Recalling

The juxtaposition of the article on Kofi Annan: Visionary and Victim, by Barbara Crossette, and What Distinguishes the Jesuits, by Avery Dulles, S.J., on the Jesuit charism (1/15) recalls a Jesuit presence at the United Nations in its very early days.

A French Jesuit, Emmanuel S. de Breuvery, joined the secretariat in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 1950 as senior economist. His expertise was in the use of resources, of water and energy, an expertise he drew on in working with developing countries. He spent much time advising directly in those countries but was also involved in overall U.N. planning and strategy. For example, he organized the U.N. Conference on New Sources of Energy in Rome in 1961 and an interregional seminar on techniques of petroleum development the following year.

An Indian Jesuit, Jerome D’Souza, was a member of his country’s delegation to the General Assembly in the 1950’s. His presence on the delegation and assignment to the Social Committee was evidence of an openness in his newly independent country and in its diplomacy.

At the time I was on the staff of the National Catholic Welfare Conference Office for United Nations Affairs, which was, incidentally, the first full-time nongovernmental organization office at the United Nations.

Jean Gartlan
Baltimore, Md.

What Gives Me Courage

A Soldier’s Decision, by Michael Griffin, (1/29) brought tears to my eyes. My grandson served as a Marine in Iraq, but he is home safe now.

Yesterday I was at a Bible study in our church, and we spoke of love for everyone, including our enemy. This is right, but if you want to get into deep trouble, tell your friends here the war is wrong and that you must love even the Muslims and others. Do you want to be considered a traitor?

I read an article from the magazine Sojourners at another meeting, and it was not well received. When I want to feel I did the right thing, I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer and that gives me courage. I wish I could get this from my church.

Mary A. O’Donnell
Sweeny, Tex.

Tiny Little Credit

This letter is a response to a letter from Anna M. Seidler (2/5) about I Need a JobAny Job! by Stephanie Ratcliffe (1/29). It is a great article, but the part I best liked was that tiny little credit, Art by the author. Let’s hope we are blessed with more of the sameart and heart.

Richard Kuebbing
Kennesaw, Ga.

Gifts That Give

I somehow missed Sally Cunneen’s article praising Heifer International, (Icon of Creation 12/18). But I did read Kathleen Shopa’s letter (1/15) criticizing Heifer for sending animals around the world for the less fortunate to eat. This is the last thing they intend. They send chickens so the families can have their own eggs for nutrition. They send cows so these people can have fresh milk for their children and themselves, then possibly sell what is left to neighbors to bring in a little money. The water buffalo helps with the fields so they can plant vegetables. The manure helps to fertilize the crops. The only requirement is that each person who receives an animal must give away the first offspring from that animal to another needy person. All of this was featured in an episode of 60 Minutes not too many months ago.

Norma Lewis
Destin, Fla.

Church Renewal

To further the discussion raised in the State of the Question on Catholic Fidelity (1/15), I would like to make the following observations. A recent book, Church Ethics and its Organizational Context: Learning From the Sex Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church (2006), a collection of essays by 19 scholarsand the initial offering of Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century seriescompletely ignores the John Jay report and its Supplement (2004, 2006). Its neglect of what the authors of that report characterize as one of the most extensive collections about sexual abuse of minors and one of a very small number not based on forensic content is deplorable. In an attempt to compare scandals, one of the contributors to the collection, Professor Kimberly D. Elsbach, cites as an example Salomon Brothers’ handling of a financial crisis. However, instead of comparing apples and oranges, scholars need to research how other organizations have handled the sexual abuse of minors.

Ifas the John Jay report demonstrated and as Thomas J. Reese, S.J., noted (America, 10/22/04)the church seems to have been ahead of the rest of American society in dealing with the evil of child abuse, those who critique church management need to factor that into their discussion, something that has yet to happen.

The distress that so many people have expressed over sexual abuse of minors is surely justified. However, reacting to it with little learning and much moralityOscar Wilde’s verdict on his judgewill need to yield to more effective analysis, one that places the abuse and the church in a broader societal context. There is a real danger that those who have embraced the present crisis hoping that it would usher in the future church they desire may develop an allergy to any positive news as their visions fail to materialize.

Focusing on the scandal alone will not energize the kind of broad involvement needed for church renewal. Nor will relying on such generalizations as after all the church has gone through substitute for a vision that will balance its problems with an appreciation of its vitality, its extraordinary history in this country and an appreciation of the miracle of the Catholic people over these recent years.

(Most Rev.) Thomas J. Curry
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Comments

Robert Nunz | 2/28/2007 - 9:18am
In his letter (2/12) Bishop Thomas V. Curry continues to portray the church in the best possible light and asserts the church was ahead of the curve in dealing with sex abuse probems. In his new book, Holding Bishops Accountable, Timothy Lyton argues quite persuasively that the lawyers who sued the church were the ones truly responsible for bringing about reforms to date, by trying to deal not only with the individual injury but with the deeper causes of the problems and with the policy makers who must correct them. Of course, Bishop Curry can also sweep aside the varied scholars at Boston College in their work as well. It should also be noted that the Los Angeles area he represents has been less than forthcoming—in fact, hostile—to discovery attempts by lawyers for abuse victims there.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN | 2/21/2007 - 1:14pm
Transparency and Accountability

It is hard to believe that a bishop would actually put forward the idea that the church was ahead of the curve with regard to the sex abuse problems plaguing it as Robert Nunz notes in his letter, "Best Possible Light" (2/19) and Jean M. Bartunek, R.S.C.J. makes reference to in her letter, "Concern for Renewal" (2/26), both speaking of Bishop Thomas J. Curry's letter, "Church Renewal" (2/12).

While Bishop Curry's rationalizing statements and anti-catholic conspiracy theories are not all that out of character for many bishops, his comments do appear to be an early attempt at a revisionist timeline for the church's continuing sex abuse scandal and now, its burgeoning financial scandal.

Transparent? Yes. Accountable? Not yet.

If the bishops had followed, even minimally, the requirements of the laws in place at the time these crimes against children were perpetrated, they would not have had to take later the extraordinary precautions to ensure that sexual misconduct does not recur.

Let us remember that these extraordinary precautions were something the bishops did only when their backs were forced to the wall more by public opinion than by any binding authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The remedy should not have been to cover up prosecutable crimes of child abuse, thus permitting almost all statutes of limitation to expire, for the the sake of avoiding scandal. The remedy should have been to rid the Body of Christ, the church, of this cancer. To the shame of all catholics this was not done.

What is so distressing is the way church leadership conspired to hide and protect priests from legal prosecution. Such behavior has been unprecedented in recent religious history and overshadows, by sheer numbers, any similarly culpable action by any other public or private institutions.

There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States will take decades to recover from this incomprehensible debacle of collusion, conspiracy and cover up, which was layered on top of thousands of rogue priests' behavior, if it ever does.

Jean Bartunek, Mary Ann Hinsdale, James Keenan | 2/11/2007 - 11:21pm
We are the editors of Church Ethics and its Organizational Context: Learning From the Sex Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), the book that Bishop Thomas J. Curry misrepresented and derided in his recent letter to the editor of America (February 12, 2007). His letter is irresponsible and harmful.

The purpose of our book is to foster the development of an ecclesial professional ethics. To that end we invited well respected scholars from multiple disciplinary backgrounds (theologians, management professors, sociologists, law professors, historians and canon lawyers) to begin a discourse aimed at leading to more mature and accountable models of governance in the Church. Contrary to what Bishop Curry stated, for example, Professor Kimberly Elsbach, an esteemed management scholar, did a very responsible job of comparing multiple ways leaders respond to crises in their organizations.

Bishop Curry states that it is “deplorable” that none of our 19 authors referred to the John Jay Report. However, several of the book’s authors specifically invoke the reporting that the USCCB commissioned to respond to the scandal. Moreover, the John Jay report does not explicitly address the broader organizational and governance issues that were our explicit focus. Bishop Curry further argues that “Focusing on the scandal alone will not energize the kind of broad involvement needed for church renewal.” But our book both recognizes the serious governance crises surfaced by the scandal and envisions means of governance that are likely to enable the Church to avoid such scandals in the future.

We find it ironic that in our attempt to positively work for the future of the church we are maligned by someone who professes to share a concern for church renewal.

Jean M. Bartunek RSCJ Robert A. and Evelyn J. Ferris Chair Professor of Organization Studies Boston College

Mary Ann Hinsdale I.H.M. Associate Professor of Theology Boston College

James F. Keenan, S.J. Professor of Theological Ethics Boston College

****** For further information: Jean M. Bartunek Robert A. and Evelyn J. Ferris Chair Professor of Organization Studies Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3808 617-552-0455 (phone) 617-552-1601 (fax) bartunek@bc.edu

Robert Nunz | 2/5/2007 - 11:07am
Bishop Curry continues to portray the Church in the best possible light and asserts the Church was ahead of the curve in dealing with sex abuse probems. In his new book , "Holding Bishops Accountable, Timothy Lyton, argues quite persuasively that the lawyers who sued the Church were the ones truly responsible for bringing about reforms to date. by aiming not only at dealing with the individual injury but the deeper causes and the problems with the policy makers who must correct them. Of course, Bishop Curry can also sweep aside the varied scholars at Boston College in their work as well. It should also be noted that the Los Angeles area he represents has been less than forthcoming, in fact hostile, to discovery atempts by lawyers for abuse victims there.

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