Archbishop Sean O'Malley is seeking to revive the struggling Catholic school system in Boston and has chosen one of the archdiocese’s most prominent critics to do it.
Businessman Jack Connors Jr., a philanthropist and active Catholic, harshly and publicly criticized church leadership about the sexual abuse crisis. Over the last three years, he repeatedly offered to assist the archdiocese in emerging from crisis that has followed the scandal.
"Everybody is a Catholic who wants to be on board and wants to help the church," the archbishop told the Globe. ''There is no blacklist here.”
Archbishop O'Malley asked Connors to head a task force that will come up with a plan by next spring for improving, governing, and financing the school system. The plan will probably close some schools in urban areas and open new schools in suburban areas, where there are few Catholic schools for the number of people who moved out to the area.
Church officials across the country are increasingly concerned about declining enrollment and financial troubles at Catholic schools. In Boston, the number of Catholic schoolchildren has dropped from 152,869 in 1965 to 50,742 today. The archdiocese has had to close several schools in the last few years.
According to the Globe, Connors made his fortune as a founder of the advertising firm Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc. He served as chairman of the Boston College board, which completed a $440 million fund-raising campaign during his tenure. He also headed fund-raising events for Catholic Charities, and he currently heads the board of Partners HealthCare, the largest healthcare network in the state.
''I don't have any problem with my faith,” Connors was quoted as saying in the press.
“I have problems with the leadership of my faith."