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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  • Posted by: DanS - Aug. 12, 2018 11:36 PM ET USA

    Wuerl and Cupich leading a committee to restore credibility?! Foxes and hens...

  • Posted by: jslabonik53 - Aug. 10, 2018 8:11 PM ET USA

    Pius V had great instructions for dealing with corrupt clergy.

  • Posted by: BCLX - Aug. 10, 2018 6:10 PM ET USA

    This piece gives a bad rap to corporate HR departments. There's nothing in the record that there is a sense of "best practices" in anything done on this issue so far. Best practices in action would have surfaced this problem in a way that multiple parties would have to deal with it. Of course it can be swept under the rug. That's what you get by having the bishops "police" the bishops.

  • Posted by: Scott W - Aug. 10, 2018 12:32 AM ET USA

    Brilliant & devastating piece. I'd only add that "high performers" have been receiving rewards. You mean, of course, "high-performing fundraisers," right? Because McCarrick was exactly that. Just like that guy Tetzel....

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Aug. 09, 2018 8:51 AM ET USA

    The best practice has been read by billions of people. From Matthew 5:37 - "But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil." The question is can our Bishops and priests be truthful. Stay tuned. We will know all come judgement day.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Aug. 09, 2018 8:15 AM ET USA

    The smoke of Satan is not only blinding, but also toxic. Deus non irridetur!

  • Posted by: feedback - Aug. 09, 2018 3:09 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Cupich worked tirelessly to become world famous as an expert on mercy, and the "Joy of Love," and respect for individual conscienece, and his moral disdain for the death penalty or even for unemployment (which he compared to the evil of PP's sale of baby body parts) - all of which are moral concepts nonexistent in the corporate mentality. So, why his sudden swing towards practices of "experts" from corporate HR? Is this just another smoke screen to divert attention from the real issue?