Enduring Scandal in the Catholic Church

Big global organizations other than the Catholic Church are periodically hit with scandals. There’s a protocol for getting beyond a scandal: get out ahead of the story by offering full disclosure before investigative reporters do, call individuals involved to real accountability, make reparations if called for, and put in place stringent procedures so that the lapse doesn’t happen again. Above all, be transparent, so no one can say you’re hiding things. Cleaning up after a scandal is messy, expensive, and disruptive. But it is possible to have the organization move forward cleanly and regain trust.

The Catholic Church is having no success whatsoever moving beyond the pedophilia scandal. Clearly the cardinals and bishops who are the princes of the Church, along with Pope Francis, haven’t a clue.

Here, on a local level, is a demonstration of why:

The Archdiocese of New York told a California university that a Middletown priest had never been accused of sexual abuse of a minor and was fit to serve as a priest even though it had reopened a 15-year-old investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against him.

Rev. Donald G. Timone, of the Church of St. Joseph on Cottage Street, had been a visiting priest at John Paul the Great University in Escondido, Calif., for several years, celebrating Mass and hearing confessions during the winter and summer quarters. This last summer, he taught a class on Catholic spirituality and was set to teach another this winter.

The university became aware of the archdiocese’s investigation after Lidy Connolly, vice president for administration at the university, read about it in the New York Times just days before Christmas.”


Needless to say, the errant priest will not be welcome on campus to teach his winter course, say Mass, or hear confessions.

Scandal management 101: you can’t lie, conceal, or ignore. And the organization to which you sent the accused offender can’t find out about the problem in the New York Times.

Lots of suggestions have been made about how to deal with the pedophilia crisis, like ordaining women to the priesthood. I actually think ordaining women is a great idea, but it’s too long term a solution to this problem. The Church could actually hire a crisis management firm, but first the Pope and his powerfully political cardinals like Dolan of New York, need to fess up that they are clueless.

In the meantime, they are squandering the trust of faithful Catholics to a degree that is shocking to me.

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