preach the kingdom.

They work in apostolates like this .. I can assure you making NOTHING even approaching those kinds of pays. They work in Crisis Pregnancy centers .. home schooling centers .. new and upcoming colleges committed to the faith .. high schools that had to be started because the Professional Catholic crowd has failed both miserably and spectacularly in every aspect of their job .. other than negotiating their professional sports sized compensation packages.

Just how much does an Archdiocesan Communications director make in NY or Los Angeles, or Philly or Chicago? How about the Human Resources Director or the Education Czar in these places – are they all making massive six figure salaries?

And if they are – where are the results? In the private sector – it is argued, that the enormous salaries are paid because of the person’s expertise and skill and that the
company is growing and raking in profits and the top brass are responsible for that and so they SHOULD be handsomely compensated.

[BCI] Not a single one of the people below, not all even Catholics, will rock the boat. What results are they delivering? 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, and Catholic schools are being closed, yet the salaries remain excessive and some are increasing.RCAB salaries 2012

Whose fault it is? The blame rests ultimately on Cardinal O’Malley, then on Vicar General Deeley, Chancellor  John Straub, and Finance Council Vice Chair Jack McCarthy. Next it rests on all of the “Professional Catholic” and non-Catholic lay executives who have asked for these salaries and are willing to participate in “fleecing the flock” by accepting the fat paychecks. Pastors should be complaining at vicariate and Presbyteral Council meetings and start refusing to fork over their IFRM payments. And the people in the pews need to stop donating to the Catholic Appeal, complain to their pastors and ask their pastors to complain to the archdiocese.

Reducing Salaries

March 1, 2011

Headlines in the Boston Globe Sunday said, “Patrick takes aim at agency salaries: Hefty payrolls at state’s independent bodies attract new scrutiny.”  The governor’s secretary of housing and economic development, said Patrick is reviewing salaries…at the state’s 42 independent agencies and will reduce those he believes are excessive.

Meanwhile, at the Pastoral Center at 66 Brooks Drive, has anyone heard any moves from the leadership of the archdiocese about reducing excessive salaries doled out over the course of the past six years?  Nope.  Nearly 4 months after the Finance Council amended their Charter to create a Compensation Committee, they have not even published the names of the committee members on the Finance Council website.

Beyond that, this weekend the new development “dream team”–you know, the “transparent and accountable” team that missed their most recent two major goals but will not let anyone know the results–will launch the annual Catholic Appeal for 2011.  There will be a video from Cardinal Sean played at every parish recounting yet again how much the archdiocese needs your contributions to support critical ministries, while at the same time no one at 66  Brooks Drive cares to deal with the small matter of dumping more than $1M of your contributions down the drain annually on excessive six-figures. 

Former employees just received letters telling by exactly how much their pension benefits has been slashed because the archdiocese does not have enough money to fund the plan, but no one has the intestinal fortitude to do anything about the excessive salaries, where savings could have made the pension cuts less severe.

In case people have forgotten some of the most egregious examples, we highlight them once again for you, and how just adjusting the salaries of 5 of the six-figure salaried staff saves a cool half million dollars:

Carol Gustavson, Pension/Medical Plan Trust Administrator.  Was making somewhere in the range of $125K to more like about $150K before her job as Executive Director of HR was reduced by about 2/3, and we believe she is still making that. Other archdioceses we surveyed said they were not paying their head of HR nearly what Carol was making when she was responsible for HR.  Now, Jim DiFrancesco is “Director of Human Resources” and Carol is only responsible for the Pension/Medical Trust (minus most of the work of dealing with plans for 10,000 Caritas Christi employees who now mostly Steward’s responsibility).  Oh yeah, Carol is also responsible for the incredibly taxing jobs of coordinating the phone system and Pastoral Center floor plan. A pension/medical plan administrator for an archdiocese like Boston makes around $80-85K.  Annual salary savings: $70,000.

Terry Donilon, Communications Secretary.  Currently makes $166,304.  By means of comparison, sources indicate that the lay communications secretary who preceded Terry–and who was actually good with spelling and grammar–started at about $100K and was making $115K when she left.  But of course, she was not hired for the archdiocesan job by Ann Carter at Rasky Baerlein through Donilon family political connections like Terry was.  Coincidentally, BCI just happened to be looking at what the State of Massachusetts pays for communications staff in a similar role.  According to this “Your Tax Dollars at Work” listing, Gov. Deval Patrick’s former communications director and press secretary, Kyle Sullivan was paid $97,850/year in 2009 to communicate information for the Governor of a state with an estimated population of 6.6 million people and a budget of about $27 billion.  Terry is paid to communicate information for an archdiocese of about 300,000 Church-going Catholics and 2 million total Catholics with a $34M Central Ministries budget.  Regardless of how you do the math, the person in his role should be making no more than $115K.  Annual salary savings: $50,000.

Jim McDonough, Chancellor.  Currently makes $250,000. The former CEO of Abington Bank, he held 244,665 shares or 6.28% of the stock when it was sold to Seacoast for $139.4 million in June of 2004, making his stock at the time worth nearly $9 million.  Needless to say, when he took the job, he said he was “very blessed and didn’t need a job.”  If he didn’t need a job, why has he soaked the cash-poor archdiocese for nearly $1.25M in salary since 2006? If top lay administrators were capped at $150,000 in this archdiocese, the annual salary savings would be $100,000.

Beirne Lovely, General Counsel: Currently makes $300,000This is basically a post-retirement job for the 65-year-old attorney, after he spent 32 years at the national law firm Goodwin Procter LLP, most recently as senior partner. If top lay administrators were capped at $150,000 in this archdiocese, the annual salary savings would be $150,000.

Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education.  Currently makes $325,000 from the archdiocese, on top of a state teachers’s pension worth at least $75,000 annually. We have covered her excessive six-figure salary already. No other Catholic archdiocese pays at her level.  Much larger public school systems in Boston, New York, Chicago,  and Los Angeles that serve as much as 10X to 25X the number of students pay their top administrators less. In her last superintendent job running the Milton Public Schools, her annual compensation was $138,000.  With a lay administrator salary cap at $150,000, the annual salary savings would be $175,000.

There is much more to be saved in excessive salaries, as we covered previously in “How to Save $2 Million Annually Without Really Trying: Part 1”  This is just five people or many making excessive compensation relative to other archdioceses. No established goals, metrics for success, or accountabilities.  Salary savings alone for these 5 people/roles would be $550,000.  We have raised concerns in “Is Boston Archdiocese Violating the Law?” and many other posts.  Apparently neither the Cardinal nor the Finance Council, who are canonically charged with ensuring the temporal goods and assets of the archdiocese are well cared for, cares about this.

Since those charged with caring for archdiocesan assets are not caring for them, Catholics need to complain even more to their pastors, and pastors need to complain at vicariate meetings and at the Presbyteral Council and withhold contributions from the archdiocese.  We hate to say this, but Catholics probably also need to make a stink about this to the Holy See and to the government agencies charged with overseeing non-profits.

Much as BCI has to criticize about Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, at least he is making public statements and efforts to cut excessive salaries.  He cut his pay and legislative salaries by 5% in January in view of the state budget situation and ongoing recession. Now he is going after excessive salaries in other agencies.

In the Archdiocese, what are they doing?  Nothing. 

After you hear the video from the Cardinal this weekend asking for money, chat with your pastor and let him know you are not going to give to the appeal, and tell him why.

Have we missed anything?

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