Seemingly, the Roman Catholic Church, including the Diocese of Bridgeport here in Connecticut, defaults to dogma.
The more controversial situations become - e.g. sealed documents about the clergy sex abuse scandal, the whistleblower's lawsuit resulting from the late gay priest's theft of $1.3 million in church funds - the more the Diocese appears to be digging in its heels on what the right thing ought to be, given its own canon law and centuries of teachings. Currently it seems to be losing, both in the court of public opinion and in the court of law. That's unfortunate. The Roman Catholic Church has much to offer us confused and suffering human beings during these brutal economic times.
My recommendation? Analyze the strategies and tactics leveraged by the Kennedys to transform controversy into a platform for not only their message but the common good. On "Face the Nation" this morning, Barney Frank deconstructed the unique effectiveness of the Kennedys, Father and Son, in getting passed breakthrough legislation such as parity for the mentally ill. Frank pointed out:
- They were skilled pols. They struggled to identify the sweet spot or the points of common agreement among the warring constituencies. Why isn't the Roman Catholic Church in America, the land of conflicting voices, a more astute pol?
- They identified and hired the best. Therefore, they had down cold all aspects of and perspectives on an issue. Why isn't the Roman Catholic Church much much better in the art and science of public opinion? Times have changed since it was the pull force for upward mobility for immigrant Americans. Yet its message and how it communicates it haven't.
- They created coalitions with the opposition. Ted was especially imaginative and persistent in doing that. Why isn't there more of a reaching out to dissident voices? Twice I requested an interview with the spokesperson Dr. Joseph McAleer. Silence. That was even though I had done freelance communications consulting for the Diocese in 2004. A low-cost, high-reach vehicle could open the institution to a dialogue is the Bishop's blog.
- They embraced their flawed humanity, confessed their sins, and made amends through action. Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church could make wise use of a version of the 12-step program. Step one might be for the Diocese of Bridgeport to admit that it is powerless over human nature. The Catholic Church perceives our being as inherently dark. That's essentially the concept of "original sin." William Shakespeare called our human propensity for evil "cankered in the grain." Once the Church accepts this as an operational given, then it will be as vigilant as any business in structuring and executing checks and balances. That $1.3 million theft at St. John's Church might not have happened. Those seven priests in the Diocese wouldn't have had the opportunity to exploit children.
Digital technology has revolutionized the tone and content of how we communicate. Top-down makes us giggle - and push back. Horizontal talk and writing let us know we're respected. We pay attention. We're less positioned for ineffective rebellion.
Perhaps the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church can learn how to talk with others versus top-down to others from this ebook I created essentially for business on life as a conversation Download SavingSoulsJaneGenova. Here's another one, also free, on boosting emotional intelligence [EI] Download CUsersjasneDocumentsjg.
Note: The New Atheists aka The Brights have also been accused of rigid stance of absolute certainty.