Thursday, June 9, 2011

NCR on John Jay Study: "Not a Process That Would Pass Muster in Secular Society"

The latest National Catholic Reporter editorial assesses the recent John Jay study.  A passage that leaps out as I read the editorial:

We have no reason to question the integrity of the John Jay researchers. Those involved in the study have emphasized that the bishops never interfered with their efforts. Yet any reasonable observer would agree that the process simply doesn’t pass a basic test for avoidance of conflict of interest, and particularly not for avoidance of the appearance of conflict, the standard we apply to public servants and agencies. The researchers did the best with what they had, but they weren’t, in the end, certain of how much they had.

In other words, this is not a process that would pass muster in secular society.

And there's where the chagrin lies, for me.  Over and over again, the leaders of the Catholic church ask us to accept processes and standards that are beneath those of secular society, when it comes to transparency and accountability.  When it comes to moral acumen.

And at the same time they ask us to trust them implicitly and unilaterally as the unparalleled spokespersons for moral truth.  While situations like Philadelphia and Kansas City-St. Joseph just keep on happening.

Michael Sean Winters and Valerie Schultz may still find  "cute" things to celebrate about being Catholic, like the feel of Rosary beads or the Eucharist (we have it; you Protestants don't; nah, nah, nah!).  But for my money, the ongoing disconnect between the moral standards the bishops ask us to accept in their behavior (standards as low as humanly possible) and the moral standards to which we ask our secular institutions to adhere: this makes me ashamed to be Catholic.

And it makes it impossible for me to find much at all to celebrate about the Catholic church right now.

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