An Interview with President George Washington on the Scandal

I’ve seen some weird stuff recently regarding the current scandal embroiling our beloved Church. This for example. And this. Hunter S. Thompson said that “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Keep that in mind as you read on.

What follows are all quotes from the first President of the United States, George Washington. I wondered today what his thoughts would be regarding the current crisis facing our Church. Below are my questions (Joe Sixpack, USMC) and  President Washington’s “thoughts” on the subject, as I have arranged them. 

For simplicity’s sake, my questions are in plain script and the President’s responses are in italics. Here goes.

Mr. President, do you think it is appropriate for the members of the Church Militant, however painful this may be to them, to demand answers from our Church leaders regarding the current scandal plaguing our ranks? 

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.

Aside from the obvious expertise in theology and the daily practice of the cardinal and theological virtues, what would you suggest to Pope Benedict XVI as the main leadership criteria used for selecting bishops and cardinals to shepherd the Church going forward?

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.

But given the shortage of priests the Church is facing, this may prove difficult, Mr. President.

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

Touché, Mr. President, touché. There has been a lot of rhetoric not only from the Vatican, but also from many news sources, from Catholic pundits, etc., saying what we the laity should or should not do, think or not think, about this scandal. In your opinion, what is more important on this issue, actions or words?

A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux would agree with you. But sir, many of us (our religious and priests too) have not spoken out due to fear of taint, or fear that changes may occur to our beloved Church if we confront this issue forcefully. Unfortunately, the saying “misery loves company” comes to mind. Why should we demand action on this issue?

Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

Excellent point, Mr. President. Now, many have complained that other Christian denominations, other religious faiths, heck even the Boy Scouts, should own up to their own past abuse cases. Should we ally ourselves with these groups or “nations,” if you will, and make the plea that we are no worse (or better) than these other groups are?

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved. It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate, upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

We need to face this ourselves and not blame others. Understood, sir. Here is my next question. In your opinion, Mr. President, why has the leadership seemed more intent on covering up their failures than they have on expending their energy to root out the perpetrators of these heinous crimes at various levels of the Church hierarchy?

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.

Ouch! That is painful to hear, Mr. President. Surely, as the leader of a powerful nation, that is easy for you to say. But we few, we rank and file members of the Church, in our poverty of both wealth and distinction, should we just keep quiet on this issue? Your thoughts?

It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.

Then you see speaking out on this issue as a duty for all members of the Church, not only here in the United States, but throughout the world?

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.

Thank you for giving us a moment of you time today, Mr. President.

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.

Amen to that Mr. President, a hearty amen to that. Semper Fidelis.

  • Lucy

    Very clever! Onward Christian Soldiers!In Christ,


    Bravo Frank! What a wonderful paradigm for these difficult questions. The most impactful quote for me is "…It is far better to be alone than in bad company." The Church herself, including the culpable Laity, must face scrutiny without the shroud of either secrecy or 'safety in numbers.' Pax Christi.

  • Warren Jewell

    I do not hesitate to believe that either man, George Washington and Benedict XVI, thrown into the other's shoes would carry off honor and duty in high manner and God's good graces. We are talking about men, genuine men, powerful with goodness, and as such are nearly interchangeable when the fit hits the shan. But, I do admit that Benedict XVI needs quasi-martial comrades of the likes of Lafayette, Greene, von Steuben, Sullivan, Hamilton, Knox, etc., who in subordination (interesting term, here) did not only the General's good efforts but carried the banner onward and upward with righteous grace, open courage, unmitigated valor and utter obeisance to truth. The Pope's 'staff', if you will, just is not of Washington's chain-of-command strengths.

  • Frank

    @Lucy and Bones: thanks for your comments.@ Warren: Thanks for your understanding. Note to others who may happen to read this post: If you can't figure out what the intent of this post is/was, see Warren's comment above. Warren "gets" what this post is about. Sun Tzu said The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.Amen.

  • EPG

    Excellent, especially since Washington was, after all, an Anglican (or, after the Revolution, an Episcopalian) — :)More seriously, those wanting a more in depth look at Washington's deliberate cultivation of character might enjoy some of the excellent recent books on Washington, including those by Brookhiser, Ellis, and (my favorite) "The Genuine Article," by Edmund Morgan.

  • Warren Jewell

    @EPG – well and truly noted! Yet, think of our terms for such men of past greatness. For example, we think (from out of our admittedly narrow American experience) of Franklin and Jefferson as 'Renaissance' men for their varied interests and studies.But, Washington is more like 'a man for all seasons' – for any and every era. As for our American experience, such aspect would only be like coincidence to Washington. The righteous actions ahead of him would command his attentions. I would like to think that Benedict XVI fits this role, too, but then he hasn't had Washington's visible and dramatic opportunities to show forth his integrity and talents.I do say that the two, Washington and Benedict, are men who we need far more of than, say, Warren Jewell.