’ve been reading this motivational business book, Jesus, CEO, and even though it’s not much as literature, I think I’ll highlight some passages and send it along to our dazed and confused Cardinal Rigali. God knows the local shepherd of the faith needs some leadership pointers right now, and who’s got better advice than Jesus, Rigali’s presumptive spiritual leader?
I say “presumptive” because in taking on the clergy sex abuse scandal, Rigali and his crew have imitated Machiavelli more than the Messiah. After the Philadelphia district attorney’s office released a blistering 418-page grand jury report about his archdiocese, Rigali told the Inquirer he doubted the value of reading it. So what if Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”? Our cardinal’s credo is, “Avoideth the truth, cover thine ears, and go ‘Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya!’”
Lapsed Catholic that I am, I ignored the cardinal’s advice and waded through the grand jury’s catalog of clerical-collar crimes. It’s no longer news that there are pedophiles in the ranks of parish priests. What’s news is the lengths to which the archdiocese has gone to keep those pedophiles out of the news.
The grand jury discovered that for decades the Philadelphia archdiocese has been run like the Nixon White House. Secret documents, crafty lawyers, obsessive cover-ups, deceptions decreed from on high — it’s all there. Worst of all, Nixonian Cardinal “Tricky Tony” Bevilacqua all but perjured himself before the grand jury. The report reveals that Bevilacqua placed a notorious serial pedophile in an assistant pastor’s job in Conshohocken and then told the jurors he hadn’t been aware of the man’s troubled history — despite a stream of internal memos showing that he’d been making management moves around the priest’s criminal habits for years.
To many, this is the ultimate sin of Bevilacqua and his minions: When it came time to choose between protecting the children and protecting the church, they circled the pews, punished the whistleblowers, and hung the young victims out to dry. Critics have condemned the archdiocese for dealing with abuse accusations in a calculating, legalistic way. The archdiocese’s approach wasn’t Christian, they complain. It was “corporate.”
I’d say that casts far too harsh a judgment — on corporations.