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Report of Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee

Posted: 10/28/2005

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The following September report by the Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee was released for publication this week. In keeping with the archdiocese’s commitment to financial transparency in the reconfiguration process, The Pilot has agreed to periodically publish reports as requested by the committee.

To all members of the Boston Archdiocese,

On August 11, 2005, Boston newspapers reported that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy has taken the position that the Archdiocese erred in claiming the assets of suppressed parishes. The Rev. Mark O’Connell, an Archdiocesan Canon Lawyer, is familiar with the suppression decrees and the discussions between Archbishop Seán O’Malley and Vatican officials. Father O’Connell and the Archbishop are meeting with pastors and finance councils of the affected parishes.

Father O’Connell recently provided an overview of the issues concerning the suppression decrees to The Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee (PRFOC). Key points of discussion are summarized below:

The Congregation for the Clergy has not yet issued a ruling. A draft of a possible ruling has been circulated between Vatican and Archdiocesan officials.

Future rulings are expected to uphold Archbishop O’Malley’s suppression of closed parishes and the procedure he used for the suppressions.

The Congregation for the Clergy has reviewed the facts of the cases sent to them in Rome. In response to cases of territorial parishes, in which the decree of suppression designates the territory of the suppressed parish to go to another parish, they have determined that there is an issue in the way the decrees are drafted. Although the suppression could be upheld, the assets from these parishes would go to the receiving parishes, rather than the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Congregation for the Clergy recognizes the original intent of the decrees and offered Archbishop O’Malley a suggestion to bring about the intended results. The Archbishop is meeting with the pastors and their finance councils personally and through Father O’Connell, to request they designate their suppressed parish assets be sent to the Archdiocese. The Archbishop asserts that he has been clear since the beginning that suppressed assets will be sent to the Archdiocese “to be redistributed for the greater mission of the Archdiocese.”

The Archbishop committed to the pastors that he will fund any expenses directly related to the receiving of new parishioners.

The Parish Reconfiguration Fund Committee does not know if the Congregation of the Clergy will accept a late appeal from parishes that did not appeal their closure. The Congregation of the Clergy has wide discretion as to whether it will continue to accept the late appeals of concerned parishes.

Ethnic parishes are not included in the ongoing discussions because the Congregation for the Clergy has indicated these decrees are properly executed.

The Archdiocese is modifying all new and existing decrees dating from May 2005, to rectify the issue.

The Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee does not have any information that would suggest that the Congregation for the Clergy will overturn any closure decision. Discussions continue between the Archdiocese and the affected pastors to resolve the matter concerning the assets.

Respectfully submitted,

The Parish Reconfiguration Fund

Oversight Committee: David L. Castaldi, Chair, Central Region Maureen Corcoran, Central Region Joseph F. Finn, Jr., Archdiocesan Finance Council, West Region Nan-Marie Jaeger, South Region Norman Sabbey, West Region Kathleen Rabe, North Region Timothy J. Schiavoni, Merrimack Valley Region

September 28, 2005

The Parish Reconfiguration Fund Oversight Committee (PRFOC) is composed of independent, volunteer Catholics charged with the responsibility of providing oversight and advice on the financial aspects of parish reconfiguration.