Catholic Church shows it’s a business

Pope Benedict, CEO of the Catholic Church

On Tuesday, the Pope made perhaps his strongest comments against the sex abuse scandals that many priests have committed. In one part of his statement, the Pope said that “forgiveness is not a substitute for justice”.  By all accounts, the response from the church has been very slow and had it been any other business, the pressure would be 100 times what it is for the church and the CEO, or at least the people responsible for public relations would have been fired weeks ago.

That is not to say that the Catholic Church has not been under a lot of pressure to react to this problem because they certainly have. In fact, this pressure from the public and media is the only reason that the Pope made the public remarks that he did. By the church trying to handle it similar to how any company would handle a PR issue (albeit with unbelievably poor execution) shows that they are a business. Not only the Catholic Church is a business however, all organized religions are a business; a very lucrative and successful type of business for that matter.

In a future post, I will delve in to the business of religion in more detail. However, the purpose of this post is to discuss what the Catholic Church should do to repair the damage they have caused thus far. When it becomes abundantly clear that a company is receiving little to very terrible PR advice it is very normal, expected and the correct course of action to hire a PR firm to deal with the issues. However, organized religions are not open about the fact that they are a business and so by hiring a PR firm, it will make people look at them as such, which is not the way to relay that type of message.

The Catholic Church does not need to do this in the same way as other businesses though. They have the advantage of having a 1 billion person army, many of whom are devoted followers to the church and the Pope. Within that 1 billion people, there are sure to be many PR experts that they can turn to. Churches at the local level should find these experts and send them on a trip to the Vatican, all expenses paid. They can position it as a contest of some sort and just make sure that the right people win. It may not be wholesome, but it wouldn’t be the first time that the church does something that is a little less than completely wholesome.

When they arrive at the Vatican, the guests/PR experts can be sworn to secrecy and be informed that they are saving the church with their work. This will ensure that they’ll keep quiet afterwards. These people will provide solid advice that will guide the church out of this awful snafu. They also need to start acting more like a corporation by punishing those that commit violations and invest an appropriate amount of resources to educate their priests on preventative practices because no amount of good PR advice will help if the problems return again and again.

Due to the power that the Catholic Church has in the world, it is highly unlikely that the Pope’s position or that the church’s popularity will be in serious danger, but by not dealing with this issue properly it will be a thorn that can last and come back to bite them in the future.