I’m starting to hear word of big changes coming to the Boston archdiocese, mostly internal changes that could be said to equal, in scope if not impact on individual Catholics, the parish closings.
Reorg the org chart and no smoking
First, I’ve heard that a reorganization of the archdiocesan bureaucracy is being prepared. Now this would be normally be good news, but it sounds like they’re bringing in outside corporate efficiency experts who may make recommendations based on corporate profit/loss criteria rather than along the lines of the needs of the Gospel. We could also see a lot of the lower level employees—people who actually accomplish some good in serving the Gospel—let go while the middle-management, Voice of the Faithful sympathizers remain in place.
Second, the archdiocese is preparing a new set of rigid guidelines for how parishes are to operate. They codify everything from when employees are to be paid to accounting practices to whether priests will be allowed to smoke in their own rectories. While we’ve seen ample evidence of the need for strict guidance regarding parish finances, some of this smacks of Big Brother. It’s one thing to say that no one is allowed to smoke in public areas of the parish, such as parish halls during functions. But it’s quite another thing to tell a priest in his own home that he can’t smoke a pipe or cigar if he wants. For one thing, a lot of these priests are living alone now anyway. Who are they bothering? And if they do have a vicar or pastor that is bothered by it, they’re grown men. Let them deal with it on their own.
Archdiocese reaches into parish bank accounts
More ominously, in apparent attempt to stem the flow of red ink on its own balance sheet, the archdiocese is planning to require parishes to set up automatic payments out of their bank accounts for money owed to the archdiocese. As it works now, parishes that have loans from the archdiocese as well as those that have to make insurance and other payments, do so like any other bill. The bill sits in the stack and a check is written and mailed. And since it’s not likely the archdiocese is going to foreclose on a parish for falling behind on its payments, often those bills get low priority and are paid last.