Saturday, 13 May 2017

What should we reasonably expect of the CES?

I have been critical of the CES both for the document that they produced (Made in God's Image) which is scandalous, and also for their response to the criticisms and questions raised (see here for the whole story, as I see it: read in chronological order [from the bottom up] to make most sense of the developing scandal).

So what do I expect of the CES? Or, perhaps more pertinently, what might the Catholics who fund them through their donations reasonably expect. The closest analogue for the CES in civic life is the public sector: those people paid by the public to execute the public good.  So Let's look at the 7 principles of public life (the 'Nolan principles') 

Those with a long memory will recall that John Major asked Lord Nolan to run an inquiry following the sleaze of the cash-for-questions scandal back in the 1990s. The principles (as currently stated - they have been revised a few times) are (Source):

• Selflessness
• Integrity
• Objectivity
• Accountability
• Openness
• Honesty
• Leadership

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.


Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.


Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.


Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.


Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.


Holders of public office should be truthful.


Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

If assessed against these standards, I would suggest, the CES is letting the Catholic laity (and indeed the bishops, their sponsors) down badly. Their response so far seems to me to fail to honour the principles of openness, honesty and accountability; leadership has been lacking, and there are very serious questions over integrity. 

So the bishops really need to step in and hold them to account.  But then, of course, that raises the question: should we expect the bishops' conference to operate by the same set of principles. It is hard to see why we should not. But, if I am wholly honest and open (principles 5 & 6) with my readership, I have to admit that I would not give the Conference gold star ratings against all of these principles, either.

Must do better!

Pray for them all.

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