Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

August 10, 2007


The collapse of the Minneapolis bridge last week has triggered intensive investigations as to its cause. With surprisingly quick response, consulting engineers are pointing to a design flaw as to how steel girders were linked together as a likely element in the collapse. Around the country, bridges, especially those with similar design, are being carefully examined. Automobile crashes are caused most frequently by the driver. But as multi-million doller court decisions against auto makers attest, design flaws are also causes of injury and death.

Tragedy and damage in human affairs occur as the result of improper behavior of individuals. But frequently, design flaws in the social, management, or corporate structures are the cause of failure. Marxist design of the Soviet Union, flawed in economic and human rights terms, caused its own collapse. Traditional strategic and tactical designs of military operations have had to be redesigned by the exigencies of new kinds of warfate in our Iraq adventure. CEOs are replaced to effect new designs in marketing and advertising techniques.Restaurant design must faciltate movement from kitchen to diners.

Our Church has experienced the financial and credibility devastation of the sexual abuse crisis. Prior to this, a crisis in vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, especially as to religious women, has had an enormous impact on church life. All of this has occurred under the corporate and human management of Pope and bishops. Are they to be held responsible? Or could there be some design flaws?

The basic design of Church structure was given by Jesus in establishing the primacy of Peter. But the corporate structural designs for Church governance have undergone great evolution from the days when in 50 AD Paul could speak up against Peter in the Council of Jerusalem. Methods of selecting Popes over the centuries have included acclamation, election by priests and laypeople, appointment by monarchs, and not a few by Mafia-like cabals. As power tends to aggrandize itself, Rome expanded from having a central voice in matters of faith and morals, narrowly understood, to telling Japanese bishops how to translate liturgical documents into Japanese and that national conferences of bishops could not settle local matters without unanimous consent. One bishop holds out against all the others and, by a new design, Rome takes over.

Is the Church experiencing the effects of design flaws? Does celibacy deter heterosexual men from ministry? Does it draw gay men? Does the glass ceiling, which continues to block women from equality in the Church while it is shattered in every other profession or calling, have anything to do with alienation of young women and vocation loss? Why does Rome reject the designs fashioned by Vatican II for greater participation of lay men and women in Church life? Would some lay oversight on finances have questioned why a bishop was making a huge settlement expenditure and thus uncover a sexual abuse problem?

More than bridges collapse because of design flaws!


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