Integrity Matters
March 12, 2003

In faith - as well as life - integrity does matter

Question: (S-006) The sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has not been handled well by those in charge. In your opinion, will that part of the Church suffer in membership growth in the years ahead? Will other faith based groups or churches be tarnished by what has happened with the Romans? In other words, do people at large see a difference in religious groups or do they just lump them all together?

Response: Society is tarnished by abusive behaviors. Such behaviors corrupt, and when ignored, degenerate from corrosive to destructive. They cost any institution its reputation, productivity and support – financial and otherwise. It is bad business for the church. It is bad business for government. It is bad business, period.

However, human beings do perceive differences, both subtle and obvious. At least one can assume such thoughtfulness of those who see inappropriate behaviors whether in business, politics, or the church. When stresses increase and individuals feel fears, economic or cultural, there can be a tendency to “close ranks” and “harden” judgments.

At this time in history, integrity is under attack, whether by commission or omission, and levels of trust are eroding in too many areas.

Short-term: People may lump religious leadership into one category or another.

Long-term: Society will “right” itself and balance will be restored.

Short-term: Those looking for reasons to discount spirituality along with organized religion will find “reasons”.

Long-term: Those predisposed to take spirituality seriously will continue to do so. Even imperfect religious organizations, founded to spread the message of love, compassion, repentance, and forgiveness, will experience certain renewal and restoration.

If leaders in government, business and education can change how they function by becoming more responsive to their constituencies, then religious leadership can as well.

Conclusion: Maintain the long view of history and have faith in the common sense of most people. Legitimate values remain. Know your own, seek those who share your priorities and be ready to “blow the whistle” on those who attempt to corrupt that which you hold precious. After all, integrity matters.

JIM BRACHER is founder of the Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership in Monterey. His column, "Integrity Matters," appears Wednesday on the Business page. Readers are invited to submit questions on business-related ethics and values. Please write in care of INTEGRITY to The center's Web site is

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