Thursday, April 3, 2014

Self-servant leadership

"I know it sounds self-serving," is how Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki began a paragraph in this column from last summer in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald. The column was on our Archdiocese's release of files on child-molesting priests. What he said would sound self-serving was his going on to say
"but the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has historically established programs ahead of the national trend. It consulted experts. It initiated Project Benjamin, a commission that attempted to address the problem and offer advice on what the church could do to address the problem."
"Self-serving" is is defined as "serving one's own interests often in disregard of the truth or the interests of others". I'll assume that Archbishop Listecki is right and what he said does sound self-serving.

If so, then the Disclosure Statement our Archdiocese filed in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy sounds self-serving in the section The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Archdiocese’s Response (pp. 23-27).

And I'm not seeing a distinction between what Archbishop Listecki and our Archdiocese's court filings say and Pope Francis's saying

"The Catholic church is perhaps the lone public institution to have moved with transparency and responsibility. No one has done more... ."
A common way to avoid making a self-serving statement is to instead have someone else vouch for you, someone who could plausibly appear to be knowledgeable and objective. For a long time, our U.S. bishops attempted to use Paul McHugh in this role but instead turned his opinion into a talking point. (see my earlier post Without really trying) Regarding the Disclosure Statement, our Archdiocesan weekly was reduced to quoting an anonymous "legal observer".

Here on the secular side, reaching the point that "anything more I could say would sound self-serving" means one ought not say anything more. Why it has the opposite meaning for our bishops remains unclear.

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