THE BOSTON VIRUS, No. 65

Continuing Connors Code of Conduct Conundrum

The newspapers are abuzz with stories about President Obama returning to Boston this Wednesday, May 18,  for two political fundraisers.  One of them, at the Brookline home of Jack Connors, is sold out and is expected to raise $2 million for the President as described in this May 3 Boston Globe article, “Connors adds campaign fundraising to philanthropy.”

We wrote about this on May 4 in “Is Archdiocesean Anti-Corruption Effort Corrupted and Conflicted?”  BCI brings this up once again because of what seems to still be an unresolved conflict between Jack’s actions and the Archdiocese’s new Code of Conduct, and we hope to help Cardinal O’Malley and the archdiocese avoid the sort of scandal to the faithful that Cardinal O’Malley himself has warned against.

It boils down to this. Jack Connors, by virtue of his service on the Finance Council and Campaign for Catholic Schools is considered to be in the category of “Church Personnel,” who now needs to abide by the Code of Conduct.  Reader, “Joann” and others reminded us over the weekend that the Code of Conduct says the following:

“Church Personnel will conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the Bishops in communion with him.  More specifically, Church Personnel shall, in all such matter, accept, rely upon, and defer to the teaching authority of the Archbishop in all matters of faith and morals.” …

Church Personnel will continually and objectively examine and evaluate their own actions and intentions to ensure that their behavior promotes the welfare of the Archdiocese and each applicable Archdiocesan Affiliated Organization and exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.

Here is the exact passage for those who want to see it in context:

There is no question that the moral tradition of the Catholic Church opposes abortion–as do certain applicable Archdiocesan Affiliated organizations–and there is little doubt that President Obama is pro-abortion (see “Obama recalls Roe v. Wade, backs abortion rights” and “Barack Obama on Abortion“).

So, can Jack, through his public and private actions, serve as chair of Partners Healthcare (one of the largest abortion providers in the state), raise money for pro-abortion politicians such as President Obama, endorse them, lead faithful Catholics and others to vote for them, and presumably vote for them himself, while also somehow promoting the welfare of the Archdiocese and each applicable Archdiocesan Affiliated Organization and exemplifying the moral traditions of the Church?

As we all know, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in a 2007 interview with the Boston Globe, acknowledged that Catholic voters in Massachusetts generally support Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, said, “I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I’m concerned.”

So how does Jack’s support for candidates who favor abortion rights reconcile with the Code of Conduct policy and the Cardinal’s own belief that it borders on scandal?

Here are a few excerpts from the May 3 Globe article:

Connors adds campaign fundraising to philanthropy

Jack Connors and his wife, Eileen, are hosting President Obama at their Brookline home on May 18. The event is the latest example of the advertising executive’s expansion from traditional philanthropy work to political fundraising.

By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff

When Vice President Joe Biden wanted to meet the right people in March to set up the fundraising apparatus for his and President Obama’s reelection committee, it was Jack Connors who greeted him at his 60th floor office in the John Hancock Tower and then took him down two flights for a reception he put together.

And when Obama comes to Boston in a couple weeks to ask for cash itself, it will be Connors again who welcomes him, this time at his Brookline home.

The president will leave with about $2 million from a dinner that is already sold out.

The back-to-back events highlight Connors’s connection to the White House, as well as his expansion from the philanthropy and foundation work that has followed his successful career founding the advertising powerhouse Hill Holliday.

Connors has now gotten into political fundraising after a courtship begun by Obama two years before he was elected president in 2008.

First, Obama aides asked Connors to come to Washington to sit down with the then-senator. No dice, said Connors. He encouraged his caller to have Obama ring him the next time he was in Boston.

A couple months later, the aides called back, asking Connors and his wife, Eileen, to ride with Obama from Barnstable Airport to a fundraiser in Chatham. The couple agreed.

“I got in the car with him, kind of took the measure of him, and he did the same to me,” Connors recalled on the telephone late last week. “By the time we got to Chatham, we were both smitten.”

Connors, a millionaire many times over who is dedicated to helping those in need, said he was impressed by Obama’s practice of being friendly to everyone he met, from the police officer who escorted him to the waitstaff in the hotel.

Connors ended up introducing Obama at three Boston fundraisers during the 2008 campaign, but he largely receded into the background after the president was elected.

His more recent focus has been raising the $120 million needed to build and endow the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Dorchester.

Yet as Obama and Biden gear up their reelection effort, Connors feels compelled to help. His fundraiser is generating $35,800 per couple.

“A lot of my friends who have made a bunch of money like I did are Republicans, and I’m still tied to being a Democrat, and I think the president said it right the other day: ‘It’s about values,'” he said….

Despite the dinner he’s hosting May 18, which will take place after Obama holds a mass fundraiser at the Cyclorama in the South End, Connors said he has no plans to extend his work beyond Massachusetts — or seek some kind of reward, diplomatic or otherwise, if the president is reelected.

By means of contrast, here is what Cardinal O’Malley said in the Boston Globe on November 15, 2007.

“I think the Democratic Party, which has been in many parts of the country traditionally the party which Catholics have supported, has been extremely insensitive to the church’s position, on the gospel of life in particular, and on other moral issues,” O’Malley said.

Acknowledging that Catholic voters in Massachusetts generally support Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, O’Malley said, “I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I’m concerned.”

“However, when I challenge people about this, they say, ‘Well, bishop, we’re not supporting [abortion rights],’ ” he said. “I think there’s a need for people to very actively dissociate themselves from those unacceptable positions,

BCI struggles to see this in anything other than black-and-white terms. Since Jack is supporting pro-abortion politicians and failing to dissociate himself from that unacceptable position,  then it would seem to BCI that Cardinal O’Malley feels Jack’s actions border on scandal.  It has been pointed out to BCI over the weekend that he is also working against applicable pro-life Archdiocesan Affiliated Organizations and against the moral traditions of the Church, which objectively constitutes a breach of the Code of Conduct.

According to the Code of Conduct, Church personnel who disregard or violate the code “will be subject to remedial action. This action can take several forms, from an oral or written warning to removal and termination of employment or services.”

Has Jack been warned to cancel the fundraiser with Obama on Wednesday or face remedial action such as a verbal or written warning or termination of his services? Is the new Code of Conduct that took many months to write and approve not enforceable?  Or is this provision in the Code one that the archdiocese is simply not keen to do something about because it’s Jack Connors?

What do you think is the best way to stop the scandal?

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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