Catholic, Inc.

Catholic, Inc.

Our last post addressed the diocesan administration of funds, especially regarding the purchasing, rehabbing and running of the St. Joseph Retreat Center in Tipton, Indiana, which appears to have had a substantial impact on diocesan finances.

Whatever one thinks of the business acumen (or lack thereof) which continues to drive the project, the next point of impact will be the parishes, which have been instructed to adopt a slew of business and operational strategies developed by the diocese as a part of the Uniting in Heart 2030 Pastoral Plan.

A letter from the bishop dated October 30, 2020 lays out the new blueprint for parishes and pastorates:

Dear Missionary Pastors,

I write to you with a grateful heart. You minister during one of the more challenging times in Catholic life. Little is normal in 2020. Still, I am aware that rewards arise amid challenges.

On August 19, you accepted my invitation to be a Missionary Pastor of a Pastorate. My commitment to you at that time was to provide you with the resources required for building up a pastorate reflective of my Uniting in Heart 2030 pastoral plan.

I am aware you are not all equally equipped in terms of temperament or experience. This was not why you were designated. But each of us brings capacities that can move the mission. In this particular letter, I can clarify my hopes and expectations shared with you on August 19th. Honing expectations is a way to maintain the strong foundation for our work. More particularly, this letter emphasizes your priestly office of administration. In the future, other memoranda will focus on your offices of teaching and sanctification.

“I am aware you are not all equally equipped in terms of temperament or experience. This was not why you were designated.” This is quite an interesting statement, given that the diocese’s FAQs about UiH stated specifically that the 2030 Pastoral Plan would address the problem that “Not all priests have the skills or desire to be pastors.” Yet now, the above would seem to suggest that all the upheaval the parishes have been through with the reassignment of nearly every member of clergy has not, in fact, led to better-qualified pastors, and evidently, nor was it intended to: “This is not why you were designated.”

The letter continues with a description of administration as ministry and an admonition against resisting the directives of professionals:

Church administration is ministry. A number of years ago I gave you Father Donald Senior’s book The Gift of Administration to aid our appreciation of that part of our calling. I realize that this is not necessarily where we have been trained or even desire to spend our time and energy. I remember griping to a farmer about how much desk work came with my first pastorate. He told me how much office work it took him to produce and market his crops. “It’s not time away from my work, it’s part of it,” he said.

Catholic priests are criticized for the weakness of policy directed standards by professionals who interface with us. Pastoral and finance councils help with expertise that we might lack. What really can hurt our mission is a lack of humility in our willingness to accept professional guidance. We need to receive criticism (both positive and negative) with humility. A sage leader recognizes at every stage that competent advisors are needed because we do not always know what we do not know. And then, guided by holy wisdom, we must allow the advice to guide us toward decisions that build up the body of Christ.

Every organization has an element of business to it. And every business or profession depends on a working organization. Because of this, we must have appropriate business standard-practices in place. For example, if you have an EIN (Federal Tax ID No.) or stable income, you have revenue, expenses and budgets to deal with; thus, we are bound by accounting standards including audits. Your investments must be handled consistently and correctly. Employers and employees are bound by Federal Labor and OSHA laws. We manage personal and property insurances. Daily we oversee liability and risk mitigations in both human and material resources.

It is my responsibility to ensure that, as a diocesan whole, we are current in best practices, processes and procedures so that none of these elements causes adverse consequences. One of the many diocesan projects is updating Policy Manuals both in our Office of Administration (formerly the blue book) and for other diocesan offices. Our policies and our standardization of certain organizational practices will no longer be optional. As pastors, you should expect to be able to move from pastorate to pastorate and find the same practices.

It’s certainly true that “Every organization has an element of business to it,” and that clergy and pastors must handle investments, insurance, labor and personnel issues with care. Persons in charge of such things must either have or else develop such competencies. And perhaps it’s cheaper or better for all parishes to have some procedures in common.

However, the mandatory standardization of all procedures at every parish, so that each operates essentially as a franchise right down to every piece of software downloaded and ream of paper bought, comes from the corporate worldview, not the ecclesial one. It could be argued that it further bypasses the notion of governance and management occurring at the lowest level (subsidiarity), long held as a principle of Catholic social teaching.

Further, promoting the idea of the Church as a failed business model in need of revamping is the bread and butter of consultancy groups like the Leadership Roundtable, as we discussed in a previous post.

How will this thoroughgoing transformation of practices be carried out? Policy manuals are being rewritten in a way that is “no longer optional” and naturally will entail the use of corporate continuous monitoring strategies, as the bishop’s letter goes on to describe:

Each pastor has been assigned a Pastoral Consultant to assist you in the full implementation of Uniting in Heart. In the clear expectations document, presented to you when I asked you to be the Missionary Pastor of your Pastorate, I shared that we were entering into a new way of being. I want to clarify for those who are not sure of what this means about what I intend for the diocese. Efficiency helps to ensure mission effectiveness. In order for Uniting in Heart to be effectively implemented there is not only a need to have dedicated pastors leading our pastorates, but we also need the best qualified employees in place.

Pastorate Consultants are expected to journey with you, support you and assist you. As a Missionary Pastor, the Pastoral Consultant is to be a true collaborator, someone who helps you see things objectively and shares best practices from across the diocese and be an advocate for you. Your Pastorate Consultant should be an integral part of the development of ministry in your pastorate. To name a few areas:

–Development of an organizational structure. There will be no hires or organizational changes without their consultation and assistance in assessing employee’s qualification. They should know each of your employees, including the positions of Director of Operations and Director of Evangelization, and work to unite the staff in one location where it is possible.

–Selection and Development of a leadership team

–Employee development

–Employee issues including but not limited to hiring, improvement and, where necessary, termination

–Pastoral Finance Council structures and functions- (based on the Catholic Standards for Excellence and best practices)

— Common Chart of Accounts and Common Accounting System

— Paylocity modules for employee onboarding;

–Time card/absence/time-off reporting; tracking of new applicants for open positions, etc.

–Common parish database (Realm). Any ongoing use of legacy parish database systems must be discontinued by January 1s, 2021

–Common email system. The common e-mail system for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana is Microsoft Office 365. All pastorates are to adopt this system, in which all your employees already have accounts by February 28, 2021. This means that employees and clergy will discontinue the use of private or parish e-mail accounts for diocesan, parish or school business and ministry.

— Common website vendor (eCatholic). For multi-parish pastorates, one common website is more practical and efficient in many ways. eCatholic will support you in an easy transition to this model.

–Common computer systems, such as

Operating systems

Business application software

Computer system vendors

There will be more details forthcoming in the area of technology standards to provide greater security and efficiencies.

So our “new way of being” seems to be a total corporate-style rewrite, which involves clearing out any structures (or people) that no longer fit the plan from above, and handing the parish reigns over to a paid compliance czar.

Many months ago when we speculated that UiH would erase parish culture and mandate an artificial homogeneity, we received some criticism. As the plan becomes more explicit, we find this more and more to be the case.

We all can agree that the Church should practice careful stewardship and the responsibility needed to carry out her work. It is sad, in our opinion, and likely unjust, to assume that no one desires or knows how to do this, and must have an assigned Watcher and slew of rigid policies in order to carry it forward; that a pastor cannot even hire a secretary or DRE without direct personal oversight, that a parish finance council can’t do its work without particular approval and direction from the diocese.

One of the ironies is that the quest for ultimate “mission effectiveness,” achieved by controlling “all processes and procedures so that none of these elements causes adverse consequences” is that it can backfire and have adverse effects of its own.

In other words, the habit of elevating “risk-mitigating” to a primary mission goal carries its own set of risks. In this case, it involves the damage that happens when it becomes evident to all that our leadership trusts the capability and judgment of no one. What can be more adverse a consequence than alienating communities, leaving people with the knowledge that their parish–its councils, ministries and staff–can be unceremoniously rebooted (or just booted) by an employee of the diocese–with whom their pastor evidently shares his authority but not his vocational charisms? In short, the Faithful’s ecclesial life will be co-run at the parish or pastorate level by someone who neither knows nor cares about them personally, but who has a job to do, goals to hit and boxes to tick.

Just as Our Lord intended.

The relational aspect of the Church fades (father-children, Shepherd-flock, bridegroom-bride), replaced by a simple authority structure: boss-employees, with some middlemen standing in the gap to make sure anything not appropriately oriented to someone’s notion of “vibrancy” gets flushed. And bear in mind, this so far only deals with the administrative aspect; new guidelines for teaching and sanctification are still to come.

Catholics understand loyalty. It is perhaps the one thing that has prevented utter collapse in the face of many scandals and doctrinal failings. Is Catholic, Inc. a thing to which anyone will feel loyal? Or will they just experience a growing alienation as their customs, roots, and workers are scrutinized? Perhaps UiH’s adoption of Our Lord’s phrase from the final judgment, “Behold, I make all things new,” was appropriate after all, since they have brought in the winnowing fans to sweep through the Faithful’s lives.

The bishop’s letter concludes with some words about the challenges of change, and by reminding the pastors that:

I commissioned you to be a Missionary Pastor who shares my vision and accepts the awesome responsibility of shepherding the people of your pastorate. And don’t forget that we are looking at Uniting in Heart 2030, a years’ long sustained response to the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit draw us into a renewed discipleship that we have yet to imagine!

That, we suppose, will have to be everyone’s consolation when the shake-ups, revamps and firings begin.

Please take some time this week to pray the rosary for our diocese, for all those who make decisions, and for all the souls impacted by them.

40 Replies to “Catholic, Inc.”

  1. I’m hearing that many parishes have protested their United in Heart assessment. The new fruitful harvest is being challenged by many parishes, Costs are running way over on United in Heart and there is great internal strife. Soon someone will pull a finger from the dike and a great scandle will be revealed.

    1. Which parishes? Who in the parish? Laity, staff, clergy, combinations? How are they challenging? By not paying? By petition? Costs are running over in administering the fundraising? By how much? Isn’t part of it contracted out to a third-party? Who is responsible for overruns per the contract?

      Without more concrete information, even if of the rumor variety, we really can’t act or help in this process.

      Nonetheless, Merry Christmas!

      1. Three priests told me they declined to give to the new fruitful harvest and that the proceeds from the new fruitful harvest are so low that church property is being sold to make up the difference. After I returned the pledge card with a note concerning why I would not give, I got a form letter in response. Perhaps others did too. Do property sales have to be reported to the laity, published in the paper or posted in financial statements?

        1. I did the same and got the form letter from the Bishop a month ago — it said he would have videos on the diocesan site addressing all our giving questions. No videos yet …

          1. And don’t forget all the parish UiH target amounts are now for 16 months as opposed to the 24 months of the Fruitful Harvest campaigns. So, target amounts are higher now when comparing to prior requirements.

          2. If the video they send you is of a dumpster fire rolling of a cliff into the , I might just give to “Uniting in Money” or “Checking Account on Fire” or whatever the fundraising drive is called. The truth deserves to be rewarded.

    2. I’ve been scandalized for a good few years now thanks to our terribly poor leadership. Now, the masks are off. The emperors have no clothes. And the extent of their duplicity, arrogance, and faithlessness is being dragged out into the light. Praise God!

      God is allowing the occasion of the pandemic to accelerate the demise of the modernist scourge inside Holy Mother Church. Locally, there is a justice being meted out in watching the unfolding failure of Uniting in Heart; An overdue reckoning. You simply cannot make the Church into something Christ did not design Her to be. Holy Mother Church is always faithful to Her Bridegroom. You cannot change Her mind on this point. The protestant underpinnings of Uniting in Heart, that eventually will be fully exposed, will attract no one of good will. They aren’t Catholic. That’s why these stupid “evangelization” schemes bishops trot out every five years or so always fail.

      They. Aren’t. Catholic.

      The only thing that saves the Church is rediscovering Her ancient Traditions: Transcendence, beauty, honor, reverence, and a fearless presentation of the perennial teachings of the Church. These things bring joy, peace, surety, strength, and for those that only care about the bottom line, rear-ends in the pews. But you cannot give what you do not have. And our leadership has a malformed understanding of Who the Church is. So what they give is equally malformed. And people of good will can smell a stinker like that from a mile away. And so they stay away.

      So Merry Christmas, modernism. May it be your last. The great heights you think you’ve scaled in fundamentally transforming the Church into some sort of free-masonic punching bag pale in comparison to the profound depths you are about to plunge headfirst into. Good riddance.

      O Mother Mary, Destroyer of All Heresies, pray for us.

  2. Has anyone looked into the money paid to Partner’s Edge, Leadership Round Table and Our Sunday Visitor have been paid to do this work? Do pastors have a right to see these charges? I have heard that total it is in the 7 figures.

  3. We have available solid shepherds willing to lead us , Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Cardinal Sarah and the vigilant Carlo Maria Vigano. Rather than become exhausted with the shenanigans taking place in our parishes we can read and follow these good men to strengthen our faith, understand what is taking place in the dark church which parallels the deep state of our government and to truly deepen our faith in the One True Church.

    I believe these problems are the fruits of Vat II and will be remedied by a return to the traditions of the One True Church instituted by Christ himself.

  4. Is it just coincidence that funding is being provided to restructure (neuter?) the one institution (Church) that can speak truth to power at the same time our country is also being restructured? One possible issue is that if priests feel tightly controlled it could make speaking out against controvesial political and moral issues much more difficult?

  5. It seems to me that this UiH just leaves priests divided and disenfranchised. If priests are sorted from each other and then the “chosen ones” who buy into the vision are scrutinized from headquarters how can priests not be disenfranchised from each other, from their diocese, and from their parishes? The corporate model is a bad fit for parish life.

    1. I agree. This info should have been provided at the beginning. Not going to hold my breath though. The bishop hasn’t been forthcoming about anything else. It is do as I say with little concrete information just vague statements. Think he should sell the home he lives in it and put the money on the debts of the diocese. It is way too big for one person and under the circumstances, lavish. Frankly, I want a priests in charge of things not some corporate overlords. Looks like we may have to go outside of the diocese to feed our souls. What a sad state of affairs.

  6. The recent Red Wolf post about Pastoral Consultants being assigned to every parish („pastorate”) to „assist” the actual pastor, who of course is a priest, was the most shocking Red Wolf post yet; in fact, almost shocking beyond belief. What this amounts to is a permanent watchdog over each pastor. A layman– or even a woman, which has its own implications. Bad ones.
    The whole bizarre plan raises many questions:
    1) Has this “model” been introduced in other dioceses, who also have used the Cheeseborough outfit to re-configure their diocesan structure?
    2) If so, why has this not been brought to our attention by Red Wolf? And if not, are we the guinea pigs for this bizarre experiment?
    3) We have been given the impression by the diocese that it is declining income for the parishes that has forced this consolidation of parishes. It seems to me that employing a lay Pastoral Consultant for each parish is going to come at great additional expense for parish/diocesan budgets. After all, lay people usually command higher salaries than priests. And even if not higher, this is a doubling of expense.
    4) Was this fundamental change in parish governance even hinted at, much less honestly explained, in the original material purporting to explain the Uniting in Heart project? Were the priests even made aware of this change at the beginning, or were they blindsided like the laity? If so, the only thing this can be called is trickery.
    P. S. I am giving my real name, as there is nothing further left to protect.

    1. “Was this fundamental change in parish governance even hinted at, much less honestly explained, in the original material purporting to explain the Uniting in Heart project?” If it had been, people would have been up in arms a lot faster maybe, and also the money would have dried up faster, which it is doing right now according to some of these comments. It was obviously a frog in pot thing. Trickery as you say. Shame on them for their dishonesty. And bringing in people that support abortion-loving politicians is disgusting and gross, like we are supposed to have our parishes shaped by individuals that don’t even understand or adhere to Church teaching themselves. It’s a no from me. Guess what, I don’t owe them obedience or my money for their lame projects. I just took myself over to and left my money there. Next month I will do the same with Sisters of the Poor that Biden threatened to take to court. And so on. I’m supporting things that are actually in accord with my faith, not this dishonest stupidity.

    2. 61 parishes in the Diocese of Lafayette, each parish being charged $10,000 for Uniting in Heart= $610, 000. Seems like you could pay a bunch of new Diocesan consultants out of that if you wanted to.

      1. It is left unclear whether these Pastoral Consultants are permanent or temporary, but my suspicion is that they are to be permanent. Otherwise there would be some indication as to the expected time frame. And if permanent, their salaries are going to cost a lot more than $10,000 per parish.

        1. Agreed, but wouldn’t the consultant be over a pastorate (as opposed to just a single parish)? Ten grand from each parish but just one governance to oversee. And maybe the same consultant could be in charge of more than one pastorate. Who knows?

      2. What I like about the 10k charge is how fair it is; Because we all know that Our Lady of the Back of Beyond parish (with its 3 elderly parishioners who occasionally tune-in for live-stream mass) is just like one of our diocese’s large, wealthy parishes (where you could probably cobble together 10-grand in change from under the pews on the floor of the church).

        As for how the money is going to be spent? Abandon all hope of transparency. It should be enough to know the money will be wasted on expensive vanity projects that meet USCCB approval for dioceses transitioning into “closeout sale” mode. Also know that if you tithe responsibly (like Emily above), not a cent of your money will be thrown down that black hole.

        Come, Lord Jesus.

  7. God help us. I don’t think these men have Faith. They run Christ’s church as a business- content to quantify everything according to policies, best practices, and standardization. This is not the Bride of Christ. Christ did not count the cost. Christ did not implement “best practices” when he came to bring salvation. This whole thing is both heartbreaking and infuriating.

  8. So who are Pastorate Consultants? Lay people or fellow priests? We need more information on who these people are and how they were hired.

    1. One of them worked for years for Father Ted Dudzinski at Blessed Sacrament. Another, an open supporter of pro-abortion Joe & Kamala, was hired from out of town. Not sure who else will be on the Dream Team but it’s off to a great start.

      1. If one had open support of Biden and Harris who hired them? Bishop Doherty? Who? This is a disgrace that someone who supports abortion policies has been hired as a pastorate consultant The consultant seems to have been given too much power. Have we now sold out to the devil? All of this will be answered before God if not before the people of the parish. If the name of this person is known I would not support anything they suggest and may God have mercy on the priests and the people of this parish. May God also have mercy on Bishop Doherty his legacy will be a loss of vocations and souls.

  9. All I can say is bishops are to shepherd the flock to help lead us to heaven but in stead they are trying to control us. If money is the problem it wouldn’t be had you bishops done your job in your spiritual works and had trained the seminarians to be orthodox instead of passive then maybe so many people wouldn’t be leaving the Church and the money would be coming if you bishops not look the other way instead of covering up all that is happening in the Church. We need SPIRITUAL LEADERS, not CONTROLERS

  10. I think the bishop’s line “I commissioned you to be a Missionary Pastor who shares my vision” says it all about this man. He expects all of his priests to kowtow to “his” vision, no matter how flawed and disruptive it may be, rather than exhibiting true servant leadership, as Christ did. A dose of humility would serve him well, and it is an example of a virtue sorely lacking in this bishop and perhaps most of the U.S. bishops. They didn’t get to where they are by being humble.

  11. “Take nothing for the journey, He told them, “no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no second tunic.” Luke 9:3 How in the world did the Church succeed? It used to be Faith, now it’s Money and Control. How will the corporate model for control and financial personnel uniformity result in the salvation of souls…or is that a goal?

    1. Which apostle was it again that had to hang on to the purse because he was totally obsessed with how funds were administered and how to get worldly achievements done? Oh, yeah, I remember now.

      1. I’m not exactly sure who you are referring to, but he sounds AMAZING. I have to admit my AMAZING formal Catholic education was limited to K-12 Catholic schooling and back in those days we mostly colored in pictures of bearded guys in robes holding walking sticks (Even today I remember coloring-in pictures from my junior year that I did in the first-grade; Gosh, those religion teachers were so AMAZING! I always got A’s in their classes because I had a way with crayons – always stayed inside the lines).

        Anyway, maybe the AMAZING guy you’re referring to is one of those bearded guys? I think I remember the one with the little money purse you spoke of. He always looked sad or angry so I would color him a bright, happy, orange! I forget which religion teacher it was (either sophomore year or third-grade…who knows, they were all AMAZING), but one of my many bright orange, angry, robed, bearded guy holding a walking stick & purse coloring assignments came back with a grade of A-plus with a little note next to the grade that said “AMAZING JOB!”

        Still makes me smile after all these AMAZING years…

        Well, back to planning next year’s AMAZING parish CCD, Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage-prep, Bereavement-group, and RCIA classes. I don’t want to give away too much but it’s going to be AMAZING! Let’s just say I hope the virus lockdowns end and supply chains re-open. I’ve had boxes of crayons and coloring books on backorder for months!

  12. I am all for “back office” standardization where it is not felt by the flock but when the decisions for personnel hiring and strategy at the local level are made at the diocesan level it will seriously affect every parishioner and future parishioner. I came from a corporate world with many restructurings, even doing the mergers and acquisitions myself. The problem with this approach is that when you strip away all key decision making from the local level you leave no “skin in the game” for priests. So if they hire someone the Diocese wants and it doesn’t work out – there will be no accountability at the local level. All blame, and rightly so, will be thrust upon the Diocese. This entire approach breeds a lack of accountability and ownership at the local level which will only engender mistrust and apathy.

    1. Accountability. My first thought was, “This is limiting good and orthodox pastors, but at least it will curb some of the very liberal and unorthodox pastors.” Then I remembered the premise of “Infiltration” by Taylor Marshall.

      Now, when subsidiarity is replaced by a top-down management style, then practices are completely reflective of the theology and political bent of the diocesan leadership. So rather than weeding out the practices of unorthodox pastors, it may be the very instrument to infiltrate each parish if the diocesan leadership is, in fact, unorthodox. Everything depends on the the Pope, Congregation of Bishops, and unorthodox young boys clubs across America (USCCB) for the appointment of unorthodox bishops made in their own mold of infidelity to Tradition, Scripture and authentic Magisterium.

      Much like the arguments about the COVID vaccine, it appears the governing body seeks to develop the vaccine, buy the syringes for each parish, determine how much serum they want to introduce, provide mandatory nurses to administer the vaccinations, and demand each pastor and parishioner to roll up their sleeves and loyally stick out their exposed veins to receive the selective missionary vaccine.

      No thanks.

      I am ready to work with others to affect a new and missionary, non-violent guerilla warfare that goes beyond prayer -in other words, I do not feel I am being call to a cloistered reaction. I am ready for a non-cloistered movement.

      1. I’m less worried about that type of unorthodox infiltration (I mean, it obviously happens some places) but I think what is more likely is imposing just plain old banality than none of us will be able to escape. That is an awful lot of power to give to these “Consultants” over how a church runs, how a PASTOR does his job, who teaches our children, how our money is spent etc. Who are these people and what are their qualifications to do all this?

      2. Speaking of vaccines…I’m no anti-vaxxer, but none of the COVID vaccines appear to be free of morally troubling development or testing, and no one can be taken seriously if there are claims being made that they are safe. I would hope our bishop would begin to speak out about these troubling concerns as Bishop Strickland has and begin to fervently lobby against any local or federal mandates that one must receive these vaccines as a qualifier to access services or goods–particularly since his academic background has experience in this area.

        Red Wolf, perhaps a separate blog post on the troubling issues surrounding the current COVID vaccine is applicable at this time?

  13. “Not all priests have the skills or desire to be pastors.”

    Haven’t priests been formed in seminary with exactly the expectation to be pastors? Doesn’t God make competent the chosen rather than calling the competent? Interesting how certain priests seem to have been given special status and recognition as “missionary pastors” while many good and experienced pastors were given the boot. Won’t this just create more division among an already divided clergy?

    1. With all due respect, no. Not all priests become priests to be pastors. In fact, some outright don’t want to be pastors – at least not based on what being a pastor entails these days.
      (That being said, I don’t disagree that this might cause more division, though.)

Leave a Reply


1. No personal attacks against other posters.
2. No spamming comments.
3. Restrict comments to the topic of the post.
4. Pray, then post, as discussed before.

Your email address will not be published.