I wrote this short essay for college a while back. I thought I would throw it up here for all to see.
Case Study 1
The first case study is on Pope Benedict XVI. When I refer to the Pope I will be referring to the man himself and the institution of the Catholic Church in general. The Pope and the institution can be thought of as two separate heads on the same body. This report addresses the Pope’s dire mismanagement of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and subsequent cover up.
The writer apologises in advance if the language of this report seems overly critical or cynical, that is not the intention as there is simply no nice way to say uncomfortable facts. The writer feels this is necessary in order to highlight the dreadful management and seriousness of the situation.
Put bluntly, the silent cover-up of the systematic rape of orphaned and disabled children. In 2009, The Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) investigated this abuse in Ireland. 1
The level and frequency of abuse discovered here could be described as endemic.
The report is a sickening. Victims were whipped with belts and sodomized until bloody -- at times by many attackers and then whipped again and threatened with death and hell fire if they spoke a word about their abuse. Children who were brave enough to report these crimes were accused of lying and sent back to their abusers to be raped and tortured again.
The facts show that the misery of these children was hidden by the ladder of the Catholic Church at every level, up to and including the Pope. In his last job as Cardinal Ratzinger, he oversaw the Vatican's response to reports of sexual abuse in the Church. These many desperate complaints of abuse were thrown out, witnesses were silenced, bishops were admired for their defiance of secular authority, and offending priests were relocated only to ruin new lives.
The situation here is the Pope’s mismanagement in the cover-up of child sex abuse cases and complaints. This situation will span the last thirty years or so. The principle parties are Pope Ratzinger, the Church itself and the victims.
In examining any management situation, one must consider the power structure. Under Canon Law the Pope is the supreme commander over all Catholic bishops and priests: Canon 331 gives him by virtue of his office, ‘full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, and he can always freely exercise this power’. 2
So, the buck stops with him regarding all matters, his role is absolute. This kind of autocratic power within the church may have created an unquestioning and uncritical mindset within the flock which probably exacerbated the cover up. It may have created an atmosphere of fear were the very dishonourable thought of blowing the whistle would have been unthinkable.
The Pope’s role in all of this is clear. He was head of The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to 2005; The CDF required all sex-abuse complaints to be managed in a secret internal fashion under canon laws, without any interference from police or courts. 3
It was on his watch that a huge amount of the abuse took place, how much he knew of its extent and how offenders were moved around from parish to parish, trafficked to other countries and shielded from the law of the land in not clear until the CDF is required to open its files. Even so, enough damning evidence has come to light which seriously questions the man’s moral competence as the general manager of the Catholic Church.
Blatant self interest has clearly motivated the shameful cover-up. This shows itself in the desperate attempt to protect the reputation of the church. The motto is to protect the church not the children. The Church’s decision not to deal with crimes in the normal way, i.e. by actually reporting them to authorities, has only exacerbated the problem. This was a bad management decision; history may show it to be one of the nails in the coffin for Christianity.
The reputation of the church was given infinite importance over the concerns of victims. This corrupt line of thinking shows itself over and over again. In 2001, the Vatican actually congratulated a bishop for refusing to inform police about a paedophile priest. ‘I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration’ said Cardinal Hojos, with the personal approval of Pope John Paul the second. (Robertson 2009)
There are many instances of cover-up. An example is the letter sent by the Vatican to Dublin which told Catholic Bishops not to report child abuse. (See Appendix 1) The letter is complete with legal weasel words such as: "For these reasons and because the abovementioned text is not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document."
These “study documents” were followed to the letter but if challenged they could say it was “only” a study letter. This is having your cake and eating it, this is what happens when a top down management loses all its credibility.
The Vatican knew it was wrong so they wrote it in such a manner as to get out of any future trouble. Or in other words it is not official policy but this is what we want you to study and learn from. You could say, although it is immoral, it is also clever management.
One management technique used by the church is that of the avoiding turtle (class tool) i.e. they sidestepped and postponed the issue in a pathetically procrastinating manner. Instead of simply being honest about it, they skirted around the issue, even blaming others. The Pope even seemingly defended paedophilia with this quote: “pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children.". 4
The churches’ utterly autocratic style with its multilayered top-down power structure has made communication very problematic. The pope’s complete authority from the Vatican in all matters is totalitarian in nature which means that the Vatican gives direct orders to other Catholic Institutions around the world.
A management style employed by the church was the Process Approach. (Class notes) This style uses principles such as authority and discipline. It uses a scalar chain of command. The process approach subordinates individual interests and puts the common interests first, which is exactly what happened when the Church put its interests ahead of its victims.
Who are the other participants in this situation? The media and the general public at large could be considered other participants here. The media, for the most part, condemned the child rape and cover up. But in some circles, there was a kind of feeble criticism, a muted disapproval which you felt was giving way too much “respect to the faith”. They responded like that because of either A) self interest; they are defending their own faith, or B) the taboo nature of criticising religion that exists in the media/public. These reasons acted as motivators.
In other circles there was outright defence of the church; Seemingly under the impression that religion was under attack by the new atheists, certain gutter-press journalists tried to create red herrings, in defending the indefensible they spewed forth articles with the usual twaddle such as “not all priests are rapists” and “but religion does good” as if this was earth shattering news to the rest of us. They also claimed the rape numbers were exaggerated. But the bare fact remains; a cover up is a cover up no matter how many children were raped.
The zeitgeist may be changing but it’s this kind of automatic exaggerated respect for religion in the media/public that is still embedded into culture. It can and does obstruct justice; take the police in Ireland, who knew full well what was going on but did little or nothing mainly because of the hyper respect given to the Catholic ethos. Also, apologists in the media tended to deflect and avoid and more often than not attempted to paint the church as the victim.
If I was the Pope, I would close down the Vatican effective immediately. I would open all of the secret files to the public and authorities which relate to cases of child abuse, something which the Vatican refuses to do for all the obvious reasons. I would scrap the top down hierarchical power structure that gives too much power to the few and which caused the mess in the first place.
Any good manager of people should know that criticizing others is not productive; this is especially true when it is you who is in the wrong. It amounts to nothing but self denial and not taking responsibility for your actions. The worst thing you can do if you want to get somebody to listen to you is to criticize him or her.
If I was the Pope, I would do something constructive for once instead of blaming atheists, humanists, and secularists for the “evils” in the world. On his visit to London, the Pope equated atheism with Nazism. He said the following: “As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century”; implying that atheists are somehow as bad as Nazis.
Does he forget about the Catholic heritage of Jew-hating which was deeply entrenched in Germany at the time? Does he forget that Hitler was a Roman Catholic? Does he forget when Hitler said this; from a 1933 speech: “We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement”. Apparently he does forget. But he of all people knows only too well that rather a lot of Nazis were Catholic, including himself.
It’s this kind of pathetic whimpering by the Pope that does not help the situation. He is trying to create a smokescreen as to distract from the real issue of the cover up. This is the ranting of a bare faced liar, a protector of child rapists and an awful manager of people.
So, if I was the Pope, instead of spewing out lies and instead of painting a false picture of history, and instead of blaming others, I would open files, abolish canon laws and engage in real and honest debate. The church has no right to exclude priests from the criminal justice system of the country where they work. However, this seems too much to ask of the church and certainly too much to ask of the old fashioned and backward Pope Ratzinger, who is practically a living fossil in office.
Organized religion will never catch up with modernity unless its books are completely re-written. The Vatican ship is sinking fast; it needs to take real steps in order to regain even a shred of respectability and credibility.
The Vatican’s canon laws are the only laws in town when it comes to dealing with troublesome priests who rape children. These laws or “rules” are an absurdity. They are ineffective. In fact, they are not even laws at all. In the real world, outside the fantasy world of Catholic canon law, if you commit a crime, you are punished by the law of the land i.e. long jail sentences, hefty fines, community service, even death in some countries. But under canon law, a penalty might be saying a few extra prayers.
This non law deals with offenders with warnings and counseling, offenders are moved on to another parish, privately shamed but never publicly named. Canon law gives priests the motivation to rape children because there is effectively no punishment. This parallel legal universe is insane.
Canon law has no DNA test facilities, no public hearings and the most severe punishment is excommunication. Can you imagine this happening in the real world? Can you imagine if McDonalds made up its own laws? And if an employee raped a child, he was simply moved to another branch or he was sacked. This is what is and has been going on in the Catholic Church for centuries.
The Vatican needs to be rid of ancient canon laws if they want to engage with the real world. Saying extra prayers for raping a child is an absolute disgraceful insult to those who have been affected.
There is no denying the bare fact that the world wide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger. He was sluggishly reactive instead of proactive in handling this abuse crisis. As a matter of fact, he was not even reactive, he was positively unhelpful. He will not return child records sent out of Ireland to the Vatican (by priests) which are wanted by the Irish government to assist the work of the Murphy and Ryan Commissions.
The facts are clear: tens of thousands, perhaps a hundred thousand around the world, mostly boys, have been abused by the clergy; thousands of clergy have not been defrocked for this but have been instead moved around and dealt with under non-punitive canon law. Was this a correct management decision? No. It was a disgraceful and incorrect one.
Those of us who bow in front of religious institutions will see that putting aside reason in our dealings with religion is dangerous. We have failed to apply to the church the apt criticism which was necessary for such an outrage. We have failed to stand up for those innumerable children who have been buggered by priests. This awful motivation is a direct consequence of faith; i.e. the belief that you have a connection with God and that you are above the laws of humanity and that you have the power of forgiveness. What worse crime can there be than the rape and torture of children? What’s worse than to take the innocent and destroy their lives? And then, to cover up such terrible acts while at the same time blaming others and creating smokescreens.
The Vatican’s top down autocratic management of its own people has only made communication worse. How can there be honest criticism and clear thinking when members of the church are known as sheep in the flock?
Will the Vatican put the interests of children first? Journalists talk of the Pope as a kindly old man, but an analysis of his management style suggests a man preoccupied with power and unable to give any of it up, even for the sake of innocent children.
1. The Murphy Report http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB09000504
2. For a list of Canon laws, see http://www.secondexodus.com/html/catholicdefinitions/canonlaw.htm
3. Robertson, G. 2010. The Case of the Pope. Penguin, London