NEWSFLASH: Cardinal O’Malley named to Vatican Reform Committee

April 13, 2013

Today, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has set up a committee of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on how to reform the Roman Curia. Cardinal Sean O’Malley is one of the eight.  Here is the Vatican statement:

The Holy Father Francis, taking up a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregations preceding the Conclave, has established a group of cardinals to advise him in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, ‘Pastor Bonus’.

The group consists of:

– Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State;
– Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile;
– Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India;
– Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany;
– Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo;
– Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, USA;
– Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia;
– Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; and
– Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary.

The group’s first meeting has been scheduled for 1-3 October 2013. His Holiness is, however, currently in contact with the aforementioned cardinals.

News reports say that the committee will advise Pope Francis on how to reform the Catholic Church’s “troubled central administration.”  Reports say, “The basic failings of the Curia were aired, sometimes passionately, at closed-door meetings of cardinals before they retired into the conclave that elected Francis.”

BCI finds it ironic that Cardinal O’Malley has been appointed to a committee to reform the Roman Curia, when his own central administration is troubled and he has failed to effectively govern and reform it for the past decade.  Someone just suggested to BCI that Cardinal O’Malley serving on a committee to help reform the Roman Curia would be kind of like Hillary Clinton serving on a committee to help reform international embassy security.

In Boston, for nearly 3 years we have been documenting the ongoing problems of:

  • Nearly $4M annually in excessive six-figure salaries paid to lay executives
  • Moving around of funds from originally designated purposes to someplace else
  • Skyrocketing administrative expenses
  • Cronyism in hiring
  • Deception in communications and in policy making
  • Retention of Finance Council members and key advisers to the Cardinal who work against Catholic Church teachings
  • Routine violations of the archdiocesan Code of Conduct
  • Incompetence by high paid cabinet members
  • Draining of capital reserves to pay operating expenses
  • $140M in unpaid debt, with no plan to be able to repay the debt
  • 34% decline in Mass attendance between 2000 and 2012
  • 40-50% of parishes operating in the red
  • Abdication of leadership by Cardinal O’Malley and a failure by him to teach through his actions and words.

Other than those minor matters, everything is just great in Boston.  Just a few of these problems are described in this recent blog post.

As Cardinal O’Malley embarks on this new assignment, we humbly put forward the Gospel of Matthew 7:3-5:

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite,remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.

We hope and pray that Cardinal O’Malley takes time during the next 5-6 months before the Vatican committee meets to first clean up the house in Boston and remove some of the largest wooden beams here.


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?


Conclave Commentary: Did Cardinal Violate Oath of Secrecy?

March 16, 2013

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

Comments from Cardinal O’Malley and Others After the Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

At lunch, O’Malley sat down besides Bergoglio.

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Boston Catholic Media and PR/Communications at the Conclave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have one word for the above. Pathetic.

Another American Pope Candidate Embraces the Far Left

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

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

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


New Pope: Cardinal Bergoglio is Pope Francis

March 13, 2013

Here is the latest news:

Surprise decision.

The archbishop of Buenos Aires is a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus and has a practical approach to poverty: when he was appointed a cardinal, Bergoglio persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but instead to give the money they would have spent on plane tickets to the poor. He was a fierce opponent of Argentina’s decision to legalise gay marriage in 2010, arguing children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother. He was created a cardinal by John Paul II on 21 February 2001.

This Feb. 14, 2013 photo shows Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio leading a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

More later…


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