Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

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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