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 <nuntiususa@nuntiususa.org> 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?

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Cardinal Sean O’Malley: Fact and Fiction about his Papability

March 10, 2013

The international buzz about Cardinal Sean O’Malley has a few facts correct and a lot of them missing or wrong.

A lot of people are confusing style with substance. In this post, we try to lay out everything as best we can, so you, the reader, can separate fact from fiction. By the end of the post, you will have a summary of the experiences in Boston over the recent years of Cardinal O’Malley’s tenure.

We start with a discussion about what folks are reporting the Cardinals are looking for in the next Pope, then the positive references cited about Cardinal O’Malley, then the facts, results, and wrong or missing information about his track record in Boston in the areas of teaching and governing.

Attributes Cardinals Say We Need in Next Pope

The key attributes we keep hearing repeatedly quoted in the press as desirable for the next pope are the following:

  • Great governance, leadership and managerial skills: to shake-up and overhaul a Vatican curia tainted by internal political infighting and the “Vatileaks” scandal, restore financial transparency to the Catholic Church’s operations and assemble a solid team of people around him to support his teaching and apostolic ministry
  • Great teaching skills—someone who can proclaim the Gospel and truths of our faith to all people, in-season and out-of-season, and who teaches not just by his words but also by his actions.
  • Great communication and evangelization skills: somebody with the charisma and communication skills to attract new members to the flock, inspire young people, and communicate the truths of the faith and joy of living their faith.
  • Holiness—a man who has lived a life of holiness, and who has deep faith and a deep prayer life and who can lead others to holiness
  • Multi-lingual and multicultural skills: someone who can relate well to the universal church and is sensitive to the transition of Christianity from a primarily European and North American faith experience  to one that has spread across Africa, South America  (40% of the world’s Catholics now live in Latin America) and the Pacific rim
  • Track record of effectively dealing with the problem of clergy sexual abuse, and putting in-place strong policies to deal with the problem

Positives Cited About Cardinal O’Malley

  • Humility: member of Capuchin order, an offshoot of the Franciscans known for service to the poor; has calm, pastoral manner; wears brown Franciscan robe and sandals; sold Cardinal’s residence after arriving in Boston to pay off debts, seems uninterested in the trappings of high religious office
  • Reputation for being strong dealing with clergy sexual abuse: came into difficult situation in Boston; seen as good at fixing this problem in multiple dioceses, one of the first bishops to introduce a “zero tolerance” policy towards priests who sexually abused children
  • Technology-savvy with communications: regarded as representing a more modern face of the church, largely because he maintains his own blog (www.cardinalseansblog.org) and Tweets
  • Multi-lingual and multi-cultural: has a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese literature, speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Creole; founded the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington, DC where he ministered to Latinos, an organization which helps immigrants to the United States.
  • Committed to the Pro-life cause: preaches against abortion, viewed by many as theologically orthodox

The Facts About Cardinal O’Malley’s Record in Boston

We focus in this blog post just on a few of the attributes that Cardinals are quoted as looking for in the next Pope—strong governance/management and teaching. We will reference specific examples as we go, and focus on the actual results of what has happened in Boston on the ground, rather than the PR spin and what the Boston Archdiocese spin-meisters would have people believe.

At the beginning of Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s tenure in Boston (starting July 30, 2003) and through the initial 2-3 years, most people were excited and optimistic. He inspired with his first homily and initial comments about how St. Francis was called to “rebuild my church.”  He decided to not live in the previous Cardinal’s residence, opting for smaller quarters at the Cathedral rectory.  The large number of sexual abuse claims were settled. Much needed reforms at St. Johns Seminary progressed under the leadership of then-Rector Fr. John Farren. He preached against abortion and publicly campaigned against “same-sex marriage.”

Then several things happened. A diocesan-wide parish reconfiguration effort was undertaken which resulted in 62 parishes closing or merging. And Cardinal O’Malley brought in a new team of advisors and lay senior exec cabinet secretaries. Most were paid on the order of tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars more annually than their predecessors (and than their peers earn in other dioceses), and many had records of publicly opposing Catholic Church teachings in various ways or not even being Catholic.  If anyone thinks Cardinal O’Malley is the right person to shake-up a corrupt and politicized Roman curia and get the Roman Catholic Church globally in better shape, they should think again and look more closely at the Boston results on the ground.

1) Mass Attendance is Down Dramatically

One of the errors propagated in the press is that Mass attendance is up in Boston under Cardinal O’Malley.  This article in Lastampa implied that by saying, “faithful are returning to Church.” That is false.   The reality is that Mass attendance dropped by 23% between 2000 to 2009.  Between 2000 and 2012, it dropped by 34%, from 376,000 to 245,000.

This 2011 article from Catholic News Agency gives stats through 2009.

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

This 2011 Boston Globe article gives more stats:

“In the Boston Archdiocese, weekly Mass attendance has plunged from 376,383 in 2000 to 286,951 in 2009, according to the church’s annual count.”

Today fewer than 16 percent of Boston’s 1.8 million Catholics attend Mass weekly.According to other statistics published by the Boston Archdiocese in the Boston Catholic Directory, between 2006 and 2012, Mass attendance dropped from 280,000 to 245,000–a 12.5% drop in just the past 5-6 years.

2) Fiscal Management: Debt

The Boston Archdiocese is nearly $140M in debt, with no way in sight or in the plans of repaying the debts to St. Johns Seminary and the Clergy Funds. They ran an $11M operating deficit over the past 2 years.

3) Fiscal Management: Deception over “Balanced Budget” vs Operational Deficit

Some publications opining favorably on Cardinal O’Malley’s track record in Boston think that Boston has had a balanced budget in recent years.  It is true that the Boston Archdiocese announced they had a “balanced budget” in 2011 and 2012, but unfortunately, that was a flat out lie.

Here are press pickups of the announcements  for the 2010 and 2011 years. We hear Cardinal O’Malley said, “The Archdiocese of Boston has greatly benefited by the financial management of recent years that has achieved and sustained a balanced budget.”

The problem is, that statement was false. Look at the financial reports by following the links referenced here for the 2012 fiscal year, and here for the 2011 fiscal year:

Despite a “balanced budget” announced for the 2011 fiscal year, the recently released 2012 financial statements show (page 24, and page 73–Column 2) that the Central Operations of the archdiocese had an operating loss of $6.8 million in 2012 and $6.3M in 2011 (page 24). BCI pointed out the deception last year, and at least this year, they did not say they achieved a balanced budget–they just said they had a goal of having one.

4) Fiscal Management: Excessive Compensation and Poor Stewardship of Donor Funds

The top 16 lay executives are paid an outrageous $3.7M in salaries and benefits in the past year. This was covered in the mainstream media last year in “Up in Alms Over  Salaries.” 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.

5) Financial Health of Boston parishes

40-50% of parishes are in the red and cannot pay their bills.

6) Financial Management: Capital Reserves

How are capital reserves? They have been drained in the past six years. 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?

7) Deception over Catholic Schools Policy to Admit Children of Homosexual Parents

The basis for a 2011 Boston Catholic Schools policy to formally admit children of homosexual parents was a massive deception.

As many people know, in May 2010, a Hingham, MA pastor rejected admission to his parish Catholic school for the child of two lesbians. It created a national uproar at the same time Cardinal O’Malley was away in Portugal. His Catholic Schools office declared that the pastor was wrong and not acting consistent with archdiocesan policy:

“The archdiocese does not prohibit children of same-sex parents from attending Catholic schools,” said Mary Grassa O’Neill, the archdiocese’s secretary for education and superintendent of Catholic schools. “We will work in the coming weeks to develop a policy to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future.”

The Archdiocese of Denver, then under Archbishop Chaput, had a policy which, for the good of the child, did NOT allow children of homosexual parents in Catholic schools, and Boston was supposed to have studied the Denver policy as part of forming their new policy. That never happened. Months later, the archdiocese released their policy with the first words being a blatant lie.

“In creating this policy we are guided by the words of the Holy Father, by Canon Law and by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops”

The problem is they were guided by their OWN INTERNAL decision to admit children of homosexual parents, not at all by the words of the Holy Father.  At the September 2010 Presbyteral Council meeting with Cardinal O’Malley, Schools Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill told clergy that her committee had looked at the choices–either they “would discriminate” in admission policy for Catholic Schools against children of homosexual parents or they “would not discriminate”–and they simply chose “we would not discriminate.”  Then they went and found citations that would give the appearance of supporting their conclusion. In reality, the words they cited –and were supposedly inspired by–were wildly out of context and could not possibly have provided inspiration if read in context. The policy cited this:

“No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.” Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Catholic Educators in Washington DC. April 17, 2008.

The context by the Holy Father was an exhortation to get people to contribute generously to the financial needs of Catholic schools so Catholic school education would available to students of all financial means. He had spoken about the sacrifices of so many that set the foundation for a network of Catholic Schools. He said:

“Countless dedicated Religious Sisters, Brothers, and Priests together with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society. This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.”

This deception undermines the ability for faithful Catholics to trust both the Cardinal and his Superintendent of Schools.

8) The People Cardinal O’Malley Surrounds Himself With

In his most recent Boston Globe interview, Cardinal O’Malley said that governance of the Vatican, is also an ­issue. “We want the Holy Father to have a good team of people around him in a way that will support his ministry and allow him to focus on his teaching office, which we see as so important,” he said.

How has he, himself done in this area?  Not well at all. 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 he has brought in himself whose actions in many cases show 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.

Consider just two of his many appointees:

Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Social Services
This piece, The Eminence Grise, explains many of the problems. Fr. Hehir has had his fingers in nearly every public scandal or fiasco since he returned to Boston to work for Cardinal O’Malley in 2004:

  • Commending the “intelligent and courageous leadership” of the Catholic Health Association in 2010 for their role in passing the abortion-funding Obamacare and undermining the authority and voice of the U.S. bishops  at the same time the U.S. bishops were criticizing the CHA for their actions that were a “wound to Catholic unity”
  • Honoring the pro-abortion Mayor Thomas Menino at a 2005 Catholic Charities fundraiser
  • Inserting himself into decisions on parish reconfiguration of 2004 and mucking-up that process, including keeping some parishes open slated to be closed and 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 Cardinal O’Malley to attend the Ted Kennedy coronation funeral
  • Engaging and keeping as an advisor, Jack Connors, despite his involvement raising tens of millions of dollars for pro-abortion Democratic politicians
  • Being involved in the initial Caritas/Centene deal that would have had Caritas profiting from referrals to abortion services
  • and the list goes on.

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. Here are other examples:

This piece, Matthew, MARX, Luke and John: Marxism in the Catholic Church, gives just a piece of the picture:

Father J. Bryan Hehir, who in 1983 delivered a series of lectures at the far-left Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) entitled, “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” illustrates the continuing left-wing drift of the Catholic Church…The Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive-socialist-Marxist think tank based in Washington, D.C…spawned or established alliances with other Marxist groups. When assembled together in a vast Left-wing network, these progressive-socialist-Marxist “shining stars,” as the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) calls them, present an all-encompassing solar system of radical organizations. With ties to communist regimes in Havana and Hanoi, the IPS has been at the center of this network for many years…

This presentation from Religious Left Exposed gives more details, as does this blog post.  Hehir’s course on “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John: Theology of the Oppressed” taught attendees about liberation theologies and discussed “ancient and medieval precedents of peasant insurgency and rebellion, along with topics such as “the future of the Christian alliance with Marxism.” Another speaker in the 1983 series was the radical lesbian feminist theologian, Mary Hunt.  Hehir also spoke with her on a panel in a 2002 program at Regis College, where he said, “in 20th century Catholicism, teachings on sexuality have been “a chronically afflicted area.”  You can read more about that program and Mary Hunt here.

Yet despite many people telling Cardinal O’Malley he should remove 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, 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 or any efforts to communicate Catholic moral views in the public square and political process.

Jack Connors

Cardinal O’Malley is closely allied with this multi-millionaire businessman who, while sitting on the Archdiocesan Finance Council responsible for fund-raising, is working against the Catholic Church by raising tens of millions of dollars for anti-Catholic pro-abortion politicians like Obama and by actively supporting medical centers that perform abortions (Partners Healthcare, where he was chairman) or training medical personnel to perform abortions.  To read all of our pieces that mention the scandalous association with Jack Connors, click here.  Meanwhile, the Boston Archdiocese has a “Code of Conduct” that says, “Church Personnel will continually and objectively examine and evaluate their own actions and intentions to ensure that their behavior promotes the welfare of the Archdiocese and each applicable Archdiocesan Affiliated Organization and exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.”How does raising money for Obama and giving personal funds to support abortion-on-demand promote the welfare of the Archdiocese and exemplify the moral traditions of the Church. If Cardinal O’Malley feels OK keeping him around as a key advisor despite the scandal, then who would he bring in to advise him in the Vatican?

Add to the above, the sham searches and hiring of people like Terry Donilon, former Chancellor Jim McDonough, overpaid Exec. Director of Benefits and ex-Catholic Carol Gustavson ($166K), overpaid Schools Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill ($341K/year), overpaid General Counsel Beirne Lovely ($300K+/year), Obama and Joe-Biden supporting PR firm Rasky Baerlein and it is no surprise we have the mess we do.  It is said in Latin, qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent. (“He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas”).

9) Scandalous Ted Kennedy Funeral, Failure to Teach through Actions and Words

The participation of Cardinal O’Malley in the Kennedy coronation-style funeral with its celebrity eulogies and politicized prayers of the faithful created grave scandal and gave pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians massive air-cover and justification to believe they can oppose Church teachings and still be a considered a “good Catholic.” His subsequent blog post where he gushed over the funeral ceremony, praised Kennedy, criticized pro-life Catholics, failed to acknowledge the problems with the funeral liturgy he presided over and failed to teach the truth about Kennedy’s sinful support for abortion created additional scandal. It showed Cardinal O’Malley clearly failing to teach through both actions and words.  Read the comments on this January 2013 National Catholic Register article or watch this Vortex.

Is this sort of failed and confused teaching what we can afford in the next Pontiff?

10) Deception Around Maintaining Catholic Identity at Caritas Christi Healthcare after Sale to Cerberus

When Caritas Christi was sold to Cerberus, the premise and promise in the stewardship agreement that set out conditions of the sale was to preserve the Catholic identity of the hospitals forever.

Christopher Murphy, a spokesman for the network, said the stewardship agreement would be designed to permanently maintain the hospital’s Catholic identity….“The main point is that it’s designed to last forever,” he said. “That’s the prevailing hope of everyone involved, that . . . the Catholic tradition of Caritas Christi stays in place forever.”  (Boston Globe, April 28, 2010)

“The Stewardship Agreement memorializes Steward’s commitment to maintain the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi Healthcare system and its fidelity to the mission of the Church’s healthcare ministry.” (Fr. Richard Erikson, Vicar General, The Boston Pilot, May 14, 2010)

“We announced yesterday that an agreement has been reached with Cerberus that ensures the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi hospitals… this stewardship agreement was a key component for us because it will preserve the Catholic identity of Caritas.” (Cardinal Seans blog, May 7, 2010)

That was before we learned–late in the game–about the buyout clause that allowed the new owner to drop the Catholic identity after just three years for $25 million. See “In Hospital Deal, How Much Is a Catholic Identity Worth? Just 3%“.

This is yet another example of the spin and style communicated one thing, while the substance behind it was not there.

11) Deception over Lay Pension Plans and Failure to Follow Through on Promise

Between 2010-2011, a huge controversy erupted when the Boston Archdiocese decided to cut lay pension plan benefits to current and former employees. The unfunded pension liability was in the range of $70-75 million. We covered this extensively in this series. Pension Plan trustees were accused of breach of fiduciary responsibility with a request by the former Chancellor that they be removed. You can also read more in this National Catholic Register article. The archdiocese was sued over the pension matter by the Daughters of St. Paul, and the Cardinal retaliated in a move that resulted in a change in provincial leadership for the religious sisters. To mitigate the firestorm of controversy, Cardinal O’Malley issued a statement where he reaffirmed his commitment to the pension plan.

“As long as I have breath in me, I will do everything in my power to care for the thousands of people who have given their lives in the service of the Church,” the cardinal said in a March 30 statement to The Pilot.

The problem is, in the 2 years since then, the Cardinal still has breath in him for his press briefings and Vatican media campaign, yet his team have done nothing to follow through on his promise. Nothing has been done to re-fund the 70-some million-dollar pension plan obligation they backed out of, and the amount owed to the beneficiaries is nowhere even on the books as a debt to be repaid.

12) Energy, Motivation and Intestinal Fortitude for the Job

How does Cardinal O’Malley handle the load of his existing role?  Not well. When Parish Reconfiguration was underway in 2004-2005–an initiative where he had a committee doing everything and never met with closing parishes or even celebrated Masses at closing parishes–we all know how he wrote this  2004 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.”  If he was sufficiently depressed and uninspired to handle the challenges of his job in Boston, is he really up to the job of being Pope?

There is much more we could cover but we will pause for now.  The bottom line is that a lot of journalists and pundits are opining on the papability of Cardinal O’Malley without all of the facts. Cardinal O’Malley and his team and colleagues may actually believe he would make a good pope.  We hope and pray that all involved consider both the good about Cardinal O’Malley and the shortcomings.

If the biggest tasks at hand for the new Holy Father require great skills in governance/leadership/management to shake-up and overhaul the Vatican curia, and great teaching skills to clearly proclaim the Gospel and truths of our faith to all people, in-season and out-of-season with both words and actions, it should be clear that Cardinal Sean O’Malley is not the right man for the job.

We pray that the Holy Spirit guide the Cardinal electors to choose a next Pope who is truly a Vicar of Christ who will lead and guide the Church to achieve her mission of salvation.


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.

Kairos

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.

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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)gmail.com 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.


Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

February 12, 2013

BCI was shocked, as everyone in the world was, over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  We have nothing new to add about the surprise factor that other commentators have not already said, or the concerns to Catholics about him abdicating.

We restate the Holy Father’s words:

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

Here are a few articles and posts that may help put this decision in even further context:

Pope Benedict XVI told interviewer Peter Seewald in remarks published in “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” he would consider resigning for health reasons in 2010:

“If a pope clearly realises that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of an office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign…When the danger is great, one must not run away. For that reason, now is certainly not the time to resign…” though, “one can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from danger and say that someone else should do it.”

In that same interview, he also said:

 “I trust that our dear Lord will give me as much strength as I need to be able to do what is necessary. But I also notice that my forces are diminishing. It is correct that as Pope one has even more cause to pray and to entrust oneself entirely to God. For I see very well that almost everything I have to do is something I myself cannot do at all. That fact already forces me, so to speak, to place myself in the Lord’s hands and to say to him: “You do it, if you want it!” In this sense prayer and contact with God are now even more necessary and also even more natural and self-evident than before.

In 2009 and 2010, the Holy Father visited the tomb of a medieval Pope named St. Celestine V and a cathedral where he venerated relics of the saint. Celestine was elected to the papacy shortly before his 80th birthday, and was the first pope to abdicate the papacy. This article tells us a bit about Celestine V:

On July 4, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made his second trip to the earthquake-ravaged town of L’Aquila to venerate the relics of his long-ago predecessor, Pope and St. Celestine V, who died in 1296. Few predicted then that just a few years later, Benedict and Celestine would be locked together in history as the two popes who retired, theoretically voluntarily, because of their age.

Here is what Celestine wrote: “We, Celestine, Pope V, moved by legitimate reasons, that is to say for the sake of humility, of a better life and an unspotted conscience, of weakness of body and of want of knowledge, the malignity of the people, and personal infirmity, to recover the tranquility and consolation of our former life, do freely and voluntarily resign the pontificate.”

When Pope Benedict went to write his letter of resignation, there can be little doubt that he turned to Celestine’s example, the “papal bull” (official letter) from 1296 that affirmed the right of the pope to resign and the legal canons that followed codifying the practice. For the Catholic Church, those 13th-century words stand as relevant and legally valid.

Commenting on Celestine at the time, the Holy Father said:

“St. Celestine V was able to act according to his conscience in obedience to God, hence without fear and with great courage even in difficult moments … not fearing to lose his dignity but knowing that it consists in existing in truth.”

He also defended Celestine’s retreat into seclusion: “In his choice of the hermit life might there not have been individualism or an escape from responsibility? This temptation does of course exist. But in the experiences approved by the Church, the solitary life of prayer and penance is always at the service of the community, open to others,” Benedict said.

“Hermits and monasteries are oases and sources of spiritual life from which all may draw.”

The brother of the Holy Father, Georg Ratzinger said: “The decision was no surprise. “He has been thinking about it for several months. “He concluded that his powers are falling victim to age….he feels that a younger person is needed to deal with the problems of the times.”

Here are several other pieces you might find worthwhile reading:

On Pope Benedict’s Resignation, by Thomas More College President Fahey

Did the Wolves Win? Or Has the Holy Father Discovered a Way to Outsmart the Wolf Pack?

The Holy Father, in his own words and those told through his brother, is clearly, not giving up the fight, but is instead handing over the battle to  a younger pope more physically and mentally capable of fighting the fight against evil for the Roman Catholic Church.

What to do now?  As commentator, Michael Matt, said: “Pray incessantly for a younger but still tradition-minded successor who will attempt to carry on the reforms Pope Benedict was quite obviously prevented from continuing. May God help us all, and may He bless and protect his Church under siege from the world and in near total chaos internally. We pray for Pope Benedict, and ask our merciful God to watch over and protect him now and always.”

Stop the Scandal

May 18, 2011

In follow-up of our most recent post, “Continuing Connors Code of Conduct Conundrum” and the comments we received on it, we are giving readers a chance to voice their views on the matter to Cardinal O’Malley and the Holy See.

As readers know by now, Finance Council member, Jack Connors, is publicly supporting and raising money for pro-abortion politicians at the same time he is raising money for Catholic schools, has Finance Council oversight for archdiocesan fundraising and is influencing the direction of Catholic education. In the Boston Globe today (“Cash brings Obama back to town“) Jack said that after meeting Obama in 2007, he and his wife were “really impressed’’ and believe he has lived up to their expectations during his years in the White House. Connors said he believes the president has been a good role model.

As a reader commented in our previous post, this is not a matter of political/ideological labels such as “liberal” or “conservative.”  It is a matter of how we should live and practice the Catholic faith, and this also affects governance of the Church.  Though BCI may differ with the Cardinal and archdiocese on certain matters of governance, this is one area where–at least in principle–we do find commonality. Cardinal O’Malley has said that support for pro-abortion politicians “borders on scandal,” and the new Code of Conduct backs that position by saying that public and private conduct of church personnel must be consistent with Catholic Church teachings and exemplify the Church’s moral traditions.

Ensuring that Church leaders responsible for governance (or who influence governance) conduct themselves consistent with Church teachings and moral traditions is a sound practice as far as BCI is concerned.  That is not happening here.

If you are concerned about this situation and would like to ask Cardinal O’Malley and the Holy See to do something about it, please just click on the graphic to the right “Stop the Scandal” and you can write to Holy Father, Cardinal O’Malley, the Papal Nuncio, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, and the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  The text of the message is below:

I respectfully request that the Holy See help address the ongoing problem of moral scandal in the Boston Archdiocese.

On May 18, a Finance Council member with oversight for fundraising and influence over Catholic schools, Jack Connors, hosted a highly-publicized $2 million fundraiser for President Obama at his home. Obama has voted against banning partial birth abortion and commemorated Roe v Wade in January 2011 saying he is committed to protecting women’s “constitutional right” to an abortion. Connors has been quoted in newspapers recently saying that he and his wife were “both smitten” and “really impressed’’ after meeting Obama in 2007 and believe he has lived up to their expectations in the White House. In 2009, Connors publicly endorsed pro-abortion political candidate Attorney General Martha Coakley, and he is also chair of Partners Healthcare, whose Brigham and Women’s Hospital is one of the largest abortion providers in Massachusetts.

Although Cardinal O’Malley has said it is “bordering on scandal” for Catholics to support pro-abortion political candidates and a new archdiocesan code of conduct policy says the conduct of church personnel must be consistent with Catholic Church teachings and exemplify the Church’s moral traditions, Mr. Connors is allowed to continue in a prominent archdiocesan leadership and advisory role while publicly supporting pro-abortion candidates and while his Partners Healthcare profits from performing abortions. This scandalizes and undermines the faith of the people under the Archbishop of Boston’s pastoral care. It also affects the ability of the archdiocese to continue the Catholic Church’s good works and the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.

With the salvation of souls at stake, I respectfully request that you act decisively in whatever way you deem appropriate to address this grave concern.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

If you agree with this viewpoint, then please fill out the form with your name and address, click “Send the letter,” review your information, and click “Submit.”  If you do not agree with this viewpoint,  you simply need not fill out the form.

To BCI critics who feel this is an inappropriate topic for BCI to take up, we would simply reiterate the following.  The Catholic Church is a private organization and as part of good governance, it makes sense to us that Church leaders charged with governance should conduct themselves in a manner consistent with Church teachings that does not work against the moral traditions of the Church or against the mission of archdiocesan organizations.  If that is not happening or we have concerns we wish to raise, Canon. 212 §3 tells us the faithful “have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with  their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.”

That is what we are doing.


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