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It occurred to me that there is a common break in effectiveness of both the U.S. military chain of command and the infallibility of the Catholic Church when it comes charges of sexual abuse.

Yesterday’s defeat of legislation that would circumvent the military chain of command and impose an independent military review of sexual abuse cases (some 24,000 of them per year of late!) seems to reflect an unwillingness by the military and many in Congress to accept that the chain of common is broken in this regard, and that escalating sexual abuse charges in the military is somehow acceptable.

Is this an odd and pathetic parallel to the Pope’s recent assertion that the Catholic Church is the most effective and concerned organization when it comes to dealing with charges of sexual abuses in the church, rather than civil authorities?

That the highest levels of the military and the church appear to have their heads in the sand in regard to sexual abuse is an odd comparison, but perhaps suggests that absolute authority breeds corruption of very basic human standards of conduct, and that independent review is the only way to assure greater justice for the victims of such human exploitation.

My Monday morning opinions on 3 major ongoing crises in public relationships:

1. Sexual abuses in the Catholic Church: Today’s reports say the Vatican is rapidly at work updating their 2001 policies on dealing with and preventing sexual abuse by priests. A one-page summary of that update was just published. This, perhaps, is a beginning in the sort of substantial change to Church policy and practice that is needed before improvements in perception by the public can be expected. With more than 4,000 confirmed child abuse cases by Catholic priests in the U.S. alone over the past 50 years, representing abuse of minors by as much as 5% of the clergy, there is a lot of change needed. Before Catholic communicators can be held accountable for improved perceptions, deep and continued real changes, along with its symbolic counterpoints, will be needed.

2. Toyota accelerator recall: Yesterday’s NY Times shocked the PR world with the revelation, through internal Toyota emails, that the long time, well-regarded head of U.S. PR for Toyota warned Toyota leadership that “the game is up” 5 days before they agreed to significant recalls. He was responding to an email from another Toyota executive urging spokespeople to keep quiet about the issue. Not surprisingly, he has since “retired.” Media reports also indicate that NHTSA is also considering additional fines against Toyota related to the tardy recalls, after they assessed against Toyota the largest fine ever levied on an automaker last week. If Toyota objects to such fines, they will be further dragged through the media mill. Meanwhile NASA heps search for the technological culprits.

3. Tiger Woods redemption: The host of Morning Joe this am characterized Tiger as a “punk” in terms of his demeanor through and in the aftermath of yesterday’s Augusta Master’s Tournament. He didn’t just lose the tournament (came in 4th), but he lost the opportunity to redeem himself to his fans by not demonstrating more appreciation for their patience with him, despite the barrage of moral cheapness he has forced them to endure. His most significant pronouncement through the game was that his performance “sucked.” He had nothing to say when it was over. Compared with tournament winner Mikelson, who shed tears not over his triumph, but out of empathy for his wife leaving her hospital bed to join him at the finish, Woods came off like so much arrogant trash. A little grasiousness would have gone a long way. Guess he doesn’t have it in him. I can’t believe his sponsorships will not further suffer.

Parts of comments by Newswise founder Roger Johnson in a posting on PRwise group on

“Today’s article in the Washington Post ( ) said, “Now the church is mounting a massive public relations offensive against such allegations and against the continuing barrage of media reports and investigations.

“Even if the Pope is not personally culpable for anything, his institution screwed up, and the buck stops with him. He shows his colors by going on the attack rather than taking responsibility. An apology is insufficient for some errors. Amends need to be made. A few Hail Marys won’t cut it.

“This is not a PR issue.”

I say, amen to that…

January 2023

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