We detour from the immediate topic of Fr. Bryan Hehir today to highlight this excellent post by Paul Melanson at LaSalette Journey entitled ”Catholics want the truth, not sentimental paternalism” because of that post’s connection to this blog’s interactions with Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson over our coverage of Fr. Hehir. It gets even more interesting and timately when you look at a recent email sent by the Vicar General to chancery employees.
Paul cites Dr. William E. May, a professor of moral theology, who wrote that Catholics, “want the truth, not sentimental paternalism. And they know, deep in their hearts, that the priest speaks the truth if and only if he affirms Church teaching and offers them the help and support they need to make it real in their lives.”
Towards that end, Paul highlighted some things Fr. Erikson said in an interview with The Boston Globe Magazine back in 2006. Here’s what Paul wrote:
Father Erikson spoke of being a “father figure” during his interview with the The Boston Globe Magazine. But, as Dr. May has said, Catholics have a very definite idea of what a loving father should be. They are looking for truth and not sentimental paternalism. And yet, when faithful Catholics have expressed their legitimate concerns over dissent within the troubled Boston Archdiocese, the response they have received from Father Erikson is not that of a loving father concerned with people’s souls, but that of a bureaucrat anxious to dismiss complaints with a wave of the hand while accusing those who have meticulously documented their concerns of engaging in falsehood. This is not the proper approach if one is sincere about “rebuilding trust.”
For readers who have followed our interactions with the archdiocese in recent weeks, we think you know already that we’d agree with the opinion above. The dismissing of valid, well-documented and canonically justified complaints is not a great way to build trust.
Beyond that, Father Erikson was also quoted in the article as saying:
“I expect people to judge us by our actions. I can go down to the Boston Common with a megaphone and proclaim Christ, but it’s how are we living our lives, and how are we leading…And are we doing so in a way that would imitate what Jesus Christ would do out of love and care? And let me say something about upholding Christ…He doesn’t need me to uphold him. But I need to uphold him. It’s about what I need to do to be centered in Christ. Because if my life here becomes primarily about finances and about structure and about corporations, and if I’m more concerned about the heater than I am about people’s souls, then I have lost perspective.
This is beautiful to hear someone like the Vicar General role having said back in 2006. Unfortunately, it seems that there’s something about the chancery in Boston that may change people over time. Though we have not yet seen any emails or actions in response to our blog to correct the undermining of Church teachings we’ve documented which leads people’s souls astray, here are excerpts from a recent email sent by Fr. Erikson to all chancery employees about finance, structure, and corporations:
As I have mentioned at the past couple of Pastoral Center meetings and via email, on 1 July the Catholic Media Group began under Scot Landry’s leadership and the Catholic Foundation continues its great work under the interim leadership of Kevin Kiley. The past several months for the Foundation, while challenging at times, have created new opportunities for not only new catholic media initiatives but an interim period to review our fundraising operations in order to position ourselves for an even more successful future… Turning to the Catholic Foundation, there is hope and confidence that this interim period will be an opportunity to evaluate strengths, improve were need be, affirm best practices and look at new ways of fundraising for the Foundation and others in our RCAB family, so as possibly to benefit from economies of scale. Kevin Kiley and I are meeting regularly to ensure a smooth and effective transition to a permanent successor once the Search Committee completes their work. The Search Committee, chaired by Jack Connors, has begun meeting and assigned duties. The goal is to find a permanent successor as quickly as possible. Some highlights worth noting of recent accomplishments and planned short-term goals during this interim period:
- The Appeal cash budget to support Central Ministries for Fiscal 2010 of $13.5MM has been achieved.
- 2010 Appeal pledges at the parish level are higher than last year at this time.
- Most of the Foundations’ fundraising team remains intact and disruptions in service are not anticipated.
- A review of TCF operations, policies and procedures is underway in order to get a new successor quickly up-to-speed.
- Outreach to each Board and PAC member is underway to gather thoughts, comments and recommendations on Foundation operations.
- Successful closeout of the 2010 Appeal campaign.
- Ready 2011 Appeal campaign for launch next March.
- Prepare for a permanent Cabinet Secretary in hopes of minimizing the learning curve.
- Review other major dioceses fundraising efforts to evaluate best practices.
I am confident that this transition period will be smooth, orderly and fruitful. I am grateful to all who have assisted to make this transition as productive as possible and one that, in the long run, will benefit the mission of the Church.
Blessings, Fr. Rich
The archdiocese is a big organization to run and we do not fault Fr. Erikson for communicating what is going on structurally and financially, and keeping the train on the tracks as he is called to do in his chancery job. We simply highlight the aspirational statement by the Vicar General from 2006 when he started, and invite you to compare it vs the the recent actions.
Father Erikson said “I expect people to judge us [Archdiocesan officials] by our actions.”
People are now doing exactly that.