Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reformation Today! 7 --Needed: Leaders Who "Get It"

The Late Cardinal Anthony
Bevilaqua--what is there about
Pennsylvania that people just
don't get it?
According to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports:
As penalties go for Penn State, death would've been preferable.
The NCAA hammered the Nittany Lions football program Monday for its role in concealing Jerry Sandusky's sexual molestation acts, leveling coach Joe Paterno's once revered team with stiff penalties and unprecedented fines that will hurt in ways that suspending play for a season or two might not have.
They include:
• A $60 million fine, with the money going to an endowment to benefit the welfare of children.
• A four-year ban on postseason play, including the Big Ten championship game, bowls or the playoffs coming in 2014.
• A reduction in the maximum allowance of scholarships offered to incoming players from 25 to 15 a year for the next four years.
• Any entering or returning player is free to transfer without restriction (such as sitting out one season). Others can maintain their scholarship at Penn State and choose not to play.
• The vacating of all victories from 1998-2011, which strips Paterno of his title as the winningest coach in college football history (now Grambling's Eddie Robinson) and Division I-A (now Bobby Bowden). Paterno, for the record, loses 111 wins and now ranks 12th with 298.
Mark Emmert took unprecedented measures to punish Penn State. (Getty Images)There’s more, such as a five-year probationary period and the hiring of an academic monitor of the NCAA's choosing and so forth. Penn State will not appeal the sanctions. School president Rodney Erickson signed a consent agreement with the NCAA and "accepts the penalties."
A harsh punishment, perhaps a fatal wound for a much cherished feature of Penn State’s collective life, but for some not harsh enough.  And yet, at the same time there are massed crowds chanting “We are Penn State” and demanding the return of Joe Paterno’s statue as well as life-as-normal on the Penn State campus.  “Don’t punish Penn State for the crimes of Jerry Sandusky,” they cry.  “We need to pick up the pieces of Penn State and put them back so that we can go on to a future even brighter than our past—that would be Joe Paterno’s legacy,” one campus orator repeatedly declaimed at a rally encouraging Penn State enthusiasts to “move on and move forward.”       
(Reuters) - Monsignor William Lynn, the highest-ranking clergyman convicted in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church scandal, was sentenced on Tuesday to up to six years in prison for covering up child sex abuse by priests in Philadelphia.  Judge M. Teresa Sarmina told Lynn, 61, the former secretary of the clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, that he protected "monsters in clerical garb who molested children."
I have to admit that I don’t get satisfaction out of seeing anyone, especially a sixty-something overweight guy in a shabby black suit, go to prison, but that is not the issue.  The complaint has been made that Monsignor Lynn “is being held responsible for all of the abuse that occurred over 30 to 40 years, none of which he participated in.”  The Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement saying "fair-minded people will question the severity" of what it called a "heavy" sentence. "We hope that when this punishment is objectively reviewed, it will be adjusted."  According to the Reuters report, the Archdiocese continued saying that the Church has changed since the events at the center of the trial.   But has it?   Maybe Lynn is taking the fall for decisions made by his boss, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilaqua and Bevilaqua, splendidly entombed in the chapel at the Philly seminary, is beyond the call of human accountability, but Cardinal Law—the most notorious protector of clerical malfeasants is splendidly ensconced in luxury apartments in Rome where he has enough time to meddle in niggling accusations against the good Sisters of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. 
And this is the problem—whether it is the Church or Penn State or a thousand other institutions, too many organizations put their corporate good over the good of the individuals who comprise them. 
Joe Paterno and William Lynn (and their Eminences Law and Bevilaqua and Penn State officials) and how many others have desired at all costs to protect the institutions they represent rather than to see that institutions are here to serve—and protect—those entrusted to their care. 
Penn State lost its way.  The University does not exist for Football. The University exists for the men and women who go there to find the truths and an education is meant to offer.  And the Church has lost its way.  We, the faithful, do not exist for the Church.  The Church exists for us, and our well-being cannot be sacrificed for the good of some “Church” that exists only in theology books and the minds of hierarchs.  The Church exists for us—for our well-being in this life so that we can safely travel the path that leads us from today’s finite existence into the Infinite Reality which is the ultimate destiny for which we humans are created.  Our well-being in this life—spiritual, physical, emotional, mental well-being—are the first steps on the journey into what we Christians believe is the Fullness of Life which is our destiny.      
For too many people today—and especially for those whose life has become a full-time dedication to an institution that calls itself “the Church”—that institution which confuses itself for  “The Church” is more important than the men and women—and children—who comprise the flesh and blood reality of the Church.  The ultimate reality of the Church is not the Pope and Bishops and clergy and religious and laity in some pyramidal hierarchy (with its corresponding lower-archy), but it is the living Body of Christ with its diversity of members each with his or her own function and each with his or her key importance to the welfare of the whole.  In other words, when we talk about Church Reform today we need to vision it no longer from the top down but from within to see the network of individuals whose being woven together in a seamless unity of mutual respect and appreciation for the intrinsic worth of each member from the least to the greatest comprises the mystical Body of Christ.  In such a Church, there is no room for the arrogant triumphalism and self-aggrandizing clericalism of those who are trying to bring back the Church of the previous five centuries.  We need new models that display service rather than power and we need new leaders who have the spirituality to make those new models realities.  It appears that such new leadership would require a whole lot of housecleaning.    

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