The Shake-Up

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 13, 2004

Have you ever been part of an organization (a business, a military unit, a school) in which a shake-up was under way, in which -- because of the need for "down-sizing" or for other reasons -- it was obvious that personnel were soon to be culled or replaced?

If so, you knew --however low you were on the totem pole -- that serious business was afoot. The whole atmosphere of the place is changed. Small talk ceases. The usual jokes aren't told. Unannounced closed-door meetings take place, often after hours, often including quiet but purposeful strangers. The secretaries of the mighty walk about grim-faced. Buttons are buttoned, cabinets are locked, neglected duties are attended to. As days go by vacancies appear, some accompanied by public farewells and statements of regret, others silently -- you come to work to find a neighboring office empty, with no explanation.

Note that the shake-up is obvious to anyone with an extended association with the organization. You don't need inside info to realize what (in general) is happening; there doesn't have to be some leak or slip or indiscretion from the inner circle. Even the UPS guy can sense the change.

Now I put it to you that there is not the faintest suggestion of such a shake-up in the Church post-Crisis. Programs, apologies, analyses, statements a-plenty; promises of better screening; covenants nailed to church doors; some serious thinking about the economic consequences -- all in evidence. But I don't hear even a bat's squeak of concern that any churchman will lose his job because of unfitness or because of catastrophic decisions in the past. In fact, the indications are that the experience of the past two years has taught bishops and superiors exactly nothing, except perhaps in the realm of PR damage control. This from yesterday's CNS round-up:

Father Edward J. Burns, a former seminary rector and now director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Priestly Formation, said another sign of the heightened attention to celibacy formation in recent years has been the growth of professional development programs for seminary formation personnel in that area. He cited three such programs for formation personnel as examples -- those run by St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., and the Creighton Institute for Spiritual Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

Got that? St. Mary's Baltimore, the notorious "Pink Palace," is arguably the most gay-friendly diocesan seminary on the East Coast. The Creighton U program has a good rep, but the St. Luke Institute is a parade example of the treatment centers singled out for criticism by the National Review Board as contributing to the crisis, as part of the problem. And the bishops' news service cites these as instruments in the new improvements in "education for celibacy." Remember Fr. David "chastity is the condition of being affectively present and available to all" Donovan? Coming soon to a rectory near you.

So after 25 months of non-stop humiliation for the Church, culminating in televised press-conferences with "Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal" theme-banners in the background and a painfully detailed catalog of dereliction, the dust settles enough for some stock-taking:

Total Reported Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse: 10,439
Total Costs to Church Consequent on Abuse: $572,507,094
Total Bishops/Superiors Deposed for Malfeasance: 0

The history is history, as Bishop Gregory says -- which means that, for us, it's the future as well.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 16, 2004 4:42 PM ET USA

    Actually after I get so upset about the scandal (and the total failure of the hierarchy, including the Pope) that I actually pray, God sends me in the right direction. This time it was with a quote: "Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church's enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith." –St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 15, 2004 10:00 PM ET USA

    Dear WBeckman, I am sincerely sorry that our comments distress you. It IS a very, very bitter pill for a recent convert to swallow, but it is not something that I think that most of us who feel called to write in will cease from doing anytime near in the future. Whether "they" will listen is not necessarily important. In the words of Blessed Mother Theresa, "We are not called to be sucessful, but faithful." Every Catholic must remember Luke 17 that "The Kingdom of God (the Church)" is within.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 15, 2004 7:34 PM ET USA

    And Christ rose from the dead. So will the Church.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 14, 2004 5:17 AM ET USA

    When are you people going to wake up? Not a damn thing is going to change. The bishops are not going to change and Rome isn't inclined to change them. We've been betrayed the same way Judas dealt with Christ, from the parish priest all the way up to JP2.. Any illusions to the contrary are a waste of time. All that's left is the personal practice of the faith. What a bitter pill for a convert...

  • Posted by: - Mar. 14, 2004 12:05 AM ET USA

    God is not mocked; it means that the next sign from heaven will make the current scandal look like a tepid wave in a bathtub during USCCB rubber duck races. Pray this Lent that Rome will act; so far as I know they are the only ones who can fling the culprits out on catapaults.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 13, 2004 11:43 PM ET USA

    From Luke Chap 12 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. It is the Vatican itself that has oversight that is in the gravest danger.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2004 7:59 PM ET USA

    As you know Diogenes, the term 'down-sizing' is out. Too negative. A 'downer, you might say. Today it's all about 'right-sizing - more positive, implying correctness and rectitude. Thus our episcopal elites conclude that with ZT for priests, sundry apologies and hand wringing, things are just the 'right' size now. But as with shoes that don't fit, the wearer is always conscious of them and eventually throws them out. Qui legit, intelligat...

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2004 12:45 PM ET USA

    As I recall from the Scripture, the Pharisees didn't immediately resign nor were they removed from power after the crucifixion despite the veil of the temple being rent, the earth quaking and saints coming out of their tombs, etc. In fact, it took about 37 more years before the point was driven home in a way that couldn't be ignored. So, one shouldn't be surprised that the parasites who have secured themselves in the church bureaucracy aren't leaving. But one should be worried...