QOO no. 90    June 27, 2010
      Divine Call
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To: Benedict
From: Richard

Re: Crisis management

First of all, let me just say how pleased I am that you've retained me as a consultant on this child... this alleged child abuse scandal. To the superficial observer, it looks as though you're dealing with a long-standing pattern of heinous, cynical, repeated wrongdoing covered up by a coordinated smokescreen of stonewalling and dissimulation, and I can help you out with that. In this memo I'm going to outline my plan, and I think you'll agree that it's a winner -- of hearts and minds!

I. The first thing you need to do is deflect criticism to buy some time. You were on the right track claiming that the accusations about your own role in some kind of cover-up were fabricated by your enemies as part of a personal smear campaign. The partisan popery card -- good move. But don't overlook the elephant in the presbytery: anti-pedophile media bias! Let anyone who denies it exists file the first class-action suit.

II. Now -- over the next few months you're going to get a lot of pressure to release documents. Don't give them a thing. When someone asks for a look at the church archives covering your time as cardinal in charge of child abuse cases, you say that you're not accountable for that because, as the head of state of Vatican City, you're not a member of the clergy. With no records for them to look at you can safely assert that no such case ever came to your attention -- to the best of your recollection. Get it? To purgatory with executive privilege -- you've got infallibility! Use it.

III. Then, after essentially denying that any abuse ever took place, you explain how actually it was a good thing. Here's how to spin it: Those kids were young Catholics in training, right? And they needed to become familiar with the rites and rituals, and sometimes, in some exceptional cases, maybe they needed some exceptional treatment to get them to confess their sins. If I were an altar boy and anything like that happened to me I bet afterwards I'd be babbling away like crazy with the Hail Mary's and Glory Be's and whatnot. So this was doing them good, helping them learn the rosary. You can call it an "enhanced catechism program." Keeping the Church safe from heresy!

IV. Next, you take advantage of your position to draw this thing out and wait for the heat to die down. Take off for a few weeks to an undisclosed diocese, somewhere where no one can harass you. Then you can try a few tactics to draw attention to other issues. A couple of suggestions: Have a Swiss Guard leak the identity of one of your bankers. Or set up a system of color-coded "Apocalypse Alerts" and then keep it alternating between "red" and "orange." Or -- and this is a great one if you can pull it off -- arrange to have the Sistine Chapel reduced to rubble by some kind of "terrorist" action. I know what you're thinking: risky, costly, lots of dust. True, but it's the quickest, easiest way to consolidate your power base, and can you put a price on that?

V. Lastly, and this is the most important point of all, you absolutely must cut tithes for the wealthy. There might not seem to be a direct connection between this and the problem at hand, but, believe me, it's what you really need to do most urgently. I'm thinking three and a quarter, maybe three and a half percent tops.

I'll have my staff set up some meetings over the next few weeks to walk you through the process, but that's it in a nutshell. Meanwhile, I've converted to Catholicism, and you'll find attached a preliminary schedule of the things I'll need dispensations for in lieu of payment, as per our agreement. Please keep in mind that this is just a first draft, the "skeleton" if you will. I'll flesh it out with my lawyers for the final version, but for now these 53 pages should give you an idea of what we're talking about. Pretty good deal, huh? You save my soul, I save your ass. Pardon my Aramaic.

Trust me, Your Holiness, follow my instructions and you'll have the faithful lining up with their mouths open, ready to eat out of your hand. They'll literally be on their knees. Of course, there will always be a few hard-core freedom of religion haters who will continue to badmouth you no matter what. Just tell them to go genuflect themselves.


Copyright 2010 by David Jaggard. 
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