In a Crisis, the Church must also do what is Right and Just!

During a Catholic mass, attendees recite the words “It is Right and Just” and I thought about those words as Monsignor Tim Hogan from St. Fabian Catholic Church delivered the homily this past Sunday.

He talked about the current crisis in the Catholic church calling the reports in Pennsylvania “sinful, criminal and scandalous.”

People were brought to tears, one man shouted Amen and many applauded. 

The songs during mass that morning even reflected Monsignor’s urging to turn to Jesus. He also reminded us to pray for the voiceless victims.

The world needs more church leaders to speak out against these atrocities.

I struggle discussing this issue from merely a public relations viewpoint because the allegations of sexual abuse are much greater than a communication crisis issue. However, how the church is handling the issue deepens the wounds.

I am not really sure what to make of Pope Francis’ response to reporters asking him when he knew about the allegations. As the Catholic News Agency reported the Pope said, ‘I will not say a single word’ on Vigano’s allegations of cover-up.

He told reporters, “I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment,” he answered. “I will not say a single word on this.”

Speaking aboard the papal plane from Dublin to Rome Aug. 26, Francis said he believes in the “journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions,” calling it an “act of faith.”

Is he implying, consider the source? Was he not prepared to respond?

These comments came after the extremely insensitive comments from a new cardinal. As the CRUX reported, Mexican Cardinal says, “Abuse victims should think about skeletons in their own closet.”

This just further demonstrates how so many clerics are completely out of touch.

In terms of Pope Francis’ approach, if you don’t tell your own story, someone will. In a crisis, you never want reporters to surmise what is going on. Tell them.

I am Catholic and I love my church but our leaders need to speak out.  I am also journalist and communications strategist who has dealt with many crisis situations.

An Investigation needs to occur and the truth needs to come out. If these allegations are true, people will need to be held accountable.

Monsignor Hogan stood at the podium apologizing for the church. He, of course, bares no responsibility but he

realizes the importance of acknowledging the atrocities and the need for the church to take responsibility.

Change needs to occur and it will in the Catholic church.  The leadership needs to accept sound advice from lay people; experts can help assess issues in areas they clearly are not understanding.

As Monsignor Hogan so appropriately pointed out, these reports of allegations are sinful, criminal and scandalous.  All of these areas need to be addressed and the church needs to consult others who have a better understanding.

If forgiveness is desired than repentance is required. Legal action should be taken if the investigation proves these allegations to be true. From a communications and public relations perspective, the church must take responsibility, must apologize and must set policies in place to ensure this will never happen again.  Leaders must answer questions. They owe truth to the public, the followers and the church!

After all, it is Right and Just!

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