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The bishops and ‘best practices’—does that sound familiar?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 08, 2018

If you liked Cardinal Wuerl’s proposal—that the US bishops, having lost their credibility, should set up a committee to restore credibility—then you’ll probably love the follow-up suggestion from Cardinal Blase Cupich—who thinks that the bishops can find the inspiration they need from corporate human-resources experts.

Brilliant! Then the bishops just follow the “best practices” recommended by the HR people, and presto! The problem disappears. Thus once again we see the wisdom of St. Paul, who recommended (1 Tim 3: 2-3) that a bishop should be “temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, familiar with the latest reports from McKinsey…” Or words to that effect.

But wait. We’ve been down this road before, too. Once again I refer you to an old commentary by Diogenes, in this case from 2006, when a group of corporate leaders met with American prelates to educate them regarding “the best tools of modern management—detailed budgeting, comprehensive financial disclosure, human resource policies that reward high performers…” So you see our bishops already were acquainted with those “best practices.” Which makes their current plight all the more mysterious—unless you have read Diogenes’ analysis.

I hope I won’t be giving it all away if I merely report the names of the bishops who attended that session:

Those attending that session included then-Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick; Wilton Gregory, then-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; conference vice president (now president) William Skylstad; and Bishops Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., and William Friend of Shreveport, La.

Notice anything there?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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