Hub Diocese Releases Reports Criticizing Its Parish Closings
Cardinal's Lay Panel Reviewed Use of Funds; Sale of 1 Church Is Also Examined

By Michael Paulson
Boston Globe
November 16, 2007

The Archdiocese of Boston, in an unusual act of public self-scrutiny, is releasing two reports highly critical of how the church handled several aspects of the parish closings process over the last several years.

The archdiocese is publishing in its weekly newspaper, the Pilot, a report by a lay panel, the Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee, which was handpicked by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley to review the use of funds generated through the closing of parishes. Even though O'Malley chose to establish the committee, its members said that O'Malley's former aides were not forthcoming with financial information and not responsive to advice from the panel.


•Archbishop's policy on the sale of church buildings

•Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee's Report

•Report to the Archdiocesan Finance Council on St. Mary's sale

•Findings and recommendations on St. Mary's sale

The second report, by a retired judge picked by the lay committee to review the sale of one closed church in East Boston, sharply criticizes the archdiocese for its handling of that transaction. That report, being posted on the Pilot's website, describes how the photographer who purchased St. Mary Star of the Sea Church bought the building last November for $850,000 and then sold it three weeks later to an evangelical congregation for $2.65 million.

The archdiocese says it decided to publish the documents in the interest of transparency and because of commitments to the committee, which was headed by David Castaldi, who was a leader of the lay reform group Voice of the Faithful. Archdiocesan officials said they would not dispute the criticism, but instead pointed out that they have replaced the allegedly uncooperative officials and have changed their real estate procedures so that the problems would be less likely to recur.

The report acknowledges the improvements and praises the archdiocese for its recent steps toward financial transparency, which have included what the committee described as "outstanding" and as "the most complete financial disclosure of any diocese in the United States." The committee also said it perceived a "new policy of openness" at the archdiocese after O'Malley last year brought in the Rev. Richard P. Erikson to replace Bishop Richard Lennon as the archdiocese's vicar general and banking executive James P. McDonough to replace David Smith as chancellor.


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