The Boston archdiocese is now mass-producing public-relations disasters. They come rolling off the assembly line, one after another, day after day. Poor Uncle Di can't keep up.
It takes a special kind of genius to concoct a situation in which little kiddies are holding "graduation" ceremonies outdoor in a traffic circle, mourning the little goldfish that are perishing in their classroom, because the archdiocesan grinch locked them out of their school just 2 days before the end of the academic year. (You understand: the archdiocese had to act, because otherwise disgruntled parents might have staged a sit-in at the school, and that would have brought-- are you ready?-- negative publicity.)
But on another battlefront, the chancery is striking back.
You may recall that, almost exactly one month ago, it came to light that the priests' pension account is underfunded, because for 16 years the archdiocese took up a collection for the priests' retirement, and diverted the funds into other accounts. Now-- just in time, a month later-- the chancery bean-counters are defending their actions, hotly denying that there could be even a soupcon of mismanagement.
Now here's the explanation: (Are you sitting down?) It's true that parishioners were asked to donate to the priests' retirement fund, and it's true that the money didn't go into those funds. But the money went into other funds to benefit priests, and the archdiocese always intended to pay the pensions.
Got that? All perfectly clear? The archdiocese wanted to fund the pensions, and so it took money that had been collected for the pension, and put it into a different account, but it was all used to benefit priests, so why would anyone raise questions?
(At this point chancery officials put on their best used-car-salesman smiles, and ask, in effect: Don't you trust us? Well, as a matter of fact, now that you ask...)
To prove the righteousness of its financial practices, the archdiocese is going to make available audited accounts of all the funds that benefit priests. And these accounts will be made available... by the end of next year.
The end of next year.
It's takes a long time to put these numbers together, I guess.
Some people like to do things quickly, and others prefer slow cooking.
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Posted by: Sterling -
Jun. 16, 2005 11:27 PM ET USA
Cupertino says, "Name names." Here's a clue. This collection basket "bait-and-switch" shrieked to a halt about two years ago - around the time when Archbishop O'Malley came into office. During the sixteen years these shenanigans were going on, a former cardinal, now disgraced, was in the chancery. (And his name is ...) Is he guilty? Involved? Innocent? I don't know, but if I were Colombo, I'd be heading over to the Church of St. Mary Maggiore in Rome, cigar in hand.
Posted by: Sterling -
Jun. 16, 2005 11:06 PM ET USA
A phrase so sublime as "crock pot" deserves every chuckle it gets, Diogenes!
Posted by: Gil125 -
Jun. 13, 2005 7:42 PM ET USA
No, latinae, I think Eagle and Cupertino are closer to the truth. No parole officer would let an Enron convict work in a chancery office. You are not permitted to consort with felons when you are on parole.
Posted by: Cupertino -
Jun. 13, 2005 1:08 PM ET USA
Fallacy here. "The archdiocese" is not guilty of anything. The clerics running it when these crimes were committed are real, human and responsible. Name some names. Blaming "the archdiocese" is a way of including everyone regardless of guilt. And, a none too subtle way of roping in AB O'Malley even though he clearly had nothing to do with it. All he has is the impossible job of cleaning it up. Prayer is the remedy for the Church. Jail is required for the guilty.
Posted by: Eagle -
Jun. 12, 2005 9:12 AM ET USA
When I've defended this type of conduct (the administrators are almost always charged criminally for embezzlement), there have been two practical alternatives: (1) the defendant puts this type of defense to the jury, then after conviction, spends substantial time in prison, or (2), enters into a plea bargain which includes restitution "up front". In this case, I'm betting on option 1.
Posted by: -
Jun. 11, 2005 10:21 PM ET USA
If it takes a year and a half to get the numbers together, how do they know now what the answer will be? Unless of course they know the answer they want, then it might take that much time to put the numbers into a form that will give the right appearance. How about hiring a couple MBAs (or better yet former executives -- I hear some are about to finish their sentences and working for a chancery office ought to look good to a parole officer) from Enron
Posted by: Rex Aldrich -
Jun. 11, 2005 10:06 PM ET USA
I'll be retiring in about 11 years, but I'm not worried. I've invested in a cardboard box and I've got my heating grate reserved.