Monday, July 23, 2012
Why will the NCAA move quickly to protect children but the Vatican won't?
I sent this email to my bishop today. I was encouraged to post it on my blog. As background for readers outside the United States, today the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced severe sanctions for Pennsylvania State University's (Penn State or PSU) football program in response to exposure of the university's culture that harbored a pedophile assistant coach for over a decade. The former assistant coach was found guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys, misusing his position with the university and being enabled by the university's head coach and multiple officials.
I think Penn State will heal from their child abuse scandal sooner than the church though the enabling factors were quite similar. The reason I think they will heal sooner is tied to this article about the NCAA sanctions.
The NCAA must have children to exist because they feed the program. This is the same as the church.
However, the NCAA is a true governing body over the individual entities (schools). They work carefully to maintain proper boundaries and eliminate conflicts of interests. In contrast, the individual parishes and dioceses somewhat answer to the Vatican. The Vatican is fickle as to when it intercedes or doesn't. Also, the Vatican seems to place a higher value on their brotherhood than the children needed to justify having a brotherhood to begin with. Perhaps this is because the Vatican brotherhood seems tainted to make decisions that preserve their best interests versus ones in the best interests of the church. Often the two seem to conflict. In the professional realm, the church's governance model would be seen as a nightmare or joke. It operates under a dated managerial model that has been repeatedly demonstrated to be ineffective if not detrimental to the organization at large. Who in the church hierarchy studies modern models of organizational dynamics and organizational theory?
Back to the NCAA - they know that they must restore trust of children and parents or their entire being is threatened. They need to make a bold statement (with these reparative and punitive sanctions). They need to send a strong signal to children, parents and coaches that such behavior as occurred at PSU WILL NOT BE TOLERATED, and the perpetrators and enablers WILL NOT BE LAUDED IN ANY WAY. The perpetrators and enablers are not models to emulate.
Conversely, the Vatican tries to diminish the severity of the abuse claims, skirt the issue, and deal with the victims only when forced. They fail to acknowledge the collateral damage to their credibility to the church at large. Cardinal Law, one of the worst enablers of perpetrators has been rewarded rather than reformed. He makes over $200k/year - far more than the vast majority of families in the world. He has a prestigious position at Santa Maria Maggiore. Thus, few people take the Vatican seriously that they care about the children. If the Vatican told Law, Finn, Rigali, etc.... that they personally must pay from their treasuries (which are far greater than an apostle should have, btw) for child abuse prevention programs - that would make a positive impression. If these same guys were stripped of their laudatory titles such as bishop, cardinal, etc.... that would make a positive impression. If these guys were made to work as parish priests (vicars - not even pastors) working with the poor in inner cities, that would make a positive impression. But dragging feet, and then making weak conciliatory gestures all the while that laudatory titles remain, and positions are given with higher remuneration than 90% of the world - that makes a profound negative impression - that is almost irreparable. That is what the Vatican and bishops have chosen to do and that is why their credibility will continue to spiral and the sheep will continue to scatter.