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The incompetence defense

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 16, 2005

So Bernard Ebbers will take the rap for the massive accounting fraud committed under his leadership at WorldCom. Testifying in his own defense during his trial, Ebbers said that he didn't realize what was going on among his subordinates. The jury didn't buy it.

Why, then, have jurors-- or rather, prosecutors-- been so ready to accept the same defense when it's offered by American bishops? Maybe it's because we presume competence on the part of corporate CEOs.

Bernard Ebbers was in business to make money, and he'd made a lot of it. Bernard Law was in business to spread the faith, and after his departure, the Boston archdiocese began closing parishes-- because there weren't enough people to fill the pews.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 16, 2005 7:09 PM ET USA

    Bernard Law should have been in the business of spreading the Faith. Unfortunately, the only business he and his ilk were in was occupying the chancery office, and occasionally occupying the diocesan chair (cathedral).

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Mar. 16, 2005 4:53 PM ET USA

    Money can be measured without ambiguity. Personal greed was a clear motive for the Worldcom participants, things get muddy with in case of Cardinal Law -- they see no personal gain on his part of the enabling of the sinners, and the threats, lies, and misery imposed on the innocent other than that empty phrase "for the good of the Church". Ebbers, Lay, and the rest were energetic, risk-taking sinners, while the bishops are slothful risk-adverse sinners.