Monday, April 23, 2007

Cardinal Egan: "My We Knows" in the Age of IAO (Knowledge is Power)

From today's New York Times:

Cardinal Edward M. Egan submitted his letter of retirement on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

He has shuttered half-empty churches, faced down disgruntled parishioners and retired an unsightly $20 million deficit, all in the name of putting the Archdiocese of New York on sturdy fiscal legs.

So the question for Cardinal Edward M. Egan arises: Will this white-haired prince of the Roman Catholic Church follow the lead of other large dioceses and release the archdiocese’s financial reports to the public?

Cardinal Egan considers the idea for a second or two, and offers a smile more suggestive of steel than humor. Wall Street titans sit on his finance council and study his ledgers. The cardinal sees no point in public inspection.

“I am transparent to the best possible people,” he said in a rare interview in his 20th floor office on First Avenue in Manhattan. “So when you say, ‘We don’t know,’ well, my ‘we’ knows.”...

... Appointed archbishop seven years ago, Cardinal Egan reasoned that his greatest immediate challenge was to straighten out the financial problems that afflicted the archdiocese. He tended quickly to his listing ship, paring budgets, closing parishes, installing nine finance directors to oversee the archdiocese’s 10 counties, and working with wealthy laity to raise the many millions of dollars needed to keep this vast machine of churches, schools and charities running.

But to this day, it is difficult to draw the precise measure of his accomplishments. Before Cardinal Egan arrived, the archdiocese had run an annual $20 million operating deficit, which it was financing partly by borrowing internally. Church officials declined to give details on the nature of this borrowing, other than to acknowledge that it created a new mountain of debt, totaling more than $40 million.

Cardinal Egan says — without offering a look at any ledger sheets — that he wiped out the operating deficit within two years. As for the $40 million worth of internal debt, last week church officials said they were paying it off at a rate of $3 million per year.

But on Friday, a spokesman for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said the archdiocese would retire that internal debt by midsummer. He offered few details about this sudden turn.

“Money we had has been put aside and invested and is now sufficient to pay off the debt,” Mr. Zwilling said. “We had some surpluses and fund-raising, although I don’t have a breakdown.”

An accomplished fund-raiser, the Cardinal also declines to talk about his work in that realm, save to describe himself a “a beggar” at the doorstep of wealthy benefactors. And he has refused to release even a bare-boned accounting of the archdiocese’s finances, although four of the five largest dioceses in the nation — Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Brooklyn — have done so.

He raises a forefinger in caution. He’s quite clear about his mistrust of the press.

“Do we want to leave ourselves open?” Cardinal Egan asked, referring to public disclosure of church finances. He rolled his eyes. “Oh, what fun people could have!” ...

... Last fall Cardinal Egan repelled two small rebellions, one by priests (which I wrote about here) who accused him of being arrogant and of failing to attend to the spiritual needs of the faithful, and another by parishioners who challenged his closing of churches. He replied to his priestly critics by writing an angry letter accusing them of a “vicious attack” intended to smear him. These unhappy few, he argued, were upset only because he had cracked down on child-abusing priests. (He also expressed his displeasure to the 42-member Presbyteral Council, a consultative priests’ “senate,” which then passed a resolution of support for him.)

Parishioners have actually protested the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy closing and planned DEMOLITION of various church structures, within Egan's jurisdiction and elsewhere.

The Committee to Save St. Brigid Church

This contrasts with the situation in Washington, D.C.'s South Capitol Street (overview) that I have written about previously, in my South Capitol Street Frederick Douglass Mall blog.

This just proves how morally bankrupt the Catholic Church really is.

Too bad the politicians waited till the buildling was half wrecked to do anything. And the Hibernians too.

Posted by: JW [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 26, 2006 5:16 PM

"Why not spend the money and take care of the people at home?"

You know the answer as well as I do, Clayton; the Church doesn't care about individuals, all it wants is to have the most individuals following their word.

Posted by: Frank Language at August 26, 2006 10:43 PM

Egan and his cronies are willing to destroy history to get some silver-just Like Judas Iscariot. Then they dare wonder why so many Catholics are leaving the church?

Posted by: Patrick Reilly at March 18, 2007 2:01 PM

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