The Diocese of St. Petersburg seems mad as, well, hell — and it’s not going to take it any more. Bad publicity that is.
That’s what accusations of sexual abuse, financial improprieties and victim payoffs have wrought these past tumultuous months. It’s beyond the point of frustrated parishioners and church leaders writing letters to the editor and turning off their TV sets. It’s apparently beyond pulpit power, letters to the laity, a church newspaper and “Spirit FM” Catholic radio.
It’s time to bring in a crisis management expert — someone with a spin doctorate.
Enter Bob Carter, a St. Petersburg public relations expert. His credentials include helping advise the Devil Rays on image-building. Carter has been retained by diocesan general counsel Joseph DiVito, who treats the subject of Carter’s fee as if it had been negotiated in confession. He won’t discuss it or even if the money comes from, say, Catholics. DiVito said it wasn’t a “dollar-for-dollar wash-through.”
Presumably Carter didn’t advise DiVito on that response. Perhaps he will have more success suggesting the Rays unload Wilson Alvarez, Greg Vaughn, Vince Naimoli, Chuck LaMar and Tropicana Field.
Anyhow, here’s a suggestion. For free.
Return to basics. Don’t be cute, evasive, arrogant and loopholier than thou. Tell the truth. Directly. About who did what to whom and what, if anything, happened as a result. About the exact dollar value and nature of no-bid construction contracts. About why the diocese would pay $100,000 to a former spokesman who looked good in a Speedo bathing suit and said he had been sexually harassed by Bishop Robert Lynch.
Remember the 8th Commandment? Not bearing false witness; telling the truth. It still applies.