October 17, 2005

Blaming someone else isn't right response

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Marie A. Conn

We are not even to the midterm point of this fall semester, and one of my seniors has already dug herself into a hole so deep that she may not be able to salvage the course. The remarkable thing is her uncanny ability to blame everyone else for this dire situation: me, her internship supervisor, the athletic director. Any target will do, so long as it keeps her from facing the problem squarely and taking responsibility for it. And, sadly, this should not surprise me.

After all, when District Attorney Lynne Abraham published the grand jury report on the sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Cardinal Justin Rigali cried anti-Catholic bias. And when House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted, he cried partisan politics. On every level of our society, the response to difficult situations is to focus attention, not on the issue, but on those who make it known.

Perhaps there is nothing new in this. Children, whose primary moral compass consists in earning praise and avoiding punishment, learn early on to blame someone else. But in my world, it was up to the adults involved to point out that this is not the best way to handle things. The adage "honesty is the best policy" used to actually mean something.

And perhaps one of the most negative aspects of playing "the blame game," as the media love to call it, is that it requires a level of hypocrisy that is almost as bad as the original action or behavior itself. Although I can never enter into the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual pain endured by the victims of priest abuse, or understand the suffering of the many decent and dedicated priests in our diocese, I can feel the sting of betrayal on the level of an active, lifelong Catholic who loves her church.

Posted by kshaw at October 17, 2005 08:08 AM