Boston Archdiocesan Pay Hits Cathedral Heights
Boston Catholic Insider
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.
Here is the Herald article. The biggest thing to note after you read the article is the deception over 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 have the arrogance to claim they are capping merit increases for people who are overpaid, meanwhile, they had just given a number of them salary increases before they decided to cap them.
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:
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, and Catholic schools are being closed, yet the salaries remain excessive and some are increasing.
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. As a commenter said here in January, “someone must think he’s doing a GREAT job (meeting his performance goal of fewer typos in official press releases?) because his salary jumped 13.4% from 2010 to 2011 ($162.5K to $184.4K)
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.
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.
What can faithful Catholics do? Take a moment to forward this blog post to the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and ask him to intervene to address this breach of fiduciary responsibility and scandalous squandering of precious funds. This is what BCI thinks. What do you think?