Nuns Get Litigious, Sue Boston Archbishop


The Daughters of St. Paul are suing Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, in an attempt to get out of an archdiocese-run pension fund. The Boston Globe reports that the group, which consists of around 135 nuns, wants the right to control the pension plan for their lay employees. These aren’t your average nuns; they run a multimedia publishing house which publishes Catholic books, e-books and programs for iPhones and iPods. It used to be that if you talked during Sunday school, you’d get smacked across the knuckles with a ruler. Now, you mess with a nun’s tech start-up, your ass gets taken to court.

The nuns are alleging that the diocese mismanaged the pension fund and didn’t keep proper tabs of their stake. When the Daughters of St. Paul decided to leave the plan in 2005, they were unable to determine just how much was rightfully theirs:

The nuns’ lawyers say that the plan failed to provide the nuns with basic paperwork regarding their participation in the fund, and that it never notified the Daughters when other employers joined the pension fund.

The trustees deny those allegations.

The matter has become complicated due to the supposed poor bookkeeping:

The nuns believe they are owed $1.371 million, based on their estimate of the value of the assets in 2007. The archdiocese declined to say what it believes the nuns’ assets are worth, saying this is a point of disagreement that it hopes to resolve in mediation. But lawyers for the nuns say the archdiocese has contended that the nuns’ assets are worth nearly $500,000 less, because of a sharp decline in the value of the fund since the 2008 stock market downturn. The pension fund was more than 100 percent funded in 2007 but was only about 83 percent funded in 2010, according to the archdiocese.

With all these numbers being thrown around, it is worth noting that the pension fund the nuns seek to control is only for their employees, not the members of the Daughters of St. Paul themselves.

Both parties have agreed to mediation and will attempt to resolve the issue out of court. If not, Mass could get pretty awkward.