Today Pope Francis released a letter responding to the horrific report on sexual assault involving 1,000 victims and 300 priests in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, where I just happen to be speaking today.
I know we are talking about a religious organization, but it is still an organization, a large, wealthy, international one, and any CEO (or, if you like, Chairman of the Board) would have to issue a formal response to a scandal of this magnitude and these damning realities. There is no mystery about what such a statement has to include, if it is going to be ethical rather than defensive, sincere rather than deceitful:
1. This is unacceptable for our organization, or any organization, but especially for an organization like this one.
2. We apologize unequivocally and without qualification to the victims and their families, as well as all members and supporters of our organization who trust us and rely on us to do the right thing. We did not do the right thing. We are responsible for terrible things, things no organization should ever allow.
3. Our organization and its leadership are accountable for these acts.
4. I am personally and professionally accountable for every crime and betrayal of trust in this scandal that occurred on my watch, and there were many.
5. Therefore, I resign [OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED.]
6. It is undeniable that this scandal, which is a continuation of an ongoing scandal reaching back decades if not centuries, is a byproduct of a corrupt and pathological culture within this organization. This culture must change.
7. Here are the steps the organization will take, immediately and going forward, to change it.
The entire letter is below. My ethics verdict: it is the Papal version of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, a tsunami of words designed to blur the issues and accountability. Prayer and fasting? Gee, why didn’t we think of that before! The Boston scandal that blew the top off of the Church’s world-wide coverup was 17 years ago: I’m pretty sure there has been a lot or praying and fasting since then. Obviously, it doesn’t work, not on this, and it is insulting and demeaning for the Pope to fall back on such reflex nostrums. Some lowlights: Continue reading