Sede vacante: Groupon and the Vatican

The internal memo from former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason seems timely, considering that today marks the first full day of another prominent CEO’s resignation.

That other chief executive is no longer on Twitter, but if he wants to send out one final email to his employees, he might use Mason’s final message as a template, coming up with something like this:

People of Groupon the Roman Catholic Church,

After four and a half nearly eight intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon the pope, Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Jesus Christ, and Successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family.

Reuters photo by Max Rossi

Just kidding — I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, “intellectual collapse in the West, the stench of moral corruption revealed by the decades of child-rape and cover-ups, and the resort to the crudest forms of authority and reactionaryism in response to new ideas, discoveries and truths about human nature” the events of the last year and a half seven years speak for themselves. As CEO Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, I am accountable.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon in the Church, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO pope earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – It’s time to give Groupon the body of Christ a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be — I love Groupon the Church, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon the Vatican was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion that’s what George and I like to call it these days), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer laity, the poor and the oppressed. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers all of God’s children. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness seek first the kingdom — don’t waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.

Andrew Joe

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  • aunursa

    So can I use Groupon to get two popes for the price of one?

    I’ll take a Jewish Vicar and a Princess of the Apostles.

  • SamLL

    If the Vatican were Battletoads, it would be like Ratzinger barely squeaked past the first descent on ropes, in my opinion.

  • Vermic

    If the next Pope slips a Battletoads reference into his inaugural address, I just may have to convert.

  • Müntzer

     He did good as far as i am concerned. He failed, too, but then again i would not expect one man (in his 70s and 80s nonetheless) to correct all the mistakes the chruch made since the 2nd Vatican council.

  • Lliira

     What good?

    I’m serious. The bad things Ratzinger did were so heinous that he’d pretty much have to have single-handedly brought peace on earth to make up for them, but I don’t know of him even doing one good thing on the level of rescuing a puppy.

  • It would be appropriate. If I remember the game properly, you practically NEEDED divine intervention to pass the first few levels. 

  • I nearly spat Gin and Tonic on the monitor at the Battletoads line. Well played sir, well played.

  • Jurgan

     He mentioned 2nd Vatican.  That probably means he’d have liked Benedict to turn the clock back to pre-modern, medieval style religion.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m just thinking of how, about a week after Ratzinger took office, he sent out a letter claiming that the church had sole authority over the investigation of sexual abuse cases until the victim’s 28th birthday.

    In what world is that merely failing to correct a mistake? He affirmed that grievous travesty of justice.

  • Unfortunately, the old men in charge of electing the next pontiff are also fully onboard with the ‘aid and abet child abusers’ strategy, so I’m not expecting much.

  • The Vatican is already pre-modern (though the Catholics I’ve known certainly are not). What, he wants the Vatican to make up a language to translate the Bible into that only they and a few other elites know, then somehow track down and burn all copies of the Bible that are not in that language?

  • AnonymousSam

    Probably wouldn’t even be necessary. Just claim to have the one and only truly accurate version of the Bible,which conveniently cannot be translated into common languages. All other versions? Those are potentially heretical — read at your own risk.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How would they pull that off? We don’t have the originals. And I’m not convinced the same tactic is working real well for Islam either.

  • Launcifer

    Much against my better judgement, I find myself wanting to know what’s so special about the twenty-eighth birthday in relation to an investigation. Logic wants me to say that it’s probably some number someone pulled out of his arse to give the Church a venner of control for long enough to cover up anything they found, but it seems a bit specific to be entirely random.

  • AnonymousSam

    There’s the beauty of it. As long as the worshipers can’t actually see what version the priesthood claims to have, they’re dependent on the priesthood’s word that it’s the correct version. The worshipers can be illiterate and it makes no difference as long as they’re taught to believe every word the priesthood utters (which is apparently what happens in some of the more isolated regions of Western Asia where the Taliban and similar theological-militaristic have held sway, although caveat, there’s so much misinformation and bullshit out there that my fact checking is failing to confirm or deny it).

  • Yeah, I don’t think that can work these days on a group larger than a couple thousand people or for longer than a few years. 

  • Seraph4377

    My guess? 10 years after reaching legal majority is beyond even the most generous statute of limitations for child abuse. Can anyone confirm?

  • Dash1

     I just had a quick and partial glance at the various U.S. states’ statutes of limitations for bringing charges of child sexual abuse. I’m not sure I understand the details of the requirements, but from what I’m seeing, the statute often works out to 18 years (of age) plus 10 years, so 28 would be the limit of the statute of limitations for bringing a criminal case against the abuser.

    And I wish to God I had any possible reason to add, “Of course, they wouldn’t be thinking of that, would they?” But I don’t.

  • AnonymousSam

    The exact phrasing is along the lines of “no investigation until the victim’s 18th birthday and then sole jurisdiction for ten years after that date.”

    Although actually I have to correct my last post; he sent out that letter in 2001, before he became the Pope. The article was referencing his recent ascension at the time of writing. That doesn’t exactly make it better, though.

  • EllieMurasaki

    no investigation until the victim’s 18th birthday

    I suppose I should be glad it’s not ‘alleged victim’?

  • That the Vatican thinks they have the right and especially power to enforce when criminal cases are investigated and prosecuted shows how completely and utterly out of touch they are. (Along with, oh, everything else they do.) They aren’t just pre-21st century, they’re pre-18th century.

  • I’d only go back to the church if it declares the rubber-band AI on NBA Jam a mortal sin. 

    (He couldnt even see the basket when he launched that full-court shot!  At least try to make it more subtle you shameless bastards!) 

  • AnonymousSam

    The letter was intended to be completely secret and never to be seen by the public. It uses Church Legalese, but it’s pretty open with the fact that the minor was, in fact, “engaged in delict.”

  • P J Evans

    That photo really needs a caption.

  • AnonymousSam

    They don’t have the right, but I’m not convinced they don’t have the power, especially in Italy. They’ve gotten away with a lot of shit and we’re having about as much luck prosecuting them as we’ve had with the banks in America.

    The Catholic Church: Too big to be fallible?

  • Fred, I could barely follow any of that through the mixed metaphors and redaction-corrections.  

  • There’s the beauty of it. As long as the worshipers can’t actually see what version the priesthood claims to have, they’re dependent on the priesthood’s word that it’s the correct version. The worshipers can be illiterate and it makes no difference as long as they’re taught to believe every word the priesthood utters.

    That was pretty much the status quo the church enjoyed during the middle ages.  The development of the printing press and the Enlightenment upset that paradigm pretty thoroughly.   

    As much as some fundamentalists might wish the Enlightenment never happened, there is no putting the genie back in that bottle.  

  • AnonymousSam

    And yet people whose names we barely know, with barely a fraction of the authority a member of a world-renowned priesthood has over a worshiper, keep succeeding in passing laws which allow scientific development to be overridden in favor of teaching that dinosaurs were vegetarians and the Garden of Eden was a literal place.

    Yeah, I’m not yet convinced. I want to be, but I’m not. I think there’s a not-so-trivial chunk of the world’s populace who’d be happy to take a time warp back to the era of simplicity.

  • Ah, here’s one:

    Not so much for women and gay folks or little boys diddled by priests, but he does love cats. That counts for something. 

  • It’s not really the same tactic in Islam, IMO. Where having the Bible in Latin barred practically everyone outside the priesthood from reading it, having the Koran in Arabic allows a very large number of muslims to read it in their native language.

    Everything I’ve heard about Islam says that they actively encourage and help practicing muslims to learn Arabic so they can read the Koran the way it’s intended. 

  • EllieMurasaki


  • Mrs Grimble

     I don’t know about other countries, but here in the UK, there is no statute of limitations on child sexual abuse and abusers have been prosecuted decades after the crime.  OTOH, though, it provides an opening for false allegations of abuse, especially in the case of celebrities – how do you prove that you *didn’t* molest a child you may or may not have had contact with thirty-odd years ago?

  • AnonymousSam

    I don’t know about the UK, but that doesn’t work that way in the US. You have to be able to prove it happened, and waiting a couple of decades to report abuse is a great way to ensure that no trace of that evidence still exists — including clear memories of the incident. Especially if the victim has spent all that time being told it never happened.

  • Yeah, I’m not yet convinced. I want to be, but I’m not. I think there’s a not-so-trivial chunk of the world’s populace who’d be happy to take a time warp back to the era of simplicity.

    I do not disagree.  But such people have had to develop other methods to enforce this.  When the church had a monopoly on literacy, knowledge, and scholarship it was easy to simply tell people what was “right”.  As literacy expanded, the dissemination of knowledge quickly slipped past the church’s ability to control it, encompassing far more authorities than the church alone.  

    These modern fundamentalists are not so much trying to be the sole controlling authority of knowledge anymore.  Rather, they seek control by undermining the concept of knowledge itself.  I assume you were referring to things like the Creation Museum and the Discovery Institute.  Think about what they are doing, they are trying to elevate their dogma to the level of scientific inquiry while lacking scientific rigor, and in doing so they are poisoning the well of trust in the scientific establishment.  All things being “equal” to the fundamental devout, they choose the “knowledge” which best comforts their existing conceptions.  

  • Cathy W

    Yeah. When the abuse within the church first started coming to light, there were a few states that started extending the statute of limitations on some child abuse cases – but it was controversial, and I’m not sure it resulted in much in the way of successful prosecution.

  •  Catholics made a serious effort to teach latin to schoolkids in the time between when they started teaching the hoi polloi to read and the decision to switch the mass over to the local languages. There was never really a time when the use of latin was a deliberate barrier to entry.

  • AnonymousSam

    Which falls under “all other versions are heretical,” neh? But meh, I don’t expect the Catholic Church to do any such thing. I just don’t think the idea is necessarily that farfetched. Heck, just look at some of the people who visited us after the Lutheran church posts — some of them were happy to argue that even other Christians denominations were praying to false gods and would be going to Hell.

  • ScorpioUndone

     wait, where do I get a drink for this?

  • Battletoads! squee

    That is all.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     The RCC has a long history of an adversarial relationship with civic authority.  No small amount of this conflict arises from kings and counts wanting to appoint their own bishops and priests, excluding any input from the Church.

     I’m sure they will say that they are responsible to divine not human authority, but I’m pretty sure God doesn’t approve of raping children.

    Benedict should be doing penance in sack cloth and ashes for the remainder of his days afterhe turns over all of the offending and abetting priests and all of the relevant documents to the civil authorities.

  • banancat

     Can you give one example of good that he has done?

  • Lliira

     Lots of little girls, teenage girls, and grown women were and are sexually abused by priests as well.

    His loving cats counts for diddly squat. I’m a cat person, but really, so what. Many extraordinarily evil figures throughout history have loved (or pretended to love) animals. Also, what did he do for cats? He fed strays? That’s not actually a good thing for cats in the long run. Did he do everything he could to make sure all the strays even just around the Vatican were spayed or neutered?

    Bob Barker did a lot for cats and dogs. Ratzinger? Pfft.

  • Ken

    Former Hitler youth, leader of the Inquisition, party to the coverup of child rape… we will not see his like again.

    God willing.

  •  You know, we get that you don’t like him and that he’s a monster, but do you really need to redefine things generally considered good as evil just to ensure that absolutely nothing good can be said about the man? Is “Actually, feeding starving cats is evil too” really the claim you want to stake?

  • AnonymousSam

    Zie didn’t say it was evil, just that in the grand scheme of things, feeding strays does roughly about as much to balance out the evil he did as leaving change in the “Take a Penny Leave a Penny” tray does to morally absolve a Wall Street banker.

  • I actually thought the cat story kind of sweet, but when I mention in the adjacent sentence “not so much for women, gays, or molested children” there’s a very good chance I’m being somewhat sarcastic. 

    Come to think, if I’m writing, speaking, performing interpretive dance, mime, or any other sort of interpersonal communication, there’s a very good chance I’m being somewhat sarcastic. 

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, well I wouldn’t rule it out since most of the Cardinals who’ll be voting on the next Pope were appointed by him or John Paul II and don’t think for a minute that he won’t have any behind the scenes influence on who’s chosen either.

  • vsm

    It’s not very cool to use his past in the Hitler-Jugend against him. Since membership was mandatory, you’re implying being an “Aryan” male teenager (curiously, no ever seems to care about the Bund Deutscher Mädel) in the Third Reich was by itself a crime.

  • Also IIRC the US and UK use the same adversarial type justice system so the burden of proof would fall on the Crown (prosecution), not on the defendant.

  •  I think you can go after child abusers decades later too, but then you run into the situation that you just described — good luck proving that someone did that 30 years after the fact, with no forensic evidence and only fuzzy witness recollections. And, on the defendants’ side — how many of you could give an alibi for where you were on the night of Friday the 21st of March… 30 years ago (assuming that you were born before that, of course).  It’s tough on both sides.