Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Michael Brown on authentic reform within the Church....

Michael Brown over at Spirit Daily has an excllent article on authentic reform within the Church.  He writes, "As our Church gets a new bearing, we have two strong directives in recent days. One was given by Pope Francis during his remarkable visit to Brazil, where in an impromptu meeting at the Cathedral of San Sebastian, and then elsewhere, he said, 'What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses! . . . I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools, or structures. Because these need to get out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It's not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people.'

It was a fascinating, sobering, and at the same time electrifying call to change the way dioceses function at their most basic level -- calling them to dismantle the bureaucratic barriers, the focus on secular structure and social stature. Clericalism is used to denote the divisions between ordained clergy and laymen in a closed-in world. Here is his true message to our bishops, to our pastors, to us all: don't become entwined with the worldly. Live the Gospel message (not the Gospel of the local eleven o'clock news). It was a very necessary admonition in a Church where aloofness in the clergy has caused it to be seen as distant, ceremonial, and in need of less starch. (A diocese does itself no favor when it resembles a school board.) The Pope called on the flock to make its concerns known, 'even at the expense of confrontation with their bishops and priests.' It was a call to shake things up -- but in a right, respectful way, to let local hierarchy know of the needs, to send the Church into every 'nook and cranny.' But always: there must be respect. There must be obedience. Bishops and pastors must be approached with new persistence and vigor but with no less respect, for their hands are consecrated; their mission is anointed. We are not to focus on their personalities, which are human ones. Instead, a direct but prayerful approach to any diocese where clericalism prevails is what the Pope requests -- a prayerful and yet energetic one, that we may all be involved in the process of reform."

 In her own day, St. Catherine of Sienna found much corruption within the Holy Church. Homosexuality and many other deeply rooted problems were found among the clergy and Our Lord spoke to this Doctor of the Church about these problems (pride, loss of sacred identity, loss of faith, worldliness, and sensuality). These conversations were laid out in St. Catherine's book entitled "Dialogue," and most especially in that portion of the book labelled "The Mystical Body of Holy Church."

While St. Catherine cautions her readers not to engage in blanket condemnations aimed at the clergy in general (using scandals as an excuse to denigrate priests in general), and refers to such people as "irreverent persecutors" of the clergy, still, she was told by Our Lord that those who will not receive correction and those who will not give it are like the limbs of a body beginning to rot.

How quickly some forget this.  In the Diocese of Worcester, constructive criticism is rejected outright.  So much so that I am not even allowed to APPLY for the diocesan priesthood because I refuse to place community above truth.  See here:

Very often haughtiness is a factor in the rejection of constructive criticism. The haughty person (or the group which believes itself to be "above any criticism" - sometimes even a local church) will, in the words of Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand, "find it intolerable to feel dependent on other persons, to serve others, to subordinate himself to an alien will, and above all, to suffer ever so slight a humiliation. He is unable to admit before others of having been in the wrong, even if he knows it in his heart; much less could he prevail on himself to ask anybody's forgiveness. He is stricken with a crabbed anxiousness about preserving his dignity..."

Haughtiness gets in the way of authentic reform.  This is true for individuals, organizations and even nations.

1 comment:

Peter Walsh, CT said...

Paul, there sure is much that is alarming. Here is some of what the Archdiocese of Hartford is involved in.

Progressive grassroots politics on behalf of the pro-gay & abortion elements. Seems to be a joint project of the Unitarians and the Diocese.

Yet, there is an argument that the Bishop, himself ... this is beyond his control. The bureaucrats run the Diocese.

There is no reforming that which is not rehabilitatable.

Keep up the good work!

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