Friday, May 7, 2010

The Church's Current Crisis and Catholic Health Care

Happy Friday to all of you.

I am here in Saint Louis for the last day of this Health Care leadership conference. I have been working with this Catholic health care system for over fifteen years. Their commitment to quality and leadership is an annual source of inspiration from me. I take what I learn back to the employees at WLP and try to inspire leadership in every one of our employees.

One thing has struck me this week, which I haven't thought about very much. I have heard from more than one person here that any group associated with the Catholic Church these days struggles because of issues facing the Church today. The worldwide attention drawn to the clergy sex abuse scandal and the inability of some bishops and Church leaders to deal effectively with the crisis affects Catholic health care systems as well. There is a sense that "we are all in this together." I guess that's what we mean when we use the term "Catholic identity." While the quality of health care may be the best, there are those who are suspect of any organization that calls itself "Catholic." This is sad. We have a long way to go to recover from the stain that this crisis has marked on our Church. I know there are those out there who think that I spend way too much time mentioning the crisis, but it is real, and this week, with these wonderful people dedicated to Catholic health care, I have seen again how deep is this wound.

I am looking forward to returning home later today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...


How do you square this with the NYT/ CBS Pew Research Poll that essentially says that Catholics are really pretty much over this issue and don't consider it to be a major factor in their relationship to the Church? From the NYT article regarding this poll:

A new poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times has found that 77% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly say that “the Vatican’s handling of recent child sex abuse reports” has had no effect on how they “feel about the Catholic Church.”

88% of Catholics-- practicing and non-practicing-- report that the scandal has had no effect on their dealings with priests. 82% say it will not affect their Mass attendance, 79% say it will have no effect on donations, and 87% say that it will have no effect on their children’s involvement in Church activities.

Other findings...

•45% of practicing Catholics, but only 13% of Americans overall, believe that the Vatican has done a good job handling the scandal

•75% of practicing Catholics, and 50% of the overall population, believe that the Vatican is trying to prevent child sexual abuse

•only 17% of practicing Catholics, and 33% of Americans overall, believe that the Vatican is currently engaging in a cover-up

•91% of practicing Catholics, and 54% of Americans overall, have “some” or “a lot of” confidence in the Vatican’s ability to prevent future abuse by priests

•a large majority of practicing Catholics (89%) and Americans overall (72%) believe that child sexual abuse is just as common outside the Church as within it

Really...without appealing to an amorphous "most people" phrase, just how do you maintain this view that "most people" are affected by this when the hard evidence keeps showing that it has no such affect on people. Really...77% say this issue has NO EFFECT on how they feel about the Church.

So just how do you square the claim you are making here?

Greg said...

Anonymous: Obviously you haven't visited our parish where the new pastor bought alcohol and molested two teenagers not less then six years ago. There are probably more. The Archdiocese did nothing but try and cover it up. I don't know where they chose their people for the above survey you mention, but it wasn't our parish or diocese.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I re-read Jerry's post, and do not see the term "most" used anywhere. He said "I have heard from more than one person...", but that doesn't even imply "most", does it?

Anonymous said...

I'm not the one making the claim... But I have considerable respect for Pew Research .... And they and the NYT have no reason to want to make the Catholic Church look good! There is no doubt a PROBLEM... What the survey seems to show is that it isn't causing a crisis of faith as has been claimed

Anonymous said...

Well, if the Hitchenses and Dawkins of the world are any indication, you might as well say, "there are those who are suspect of any organization that calls itself 'religious.'"

There always have been, there always will be.

Anti-Catholicism has a long history in this country, if people want to hate and distrust the Church they will find a "reason" to do so.
This is the raison du jour for some haters.
(It happens to be a better reason than usual.)

My general impression is that people who are highly invested in anything, (e.g. Church governance, or changes in procedure made to deal with the abuse cover-up crisis, or the new translations, either for or against,) assume other people are invested in it too, and unless they constantly are confronted with opposing positions, further assume that most other people agree with them.

Other than the facilitators of VIRTUS training, no one in this diocese seem give much thought to the "current crisis" other than to kvetch about wasting time having to go through the session and keep up with bulletins on line, and added rigamarole to arrange anything involving minors, (tutoring, play practice, coaching, science olympiad, etc.)

Anonymous said...

N.B.... the above post is not the same "Anonymous" as the earlier ones, although I agree with this anonymous entirely.

Most of the complaints I've had to field about the issue of sexual abuse stems from the need to have my entire choir fingerprinted and documented because there are two "vulnerable" individuals in one of the choirs.

Again, don't get me is an inexcusable and horrible thing...but as the one question highlights, it is a problem that people see as a wider problem of society and not a specifically "Catholic" problem. I certainly don't think it is a sufficient reason to "do" or "not do" things that are not DIRECTLY related to the situation. For instance, I think it would be a GOOD idea to cancel things like "overnight camping trips" for Priests and Youth Groups (we actually used to do these!)... I think we can all agree on that. But whether or not we should proceed with liturgical reforms....that's a little distant.

Anonymous said...

FJH 3rd...

I have heard from more than one person here that any group associated with the Catholic Church these days struggles because of issues facing the Church today.

Why would these groups "struggle" because of these issues if the implication isn't that a large number of people are dwelling on it? However, the numbers indicate that a very large majority (77%) don't see this issue as affecting their view of the why the "struggle"? That's what I meant.