An e-mail correspondent asked me to comment on the situation of Ruth Kolpack and Bishop Robert Morlino.
I’m not sure I have anything constructive to say. One, I haven’t read her thesis. Two, I’m not privy to the accurate or inaccurate rendering of her private conversations to the bishop via tattletales. Three, clergy can pretty much do whatever they want and the laity, despite rumblings in Connecticut, pretty much have no recourse. Four, I’ve never met Ruth Kolpack or been taught by her, so I can’t say her teaching is orthodox, non-lame, wingnut, or whatever.
The bishop concedes he read hardly any of her thesis. That would seem to indicate his mind was made up to fire her and the thesis was merely an excuse. The difficulty for Bishop Morlino is that he really has to tread lightly because if his reason for firing the woman is unjust or illegal, he may be liable to a legal judgment. Therefore, he can’t tell us the real reason it’s been set in his mind to pink slip the Beloit pastoral associate.
In a healthy work environment, a supervisor and an employee have mutual rights and responsibilities. The supervisor is responsible for setting standards of work and conduct. Problem is, bosses can change and the standards may get altered in the switch. Sometimes new expectations are communicated, and sometimes not.
Fairness would seem to dictate that a professional person in danger of losing a job would have an opportunity first, to know the employment is in jeopardy, and second, to be given explicit goals, tasks, or achievements to accomplish in order to bring performance to an acceptable level.
Employers, however, are not always fair. Sometimes they permit themselves to be swayed by the testimony of others who have ulterior motives. What is interesting about this episode is that it seems that the complaints of a minority fueled this personnel decision. If so, it would seem that the minority accomplished the termination and that the bishop only served as the tool, the pink slip itself, if you will. Does that speak of strength, or of orthodoxy? Or does it indicate something different?