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But Will They Listen?. . . Bishops Receive Good Advice From A Fellow CEO

April 28, 2021 Frontpage No Comments


Last week, The Wall Street Journal published a strong corrective to the Catholic bishops of the United States, focusing on their annoying habit of constantly weighing in on prudential political issues while ignoring their consecrated duties.
Of course, the article didn’t mention Catholic bishops by name. It was written by former American Express Chairman Harvey Golub and addressed to his fellow CEOs.
And that includes our beloved shepherds.
Golub was addressing the recent rash of corporate bigwigs who had jumped on the bandwagon objecting to Georgia’s new voting law. Many did so before they discovered — if they bothered to discover it at all — that the law is less strict than that of New York, where many of their headquarters are located, and that of Delaware, where most of their corporations are registered with the Secretary of State’s Office.
But Golub gives them the benefit of the doubt. These leaders “are people of goodwill,” he writes, “who sincerely care about the nation, their companies, and their employees and customers. . . . All have my respect and I believe have earned the respect of the public.”
Undoubtedly that reflects the charitable view of the faithful regarding our bishops as well. No argument there.
“But I believe they are wrong to take public positions on this law,” Golub continues.
Wrong? But haven’t the hundreds of experts in the USCCB bureaucracy taken positions on dozens of prudential political issues every year?
“But it’s different with the Church,” these intrepid Social Justice Warriors might say.
Well, they mean the bishops, of course, not the Church. But don’t bishops privately differ with one another on prudential issues all the time? So do the faithful.
So let’s hear why Golub thinks “it is wrong for executives to take a company position on public-policy questions that don’t directly affect their business.”

Cause, Effect, And Collapse

As a good CEO, Golub keeps it short, crisp, and clear (bishops take note: good rule):
“First, while these CEOs have the right to their own opinions, they can never speak merely as individuals; they always speak for and represent the companies they head. As CEOs they have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to speak out on matters affecting their organizations, but unless they have asked their boards for approval before speaking, they don’t have that right on unrelated matters.”
Our bishop/CEOs often express even their most radical political views in the name of “the Church.” Have they “checked with the board”? Have they ever even once asked the laity for our views on taxes, the Second Amendment, illegal aliens, or the countless other pet projects on their political agenda?
Golub continues. “Second, inevitably their announcements on purely political issues will alienate many of their employees and customers. Those positions will always lead to unintended consequences.”
My, oh my, how that hits home. Hasn’t our bishops’ political advocacy alienated many Catholics, and perhaps some of their own employees as well? How many millions have been driven from the pews since our bishops went whole hog on the political bandwagon in the 1970s? Thirty million? Fifty million? Maybe sixty?
And consider the content of our shepherds’ wish list. Why, virtually every item mirrors the platform of the Democrat National Committee (DNC)!
“Catholic Joe” Biden has taken that to the bank. He praises women religious for inspiring his presidential run and mumbles Bible verses as he reverses one Trump pro-life policy after another — stunning the bishops not into action and shame, but silence.
Yes, that’s right, silence. Because only the truly Catholic issues are missing from the DNC’s agenda. And during the campaign, while the bishops hammered Trump’s positions on immigration, the Second Amendment, and other prudential issues, for all practical purposes they took a vow of silence regarding Biden’s most radical pro-abortion, anti-family, anti-life agenda in American history.
Golub continues: “Third, these and other executives will be pressured in the future to comment, pro or con, on other states’ voting laws. That will lead to further charges of hypocrisy, more boycotts, more publicity, more ill will. At the end of the day corporations and the idea of capitalism will be in lower repute.”
My, oh my. The pressure on our bishops to take a left-wing position on virtually every political issue they run across has been so strong for so long — no wonder they couldn’t resist it!
And what about that “ill will”? And that “lower repute”? Well, the end of the day isn’t over yet, but can we all agree that the repute of our bishops, and even the idea of Catholicism, is indeed lower than it was fifty years ago? Or even twenty years ago? That’s when Cardinal McCarrick was the leading Catholic prelate in America, advising Democrat presidents, embracing Ted Kennedy, and selecting bishops for major dioceses all over the country.
Yes, those were the days…one wonders how, after all that, the bishops could have dragged the Church into even “lower repute,” but they worked hard and, by golly, they did it!
Mr. Golub’s final point: “Fourth, and perhaps most important, there is no limiting principle to this problem. If business heads can be pressured to comment on issues unrelated to their businesses, they will be compelled to weigh in on more current events and issues and will have no basis for refusing to respond. . . . It will go on and on.”
Please note that the practice that Mr. Golub warns against here is relatively new to the broader corporate world. However, and unfortunately, it is old news in the world of America’s Catholic bishops. Yes, it has indeed “gone on and on,” and has driven the Church — yes, the American Church — into the deepest crisis in its history.
As Sherlock Holmes told Watson, “Watson, when I say you are instructive, I mean I learn from your mistakes.”
Message from America’s bishops to the corporate world: “Mr. Golub is right, fellow CEOs — please learn from our mistakes.”

But Now What?

Let’s face it. The Church is not just another corporation. If her leaders do not clean house and restore her primacy in the battle against Satan, nothing can take her place: Christendom without Christ will collapse under its own desiccated weight.
But will they do it?
Perhaps our bishops can start by learning from Mr. Golub.
When it comes to practical politics, we do not ask that our bishops endorse our personal agendas. Note that Golub does not say that his fellow CEOs have taken the wrong position: He says they should take no position at all.
And that goes for our bishops. We don’t request that they “check with the board.” Instead, we tell them — “No trespassing! Practical politics is the laity’s territory!” [viz. Lumen Gentium, nn. 30-37].
Sure, a lot of laymen want to hijack the seal of approval of the Church in their political endeavors — why do you think Joe Biden always waves his rosary around?
But aren’t the bishops strong enough to recognize when they’re being used? Can’t they say “no”? If they did so, they might have more time to exercise their consecrated duties, like enforcing Canon 915 on reception of the Eucharist by those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.
Mr. Golub’s business readers know full well that both their time and their credibility are precious. If they start frittering away either of those vital resources, they’re eventually going to have inferior service, inferior products, inferior employees, and inferior market share.
In brief, they’re gonna get fired.
Just because our bishops can’t be fired, you can bet on this: That plague of inferiority is not optional — it’s an inevitable result of the law of cause and effect. As events have shown, to the disgrace of many bishops and the woe of so many Catholics, bad bishops can do real and lasting damage to the Church.
Yes, it’s true: We’ve learned from long experience that they won’t listen to us.
Maybe they’ll listen to Mr. Golub.

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