The news media is all abuzz over the incredibly bad and self-serving leadership of Enron. When they weren’t selling off their own stock holdings while advising the little people to hold onto theirs, they were extracting deferred bonuses from otherwise inaccessible sources of money. Not a pretty picture. It kind of makes you wonder about those “qualifications” constantly harped on by various effete human resources and headhunter types. But, that’s an essay for another day.
If there is a bright side, it is that these same top execs are now going to become the victims of their own high-priced attorneys. Even as they liquidate their assets to pay the legal fees, the chances are they will STILL end up in jail. Their best course of action would be to cop a plea, save all the money destined for legal fees, do their time, and come back flush with cash. After all, lawyers or not, their resumes will be a bit tainted, and may limit future employment prospects. Can you imagine some CEO declaring to his stockholders, “Guess what! I just hired Kenneth Lay, fresh out of prison.”
Indeed, if the accused execs had brain one, they would run, not walk, into their nearest US Attorney’s office. You might say that they have been abandoned by divine providence to face the music on their own, minus the common sense necessary for optimum self-preservation.
Which brings us to far more serious fare.
As the number of Boston area priests accused of molestation moves into triple digits, we still hear the Cardinal refusing to resign. Somehow, he is not a CEO, but merely a kindly old spiritual guide. What purpose would be served by his resignation, he asks?
As a Catholic, it is not pleasant for me to attack one of the princes of the Church, but it is way past time for the laity to speak up.
The Cardinal should resign if for no other reason than public penance, the punishment most appropriate for his outrageously bad performance and dramatic loss of confidence from the very flock he would assume to lead, would be scoffed at in these modern times, even during Lent.
Inasmuch as a purely spiritual endeavor can even exist on this side of eternity, one would find it in a cloistered monastery, not in an urban Chancery office.
Yet, there is more to be upset about than a foolish, pouty old Cardinal. It is impossible to read Romans 1:18-32 and not conclude that the wrath of God is in play here. Homosexuality is specifically mentioned, as is the notion that instead of curbing people’s evil interests, God abandoned them to self-indulgence, thereby removing the facade of apparent conformity to the divine will.
Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)
It is difficult enough to realize that a large number of priests have never cared about what is clearly stated in the greatest epistle in the New Testament. The implication is that the “shameful things” cited in Romans were at least between consenting adults, so the current situation involving children, and the cover-up conspiracy of silence, pushes the envelope beyond Paul’s worst nightmare.
There are those, not of the lunatic fringe, who have been saying that there has been a systematic exclusion of heterosexuals from certain seminaries. This notion is borne out when you meet seminarians who inexplicably travel across the country to study for the priesthood, although there is a “perfectly fine” seminary in their hometown. When asked why they came so far, their answers are invariably evasive.
There are also those who point to the forced retirement of older, but still very capable priests, who don’t seem to want to go along with the new program. I know for a fact that this is true.
Concerned Catholics can ask themselves how just these two phenomena have added to the shortage of priests in the US.
Despite the often abysmal leadership, business will survive its Enrons and the Church will survive its current scandals. Help can come from unlikely places. In the case of the Church, we are reminded of St. Catherine of Siena, who lacked a formal education, but became one of most brilliant theologians of all time. It was this woman, the 25th daughter of a wool dyer from northern Italy, who, in 1377, persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome from Avignon.
Her great deeds have been celebrated for over 600 years, and will be celebrated long after we forget the misdeeds of Boston Archdiocesan priests, their Cardinal, and the Enron criminals.
Let that be an inspiration in these uninspiring times.