Fr. Bob VerEecke, formerly at St. Ignatius at Boston College, removed from pro-gay parish after ‘boundary violations’ with male parishioner

September 24, 2018

This story broke last week, but BCI missed it in the midst of the Walter Cuenin coverage. Jesuit Fr. Bob VerEecke was the pro-gay pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola parish in Chestnut Hill, MA for 27 years, until he left in June of 2016. He was replaced at St. Ignatius in MA by Fr. Joseph Constantino, who was previously pastor of the gay-friendly parish, St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan, from 2006-2013 (see below). In other words, the Jesuits more or less swapped the assignments of the two pro-gay pastors at their respective pro-gay parishes.

francisxavierrainbowflagSt. Francis Xavier in Manhattan, is a hotbed for pro-gay dissent and LGBT  activism. When same-sex “marriage” became legally recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, St. Francis Xavier Church’s Facebook page shared a photo of a rainbow flag draping the steps up to the altar.

Here’s are excerpts from the original report by LifeSiteNews, “Jesuit priest from pro-gay parish removed after ‘boundary violations’ with male parishioner.”

NEW YORK CITY, September 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Jesuit priest at a well-known pro-homosexual Manhattan parish has been removed as pastor for “boundary violations” with “an adult male who attended the parish.”

Fr. Bob VerEecke has been removed as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church and restricted “from the exercise of public sacramental ministry,” according to a September 15 letter from Jesuit superior John Cecero read out at parish Masses last weekend.

A letter from acting pastor Fr. Daniel Corrou posted on St. Francis Xavier website Tuesday revealed the allegations concerned “a recent, unwanted and inappropriate conversation and attention of a sexual nature toward an adult male who attended the parish.”

Corrou wrote that “there was nothing criminal about this interaction” and that VerEecke “agreed that the incident took place, acknowledges his lack of good judgement, and is sorry for the incident.”

This confirms the September 15 letter from Cecero, superior of the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus.

“About a week ago, the Archdiocese of New York communicated to me complaints by an adult of boundary violations by Fr. VerEecke. I reviewed these complaints with Fr. VerEecke, and he acknowledges a lack of good judgment in his behaviour,” Cecero wrote.

“Consistent with our Province Ethics in Ministry policies, I am removing Fr. VerEecke from the Church of St. Francis Xavier and restricting him from the exercise of public sacramental ministry. I anticipate that many of you will share my regret in taking this action, but we as a Church have learned the hard way that boundary violations must be met with a swift and decisive response from church leadership.”

St. Francis Xavier is notorious for its support of the LGBT agenda, hosting regular meetings for Catholic Lesbians and Gay Catholics. It draped a rainbow flag on the altar steps after the Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” and in conjunction with the city’s Pride event, Church Militant reported in June 2015.

The parish traditionally marches in the NYC Pride Parade, which was organized this year by parish staff Robert Choiniere, doctoral student at Fordham University, and co-producer of “docudrama” Full of Grace: The lives of LGBT Catholics.

“Celebrating Pride is about as Catholic as you can get,” Choiniere, who appears holding a rainbow umbrella on a New Ways Ministry report on LGBT Catholics in Dublin for the World Meeting of Families, wrote in the June 24 parish bulletin.

“St. Francis Xavier has been a shining example for many decades of this truth…The sacred procession of Pride is a proclamation of our identity as Children of God,” he wrote.

Indeed, New Ways Ministry, a dissident group that lobbies the Catholic Church to accept homosexuality, lists St. Francis Xavier as one of its “LGBT friendly” parishes.

Jesuit Fr. James Martin, who has been lobbying the Church to normalize homosexuality, is scheduled to speak at the parish October 3.

Martin, “friend of Xavier was present at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin,” will speak on “how the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community can enter into a relationship of respect, compassion and sensitivity,” the parish website says.

“Jim will be at Xavier to speak about his experience in Dublin in light of recent painful events in the church,” the announcement says.

Known as “the dancing priest,” VerEecke has choreographed numerous liturgical dances.

In June last year, VerEecke led parishioners of St. Francis Xavier in a “wave” as he danced in the sanctuary, and several young women swirled around in front of him to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang.

VerEecke was known for his kooky liturgical dance and other pro-gay advocacy while at St. Ignatius in Chestnut Hill, MA.. Beyond the tragedy of what VerEecke did, there’s another scandal.  Cardinal Sean O’Malley welcomed the previous pastor from St. Francis Xavier to be the new pastor at St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Archdiocese of Boston. Surely he knew about his gay advocacy at his parish in New York before accepting the appointment. Here’s what Church Militant reported in 2015 in “NY CHURCH DRAPES ALTAR STEPS WITH GAY FLAG”:

MANHATTAN, June 29, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – A Catholic church in New York City has posted a photo of its altar steps draped in the rainbow flag.

Saint Francis Xavier, known as a bastion for gay Catholics, has a reputation for gay activism, with members regularly marching in the city’s gay pride parade.

The photo was posted on the parish’s Facebook page on June 27, the day right after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its revolutionary decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” in all 50 states, and during the weekend of gay pride festivities in New York City.

The pastor once wrote a parish bulletin encouraging the Church to rethink its teachings on homosexuality, and the parish hosts regular meetings for Catholic Lesbians and Gay Catholics, as well as a Zen Meditation group. Although the Courage apostolate — the only Church-approved ministry to Catholics with same-sex attraction — is headquartered in New York City, the parish has yet to welcome the orthodox apostolate there.

Cardinal O’Malley should be asked why he freely accepted the appointment of Fr. Constantino to be pastor of St. Ignatius, given his history.

And does anyone else think the Fr. VerEecke story sounds just a little bit similar to what we reported about Fr. Walter Cuenin’s unwelcome advances on a male Brandeis student and Terry Donilon’s “non-denial denial“?  He said there was no charge of molestation (which we knew), and then he said no allegation of molestation — which was merely a parsing of words — but would he agree that it was an unwelcome sexual advance after the victim had been plied with alcohol and was unable to say no?

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Boston Diocesan Denial and Deception by Donilon

September 19, 2018

In our last post, Why Did Cardinal O’Malley Cover-Up Gay Abuse Scandal?, we shared insider news about Fr. Walter Cuenin’s scandalous actions that got him removed from Brandeis in early 2015, as well as the cover-up by Cardinal O’Malley, other archdiocesan officials, and senior Brandeis officials,  Despite the fact that an archdiocesan official confirmed the key points before BCI posted the story,  Secretary for Communications, Terry Donilon, has been parsing words to try and deny the story to reporters and also discredit BCI.  That’s been his modus operandi for years. Today we’re going to debunk his response and ask readers for help expose this scandalous situation.

First, a quick note about Terry Donilon. He came into his position – where he is paid nearly $200K in salary and benefits – as the result of a rigged search (see BCI post “Sham Search: Terry Donilon” and do read the comments)  Ann Carter, then CEO of PR firm Rasky Baerlein, led the “search.”  Beyond the obvious conflict of interest of an archdiocesan vendor hiring the person who would manage their services and decide on their continuing employment, the founder and then-Chairman of the firm was Larry Rasky, who had known the Donilon family for years from his political work starting with the Joe Biden campaign back in 1988. Terry needed a job when he left Shaw’s Supermarkets. Resumes of far superior candidates interested in the job never made it to the full search committee. Terry’s is known to be spelling and writing-challenged, and most press releases or statements from him have required the proof-reading and spin of Fr. Bryan Hehir and/or outside PR folks.

Oh, and he also is comfortable deceiving to deflect attention from the truth.  Back in 2010, BCI accurately reported about another rigged search months before the outcome of the search was publicly announced.  When Terry was asked about the BCI post by a news reporter, he responded, “I have no intention of responding to anonymous and unfounded claims and attacks posted in Boston Catholic Insider.”  (See Diocesan Deception from Donilon).  The truth was that it was a rigged search, just like the one for Terry’s own job–he just didn’t like that we exposed the truth and moral corruption. He was never able to give one example of an “unfounded claim” on BCI, including the post he complained about.  Now onto the Walter Cuenin scandal.

Our post about the scandal originated with this tip from an anonymous reader, “Truth Teller,” on a different post about coddling of homosexual priests, including Fr. Walter Cuenin:

Cuenin did not leave Brandeis because of “health.” He was removed because he took a young man away, plied him with alcohol and molested him. Both Brandeis and the Archdiocese wanted to keep it quiet. Shouldn’t they have been concerned if there were other victims?

Via private emails, we got some additional information from “Truth Teller,” and we were then able to validate enough of the story that we published it.  In a phone call on Sept. 11, Fr. Bryan Parrish, episcopal vicar and secretary for parish life, confirmed to another Boston blogger that Cuenin’s official status with the archdiocese is a “restricted Senior Priest”, which means no ministry is allowed and no church housing is provided.  Cuenin has a very public problem with alcohol and the restrictions were related to that. He also confirmed that the allegation of sexual misconduct with a Brandeis student reported on Boston blogs (including Conquered by Love) did happen.

After we published the story and reporters started asking questions of Fr. Parrish, they were directed to Terry, who went into damage control mode and issued the following deceptive statement to reporters:

There has been no charge of molestation of a minor or young adult. Fr. Cuenin has faced serious health issues in recent years. It has been our experience with Boston Catholic Insider, an anonymous blog, that the information they distribute is consistently false and misleading as is the case in their September 13, 2018 entry.

For the record, the Archdiocese of Boston is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children and young people in our parishes and institutions….Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley encourages any person in need of pastoral assistance or support to contact the Archdiocese’s Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach by calling 617-746-5985.

We never said there was a “charge of molestation”–we said all the student wanted was to ensure Cuenin left campus and couldn’t do this again.  Terry used the word, “charge,” so he could pretend his response was true.  Here’s what we sent back to Terry:

I’d like to clarify what you mean so we can make any required corrections. With regard to the Sept 13 entry, can you share specifically what is inaccurate?  Obviously, all of the bullet points are accurate and are well-documented and have been shared with the RCAB previously, so there can’t be any disputing those points.  So, your issue is obviously with our saying a student was plied with alcohol and then molested.  Your statement says there was no charge of molestation of a minor or young adult.  You also have said there was no allegation.  We verified the report of the molestation with an archdiocesan official last week before publishing it, so something is not adding up. Hopefully you can clarify exactly what did or did not happen.
We know for a fact that Fr. Cuenin’s ministry is restricted, and it’s for a reason more grave than just a minor alcohol problem. We know the expectation is that since he’s in ill health today and wheelchair-bound that it’s highly unlikely he will engage in inappropriate activity with others.  We also all know he left Brandeis very abruptly, and for someone so popular on campus with students, faculty, and administration to leave without a farewell party, the reason was gravely serious.  Brandeis has had multiple opportunities to tell us our story was inaccurate before it was published and they declined to refute the story.
Is the word “molestation” the problem?  We’ve now removed it from our post.  Would it be more accurate for us to say that there was an incident reported where a student was drinking with Fr. Cuenin, and Fr. Cuenin engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with the student or non-consensual sexual activity with the student?  …
Lastly, I must say that your comment about BCI publishing consistently false and misleading information rings hollow.  Since you’ve been in your job and BCI has been writing our blog, never once has one of your claims that BCI published “false information” proven to be correct.  Never once. You’ve said we made “unsubstantiated claims” but invariably that’s because we published the truth and the RCAB simply didn’t like seeing the truth published or the media attention.

Carol McKinley sent this message to him:

Let me predict how this statement will play out:
1.  Already enraged Catholics will conclude the Archbishop thinks a priest plying someone’s college age child with alcohol to lower resistance to his sexual advance is not molestation.  Might want to google “Bill Cosby”
2. The victim, who instead of suing or pressing criminal charges, who made the unbelievable sacrifice of  agreeing to just letting them get Walter into supervised treatment, is now going to…read the archdiocese is calling him a liar.  I don’t think the statutes have run out, but you are going to take the gamble.
The likelihood everyone is lying about the allegation is quite low.  (and it is an allegation, but Walter’s faculties were stripped and he was ushered off to treatment).  But if that is the case, you have a duty to tell us so we will correct and retract errors.  This is the Catholic Church you work for and there are Sacramental issues at play, for people who live by them.
If stupid PR strategies could fly, this would be a jet.  Go back to the bunker and come up with a truthful statement that doesn’t violate the trust of this victim by calling him a liar.
No response from Terry.  So here’s where we sit.
  • “Truth Teller” assures us the story is 100% accurate. Out of respect for the victim’s right to privacy, we are not pressuring anyone to speak out publicly, but if the victim forward, both the Archdiocese of Boston and Brandeis will be forced to acknowledge what happened.
  • Despite multiple messages sent to various senior administration officials at Brandeis including those involved at the time asking them to confirm or deny the story, they refuse to respond. If this scandalous story was inaccurate, why wouldn’t they just respond and say the story is not true?
  • If any reporter asks Fr. Parrish at this point what happened, he’s sending people to Terry Donilon, and Terry is responding with the deceptive statement to deflect attention from what actually happened.  He’s parsing words and refusing to acknowledge there was an incident of inappropriate behavior by Cuenin with a student–and that led to his removal from Brandeis.

We see two ways for the impasse to be broken and the full truth to come out, and need your help.

  1. The victim — even with their name not being released — publicly tells their story to a newspaper.  We can direct the victim to any of a variety of publications who would maintain confidentiality, take their testimony and write the story.
  2. Readers pressure both the Archdiocese of Boston and Brandeis administration to admit what happened.  Here’s who to contact:

Archdiocese of Boston:
Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications
Work: 617-746-5775
Cell: 401-480-0171
tdonilon@rcab.org

Vicar General Bishop Peter Uglietto
617-746-5619
vicar_general@rcab.org

Brandeis University
Jamele Adams, Dean of Students
781-736-2600
deanofstudentsoffice@brandeis.edu
Ira Jackson, Executive Vice President, Communications and External Relations
781-736-3993
Here’s what you should ask:
Can you please confirm that the reason for Fr. Walter Cuenin’s removal from his role as Catholic chaplain at Brandeis in January of 2015 was an incident with Fr. Cuenin involving alcohol and inappropriate sexual behavior with a male student?  If this description is not completely accurate, please correct whatever is inaccurate to give the correct description of the incident.

And what policies and protections are in place today to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen again to other students?

If Terry responds back with the canned statement above, call or email him back and ask him to answer the actual question you asked directly with a Yes/No answer.  You might also remind him that his salary is being paid by Catholics like you.
Let us know how you make out.

Boston Diocesean Deception on Survey

December 6, 2015

In our last post, we criticized the Boston Archdiocese for spending in excess of $100K to survey mostly non-church-going Catholics about their views on the Catholic Church and Catholic faith. By coincidence, the day after BCI posted our criticism, Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications, sent out an email to all priests in the archdiocese explaining the background on the survey.  Here is his email, and then the BCI analysis of the deception follows:

From: “Donilon, Terry”
Date: 12/03/2015 11:37 AM (GMT-05:00)
To:
Subject: Background on Survey Effort

Dear Monsignor/Father,

During the course of the past year, the Archdiocese of Boston has been planning to gain a broader understanding of what is in the hearts and on the minds of Catholics. The reason for this effort is we believe that we should be in an ongoing conversation with our people. Recently we convened a series of focus groups and conducted a survey of 1,600 respondents from across the Archdiocese. This effort involves surveying practicing Catholics and those who have fallen away from the Church.

In 2012, the Archdiocese was a member of a coalition which defeated the physician assisted suicide ballot initiative in the Commonwealth. In conducting research at that time we gathered valuable information about the thoughts and concerns of Catholics on a wide range of issues statewide. The current effort has been focused specifically on the Archdiocese.

This type of research is a standard practice for other nonprofits, colleges and universities including many Catholic institutions. We have conducted similar surveys on a more informal level from time to time. In the spirit of evangelization our hope is to learn more about the people we serve as well as learn how we can help those who have fallen away from the church to consider rejoining us on their faith journey. The project is not quite completed and there will be an extensive analysis of the information gathered.

We are confident that this initiative will help us to be more engaged with our people, to be better communicators in spreading the beauty of our faith and in helping Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ.

Thank you for all you do each and every day in your priestly ministry.

Sincerely Yours,
​Terry Donilon

Where to start?

If the Boston Archdiocese truly wants to better understand what is in the hearts and minds of Catholics, help those who have fallen away from the church consider rejoining the Catholic Church and help Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ”, then how can Terry Donilon explain this feedback on the survey provided by “Iwassurveyed” about the design flaws of the survey?

 

First, there were direct questions with multiple choice answers such as strongly disagree, disagree, disagree somewhat, agree, somewhat agree, strongly agree etc. Many questions concerned Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s being chosen for the Pope’s circle of 8 and also as head of the new sex abuse unit at the Vatican. Not one question concerned Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s performance as head of RCAB.. Another question concerned the RCAB handling of sex abuse by clergy TODAY, not in the past. Another question was, “Do you intend to see SPOTLIGHT or have you seen it? “Some questions about contraception, abortion etc.

Not one question concerned RCAB finances; church closures and sales; the new and improved collaboratives; mergers and takeovers, school closings, EVANGELIZATION. WHERE IS IT ANYWAY?

Soooooo, I suggest that the questions were carefully formulated to minimize any real criticism of RCAB and Cardinal. Sean O’Malley. Not many people are going to criticize his participation in circle of 8 or the new sex abuse unit of the Vatican, no matter their feelings on what is happening locally.

There was no opportunity to control the interview. No open ended questions and no opening for you to reformulate the questions into something else. This was as programmed as possible.

We know from the Boston Globe article that questions included, Is your opinion of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley very favorable, favorable, unfavorable, or very unfavorable? And, “Which best reflects your attitude about abortion? 1) It is morally wrong and should not be legal; 2) It is morally wrong but should be legal; or 3) It is morally acceptable and should be legal.”

So, clearly the Boston Archdiocese has some other motives in the survey besides bringing people back to the Catholic Church, and they are interested in finding out Catholic faithful feel the leadership of the Boston Archdiocese is doing at its main mission–carrying out the saving mission of Jesus Christ.

Not that BCI is supportive of such surveys, but similar surveys done elsewhere have typically reported the following reasons why people stop going to Mass:

  • Liturgies are uninspiring
  • Homilies are uninspiring
  • Parishes are not welcoming
  • Money concerns abound
  • No attention paid to youth and young people
  • Like priests, but they are overworked
  • Runs too much like a business
  • Disagree with one or another of Church’s teachings

So, there is reason to believe that the Boston Archdiocese could save between $100K and 250K by simply using the sort of feedback gotten already from similar surveys. These will likely be the results of the very expensive survey RCAB is taking in 2015 and reporting in 2016. What will be done with this ground-breaking feedback? NOTHING.

 

A reasonable person might also ask why–if a survey was really needed–was there not a comprehensive survey of RCAB done by a group like the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).  If a survey was called for, and we still do not think so, a group like CARA could design surveys for individual groups, and thus get a more specific view of the state of the diocese by separately surveying priests, religious, lay leadership, Mass attendees, fallen away, and youth.

We will repeat and paraphrase what we said in our last post.  Cardinal Sean O’Malley needs to teach with the authority and confidence of a man who knows he has been given the keys to eternal life. Those who reject the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith will put their souls in grave danger. What might we expect from the current survey? The likely answer of what will come: Instead of sound doctrine clearly stated with authority, we are likely to see the Archdiocese pander to those who no longer attend Mass with lukewarm statements, cleverly worded to remain as inoffensive as possible while stating the bare minimum in terms of doctrine. We have already had this over the past 50 years and seen nothing but declining Mass attendance. It certainly is not the way Christendom was built.

We have a flawed survey designed and executed by a consultant who works for political candidates who hate the Catholic Church and work in strident opposition to our teachings. The fact that such a survey is being employed by a prelate whose primary duty is to guard the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints is capitulation to the spirit of the age.


Boston Archdiocese Spending $100K+ to Survey Apostates

December 2, 2015

According to an article just published in the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston “has hired a top Democratic consultant to poll Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts – most of whom no longer attend weekly Mass – to find out what they think about thapostatee church and its leaders.”  A random phone survey will be taken  of whomever of 1,600 people want to respond, plus there will be six focus groups of fallen away catholics.   Participants will be asked a series of 90 questions including their views on church teaching such as abortion and contraception as well as their opinion of Cardinal Sean. (Since when are the prelates of the Church of Christ up for a popularity contest?)

While Terry Donilon, the Archdiocesan spokesperson refused to share the cost of the poll, sources tell BCI that the cost was $100K or more. Not only does BCI question the morality of giving church funds to John Martilla, who has served as a strategist for the likes of John Kerry, Joe Biden and Deval Patrick, we also question the purpose for marketing the Bride of Christ. After all, She alone has the words of eternal life.

What exactly does the Archdiocese hope to find by polling baptized Catholics who are no longer attending weekly Mass? The ills that afflict them are the same ills that have caused every apostate since Jesus first began preaching the Gospel to leave the bosom of Holy Mother Church. They leave because they refuse to accept the teaching authority of Christ and His Church. The only remedy for the situation of these unfortunate people is repentance.

As Christ ascended to Heaven, when the Church consisted of only a handful of disciples, Christ commanded the apostles to “Teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them all things whatsoever I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) “And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.” (Luke 24:47). By Apostolic Succession, this is the mission also for the bishops of today.

Instead of teaching with the authority and confidence of men who know that they have been given the keys to eternal life and that those who reject the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith will put their souls in grave danger, the Archdiocese of Boston plans to invert Christ’s command and in the words of Terry Donilon “learn” from those who do not show respect or reverence for God and His Church.

What might we expect from this inversion? The likely answer is more of the same. Instead of sound doctrine clearly stated with authority, we are likely to see the Archdiocese pander to the godless multitude with lukewarm statements, cleverly worded to remain as inoffensive as possible while stating the bare minimum in terms of doctrine. Only a halfwit could imagine that this will fill the pews again. It certainly is not the way Christendom was built.

Pope Leo XIII clearly condemned this approach in his 1899 encyclical Testem Benevolentiae:

The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order the more easily to attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. … Let it be far from anyone’s mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ.”

The mere fact that such a survey is being employed by a prelate whose primary duty is to guard the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints is capitulation to the spirit of the age.

That the Boston Archdiocese is spending even $1 on such a boneheaded initiative is a travesty and scandal, let alone donor funds at a time when most parishes are operating in the red.  Readers, please take this post, forward it to Terry Donilon (tdonilon@rcab.org), and ask him to cut the Archdiocese’s losses on the survey and stop this waste of time and money.

(This post was contributed by a local Catholic who wishes to remain anonymous)


The Inside Story of the Closing of St. Paul School in Wellesley, MA: Part 2

July 29, 2015

This post is a follow-up to our first post, The Inside Story of the Closing of St. Paul School in Wellesley, Part 1. The Boston Globe wrote an article about the closing today and got a statement from Terry Donilon at the Archdiocese of Boston.  The article repeats the generic statement from the school, “An attempt to secure solid commitments from parents for the upcoming school year was not sufficient.”   We think the reporters covering this story should ask a few more questions of Terry Donilon and the Boston Archdiocese.

Announcements blaming the closing on the parents or implying the blame rests with the parents do not sit well with the parents. The parents were asked to make a commitment of $1,500 by July 15th, and about 65% of the parents did. Fr. Sepe never specified just how many deposits would have to be turned in to make it “fiscally possible” to open in the fall.  Nor were parents informed of what the consequences would be if the parish didn’t receive a sufficient number of deposits. In addition, during the Annual fund raising drive (to celebrate 60 years of Catholic education with a $60K goal), the parents — who, according to the announcement did not commit to the school — raised about $67,000 to be used for the 2015 -2016 school year.  The latest tally of Annual Fund donations is $85,000, the lion’s share of which came from the parent community.  To BCI, parents, and others close to the school, this should be proof enough of commitment.

One might reasonably ask the question, “What will happen to those funds now that the school is closing?”  When asked about these monies in the parent meeting (which occurred on Thursday), BCI has heard several varying recountings of what Fr. Sepe told the assembled parents, neither of which is good. One source reported that Fr. Sepe told the assembled parents this was a donation and would not be subject to return.  Other sources recall Fr. Sepe equivocating and saying that if it was the “understanding and the stipulation” that Annual Fund monies were intended to benefit the school in the 2015-16 school year, then maybe the money would be returned. This answer did not set well with the donors or lawyers in the audience.

The full-time faculty were given contracts on July 9th. It is now known by those involved in the situation that they were at-will contracts, not the binding contracts that have been used in the past. Faculty were then called to the meeting on July 23rd and told there would not be an opening of the school due to lack of parent commitment to the school as noted above.  During this timeframe, positions which had been posted as open positions at St. John School were filled.  So good luck to the faculty!  In addition the school secretary who had to work at the rectory one day a week for the 2014-15 school year had been offered her regular full-time position at St. Paul school for the 2015-16 year, but was also then  terminated.  When she asked if she could work at the rectory in an open two day position, she was told the position had been offered and accepted and thus was no longer open.  A reasonable person might ask, if the future of the school was this uncertain in June and July, whey were these open positions filled by outsiders rather than kept open so those who would lose jobs could potentially fill them?

BCI is told that these are just some of the “shenanigans” that are surfacing in just the few days after the announcement.  In addition, Father Sepe is also on retreat for two weeks, leaving the school closing in the hands of a teacher at the school who has never handled any responsibilities such as this that would require administrative, legal or leadership expertise.

Here you have it. The downfall of a once great Catholic school largely because of missteps and bungled management by the Archdiocese of Boston, yet blamed on others. Meanwhile,here is a short video interview with new schools superintendent, Kathy Mears, telling Catholic TV how hard she works to help Catholic schools.

The St. Pauls situation and others similar to it suggest that Mrs. Mears has her work cut out for her. BCI is now hearing of other Boston-area Catholic schools in decline because of mismanagement by the RCAB. Drop us an email in confidence to pass along details if this is happening in your area.


Archdiocese of Boston uses parish funds to repay sexual abuse settlement costs

August 5, 2014

The stories about St. Francis of Cabrini continuing to protest their closing and occupy the church  ten years after it was ordered closed and comments by Communications Secretary Terry Donilon merit a response.  In particular, the deception by Donilon about how the Archdiocese of Boston uses parish funds just cannot sit uncontested. Donilon said a fund of resources of parishes cannot be tapped by the archdiocese for any purpose the archdiocese chooses. Maybe that is true. But if so, then how exactly does Donilon explain how closed Brighton parish properties were recently transferred from the archdiocese to another related entity to help pay off sexual abuse claims?  Later in this post, we also show how little progress the Boston Archdiocese has made with these church squatters.

First, regarding the Scituate situation, here is an excerpt from one article with the Donilon quote:

Canon law consultant Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes, who’s been helping diehard parishioners of deconsecrated Mount Carmel Church in East Boston stave off a wrecking ball, told several dozen supporters — some openly weeping — “the whole rationale for turning this church into condos” is contradicted by the Archdiocese of Boston’s latest public annual report, which he said shows the nonprofit reaped $41 million in surplus revenues in Fiscal Year 2013.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon responded, Mr. Borre is misleading people. The $41 million is mostly money raised by parishes for the parishes. So even though it shows up on the combined statements of the archdiocese’s books, it can not be tapped by the archdiocese for any purpose it chooses (i.e., their suggestion to reopen St. Frances). These are the resources of the parishes.

BCI agrees that Borre is misleading people–the Boston Archdiocese has no operating surplus. And we are not supporters of him or the Scituate squatters. But Terry Donilon is also apparently misleading people.  Terry, if what you said is really the case, then how do you explain the recent transfer of the closed Our Lady of Presentation and St Gabriel parish properties in Brighton to St. John’s Seminary to pay off $3.9M worth of a promissory note to the seminary–a note which is repaying money the Boston Archdiocese got from selling off St. John’s Seminary property in order to pay sexual abuse claims?

Loans that Funded Sexual Abuse Settlement Paid for with Parish Property

Most people know how the Archdiocese of Boston took out a number of loans between 2002-2003 to stay afloat and pay off sexual abuse claims, including $37M from the Knights of Columbus and $97M from a combination of commercial banks, the Clergy Fund and the Cemetery trust. The lion’s share of the funds to repay the archdiocesan debts came from the sale of the former Chancery property and St. John’s Seminary property. As we reported here at BCI in this 2010 post:

“… in 2004, the Boston Archdiocese was under heavy pressure to pay additional sex abuse claims, and was without the resources to do so….Assets of approximately $56 million were transferred from the seminary to RCAB so that it could pay its claimants, and at that time, the Cardinal pledged that $30 million would be given to the seminary so that an endowment could be begun. RCAB received a smaller payment from its insurance companies than it expected, such that it could give the seminary only $21 million and a promissory note for $4.8 million (that came due in 2011).”

In 2007, almost all of the remainder of the St. Johns Seminary property was sold to BC for $65 million, and the proceeds of the sale went not to the seminary but instead to the Boston Archdiocese to be applied “where it is needed.”   In the end after the two sales of Seminary property valued at a total of $111 million and repayment of $21 million, what was promised to St. Johns Seminary as future repayment were two notes: one for $4.8 million (due in 2011) and another for $36.4 million (due in 2017).

To repay the $4.8 million note, in 2013 the Boston Archdiocese transferred property from the closed Our Lady of Presentation and St. Gabriel’s parishes to the Seminary.  Here are the references in the 2013 Annual Report (p. 21):

Corporation Sole agreed to canonically transfer all of its rights, title and interest in Our Lady of Presentation
Church, Rectory and parking lots and the St. Gabriel rectory and school to the Seminary. The properties have a
collective appraised value of approximately $6,070,000 and a book value of $566,000.

During the year ended June 30, 2013, Corporation Sole transferred the Our Lady of Presentation property with an
appraised value of $2,850000 to the Seminary to discharge a portion of the note. In accordance with the MOU, the
Seminary agreed to forgive the remaining note balance of $1,038,000 which is included in gain on settlement of note
payable in the statement of activities.

So, despite Cardinal O’Malley’s comment in the National Catholic Register in a 2012 interview that the financial transparency implemented early in his tenure in Boston was intended to help “demonstrate that we were not using parish funds, parishes were not being closed to pay for the sex-abuse crisis,” in 2013, parish property was indeed used to pay for some costs of the sexual abuse crisis, by means of parish property repaying a sexual abuse settlement loan.  And there are precedents for the Archdiocese of Boston taking funds or property canonically intended for one purpose and using it for another purpose (e.g. St. Johns Seminary property sold to fund the RCAB and sexual abuse settlements; St. Gabriel and Our Lady of the Presentation property transferred to the Seminary to repay a loan, diocesan Revolving Loan funds used to finance construction of a Catholic school in Dorchester).

So, Terry, back to you.  How do you explain this apparent contradiction?  When exactly was it that the policy changed and it became OK to use parishes to pay off sexual abuse settlement costs, such as loans used to pay the claims? Why should anyone believe the $41M in parish funds referred to above is safe from being used for purposes other than the parishes, when the precedent is already set for that happening elsewhere?

The Insanity Over the Scituate Squatters

Beyond the matter above, both Terry Donilon and the Scituate squatters continue to propagate some level of insanity over the situation.  Donilon should look back on his previous quotes in the press over the past few years:

  • In December 2008, Terry Donilon was quoted in the Boston Globe saying: “These vigils have to end at some point. It’s an issue of fairness to the parishes that are open and struggling to serve people.”
  • In July 2011,  Donilon was quoted in the Globe saying: “We’re not looking for a confrontation, but at some point, the vigils are going to have to end.”
  • On August 2, 2014, Donilon was quoted in the Boston Herald saying, ““We’re going to work for a peaceful and prayerful resolution, but this is not going to go on forever. It can’t go on forever.”

Terry, the vigil has been going on for almost ten years, and you have been saying the same thing about the situation for nearly six years. When are you guys going to end it?

And as for the squatters, their having volunteers leading lay services, and the idea of operating St. Frances X. Cabrini as an “independent Catholic church” outside the archdiocese and the church hierarchy as a breakaway, progressive “American Catholic Church” are silly and just not Catholic. Are these folks attending their own lay services and committing a mortal sin every week by missing Sunday Mass? Terry Donilon and Cardinal O’Malley should remind these folks that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is where Catholics encounter our Eucharistic Lord. Here’s a passage from a great work by St. Leonard-Port Maurice, The Hidden Treasure of the Holy Mass:

The principal excellence of the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass consists in being essentially, and in the very highest degree, identical with that which was offered on the Cross of Calvary: with this sole difference, that the Sacrifice on the Cross was bloody, and made once for all, and did on that one occasion satisfy fully for all the sins of the world; while the Sacrifice of the Altar is an unbloody sacrifice, which can be repeated an infinite number of times, and was instituted in order to apply in detail that universal ransom which Jesus paid for us on Calvary.

We worship God at Mass. We receive graces from God by being nourished by the Word of God—God’s eternal truth revealed to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We remember and profess our faith in the mystery of our salvation, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. The saving actions of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday come together in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says, “For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished,’ and it is through the liturgy, especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true church”  If we we are in a state of grace, we can receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. As Catholics, we believe that our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist, and that we receive His body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion. Not only does the Holy Eucharist unite us intimately with the Lord, but also unites us in communion with our brothers and sisters throughout the universal Church.

Do the squatters realize this is what they are missing?  Terry, do you realize this is what they are missing?

Furthermore, does anyone realize that the Rogers’ who lead this vigil/occupation and other occupation leaders are folks who were not regular Mass-goers at St. Francis before it was ordered to close?  The Mass-going couple who filed the original appeal in Scituate went to the receiving parish. They have had nothing to do with the Rogers’ and the occupation.  BCI is told that the Rogers’ are abutters and appear to want control over who was or is allowed to buy the property and how it would be developed.  BCI is also told that when the first appeal that was filed by the faithful parishioners failed, Peter Borre asked the Rogers’ to take it over.  Then there is the matter of abuses of the Blessed Sacrament that have taken place there: we are told that the Blessed Sacrament has been present during social gatherings and sleepovers on or around the altar; dinners have been held with pizza on the altar set out like a buffet.  But Terry, Fr. Bryan Hehir and the PR folks at Rasky Baerlein don’t know know how to talk about these topics either.

Bottom line: the Boston Archdiocese set a precedent in 2013 for using parishes to fund repayment of a sexual abuse settlement loan. This is clearly described in their 2013 Annual Report. If they will redirect funds in that manner and have done so in other situations, there is nothing to stop them from doing similar again. And the Scituate occupancy should be ended–for the sake of the souls of those occupying the church and because this thing has more than run its course through all canonical appeals.

This is what BCI thinks. What do you think?

 


Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican PR Campaign

March 4, 2013

In case you have been wondering how and why Cardinal Sean O’Malley is getting so much press in and around the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope, now we know why.  The Boston Archdiocesean PR machine is in high gear drumming up stories, as exemplified by the email below from Cardinal O’Malley’s cabinet secretary for communications.  A rational person seeing their press activity might wonder why the Cardinal and his PR team have embarked on such an active campaign in the days before the conclave starts.

Here at BCI, we would like to do our part to assist, and we invite our readers to help as well.

1) We suggest that Cardinal O’Malley revisit the list of publications he reads for input and those with whom he spends time interviewing.  In this interview with the National Catholic Reporter, published March 3, here are his answers to several questions:

How are you preparing yourself?

Spiritually, I’m trying to focus on the seriousness of this, asking for God’s help in prayer. I’m also trying to learn as much as I can about my brother cardinals.

How are you doing that?

I downloaded Mr. Miranda’s material, because he has a page of just the cardinals who are going to be at the conclave. [Note: Salvador Miranda of Florida International University maintains a web page on the cardinals.] I had my secretary go through and take out the biography of each one. A lot of them, of course, I knew, but this was one way of putting names to the faces of those I don’t know. That’s especially true of the Eastern Europeans and a couple of the Africans. I’m trying to read articles, to become acquainted with some of these issues in the past faced by conclaves. Your articles are all very interesting too.

Where do we start on this?  The “National Catholic Reporter” is not even Catholic–as exemplified by recent statements by Kansas City Bishop Finn that the paper should not call itself Catholic, and by Colorado Springs Bishop Sheridan that the National Catholic Reporter ‘is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.’ Why is Cardinal O’Malley even spending time or giving credibility to the paper by agreeing to an interview with them? Furthermore, since the paper publishes pieces by dissidents such as Joan Chittister and takes editorial positions that officially condemn Catholic Church teaching–including “on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues”–what does this say about the theological standards and discernment of the Cardinal? BCI would suggest that Cardinal O’Malley instead prepare for the conclave by reading writings of the saints and publications other than the National Catholic Reporter.

2) Here is the email just sent out by Terry Donilon asking for help on Cardinal O’Malley’s Vatican public relations campaign:

From: Terrence_Donilon@rcab.org
Subj: Rome updates and 2 requests

Friends,

As you know the Cardinal is in Rome preparing for the conclave.  This week will see the start of the meetings with the College of Cardinal’s.  Through The Pilot, Cardinal Sean’s blog and our social media team as well as CatholicTV we will keep you up to date as the proceedings get underway.

We do have two requests we hope some of you can help us with.

As you can imagine, the media has descended on Rome from all over the world.  This week the Boston media will be arriving to cover the events.

1.      We have a need for Boston folks in Rome either on pilgrimage, working or visiting during the week ahead to engage with the media which we will vet and who would have positive things to say about the Church.  The local media arriving and some national media have made requests to us

2.      We need local stories where parishes, schools and ministries are involved that are learning and celebrating Pope Benedict, the papacy and the universal church (perhaps Boston-based folks with a connection to Rome/Vatican).

Thanks so much for any consideration you give to this request.

Please email your suggestions and connections to me and Kellyanne Dignan (kdignan@rasky.com).

Please continue to pray for Cardinal Sean and his fellow Cardinal’s as they undertake this most important responsibility.

Thanks,

Terry

**********************************************
Terrence C. Donilon
Secretary for Communications
Archdiocese of Boston
Email:  tdonilon@rcab.org
Work:  617-746-5775
Cell:  401-480-0171

www.bostoncatholic.org

Pastoral Center
66 Brooks Dr
Braintree, MA  02184

The main question people should be asking themselves is “Why exactly are Cardinal O’Malley and his team mounting this PR campaign?”   When Terry writes, “We have a need…,”  is it clear to any readers why they have a “need”?  What will happen if the need they have is not fulfilled?  The Boston Archdiocese is spending about $1 million annually on media (Terry Donilon salary and benefits, Scot Landry salary and benefits plus his media and CatholicTV team, and Rasky Baerlein) and yet they have to beg everyone in the archdiocese for Rome stories. Is there anything wrong with that picture?

In addition, BCI readers have heard us tell you for some time that Terry Donilon–paid $184K in salary, plus benefits, for total compensation of $208K–is challenged when it comes to spelling, grammar and knowledge of Catholicism.  This email is a great example.  There are meetings of the College of Cardinal’s. [Note: Students learn  how to make a noun possessive in 2nd grade. (e.g. “the boy’s ball”)  There is no possessive in “College of Cardinals”]  And how  exactly is it that parishes, schools and ministries would go about  “learning…Pope Benedict?  Also, we should pray for Cardinal Sean and his fellow Cardinal’s [again, what are they possessing?] as they undertake this most important responsibility. [Which responsibility is it the Cardinal’s are undertaking?  Is it fulfilling the “need” for stories?] . Is this quality of work worth $208K a year, subsidized by Catholic Appeal donations?  Does the Compensation Committee think someone who cannot spell at beyond a 2nd grade level and is paid $208K a year is somehow not being excessively compensated?

To help the archdiocese, BCI is going to do several things:

  • We will write to the Compensation Committee and suggest their first target for job standards and pay reduction.
  • BCI is going to offer to Terry and the PR team that BCI will speak to the press about our apostolic ministry as Catholic bloggers, where we are helping people learn about the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. (We even have a connection to Rome/Vatican, because BCI readers keep sending BCI blog posts to members of the Roman curia, hoping they will do something about the problems in Boston).
  • We are going to offer to Terry and the Rasky Baerlein team that, as long as Terry is still doing the communications job, we will help proofread and spell-check emails from Terry before they are sent out.

Lastly, if any BCI readers are in Rome, would like to talk to the press about the papacy of Benedict XVI or the papacy in general, or have a connection to the Vatican (e.g. by means of your having emailed or called the Papal Nuncio or others in the Roman curia), feel free to help out Terry Donilon and the Boston Archdiocese. Drop Terry and Rasky an email and offer to speak to a reporter.


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