What the Catholic church and the IMF share in common

by Jamie Manson

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A few weeks ago, the alleged sexual assault of a hotel housekeeper by International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn sparked global outrage. He was arrested and quickly forced to resign his position.

In a follow-up story earlier this week, The New York Times reported that at the IMF, "there is one set of ethics guidelines for the rank-and-file staff and another for the 24 elite executive directors who oversee the powerful organization." Though the IMF has strong internal systems, like a hotline for complaints and the publishing of details of complaints in the annual report, the board members remain "largely above these controls."

Does this remind you of another organization plagued by the scandal of sexual abuse?

Like the IMF, most dioceses in the Catholic church now have guidelines and trainings for preventing sexual abuse. But, as we saw last week with St. Patrick's in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, when the "rank-and-file" parish school staff tried to follow the sex abuse guidelines, those hierarchs who are "largely above these controls" were not compelled to respond to its concerns.

As Graham Bowley reports, the IMF's ethics policy is now the subject of intense scrutiny because of its failure to place controls on the organization's top officials. The IMF is beginning to learn what weary Catholics have steadily come to realize over the past decade: no amount of policies and procedures can ever resolve corruption that stems from an unaccountable leadership.

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