Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How not to say "I'm sorry"

Here are Cardinal Francis George's two quotes from this morning's Chicago Tribune story on his meeting with parents at St. Agatha Parish, whose pastor has now been accused by three children of molesting them:

1. "I'm sorry to be with you because this occasion is one that shames me certainly." Translation: I'm embarrassed to have to come here under these circumstances.

Who cares? This isn't about him, it's about the now three children allegedly abused by their pastor. It's about the failure to put the priest on administrative leave as soon as the police reported that he had been questioned for an allegation of sexual abuse. It's about the failure of the archdiocese to put a qualified investigator in the situation, instead some priest living in the house. And as long as the church is organzed the way it is, the failure of the archdiocese is the failure of the archbishop.

2. "I am truly sorry that you had as a pastor someone accused of molesting small children." Really? Now how did that pastor get there again? Did the parish hire him? If parish's actually had any real say in who their pastors are, this might fly. But McCormack was assigned to St. Agatha's, by the archdiocesan personnel board, over which the cardinal has administrative authority. I could have made the same statement to the parents and it would have been no less true.

Now my question: What did the cardinal personally know, and when did he know it? This is too easy to blame on a failure of processes. Someone is responsble for the failure.

Now for a lesson in apologizing, which my mother taught me so long ago that I don't remember how old I was. It goes something like this (all together now):




No thats or buts, please.

Maybe we should all practice that one.


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