THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Church Pension Records | Globe Editorial

Nuns deserve full accounting

March 25, 2011

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ALL RELIGIONS have their mysteries. The status of their pension funds should not be one of them.

For years, the Daughters of St. Paul have been trying to obtain basic financial information about a pension fund run by the Boston Archdiocese. Frustrated by the lack of response, this order of nuns is now asking the Supreme Judicial Court to order Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley to give them a full accounting of their investment — or to rule that they were technically never part of the church-run plan and deserve a full reimbursement of their contribution.

The Daughters represent 60 nuns who live in Boston and run a publishing house. The funds at stake are not for the nuns, but for their lay employees. The nuns, who have been trying to leave the fund since 2005, believe they are owed about $1.3 million. But, according to their suit, the archdiocese won’t tell them what their assets are worth.

The archdiocese denies the nuns’ account. But over the years, a lack of transparency has been a problem for the Boston archdiocese, including nagging questions about the status of a church pension fund for ailing and elderly priests. Critics maintain that money that was supposed to go for clergy retirement was used instead to pay stipends to accused sexual abusers who were on involuntary leave; an accounting study released by the archdiocese in an attempt to quell complaints concluded there were not enough records to determine how much money was used before 2000 to support priests accused of abuse.

The archdiocese insists all its funds are now in order. But the Daughters of St. Paul deserve answers to all their pension investment questions, and it’s too bad they have to go to court to get them. The SJC, alas, is a higher power that even a cardinal must obey.