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Accountability and the Catholic church

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Former GE executive and currently a senior fellow at Harvard Law School and at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and author of the book High Performance with High Integrity, Ben W. Heineman Jr., writes in Business Week (Mar. 24) a compelling, and straight-forward, analysis of Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the priest sex abuse crisis in Ireland: Accountability and the Catholic church

Heineman, a non-Catholic, states:

"Although the Roman Catholic Church is a spiritual entity, it is also a worldly organization, with its own canon law, ecclesiastical courts, and disciplinary procedures. An important question is whether the Church should investigate and discipline severe ethical transgressions of its leaders as do other major organizations, including corporations. It appears that when it comes to ethical and leadership failures, Pope Benedict believes the answer is "no," that the Church—which serves God—should not be held even to the same standards as responsible corporations—servants of Mammon."

Heineman takes exception to this idea: " Pope Benedict the XVI is holding the church to a lesser ethical standard than is the norm in corporate America."

He goes on to give examples of who corporate America would handle such a scandal.

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He concludes:

"Perhaps the real-world answer, unsatisfying as it may be, is that this historic problem is simply too broad and too deep for the Church to confront candidly in its European manifestation. If so, the Pope's pastoral letter to Ireland may be as far as the Church is willing to go. But that obviously will not solve its credibility problem with its victims, its critics, and its dwindling European practitioners."

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