Harold Johnson: Corruption in the Catholic Church
My Catholicism, my faith, states that the Catholic Church consists of the people, and the head of the Church is Jesus Christ. Not the pope, the cardinals, the bishops and archbishops, or the priests and deacons. They are administrators of the Catholic organization, and, yes, they are members of the Church as well.
These administrators are charged to minister to the people. However, they are human. Humanity is both evil and just. Whatever you feed, whatever you tolerate, without a doubt will flourish.
This isn’t rocket science. Every corrupt organization is corrupted by those from within over time. A little here, a little there, until the corruption becomes acceptable within the organization and tolerated, to an extent, by the people the organization serves.
Every corrupt organization has a brotherhood and a code of silence. In law enforcement, it is called the “blue code of silence.” I have served over 30 years in law enforcement, in service to those I am most loyal to, the people of the commonwealth. I have never served the organization. That can be problematic when working within a corrupt organization — when you are in opposition to the corruption.
However, those in true service to the people they serve understand who they serve and have courage to “step in and step up” and do what’s right. They do not have self-interest in mind. They do not fear reprisals from organizational leaders because they are loyal to the people and the truth.
Although they know they will not change a corrupt organization, they remain loyal. And therein lies true happiness. After all, isn’t that what Christ did? Are not all Christians called to be Christ-like? How can we, who are loyal and love Christ and the people, serve righteously, within a corrupt organization, and not expect to be punished as Christ was?
There is no way many priests and deacons were not aware of this problem early on but, in the interest of self or the brotherhood, kept silent. That was obvious in the grand jury report. And that was cowardly.
That, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is exactly what happened to the Catholic organization. They chose silence and ignorance over service. Like so many corrupt cops and police administrators, past Church administrators chose to support criminals instead of those they truly serve, the people.
A public servant’s loyalty becomes misguided when he chooses to serve the brotherhood instead of those he swore an oath, took a vow or made a promise of service.
Only when true loyalty to the people is seen as most important will the corruption stop. Only when those within the organization have the courage to step up and report — instead of ignoring and lying — will it stop. Only when the courageous are supported, honored and rewarded by the administration, instead of being punished, will the end of corruption begin.
God moves in mysterious ways. The Catholic organization has taken some proper actions to address wrongful behavior within the leadership.
I am hopeful that those in opposition to corruption within the Catholic Church will come forward and not be punished for doing so. I am hopeful that humility, love of God and neighbor will prevail and justice will be served.
I am hopeful that the days of protecting the corrupt brotherhood are over.
Harold Johnson, of Hempfield, is a retired special agent in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.