The endangered species called Catholic nuns

“For more than a thousand years, becoming a nun was the best – and often the only – way for a young Catholic woman to get an education and to earn a modicum of independence. In the modern West, though, women have many other options preferable to joining a ‘patriarchal apartheid’ in which female clerics are given no voice in the power structure and yet are expected to submit to it.”

That’s Lisa Miller, author of Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife – bad news for organizations described as ‘patriarchal apartheid’.

You have both a catastrophic public relations and staff recruiting crisis at hand.   Continue reading

The Vatican’s abuse response: “a PR failure, carnage, nightmare and train wreck”

Just for fun when we’re talking shop, my PR friends sometimes like to evaluate escalating public scandals by asking each other: “What do you think might be the best damage control strategy for this crisis?” Here’s an example: over a 15-year period, our local Catholic Bishop Remi De Roo used church funds to invest in a failing horse-breeding venture, all without bothering to ask anybody for permission. In desperation, he then tried to secretly cover his horse-breeding losses with a real estate deal that also went terribly wrong – once again using the church’s money.

For the sake of clarity, let’s call this “stealing”. De Roo’s Catholic diocese was left with a debt of over $12 million to cover his losses. But the church never did press criminal charges against him.

It seems that as far as the Catholic church is concerned, wayward priests who choose to commit crimes – from stealing $12 million to sexually abusing minors – don’t need to face the same legal consequences that you or I would face. And from a  public relations viewpoint, my PR pals agree, that’s a disastrous perception.  Continue reading