Holy See

Public-Relations Advice for the Catholic Church

March 21, 2013

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And yet there are many such cases. In 2010, a California attorney filed a 10-page declaration in court claiming that an extensive investigation led him to conclude that as many as one-half of all sex-crime allegations against Catholic priests were either “€œentirely false”€ or “€œgreatly exaggerated.”€ The evidence included failed polygraphs, accusers “€œsignificantly”€ changing their stories, false memories being implanted by psychiatrists, and instances of accusers suddenly emerging only after learning that someone else had received a large cash settlement.

In 2010, a Denver Post columnist wrote:

[F]raudulent or highly dubious accusations are more common than is acknowledged in coverage of the church scandals “€” although they should not be surprising, given the monumental settlements various dioceses have paid out over the years.

So why isn”€™t the Church launching a counteroffensive? For every accusation of molestation, why aren”€™t they publicizing the very existence of false accusations? What sort of misguided piety and humility prevents it from publicizing case after case after case of priests who were exonerated after falsely being accused?

If they really wanted to fight fire with fire, they should issue weekly press releases about the fact that the president of an organization that’s been antagonizing them ceaselessly”€”the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests“€”neglected to call the policewhen his older brother, a priest, was accused of molestation. Why are they sitting on that bombshell?

And since many of their antagonists are of a secular socialist bent who”€™d like to portray themselves as the sole protectors of the poor and disadvantaged, why doesn”€™t the Church shed a layer or two of humility and more aggressively publicize its global charitable work? Why does it shy away from quantifying the billions it spends to feed the hungry and heal the sick? Why doesn”€™t it challenge the socialist types to demonstrate they”€™re doing remotely as much to uplift the poor? This may be a case where a fear of appearing “€œboastful”€ may detract from the Church’s viability in a modern world.

Maybe it’s time for the Catholic Church to cease turning the other cheek and to come out swinging instead. The problem may not be that it’s covered up its wrongdoing so much as it’s allowed the media to ignore all the good it’s done. It should definitely punish its wrongdoers, but it should also publicize its good deeds, because obviously no one else is willing to do it for them. If the Church continues operating in a mode of passive appeasement, it risks becoming the dodo bird of religions and apologizing itself into extinction.

 

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