Is the Catholic Church image tarnished?

11:31 PM, Nov 18, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- It seems there is a new lawsuit announced almost daily in regards to allegations of priest abuse in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Archdiocese. But how much of an impact is it really having on the image of the church?

"So far they haven't been very adept at responding to this, so they're getting beat up in the short term," says public relations and crisis management specialist Jon Austin.

Austin's whole world is helping organizations deal with the public when things go terribly wrong. He says though the Archdiocese should really be more transparent, regardless of how they handle it, they'll likely be just fine.

"If you go to Rome and you stand in the Vatican in the square and you just contemplate the sheer scope of this organization, you have to conclude this is not an existential threat to the church," says Austin.

That said, and not taking anything away from the seriousness of the allegations, Austin says, this is a case of a 2,000 year old establishment trying to operate in today's world.

"I think that's the expectation in the modern world, especially in this culture, that organizations when they do make a mistake, when they do have things that transgress, are going to be transparent and very aggressive about setting them right," he said.

There had been reports the Archdiocese was considering hiring a public relations firm to help deal with the fallout. A spokesperson today said that, at least at this point, there had been no such announcement.

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