"If you want to fix your future, start by fixing yourself. In the face of war and recession, what the world needs is less greed--
and more love."
Tim Sanders - Yahoo Senior Executive*
War is being waged against the Roman Catholic Church in Dioceses all over the U.S. through numerous civil lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages. Focus on wrongdoing in business is narrowed in on Enron and its accountants, Arthur Anderson, through Congressional inquiry and Justice Department indictment. What do these two historical dramas have in common? Each is the result of abuse. Each case involves the abuse of power and the power that is abused by both the Roman Catholic Church through its priests and Enron and Arthur Anderson through its officers is -- Trust. Abuse of Trust is the culprit here.
Six weeks ago I listened to an interview with an Enron executive who said: Business is War. In war we seek destruction of and power over an opponent. Who is the opponent? Could the fight be with the employees, the public, the shareholders, officers, directors, accountants, attorneys, congress, other companies within the same industrial market? My take on it is that the intention of war created a win at all costs attitude that resulted in abuse of power and abuse of the trust that was granted to the chiefs of the companies. So why do we care, and what does abuse of trust, whether in business (Enron) or personal (The Catholic Church) life have to do with restorative justice? Let me tell you a story.
A friend of mine, Michael, went to Catholic school with me when we were children. I knew him as Mikey, then. Although Ive lost track of him over the years, recently, he and his story have come into my life. Mike was a year younger than I, my little brothers age. The parish school we attended combined the 3rd and 4th grade classes, so Mike and I were in the same class.
I remember when Sister Mary Caritas stopped lecturing and turned her attention to me. All I could see was her finger, her very long and skinny finger. She was pointing at me. I thought. What did I do wrong? I had been swinging my legs under the desk, having forgotten the cigar box where my feet were usually stationed. A wave of sticky, aching heat rushed into my neck and head I couldnt stop it. I know my face was as red as a fire engine. I heard shrill, squealing sounds coming from her mouth and then I felt the sting. I dont remember what happened after that. Later, nobody talked to me. My friends wouldnt even look at me. I remember how lonely I felt. Especially, I remember how ashamed and guilty I felt. I never forgot my cigar box again.
As I was to find out, Catholic school held many such experiences for me. But, the experiences Michael endured were far greater than I could ever imagine. It seems that Mikes family moved to another parish. The priest in charge took a liking to the boy and because Mikes parents had divorced, his mom encouraged the priest to take Mike out on excursions including sailing on the Great Lakes. It turns out that the trusted Confessor and family friend was a pedophile a sexual pervert with children as his preferred sexual object. While a child, Mike could never tell anyone. A classmate of Mikes exposed the sordid secret many years later. The classmates lawsuit was dismissed based on the Churchs defense that the case was not timely; it was filed after the statute of limitations had run. Mike gave up. He never attempted to sue.
Mike has had a challenging life. His diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is characterized by depression, anxiety and alcoholism. Some of the posttraumatic stress he experiences is attributed to his tour in Viet Nam. He never had children.
Recently, new research has shown that child abuse can cause permanent damage to the brains neural structure. In other words, attempting to reprogram self-defeating adult behavior through counseling is less effective because there is actual irrevocable physical damage to the brain.** Most likely, this scientific data will be used by attorneys representing victims of abuse in their suits against the Catholic Church Dioceses that retained the offending priests.
At the time this article is written there is talk of Catholic Church Dioceses seeking protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy laws. Enron is already a Debtor under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.*** It is interesting to note that a Debtor may only continue in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy case if a Plan of Reorganization is filed. The plan must detail how the Debtor will solve the problem that landed it in the Bankruptcy Court in the first place. And, the major creditors must approve the Reorganization Plan or the Debtor is kicked out of Court and the creditors carve up its assets. In the case of the Catholic Church Dioceses, the major creditors are the victims of abuse who hold substantial judgments. The victims could control the Churchs plan to reorganize.
The victims could be in control of whether abuse of trust (power) and the secreting and cover up of serious wrongdoing will be turned into a positive force for change. The author submits that the change must occur through compassion, forgiveness and love. If the victims align themselves with revenge, blame and greed they too will be perpetrating an even more insidious violence than that they have experienced by the Church.
It is urgent that a shift toward healing and restoration take place. Someone has to do it and that someone is each of us. There is no time to waste. We must stop the process of violence and abuse now. The only way we can assure there are no more stories like Michaels is to take action. Remember, every time you choose integrity, compassion, forgiveness and love instead of revenge, hate, blame, shame and abuse of power - YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.
Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our childrens children...****
These words are equally applicable to both abuse of trust situations.
*Tim Sanders Yahoo Senior Executive* (Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo)
Taken from a magazine article published in the February 2002 edition of Fast Company as adapted from Tim Sanders book Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends (Crown Business).
The complete sentence without ellipses reads:
If you want to fix your future, start by fixing yourself. In the face of war and recession, what the business world needs is less greedand more love.
**See Scars That Wont Heal: The Neurobiology of Child Abuse
by Martin H. Teicher - March 2002 edition of Scientific American.
***Title 11 United States Code
****Taken from The Book of Occasional Services of the Episcopal Church. (The Eighth Station of the Cross)
Constance dAngelis has been practicing law since graduating with a Juris Doctor degree in 1983. Prior to commencing law school she worked for a Fortune 500 company as one of the first women to be hired in a non-staff position. She graduated cum laude in Life Sciences with a B.S. degree in 1974. She has written and spoken regarding both legal and general subjects, providing accredited courses for lawyers, accountants and financial professionals and workshops on integrity and ethical issues. Her avocation is vibrational healing. She is a nationally certified licensed massage therapist and Reiki Master.
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