Boston archdiocese releases financial report

Boston archdiocese releases financial report

Continuing its drive for more openness and accountability the the Archdiocese of Boston released its audited financial reports yesterday, including for the first time reports on the salaries of top employees and payments to top vendors.

All the reports are available on the archdiocesan web site.

The highlights:

  • The budget deficit was reduced again this year and they hope to have it balanced in next fiscal year.
  • Net assets of the archdiocese and parishes is up, mostly from the sale of closed parish properties.
  • The pension fund for lay employees is almost fully funded, but the fund for retired priests still needs work. They also say that initial reports that special collections intended for retired priests were diverted were wrong.
  • The costs for sex-abuse settlements dropped to $9.6 million last year from $150.8 million the year before. That’s a big drop, but it’s still almost $10 million. We’ll be dealing with the aftershocks from the Scandal for some time.
  • Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s salary is about $23,000, all of which goes to the Capuchin order.
  • As previously reported, giving to the Annual Appeal was $13.8 million, up 15% from 2005 and 55% since 2002, when the Scandal bomb dropped. That’s a clear sign of recovery.
  • Several of the fiscal improvements were due to transfers from the Reconfiguration Fund, which was the reason given for the closures in the first place.
  • Parish collections are also up, year over year, to $146.2 million from $137.4 million, although many inner-city parishes are not self-sustaining.

Of course, the local media can’t help but go to the usual suspects—Voice of the Faithful and the Council of Parishes—for their standard “not good enough” responses. (Now, I’m making this statement even before reading the actual Boston Globe article, as opposed to the initial news update I linked above; as I read the article in today’s Globe I’m not proven wrong):

The condition of the clergy benefits funds drew concern from two major groups representing lay Catholics often critical of the archdiocese, Voice of the Faithful and the Council of Parishes.

“Voice of the Faithful continues to be distressed by the unfunded liability of the Clergy Benefit Trust,” the organization’s president, Mary Pat Fox, said in a statement yesterday. “… Our loyal priests deserve a dignified and worry free retirement.”

She offered praise for the overall disclosure, however, saying, “The improved financial condition of the Archdiocese of Boston demonstrates that accountability and transparency are just good business practices.”

The Council of Parishes also expressed concern about the retirement benefits for priests, charging that “the financial condition of the clergy pension fund continues to deteriorate” and that “either major cash infusions will have to be made, or benefits to the senior clergy will have to be cut sharply in the next few years.”

Could they all—VOTF, CoP, and the Globe—be more predictable?

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  • This quote from the article “grabbed” me:

    The Archdiocese of Boston is the largest religious denomination in Eastern Massachusetts, reporting 2 million adherents in 144 communities. But only a fraction of that population is active in the church: Attendance at Sunday worship runs around 373,000, and about 50,000 people contribute to the archdiocese’s main annual fund drive.

  • Ah, yes; VotF is really concerned about “retired priests”, perhaps because that’s what most of their clerical supporters and enablers will be in short order.  I was speaking recently with a “retired” Archbishop, who works every day in hospital chaplaincy and palliative care ministry, offering Mass every Sunday for hospital patients and health care workers, and on a regular basis for funerals, weddings, ethnic community gatherings, and other extraordinary events.  Well into his 80s, walking slowly with a cane on a second new knee, while every other joint is aching, this is a man who understands that priests may step down from certain administrative responsibilities, but they don’t retire, who every day remembers our Lord’s instruction to Peter, “Tend my sheep.”