Ethicspoint Disappoints: Diversion of Funds

July 8, 2011

BCI continues our occasional series today on how the anonymous whistleblower process in the Boston archdiocese is corrupted. Here is yet another report recently sent to us by a reader.  As compared to the one we published last Friday about the conflict of interest in the hiring and employment of Terry Donilon, at least this one got a response with an explanation, albeit one which was still somewhat dismissive of the original claim.

Issue Type

Abuse of or Fraud with Benefits

Please identify the person(s) engaged in this behavior:

James McDonough – Chancellor

Do you suspect or know that a supervisor or management is involved?


If yes, then who?

Cardinal O’Malley

Is management aware of this problem?


What is the general nature of this matter?

Cardinal O’Malley promised in 2004 on two occasions that lay pension plan obligations from closed parishes would be repaid from reconfiguration funds. That has never happened. But somehow, $2.5M was diverted to Trinity Academy in Brockton.

Where did this incident or violation occur?

The promise to repay pension obligations is documented in letters from Bishop Lennon to priests of the archdiocese from 2004. See this document:

How long do you think this problem has been going on?

More than a year

Please identify any persons who have attempted to conceal this problem and the steps they took to conceal it:

Chancellor James McDonough has ignored it.


From letter dated February 13, 2004 about use of reconfiguration funds: “The Archbishop has chosen this approach so that many issues may be addressed…The proceeds from the assets of suppressed parishes will provide monies due employees of suppressed parishes for past work and separation assistance, for vendors who are owed monies from suppressed parishes, for amounts for past employee benefits and parish insurances due from suppressed parishes…”
A second letter, dated July 24, on pages 6-7 that reiterates the promise: “The funds raised from the sale of suppressed properties will be used to address past due obligations and employee benefits of the suppressed parishes, including: 4. For covering unfunded pension liability for lay employees and clergy of all parishes. The promise was not upheld. In this 2010 actuarial report on the pension plan,
you can clearly see on page 9 a number of employers have unpaid obligations to the pension fund. Open parishes owe nearly $40 million, and closed parishes have a $5M debt to the pension plan. Despite that $5M debt to the pension plans from closed parishes, the 2008 annual report found here says:

“On August 13, 2007 as part of the parish reconfiguration process $2.5 million was transferred to Trinity Catholic Academy Brockton, Inc.” a newly formed related organization that consolidated the operations of certain parish schools in Brockton.”

How did Jack Connors’ Catholic Schools project become part of the previous “parish reconfiguration process”?

How is it that funds originally promised by the Archbishop to parishes, employee benefits, and the unfunded employee pensions were instead redirected to the Brockton project? Doesn’t this constitute illegal conversion of funds and perhaps fraud? Now, instead of repaying the $5M due to the employee pension fund, 7 years later, the remaining $5.4M in the reconfiguration fund is supposedly being slotted to create an endowment for Parish Services, under the guise that this was one of the original purposes of reconfiguration funds? Why is the 2004 promise to repay the pension fund not being kept, when some of that money was directed elsewhere? See:

Response from Archdiocese:

4/15/2011 10:08 AM – A total of $12.7 million was transferred into the pension program from Reconfiguration funds. The first transfer was $1.3 million on October 31,  2005 and the second was $11.4 million on December 26, 2005. These transfers are detailed in the Fiscal Year 2006 Financial Statements for the Pension Fund and  Corporation Sole Audit Reports.

The governing body for the use of the management of reconfiguration funds is the Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee. The Charter of the Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee (– People/Content.aspx?id=14124) states:

Purpose: To fulfill its mission of reviewing the integrity of the financial reporting of the reconfiguration process and to provide recommendations to the  archdiocese for operational improvements, the committee will review transactions contemplated by the archdiocese, such as the following:
• The closing and cash transfers of all unrestricted suppressed parish bank accounts.
• The process of dealing with all suppressed parish restricted accounts.
• Expenses related to the closing process.
• Property management methods and expenses.
• The sale of all parish personal property, sacred and non-sacred.
• The valuation and sale of all real property.
• Severance payments.
• The repayment of debts of a suppressed parish.
• Payments for past pension service (active and suppressed parishes), lay and clergy.
• Restore the equity, totaling $28,226,028, to the revolving loan fund, the clergy medical and hospital trust, the hospital chaplaincy, the parish school tax fund, the group life insurance fund, the lay pension plan, the health benefit trust, the long term disability trust, the insurance fund and the transition assistance trust that were incurred as a result of Jubilee Year debt forgiveness.
• Establishment of a sinking fund to cover the retirement of an operating line of credit that will total roughly $32 million and that results from the decline in annual appeal revenue since 2001.
• Funding of ongoing support services for parishes.
• Direct operating aid to parishes.
• Direct construction aid to parishes.

Finally, the $2.5 million transferred to Trinity Catholic Academy Brockton, Inc., on August 13, 2007, was a decision of Cardinal O’Malley, and was well within the Cardinal’s discretionary authority.

All three  transactions were clearly publicly  documented and the respective financial  statements  for each fiscal year were successfully audited and received  unqualified opinions.

This is BCI commenting now with several reactions. First, the person who submitted the claim was incorrect on one very important point when they said “Cardinal O’Malley promised in 2004 on two occasions that lay pension plan obligations from closed parishes would be repaid from reconfiguration funds. That has never happened.” Indeed, as documented in the response, funds were repaid at the times indicated, even if that was ultimately not adequate to fund the pensions considering the variations in the plan funding as of 2011.  As BCI has learned on more than one occasion, if you get one fact wrong, the archdiocese will then dismiss everything else you say, almost forever.

But, even with that claim incorrect and even with the archdiocese having contributed funds to repay a particular pension obligation at that time, as we all know, the pension plan trustees did–and still do–have an obligation to maintain sufficient funds to cover pension obligations in the future, and when that pension fund balance dropped a few years later, no more monies were contributed to meet the obligation.

Beyond that, is it just BCI, or is anyone else asking why the fact that the transactions referenced (such as the diversion of funds to Trinity Academy in Brockton) were publicly documented and audited necessarily also means that they were consistent with the promises and commitments made by the archdiocese to the Catholic faithful?  Is it permissible to break a promise as long as you publicly document it? Why was the decision of Cardinal O’Malley to send reconfiguration funds to Trinity Academy in Brockton “well within the Cardinal’s discretionary authority” when funding an archdiocesan school was nowhere on the list of possible beneficiaries for reconfiguration funds? Was it somehow justified as being some sort of pseudo-funding “support service for parishes,” or new way to provide “direct operating or construction aid to parishes,” even though it’s not a parish school?  Furthermore, the comment about the audit opinion is nothing but a diversion and the archdiocesan respondent knows that.  An audit opinion is just a reasonable assurance that the financial statements are presented to give a fair and accurate view of the numbers and financial status–it does not say whether the decisions to spend money in a certain way were right or wrong, or inconsistent with promises and commitments made.

In reading the claim and the response, we credit the archdiocese at least with responding, as they pledged to do when this facade of a true whistleblower program was first launched. But the flippant response–and those we have posted previously and been copied on–leaves us wondering whether anyone has actually gotten a response to a claim that suggested these complaints were being taken seriously.

As recommended by auditors years ago, the archdiocese needs a real whistleblower policy and program that is taken seriously and that does not fall under Chancellor McDonough for execution and management, but rather has some degree of authority over him.  Maybe this one needs to go on the list for the new Vicar General in the fall.


BCI Reader Messages to Cardinal O’Malley

June 24, 2011

A few days ago we asked BCI readers to write their messages to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, specifically concerning matters that will improve the ability of the Archdiocese to advance her mission.  (The mission of the Pastoral Center is “To continue the saving ministry of Jesus Christ”).  We said readers could submit a top priority or some top problems you would like for the Cardinal to address, it could be a compliment, a criticism, a mix of positive and constructive feedback, a suggestion, or anything relevant to his pastoral leadership in teaching, sanctifying, and governing the archdiocese.  The goal  was to share feedback or a message that you, our readers, believed would lead to the archdiocese being better able to continue the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.

We originally thought we would pick just a few of them to share, but found it tough to decide which ones to include vs exclude. So we went with all except any that suggested a change in Catholic Church teaching. We will also send these along to Cardinal O’Malley via email over the weekend and invite his response to them.

Thanks to all for taking the time to write your thoughtful and insightful messages.

Time for a change says:
Cardinal Law left when it was clear that he could not serve.  It’s time to go.  You know that.


Chris says:

Cardinal O’Malley, I would urge you to clear your schedule and spend several days  in Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, asking for the wisdom and discernment to perform your duties in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
dotty banks says:
Dear Cardinal,

Please do something to help the many dedicated and grossly underpaid lay workers throughout your archdiocese. Many have served for forty or fifty years, knowingly accepting lower wages, without union protection, because of their devotion to Christian values. It is unjust to punish them by cutting their modest pensions while paying six figure salaries to numerous, newly hired, administrators.

Jesus would be ashamed of the way you’re allowing your workes to be treated! So please do something !!!!!!

Take the time to adress this problem instead of continuing to ignore it. It won’t go away!


teddy ballgame says:

Cardinal O’Malley, I think you know this, but morale at 66 Brooks is terrible. I know, I worked at RCAB and dealt with parishes, schools etc. on a daily basis. The negativity was palpable! The 4 Pastoral Operating Principles are not only ignored but trampled on every day. The backbiting,finger pointing, lying, and abuse of power that occurs is the worst I have ever seen. And this is the Archdiocese of Boston? The individuals responsible, McDonough and Gustavason, are a major part of the problem. Therefore I suggest you appoint a senior person to tackle this very serious problem.


Objective Observer says:

You give a great homily.  You had us at your installation — watching as BCTV broadcast that homily in July 2003, cheers went up all over the Archdiocese.  You had us in the palm of your hand.  It had been a long haul for 18 months (for absolutely everyone) and we were ready for the bright hope you articulated on that rainy day in July.

What happened?  How did all that goodwill and affection become rancor and division?  How does your pastoral goodwill end up looking like bases loaded, but then you hit into an inning-ending double play?  And what is the best advice one could offer you now?

As CEO of Corp Sole, it appears that you have overseen some serious misconduct.  The buck stops on your desk… or in your case on your tray table.  Based on the public record, it looks like a reasonable grand jury could find fraud, conflict of interest, undue influence and misappropriation of funds, before they got warmed up.  It would appear that many of these questions are governed by state law, but in Boston we have a U.S. attorney who is willing to do the A.G.’s job for her when she looks the other way.  Just ask Mr. DiMasi.

Dropping the reins and allowing whoever head butts you the hardest to pick them up is not a defense at law or in equity.  Nor is the sham of empaneling endless committees to make “recommendations” that you “accept” and put into force by letting someone else sign your name.  So if any of that sounds familiar as an m.o., you might start asking around for the right counsel… and I mean lawyer as well as Gift of the Holy Spirit.

The people who actually have held the reins in your case, Bryan, Ann, Jim, Carol, Beirne, Bob and Jack, like we saw with the cronies of DiMasi, would gleefully turn state’s evidence rather than take the fall themselves, don’t you think?  There really are a lot of parallels between your situation and the former speaker’s.

Once these things get going, the AUSAs tend to want to hold onto your passport.  That’s OK, mounting a defense wouldn’t leave you much time for travel anyway… at least if you have worthy counsel.

And for the rest of us, we can watch a replay of that installation homily and mourn what might have been.  That’s plenty of expiation for letting it happen on our watch — priests and laity alike.


Another former employee says:

I hope that Cardinal O’Malley will remember his promise to fund the priests’ and lay employees’ pensions.


Anonymous says:

Clean house at the top (McDonough, Gustavson, Donilon, Grassa O’Neill and her staff, McEnness et al.

Take care of the rank and file employees who have been systemmatically mistreated over the past sevreal years.

Announce a plan to fund the lay pension plan.

Appoint good Catholics to the Finance council and get rid of people like Connors

Then resign, you are not competent to lead the Archdiocese.

“Just Wondering” says:

“JUST WONDERING” says:  you forgot another dangerous person,  the one and the only J. Bryan Hehir.

Jack O’Malley says:
Cardinal O’Malley,

Drive the mercenaries from the chancery as Christ did the money changers from the temple.   And purge the smoke of Satan from those sanctuaries where it swirls thickest.  You know which ones.

Esto Princeps Ecclesiae.  Duc fortiter.  Fideles volenter sequentur,


Anonymous says:
As St. Patrick, the patron saint of the Achdiocese did, drive the snakes out of 66 Briooks Drive.


Little Red Hen says:

Dear Cardinal O’Malley, please pay a visit to the superintendent and the staff of the Office of Catholic Schools and thank them for their service to the Archdiocese, tell them their service is no longer required, and send them on their way.  Then contact the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist ( and tell them that you have a mission for them here, which is to restore meaningful catechesis and authentic Catholicity to the few schools that remain in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Lazarus’ Table says:

Cardinal Sean,
I don’t suppose it is easy for any man to be a bishop, especially in these times and particularly in Boston.   For all its supposed conservatism, Boston Catholics (clergy & lay) sure can pick and choose what they want to believe and when they will stand by their bishop… or not.

Cardinal Sean, clean house.  You’ve already tried that earlier by sending some priests back into the parishes (for which, I’m sure, the parishes thank you…).  But I think you’ve been “taken” by people you trusted who have their own agenda and who’ve surrounded themselves with people of their mind, not yours.   The perceived scandal and mistrust of those in Braintree has so  had a paralyzing effect on us that I would hope some of those men would voluntarily resign on their own pro bono publico and allow for fresh air and a renewed start.  Can’t they admit their presence  is hurting not helping the Church?  It’s not good when they give rise to rumors that you and/or the archdiocese are being blackmailed or held hostage in some other way.

Cardinal Sean, clean house.   You owe it to yourself and us.  You’ve sacrifriced alot for the Church but the current state of affairs make it seem like the Church is sacrificing alot for you.  And I’m sure that is not what you want or intend.

Cardinal Sean, please let us know how we can help you in a personal way.  We pray for you, of course.  But do you need a friend?  Do you need to be reminded that “Sean” is loved and needed? Does your morale need a boost?  Are you healthy, Cardinal Sean? How can we help you?  How can we help you to help us?  We’ll be there for you, Cardinal Sean.  Please be there for us now.


Anthony says:

I believe as an urgent matter that the Cardinal should, personally, look to correct the wrong done to the Hispanic children of Lawrence by the closing of the St. Mary of the Assumption elementary school. Though it is true that the Augustinians no longer wish to support the school, there are others who will. Please Cardinal Sean, we beg you to reverse this faulty decision to close St. Mary’s. A high proportion of the 250 students there will no longer have a Catholic school formation.

TalkWalker says:

Cardinal O’Malley – You do many inspirational things.  The way you handled the victims of the Abuse Crisis was admirable and sincere.  Your pastoral letter and your efforts at evangelization are clear and good.  How can the same person -you- permit things like St. Cecilia’s to occur, amd let some of your key people (McDonough, Hehir, Kickam) turn the Archdiocese into a political cesspool?  None of your priests respect or trust any of them, yet you keep them around?  Why?

You still have time to leave the Archdiocese better than you received it from a spiritual perspective.  Please stop allowing the “money guys” and “priests that sell-out and dilute Catholicism”  tell you its all about money.  You speak often as responding to the sex abuse crisis and balancing the budget are the two legacies you’ll leave.  You don’t talk about anything related to helping Catholics overcome 2 bad generations of evangelization and formation.  Luckily you are only 67 and, God willing, have 10 more years to fix this course.  As you said well in your letter at Pentecost – the primary mission of the Church is evangelization.  Now your sheep are asking you to make it your top priority.  Please walk the talk.


Boston Priest says:

Cardinal Sean,
I know your job is a tough one and you’ve intimated to many people that you don’t want to be here.

Until such time as you decide it’s time to move on from Boston, more than a handful of diocesan priests would find it a morale boost if you’d  wear the clerical suit/cassock of a diocesan bishop instead of your Franciscan habit (ie. as Archbishop Chaput has chosen to do). I know canonically you have the option to dress in conformity with your religious community and sacred calling and it’s your decision. I see where for formal occasions, and trips to Rome you wear the diocesan bishop cassock. But, we’re all diocesan priests here, so by dressing other than we do, it makes a lot of us feel like you’re not really bought into being our diocesan bishop. It’s like you’re somewhere else, like an itinerant wanderer and not appearing as though you’re the one responsible for the diocese. We’re treated similarly canonically, with many left hanging in limbo continuing to serve as pastors with no formal renewal of pastoral terms.

It’s a lot more than the attire, but the what you wear symbolizes something to everyone.

As long as you’re here, it would dignify the office of Archbishop of Boston and be a boost to morale for a lot of the guys if you’d dress the part of diocesan bishop that the Holy Father asked you to play here, rather than dressing for the part you might want to play somewhere else.

  • Michael says:

    It would also be quite dignified to not continuously contradict your previously stated positions as you have on several occasions.

  • Jack O’Malley says:

I agree totally with Boston Priest about the attire of the Archbishop of Boston.  The exemplar of Archbishop Chaput is particularly à propos.

As I posted earlier, you, Seán Cardinal O’Malley are a Prince of the Church.  Princeps.  Princeps Ecclesiae.  You understand the Latin.  Who was called a Princeps?  Be a Princeps.  And you will have the loyalty of true Catholics. The piskie wannabes will abandon you in droves.  Tantum melius!

Continue on the present course and you will have schism in your archdiocese.  We are fed up.  We will revolt.  Why do you think the FSSPX are expanding and you and your V2 novus ordo protestantised church is shrinking?

You have the classical education.  You have the traditional formation.  You are not much older than I.  You have the linguistic gift and training to preach the Evangelion to many peoples.  I exhort you to restore the Traditional Mass in all parishes of your bishopric.  You will have altar boys.  You will then have vocations.  You will then have faithful masculine priests.  And when you die, you will be assured of your reward when you confront our Saviour.  And you will be remembered here on earth as the true Franciscan Repairer of the Church of Christ once gone to ruin.

What is holding you back, your Eminence?  Why are you so timid?  Fear nothing!  Audax atque strenuus.  Vivat Christus Rex!


Mack says:

Cardinal O’Malley:
I know  you have a difficult ministry and believe you are sincerely trying. Yet something is grievously wrong in this archdiocese. Recently after Mass I was briefly speaking to a priest he said that “the archdiocese is imploding.” He didn’t elaborate, but we all know what’s going on.

I would urge you to do three things:

1. Give priority to teaching the fullness of the Catholic faith, even on the tough issues. I was so saddened to see you at Ted Kennedy’s funeral standing on the sidelines and not giving any witness at all to the Church’s teaching on life. Kennedy was an ardent supporter of abortion legislation throughout his Senate career. To me it was a terrible scandal that the impression was given that a politician can work with all his might to promote the “culture of death,” as Pope John Paul termed it, and then receive accolades as if he was some kind of saint.  Another important issue is homosexuality, and the proposed “gay pride” Mass at St Cecilia’s is another situation you need to address.

2. Stop listening to the advisors you now have, and find some other persons with better judgment and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Invest more time in personal prayer and make this a priority.

3. Publicly acknowledge the full extent of the injustice you did to the Daughters of St. Paul, and apologize to the sisters for: 1) having interfered in their internal affairs and brought serious trials to their leadership team and 2) for allowing the pension fund issue to drag on for 5 years. This sad situation shows how poorly you have led this archdiocese. The facts show that you did not intervene to help the sisters find justice when they and their employees were being unjustly treated. If you had used your influence, why would it have dragged on for 5 years? But when you received some negative publicity, you immediately called their superior general to complain because your ego was offended. I can only conclude from this that you care more about your public image than you do about doing justice. Shame on you!

  • Michael says:

To the contrary … Cardinal O’Malley was not “standing on the sidelines and not giving any witness at all to the Church’s teaching.”  He was on the field doing that trick play in football that we employed as kids … he stood on the field trying to make it look like he was standing on the sidelines – but instead he had a very big role in the play.


JRBreton says:

Cardinal O’Malley, please tend to your priests.  They need your encouragement, and your discipline.  Consider, for instance, the great scandal caused by so many priests saying Mass in their own particular way.  That would not be the case if our priests were acting in personal Christi.  Nothing much good can be expected until we have a reformation of  our priests.  It is your job; please don’t shirk it.


Anonymous Priest says:

Cardinal O’Malley,
Boston Catholic Insider has provided an incredible service to the Archdiocese of Boston. BCI has begun to confront the some of the corruption in this archdiocese . They do so in a manner that is professional, direct and charitable. The failure of this archdiocese to respond  responsibly to the issues raised by the BCI is a scandal which has a different face that the one of 2002 but nonetheless, still scandalous. The BCI discusses issues after doing  its homework and demonstrates a good knowledge of and commitment to the true mission of the church. Never relying on hearsay, it continues to speak the truth with  charity and clarity. Unfortunately, the archdiocese continues to dismiss the BCI as is  its customary response to people and ideas it does not like. It’s very encouraging for many of the priests  of this archdiocese to see  that the BCI will not be intimidated nor is it going to go away. If the archdiocese were willing to engage the BCI  and begin to “clean house” we could actually have a vibrant archdiocese. Please, Cardinal O’Malley, listen to the BCI.


John A. Cronin says:

A suggestion if I may…..Advisors should be screened and one group who would help His Eminence would be the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance.  They are living the life of Francis, working the streets of Boston and Lawrence and should be asked advice on a timely basis, just to get to the truth.  Thier loyalty to Cardinal O’Malley is beyond questionable.


H.O.T. says:

Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

I know you to be a good man, Your Eminence. I think you’re doing a basically good job administering the Diocese, these nattering carpers to the contrary. I understand you have a difficult job, and you’re caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of fixed assets you can’t liquidate, and immediate need and long-term debts.

I do think a lot of your advisers need to get replaced, though (for reasons different than most here). Inter alia, Fr. Hehir’s influence has been insidious for a long time, but it’s not just him. It might be time to just start over.

Outside of that, I wish there was even one person who is charged  with using your delegated authority to assure both the orthodoxy and fullness of doctrine is being taught and preached in the Archdiocese. It’s still not even close.

Your faithful son,


Kdgd says:

Dear Cardinal Sean,

What sorrow must fill your heart to see our Church shriveling away in Boston. Yet just like the rose bush is trimmed to an ugly stump to survive the winter, our church needs serious pruning. Only then can it thrive and bloom again in spring. There are many problems but top of the list is lack of formation & creeping secularization.

For starters, the CCD program in every parish and school needs to be evaluated. They teach that “God Loves You”, which is of course true, but little else. A love for the Eucharist and a basic understanding of the Catechism is scandalously lacking. Every parish needs adult formation, not just RCIA, but a “Catholic Answers” type forum to help answer the “why’s” of the what the Church teaches.  EVERY priest, Bishop and Cardinal should teach  CCD, confirmation, RCIA or adult formation classes.  At the present moment, our priests are asked to act more as fundraisers than evangelizers.  Who gives up a family for that?

Secularization has entered nearly all areas of the church, especially education and charity. Catholic schools and Catholic Charities have become almost indistinguishable from their secular versions. Recently a glossy Catholic Charities booklet was sent to my house- while professional looking, it didn’t mention one word about Christ and the Faith  in all its multicolor splendor.  Blessed Mother Teresa should be the roll model for service.

The Church is shrinking in Boston, but if it is secularized in hope that this will antagonize fewer people into leaving (and hence decrease the coffers even more) then there is no chance of renewal. Of the 20% of Mass going Catholics, how many attend less than 52 weeks a year, practice birth control, understand the Real Presence in Eucharist, understand the Church’s teaching on the Gospel of Life? How truly depressing – I cannot imagine presiding over this kind of decline. Even with bold leadership and action , renewal is unlikely to happen in our lifetimes, but it is the only hope.

Marianne Keating says:

I agree with the many responses above about cleaning out the Chancery of the overpaid, scandalous, heretical employees.  Have courage, Cardinal O’Malley, and trust God to bring us through it all after the pieces fall!

On a positive note, I was delighted to hear Sr. Olga will be starting an order of nuns here in the Archdiocese.  Wonderful news as she is a holy and inspirational nun and will be a true blessing for our Archdiocese and the many lives she touches!


Michael says:

Here is a suggestion if you are uncertain as to what to do.  Fire anyone stealing from the Archdiocese – that includes Mary Grassa O’Neill ($325,000/yr), her deputies and anyone making above a liveable salary — any salary does not clearly demonstrate a willingness to be a servant of Christ (i.e., anyone making over $50,000 – 60,000 a year).

Also, fire those new lawyers you got for giving you pathetic and wimpy legal advice — you know … the ones who say that HR cannot even ask a prospective employee whether or not the applicant is Catholic because doing so allegedly violates the law.

Hey smartypants lawyers — that is the most ridiculous legal advice ever offered.  With people like you boys fighting for us, who needs enemies.


Bill Redmond says:

Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

Thank you for working with Holy Family Communications to bring WQOM to the Boston Archdiocese.  The Good Catholic Life program is wonderful.  I’d like to see a change in the format that would allow for callers to interact with Scott and the guests.

Bill Redmond

OK says:
It’s not the format that would need to change their is a technical issue that doesn’t allow for taking calls from the general public…until that issue is resolved their will be no call ins.  I know this to be the situation.
David says:

Thank you, Cardinal O’Malley, for coming to the Courage Conference held at Betania II in Medway in 2008.  The members of Courage and Encourage appreciate the work you have done publicly and behind the scenes in supporting our efforts to live chaste and holy lives.


freda says:

Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

The media says that the Archdiocese has confirmed the re-scheduling of the St. Cecilia pro-gay-pride mass for July 10.  That is crazy.  How can you approve a mass in a holy place celebrating ANY sexual practices, let alone sexual practices that for 2,000 years the Church has called “intrinsically disordered”?  Even earlier,  much of the Old Testament teaches that God told the Israelites to stop pagan worships!   Pagan worship meant temple prostitutes and the celebration of adultery and  disordered sexual acts.  How can you possibly allow St. Cecilia’s to be turned into a pagan temple?????  How can you????  You really must stop this immediately.  It is scandalizing the faithful (and all converts and — imagine what message it is sending to all those Anglican and Episcopal priests bravely considering “coming home” to the Catholic Church!)

I have heard that the St. Cecilia mass  will now be called a “welcome” mass.  Are you kidding?  Do you think that lay Catholics are stupid? PLEASE put a stop to this.

  • anna says:

    Freda,  You bring up an excellent point about converts and Anglicans.  Losing converts is a price they are willing to pay to get the gays, lesbians and wealthy parishioners to achieve their big fundraising goals.

    But the thing is Freda, they are actually the stupid ones because they can’t figure out the reason why they are going bankrupt.  For every donor they get with their clapping fornication and sodomy mission statements, they lose 100 sane donors.


anonymous reader

Dear Cardinal O’Malley:

A humble servant of Jesus is asking for your support on what I believe to be grave matters.

1.  Rebuilding the sanctity of St. Cecilia’s Parish in Boston.  In this case, I believe Fr. Unni, Bishop Hennessey are giving into a political culture rather than to the teachings found in the Old Testament.  No where in the New Testament does Jesus give approval of homosexuals living together.  This needs to be immediately addressed for the good of the whole Archdiocese.

Fr. Unni likened the circumstances to Love v Hate.  The Gay Pride ministry represents LOVE and those who object to the Holy, Catholic Church being used to chastise the Holy Eucharist are HATERS.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Terry Donilon said that you approved of Fr. John Unni, Pastor of St. Cecilia’s, and that the Gay Pride Mass is going forward as previously scheduled.  What do you have to say about this??????

John Connors, caused scandal to us when he opened his home for a $2 million fundraiser for the most Pro-Abortion President.  Pres. Obama said he would let his daughters have an abortion if they found themselves pregnant out of wedlock.  Why then, would Mr. Connors want to host a hugh fundraiser for him.  Where is Mr. Connors on this issue???????

Would you please look into this and CANCEL THIS MASS.  Mass should never be offered for a cause.

2.  Recently Fr. Pavone, a good and holy man preached at St. Paul’s in Hingham.  Becasue a person held up a sign showing a 23 week old fetus being dismembered, someone called the police and they took his license plate number.  A call then came to Fr. Rafferty saying that he shouldn’t have allowed Fr. Pavone to come and speak.

Fr. Pavone is a wonderful priest in support of life.  Our Archdiocese is certainly in need of the presence of PFL.  Why, did a spokesperson from your office call to nix it?????

Thank you for your consideration of these important issues to the flock who is trying their best to be faithful to Christ and the Holy Eucharist.


williamh says:

The leadership of the Catholic Church needs to make it perfectly clear that:  they do not support homosexuality in any way (Maureen Dowd, unfortunately, hit right on the head in NYT article about homosexuality in Church; they need to own up to it ; discover why it occurred so rampantly; how to squash and deal with it now;  they need to strongly defend marriage; always speak out against abortion; speak out against same sex marriage; homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder and homosexual practices are mortal sins.  Their mission is to:  teach, govern, and sanctify.  Many of them get an “F” on all three.  Why are they gutless and wishy-washy.  Why have there been so many “feminized” clergy within the last few decades.  What about the faithful, straight clergy standing up to the gay,clerical mafia in each diocese.  We need it; it can reestablish the faithful’s TRUST in their clergy, from the cardinals on down.


Jane M. Finn says:

Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

I thought the mission of the Catholic Church was about “saving souls.”  How is that mission being fulfilled at St. Cecilia’s?  Their Rainbow Ministry, with full knowledge of the Archdiocese, is hosting a specially named Mass on July 10th.  This Mass will be celebrating those of a sexual persuasion, that if practiced, is against the 6th Commandment.  So, shouldn’t  the Archdiocese be concerned for their souls? Or has the Archdiocese eliminated the 6th Commandment? Should the Ten Commandments now be called the Nine Commandments?  There seems to be so much ‘double speak’ coming from the Archdiocese….CONFUSION.

Right now, I think, is the perfect time for the Archdiocese to give real evangelization by way of the Boston Media to millions and millions here and across the country that would certainly save some souls. They should give witness to the successful Catholic Church sponsored program for homosexuality called COURAGE for the homosexual and ENCOURAGE for his/her’s family members.  This is an opportunity that should not be waisted!

Only the TRUTH and LOVE of Jesus Christ brings true peace and quiets the restless heart.  Spin will only keep poor souls spinning and will not save them.


Alice Slattery says:

Dear Cardinal O’Malley,
If you look carefully at the parish bulletins and the activities of the Rainbow Ministry that are promoted by Fr. John Unni as pastor of St. Cecilia’s parish in Boston  and compare them to those of Fr. Walter Cuenin’s in his parish bulletins at Our Lady Help of Christians parish in Newton (which are in the archives from the time when Bp. William Murphy was Moderator), you will see that they are practically identical in the way that they advanced the cause of the desires of the members of his parish who  promote the  LGBT agenda. In fact,  in June of 2006, Fr. Walter Cuenin received the Pride Interfaith Award during Gay Pride week for his advocacy for the desires of the LGBT advocates by his “gay-affirming ” efforts in his parish and  “the religious community” in  Boston.(“Catholic priest to preach at Boston Pride Interfaith Service”,Bay Windows,2/02/06). To my recollection, there was nothing critical of this fact  printed in The Pilot .
I may be wrong but I also  don’t recall anything critical in The Pilot when Fr. Cuenin joined Fr. Thomas Carroll,rector of the Jesuit Urban Center,Boston, when they opposed the ban on gay marriage before the Mass. State Legislature in 2002.(“Three priests oppose ban on gay marriage”,Boston Globe,4/11/02,p.p.B1.B10).
Now that the members of the Jesuit Urban Center have moved into St. Cecilia’s parish, is Fr. Unni accommodating their desire for  acceptance of gay marriage?
Since Fr. Unni is ‘walking in the footsteps’ of Fr, Cuenin,  and is recognized by the GLBT advocates for his efforts to advocate for their desires, will you remain silent as you did when Fr. Cuenin was honored by those who gave him the  GLBT Pride award?  Would you be in agreement if the recipient of the LGBT Pride award next year is Fr. John Unni?The perception of your silence regarding the impact that such advocacy has on the parishioners of the Boston Archdiocese is very confusing. Please, as our Shepherd, clearly explain your position.

Boston Globe: Archdiocese to get new vicar general

June 15, 2011

Today the Boston Globe reported on the appointment of Msgr. Deeley as the new Vicar General. This article repeats some details and quotes from the archdiocesan announcement that we posted on yesterday. But they got a few things wrong or incomplete, so BCI felt it appropriate to respond. Here are some excerpts, followed by BCI commentary:

Archdiocese to get new vicar general in the fall

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is getting a new top aide: Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, a Massachusetts native, will return this fall from assignment in Rome to become the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Boston Archdiocese.

The job is like a combination of lieutenant governor and chief of staff, carrying out O’Malley’s vision while dealing with religious and spiritual issues and the nuts and bolts of running a large organization, according to the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, who has held the job since 2006.

Erikson has spent his time in office grappling with the fallout from two major crises that occurred before he arrived — the sexual abuse scandal in 2002, and the closure of dozens of parishes in 2004 and 2005. The archdiocese has struggled since then to balance its budget, deal with underfunded pension funds for priests and lay employees, keep parishioners in the pews and students in the Catholic schools, and deal with a major shortage of priests.

Erikson worked on a variety of fronts to address these problems; on his watch the archdiocese trimmed some programs and laid off employees, began a controversial transition to a 401k-style lay pension plan, and launched a campaign to bring inactive Catholics back to church.

A small but vocal group of critics have complained about high salaries paid to top lay employees, the church’s handling of its pension funds, and a variety of other financial and administrative policies.

But O’Malley had only praise for Erikson yesterday, saying in a statement that Erikson’s “contributions are many, especially in the areas of communications, transparency, and revitalizing our efforts in the area of pastoral planning and evangelization.’’

Deeley, a canon lawyer, served as president of the Canon Law Society of America while a pastor in Quincy. In September 2004 he was assigned on a temporary basis to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department that oversees doctrine and handles cases involving clergy abuse of minors. The head of that department at the time — then-Cardinal John Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI — requested that he stay on as an official of the Congregation, according to the archdiocese.

“Monsignor Deeley is a well respected and accomplished priest who has served the Church with distinction in the Archdiocese of Boston and in recent years in Rome,’’ the cardinal said in a statement.

By Erikson’s description, the job at times resembles the work of the chief executive officer of nearly any big company: He has plowed through stacks of property leases to decide which to approve, dealt with budgets, and made personnel decisions. But the post also brings a spiritual component.

Erickson recalls being asked to give special permission for a terminally ill man to be wed on his deathbed because he deeply wanted to marry before he died. “My answer was an instant yes,’’ he said.

What particularly rankled BCI is the characterization of us and those who follow the blog as “a small but vocal group of critics.” We do not know why the number of critics was characterized as small, and apologize for not keeping the Globe current on our readership numbers. Since BCI started, 196,898 unique visitors have checked out the blog at least once, and more than 71,000 are repeat visitors.  Most are from Massachusetts, so this represents a healthy percentage of the Mass-going Catholics in the archdiocese.

Furthermore, the characterization by the Globe that we have complained only about high salaries, pension funds, and other financial and administrative policies is incomplete.  To be fair, it is true we have complained about those. But we regret that perhaps through harping on the excessive six-figure salaries and pension fund issues lately, that may have overshadowed the more systemic problems we have also complained about, such as the leadership vacuum, lack of integrity, corruption, deception, ethical breaches, cronyism in hiring, abdication of teaching and governance responsibility by the Cardinal, and possible breaches of civil law as well.  We will do our best to highlight some of these other areas more effectively in the future.

The Globe article also says the job is to help carry out Cardinal O’Malley’s vision.  For the sake of the new Vicar General, BCI hopes this vision is made a lot clearer going forward than it has been up to now. Long-time readers may recall that in our first post, on June 23, 2010, Inside the Boston Archdiocese, we raised the lack of clarity of the Cardinal’s vision as a key concern, along with others about Vicar General Richard Erikson in the current leadership structure:

Responsibilities: “Taking Cardinal Seán’s vision for the Archdiocese of Boston and making it a reality.

Boston Catholic Insider Comments: It is not clear to us what Cardinal Sean’s vision for the archdiocese is, and where we would find a written statement of that, so it is also not clear to us how anyone, including the Vicar General, would make it reality. In actuality, it is the Chancellor who coordinates personnel and central administration efforts in the Boston Archdiocese today.  It is also not clear what key initiatives or programs Fr. Erikson has actually driven or led in his time in the role.

Lastly, because the current Chancellor, Jim McDonough, engineered an unusual reporting relationship direct to the Cardinal (rather than to the Vicar General) and grabbed enough power that he has become more influential over personnel and central administration than the Vicar General, the sad reality is that Fr. Erikson was cut out of many key decisions and was really not at all like the CEO of the archdiocese or a big company.

As BCI understands the story, when Chancellor Jim McDonough was reporting to the Vicar General early on–as virtually all other dioceses structure the reporting relationship–Fr. Erikson had called the Chancellor out on a couple of things, as he should have. In the August or September timeframe in 2006, Jim McDonough made sure that would not happen again. How? Sources tell BCI that when Fr. Erikson was out of town for a short time, Jim McDonough put a letter on the Cardinal’s letterhead decreeing that he would report to the Cardinal, and gave it to the Cardinal’s priest-secretary, Fr. Kickham, to have signed.  The next time Fr. Erikson approached Jim about an issue, Jim simply showed him the letter, and the Vicar General was henceforth without any power or authority over most of the administration of the archdiocese. Almost all key personnel and administrative decisions since then were made by others, and Jim McDonough ended up being more like the CEO or COO.

BCI hopes that the Cardinal and Msgr. Deeley consider some reorganization of the reporting structure and division of responsibilities such that this situation is rectified. As suggested in comments yesterday, BCI will also start a running list of ideas and issues for the new Vicar General to consider tackling.

BCI again extends our heartiest congratulations to the highly-respected Msgr. Deeley on his well-deserved appointment!

Archdiocese Releases 2010 Annual Report

April 14, 2011

Today the Archdiocese of Boston released the Annual Report for the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2010. You can read the report here.  There is much to report and it will take several posts to cover everything.

First, here are highlights from the archdiocese’s press release:

  • Balanced budget was achieved in Central Ministries;
  • Parish offertory remained flat despite impacts from the global economic crisis;
  • 36% of parishes operated above breakeven, 31% at breakeven and 33% operated at a loss;
  • Improved Financial Relationship Model (IFRM) was successfully launched in 33 parishes, who subsequently saw a 17% average increase in offertory collections;
  • Investment performance and portfolio improved from the previous fiscal year;
  • Catholic schools remained a priority and the Archdiocese completed a financial analysis of each school;
  • Boston Catholic Development Services was launched to provide improved collaboration, coordination and effectiveness in our fundraising efforts;
  • A comprehensive plan to address the long-term challenges of the lay pension plan was developed and enacted, meeting the Cardinal’s commitment to our lay staff;
  • Compensation and Vendor Disclosure, modeled after the Internal Revenue Service Form 990, is now included with the release of the annual report, providing greater visibility into RCAB compensation information;

2011 Catholic Appeal

Ms. Kathleen Driscoll, Secretary for Institutional Advancement for the Archdiocese of Boston, reported that the goal of the 2011 Appeal is $14M which represents an increase of 11% over the final 2010 Catholic Appeal amount of $13.0M. The 2010 Catholic Appeal ($13.0M) represents a decrease of 14% vs. Catholic Appeal 2009 ($15.0M). This 14% decrease in 2010 was due primarily to the slow recovery of the economy, whereas many non-profits experienced anywhere from 11% to 40% decline in donations.

First of all, we commend the archdiocese for releasing this comprehensive information.  It is more extensive than what is released by most, if not all, other dioceses.  It takes a lot of work to pull all of this together, and we agree with the archdiocese that this sort of transparency and accountability helps build trust.  It is also a good thing for people to all know and understand the challenges that lie ahead, and when one closely reviews the reports, those challenges are clear.

For today, we will just start by highlighting a few things that jumped out at us.

  • 2010 Catholic Appeal decrease of $2 million from 2009 to 2010.  We commend the archdiocese for finally releasing the number and acknowledging the 14% decrease.  (Somehow, the Boston Globe must have misread the news in their article, which originally said, “Contributions to the archdiocese’s big annual fund-raiser increased substantially.”  See screen capture to the right for the original version, as it will no doubt be corrected soon).The explanation given by the archdiocese for the drop–the “slow economy” and “declines in donations to many non-profits”–does not entirely hold water. Donations to Boston Catholic parishes held steady.  And donations to churches in the U.S. were actually up in 2010 according to multiple sources.We wonder why they did not cite the data referenced in this article in the NY Post dated April 9, 2011 :

“Defying secular trends and scandal, donations to churches are up, after slumping through the economic downturn. In fact, of the staggering $303 billion given by Americans in 2009 — accounting for 2.1 percent of GDP — about 33 percent was for religion, according to Giving USA. Nationwide, giving was up 43 percent last year compared with 35 percent in 2009, according to the State of the Plate Survey. Indeed, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ national collections are projected to total some $58 million for 2010, up from $56.6 million in 2009.New York and surrounding states led the nation — giving to churches rose 51 percent last year. The Archdiocese of New York’s Stewardship Appeal alone grew from some $15.58 million in 2008 to $17.76 million last year.”

  • Balanced budget was achieved in Central Ministries. Well, that all depends on how you define “balanced budget.”  Central ministries revenues = expenses on paper, but that does not account for how the archdiocese will pay back the $42 million in notes due to St. Johns Seminary, re-fund the $92.5 million that the clergy retirement fund needs for accrued clergy post-retirement and pension obligations, or come up with the $74 million that the lay pension plan needs to make up for its under-funded status.  That is more than $200 million in debt.  If paid back on a schedule over 10 years with zero interest, that would be a $20 million annual expense, which would seem to undermine the “balanced budget” claim just a little bit. For those people with home mortgages, can you consider yourself as having a “balanced budget” if you keep living in your home paying your food, clothing, and utilities bills, but fail to make a monthly mortgage payment for several years?
  • The bit about pay reductions of 5-10% for six-figure salaried executives (page 5 of the annual report itself) just does not check-out with the numbers.  It says: “When planning began for fiscal year 2010, we were faced with a cash flow deficit of almost $4 million given our fiscal year 2009 budgeted deficit of $2.3 million, an anticipated Appeal decline of $1.5 million and expected increases in employee benefit costs. To address this deficit, various budget reduction strategies were implemented including:
    • staffing decisions resulting in over 20 positions affected by lay-offs, freezing of open positions, transfer of staff to other diocesan entities, positions not filled after attrition and certain open positions kept unfilled;
    • no cost of living adjustments to staff;
    • pay reductions of between 5% and 10% on staff earning $100,000 or more per year”

In the 2009 report released in June of 2010, they said they had reduced salaries by those percentages in the prior year “until conditions permit restoration to their agreed upon salary.” [we erred in our earlier post].  Even if this reduction was extended through the 2010 year, the numbers still do not align with the words. Mary Grassa O’Neill was at $325,000 total compensation previously, and in this report, she is listed as earning “reportable compensation” of $320,426, plus “other compensation” of $28,946.  A decrease from $325K to $320.4K is only a drop of 1.4%.  Was she getting a whole lot more “other compensation” before that was not reported?  There are many other examples just like this we do not have time for today.

We know there is more that we need to get to.  Stay tuned for more next time.

Around the Archdiocese

April 9, 2011

A few big events took place around the archdiocese during the past week or so, and though several are covered in The Boston Pilot, we thought we would use this post to highlight a few of them.

1) 2011 Eucharistic Congress in the North End

This was the 4th annual Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults, held April 1-2 at Sacred Heart Church in the North End.  It drew over 400 people.  You can read about the talks and substance of the event in The Pilot.  What we most wanted to share with you are the beautiful photos of the eucharistic procession throughout the streets of the North End.  As The Pilot describes, attendees along with Cardinal O’Malley carried candles and processed with a monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul II through the North End.  Here are some of the photos taken by George Martell, hosted on Flikr.

2011 Eucharistic Congress - North End, Boston

2011 Eucharistic Congress - North End, Boston

2011 Eucharistic Congress - North End, Boston

2011 Eucharistic Congress - North End, Boston

2011 Eucharistic Congress - North End, Boston

2) Inner-City Scholarship Fund Annual Gala

This year’s Inner-City Scholarship Fund Dinner took place on March 31.  The event raised $2.4 million for need-based scholarships to inner-city students to attend area Catholic schools.   Here is a photo of Cardinal O’Malley at the event, along with (from left): Tom May, chief executive of NStar, Joseph Tucci, chief executive of EMC Corp., and event chairman Jack Connors Jr.

Coincidentally, the $2.4 M Jack helped raise for scholarships is almost exactly the same amount as the $2.5M the archdiocese gave from closed parish reconfiguration funds to Jack’s Trinity Academy in Brockton instead of using that money to repay obligations to the employee pension fund as previously promised. It is also, coincidentally, about the same amount as the shortfall between the $15 million the Catholic Appeal raised in 2009 vs the amount raised in 2010 by the new fundraising entity Jack and the Chancellor helped put together.  That is the entity that is supposed to be “independent and accountable” yet has still not publicly accounted for the 2010 Catholic Appeal  or the Catholic Schools Campaign 2010 Initiative months after the campaigns have ended.

3) Red Sox Opening Day

BCI was glad see the Sox finally won, and what better time for it than Opening Day at Fenway Park against the New York Yankees!

There were two places that people who work in the Pastoral Center could watch the game.  The rank-and-file enthusiastic baseball fans at the Pastoral Center watched the Sox play the Yankees on the big screen in the Pastoral Center Main Auditorium on Friday afternoon at 2:05pm.

If you were a level or two above the rank-and-file, such as Chancellor Jim McDonough, you would have enjoyed the opening day game wearing a red sweater from the comfort of the luxury box at Fenway Park.  We hope Jim enjoyed the game, and that the time out of the office watching the ballgame did not too badly interrupt his efforts to sit down and finally write that darned cover letter for the archdiocese’s 2010 annual report. Even Peter Meade’s dog knows the annual report has been done for a while now, and people are wondering if will take until June again to recycle last year’s cover letter and plug in the 2010 numbers so the report can be released.

Pension Tension

March 29, 2011

Tensions are escalating over the employee pension fund, and if you did not notice from the statement by the former Chancellor, David Smith and subsequent response by the archdiocese, there was a bit of a war of words going on yesterday.  As one might expect , the Archdiocese still fails to answer pointed questions and apparently has started their characteristic “smear campaign” in retaliation when someone raises public criticism they do not like.   Here are a few highlights from the fireworks:

Article in today’s Boston Globe:Church is faulted on handling of pensions.”  There are not really any new insights here.

“My concern is that there are 10,000 people out here who have worked their whole lives for the church for submarket wages, and those people are being put at risk,’’ Smith said.

He also said the archdiocese is overstating the value of the lump sum payments.

Smith also said that the archdiocese is taking advantage of the fact that church plans are not held to strict federal standards, which apply to most pension plans and which prohibit pension funds from asking employees to accept a reduced benefit.

Even if the church does not have a legal obligation to follow federal guidelines, he said, it has a moral responsibility to do so.

O’Malley should “simply stand up and publicly say on television that this is the full faith and credit of the diocese and every single person will get every dollar they’re due,’’ Smith said.

Before yesterday’s press conference, Smith met with a group of about 15 current and former employees of the archdiocese whom he provocatively dubbed “Boston Pension Abuse Victims.’’

Most of the employees declined to speak to the press. But one former administrator for the archdiocese who would give only her first name, Karen, said she had worked for the archdiocese for 22 years. Her lump sum payment would amount to about half of her former annual salary, but she is nervous about leaving it on the table.  “They’re making a threat that it may not be there,’’ she said.

In an interview yesterday, the current archdiocesan chancellor, James P. McDonough, said it is “the cardinal’s goal and the pension trustees’ goal to fully fund the pensions, but neither the cardinal nor the trustees can predict what will happen over the next 30 years.’’

Carol Gustavson, director of benefit trusts and plan administrator for the archdiocese, said the plan has been carefully reviewed by lawyers and actuaries to make sure it complies with the law.

Yes, Jim and Carol, it may comply with the law (because the law does not govern church plans), but does what you are doing comply with past promises made by the Archdiocese of Boston to employees and the Catholic faithful?  Is it correct on an ethical and moral basis to have the Catholic Church reneg on a promise made to the Catholic faithful like this?  Why will no one from the archdiocese acknowledge the promise made by Cardinal O’Malley in 2004 to repay $5 million still owed to the pension plan by closed parishes and to be repaid from reconfiguration funds? Why won’t the Chancellor at least add that $5 million to the pool of funds and recalculate all of the lump-sum payouts?  Why is no one explaining why $2.5 million of reconfiguration funds that was promised to first repay pension obligations was instead diverted to Jack Connors’ Trinity Academy project in Brockton?  The next time a reporter talks to Terry, could you ask him that question?  Terry, Jim, and Carol, next time you make a statement, could you comment on that?

Then there is the smear campaign.

Terry Donilon, criticized the former chancellor for there not being balanced budgets during his tenure, with no context for the financial freefall that followed the clergy sexual abuse crisis which Terry, of course, never had to deal with because he was doing PR at Shaws Supermarkets at the time.  Terry’s predecessor, who made somewhere in the range of $50-65K less/year than Terry is paid today, walked into her job thinking she was doing proactive PR for the good works of the archdiocese and Catholic Church in Boston, and instead found the sexual abuse crisis hitting weeks later.

In a WBUR interview, Terry continued the smear campaign.  The WBUR reporter discussed the objective downsides of the offer to retirees (listen at 2:35):

“I’ve talked to tax experts who say this is a problem because it could open the person receiving this lump sum up for a large tax bill, in addition, they’re reducing the amount that they get because they’re taking it earlier in their retirement, and in addition, they’re absorbing the losses for the plan suffered. One tax expert said,  ‘It’s a surprising idea to come from a Church.’ “

The response by Terry Donilon from the archdiocese (listen at 2:48):

“I don’t know what planet David Smith is living on.  What we’re doing is a very responsible transparent, and fair way of trying to protect the beneficiaries. We are living in extreme and extraordinary times.”

The reporter went on to say (3:30) that “Terry, really just attacked David Smith’s track record as chancellor of the archdiocese.”

Nice job, Terry, of upholding the “highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity.”By the way, if you are being transparent, how’s about explaining what happened to the $5M owed by closed parishes the Cardinal promised would be repaid from reconfiguration funds?

We are waiting now to see what Attorney General Martha Coakley and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin are going to do.  Do not all hold your breath at once waiting for their response. In the meantime, we think the failure to repay this $5M as promised and the redirection of reconfiguration funds to Brockton’s Trinity Academy constitutes “Abuse of, or Fraud with Benefits”, which would be a violation of the new Code of Conduct Policy.  Anyone who cares about this issue and wants to do something about it immediately can submit an Ethicspoint claim here and see what happens. All the information you need to reference is here.  Former employees, current employees, priests, religious, or any concerned Catholic can file a claim, and is set-up so you can file the claim anonymously.

Lastly, as reported in the media, the Daughters of St Paul and the Archdiocese sit with a mediator today to see if the issues that motivated their lawsuit against the archdiocese can be resolved.   Comedian and talk show host, Conan O’Brien mentioned the lawsuit by the Daughters in one of his monologues last week.  Here is a link to the video. (fast forward to 4:00 for the 20-second part about the Daughters).

Even if what they are doing is technically “legal,” does anyone believe it is correct ethically and morally for the Catholic archdiocese to summarily abandon their promises made to long-time dedicated Catholic employees and publicly position it as though they are somehow doing the right thing?

Former archdiocesan official blasts church’s pension plan oversight

March 28, 2011

It is shaping up to be a mighty interesting week here in the Archdiocese of Boston.  If you have not yet read our post from this morning, “Dishonest Diocese,” give that a read when you can.

Meanwhile, our email is abuzz with the headline in a news story at “Former archdiocesan official blasts church’s pension plan oversight.”  Here are a few excerpts from the article, which describes how the previous chancellor, David Smith, is blasting the church’s oversight of pensions for retired lay church workers:

Today’s critique, by former archdiocesan chancellor David W. Smith, makes public long-simmering tension between Smith and his former employer, the Archdiocese of Boston. Smith said he would meet today with the offices of Secretary of State William Galvin and Attorney General Martha Coakley, asking them to look into the pension funds, and that he would also ask the IRS to investigate.

Smith also said he plans to meet today with a group he has provocatively dubbed “Boston Pension Abuse Victims.” He plans to hold a news conference in Newton this afternoon.

Smith says the archdiocese, which is in the process of freezing its pension plan for lay employees and transitioning to a 401(k)-style plan, is trying to get past and present employees “to choose to forfeit their pension benefits in exchange for a grossly inadequate one-time payout.”

Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, reacted angrily to Smith’s criticisms.

“It’s outrageous — when David Smith was chancellor, we were running annual deficits and we are now running a balanced budget,” Donilon said. “If he wants to get into a give and take about his performance as chancellor, which included serving as a trustee of the plan, I’m sure a lot of people would like to do that. But we have prepared a good plan to address the lay pension plan for the future.”

Comments from Terry Donilon like this make our blood boil here at BCI. Feels like our first Code of Conduct policy violation for failing to uphold the “highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity.”  BCI was obviously not blogging back during the tenure of Chancellor David Smith, but it does not take a brain surgeon or relative of the politically-powerful Donilon family to remember how donations to the Cardinal’s Appeal (later renamed the Catholic Appeal) had plummeted in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis of 2002 and calls by people like Jack Connors to hold back on donating. But, Terry conveniently neglected to mention that as a contributing cause for the previous annual deficits. There is more

To get to what Terry is calling a “balanced budget,” the archdiocese is coincidentally leaving out about $200 million in debt they have not figured out how to repay, and whose annual cost could and should be treated as a debit/expense that would make the current budget “unbalanced”:

  • The Cardinal is breaking his own written promise to repay $5M to the lay employee pension plan from closed parishes and the archdiocese is leaving that pension plan underfunded in total by $70M.
  • They are technically in default of a payment of $5M due January 1, 2011 to St. Johns Seminary and have no plan for how to repay the other $36M owed.
  • The clergy retirement fund is down by around $95 million at last count.
  • And no explanation has been given for how the 2011 budget–that was “balanced” assuming they raised a minimum of $14 million from the  Catholic Appeal–will make do with just $12.5 million apparently raised in 2010. Oops, I forgot, they do not want to tell us about the 2010 results despite the pledges to operate fundraising and fiscal operations with “accountability” and “transparency.”

We will have more to say about this in a subsequent post.  We hope the next time mainstream reporters talk to Terry, they will ask him about these details, and whether he considers his deceptive comments to be consistent with “highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity.”

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