Monday, August 6, 2007
Can the Catholic Church Learn From the U.S. Military?
In the July 5 issue of Origins (a documentary service by Catholic News Service), Christopher Ruddy (a theologian from the University of St. Thomas) shared his two cents about the reasons behind the sexual abuse crisis. His mantra throughout is: "Accountability for bishops, identity for priests and adulthood for the laity."
In making a loose comparison between generals and bishops, I think he hit the problem right on the head. He quoted Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in an article from the Armed Forces Journal concerning the failure of generalship in Iraq:
"Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces are generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage.
"Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer's potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer's advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentive for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late 40s."
A Faithful Catholic