Thursday, April 15, 2010

Damage Control at Vatican Inc.

 image source: jobsanger
Vatican Inc is in big trouble. The worldwide corporation  is going to have to change its business  model in order to survive a worldwide scandal that might, just might, bring it down. It is one thing to think in centuries rather than years, it is quite another to live in the past.

What worked during the Inquisition and Counter Reformation, won't work today. Burning people at the stake is no longer an option and excommunication has lost its bite. Vatican, Inc had better learn some more modern damage control techniques.  Time for a little self examination and a total overhaul of the corporate structure.

The new rules for  handling priest pedophiles that were announced on Monday are all very nice.  Let's see if anything really changes.  Posting these rules on a website will certainly not reverse the damage done by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, who compared the public outrage against the Vatican  to  Jews in WWII and the "worst  excesses of the Holocaust" or the declaration by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, that homosexuality was the cause of pedophilia .

Then there was the Vatican spin machine which along with Bertone, insists that clerical celibacy has  nothing to do with clerical child molestation. Such assertions do nothing to help and, in fact, make crystal clear just how dysfunctional the Church's view of human sexuality is.   We are talking about a puritanical, homo-erotic, anti-female view of sex that goes back to St. Paul and St. Augustine. Celibacy is the ideal. Marriage is the fallback position for those who cannot handle celibacy and sex is ok between married partners for the purpose of procreation only.  You are not supposed to enjoy it.

Priestly celibacy is a mark of holiness.  This point of view is built on a theological  construct that elevates the priesthood to a mystical magic level without which the authority of  Vatican Inc would be severely restricted.  Thus the Church has sort of painted itself into a corner when it comes to sexual scandal, especially scandal involving the rape and abuse of  innocent children by the clergy.

As I follow the current priest pedophile revelations,  I remember sitting in a convent garden with an elderly nun of my acquaintance one spring afternoon twenty-five years ago.  She was a spiritual giant--a woman who gave her life to service in the name of Christ and her Church.  She was certainly a jewel in the crown of Catholicism.  I knew her because I was involved with an organization she ran. I loved and respected her.  To me, she represented the best of  the Roman Catholic tradition

 I will never forget the conversation she and I had that day about pedophilia in the Church It was still very hush hush then, but we were talking about a man we both knew who had just gone public with the fact that he had been sexually molested by his Parish priest from the time he was seven to the time he was eleven.  She opined  that the greater sin was not the abuse, but the hierarchy not addressing the problem and that sooner or later the Church would pay dearly for its denial.

 How right she was.  Payback day is here, I fear, as I watch the Vatican, again and again, totally mishandle media and public relations.  Once again it is circling the wagons, protecting the institution at all costs  and lying and playing the victim.. In a world where there is instant communication via the internet and 24 hour cable news programming worldwide, it just isn't going to work. Too many victims have come forward with provable, believable stories from  all over the world.  It is ironic that the word " catholic" means " world-wide"  since  a  long record of sexual abuse by priests seems to exist across the globe from Australia and North America, to Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy and even the precincts of the Vatican itself.  The universality of the church may, in the long run, be its undoing.  People are angry and repulsed all over the world.

There is no refuting the truth of the allegations.   There are no excuses to be made.   As with any corporation or government, when it comes to responsibility, the buck stops with the CEO and the Board of Directors( in this case the college of Cardinals). So far, they don't seem to be getting the picture..... but eventually they will. They have to if they want to survive.

I wonder what the boss ( not the pope; the REAL boss) would think? I doubt he would be too pleased.



JamaGenie said...

For hundreds of years, Vatican Inc has relied on the isolation of victims of pedophile priests to keep their crimes under the radar of public scrutiny. Thanks to the internet and cell phones, that isolation has vanished. The genie can't be stuffed back into the bottle.

If Vatican Inc is ever to repair its tarnished image, it should stop shielding priests who prey on children and allow them be prosecuted by lay courts. It should also abolish the policy of celibacy, which in itself won't eliminate the pedophiles, but IS a long overdue step into the real world.

Doing away with the skirts and ballet slippers wouldn't be a bad idea either.

pinkpackrat said...

Actually, I like the skirts and slippers and I'm partial to incense too. But I agree, that the Church has to stop covering up and being defensive and just do a good job of protecting the children.

Frieda Babbley said...

This article is an excellent one, political packrat. And the video you chose to include was a very powerful one.

pinkpackrat said...

Thanks Frieda-- that video sort of says it all.