Pentecost, Thoughts on Current Situation

May 26, 2012 at 11:22 Leave a comment


Recently the National Catholic Reporter published a story stating Cleveland priests have no confidence in our Bishop’s leadership and a number of us have written to the Nuncio and Rome. Undoubtedly there are mixed feelings about this whole matter going so public. To paraphrase Aquinas, a thing is received according to the mode of the receiver. People hear what they want to hear, so there will be, and already are, interpretations that are not even remotely near what our focus really is. Our motives are misinterpreted. How we got to this point of publicity is not as important as what we do now that we are here. I think it is no coincidence that this is happening on Pentecost weekend. The Holy Spirit is alive, well, and powerfully active, battering down the doors built to protect us. Time to face our fears and be led to where we might not of ourselves choose to go and do what we might not of ourselves choose to do.

I believe we priests have an opportunity to show some powerful pastoral leadership. We see things differently. So far we have focused on issues, and this is the way it really needs to be. Our perspective is pastoral, and we have pastoral concern for our diocese, our Bishop, our parishes, our folks wherever they are. We cannot let our discussion degenerate into vituperation, judging, or name-calling. There is too much of that already in the comments and letters from others in print and on the web. Perhaps if we lead by example folks will pay attention and follow suit.

Many of us are still prayerfully struggling to discern our personal response to the current situation. We need to keep doing this, to do our best to be open to the Spirit for guidance on what we, each of us and all of us, are being called to do. The Spirit brings people together, and this has to be our focus. If any of us feel called to write to anybody about the current situation, so be it (BT, DT, GTS). If any of us do not feel called, again so be it. It is important not to judge, but to bear in mind that we do not know what the Spirit is calling us – ourselves, our folks, our parishes, our diocese, our Bishop, our higher-ups – to do these days. We are on a journey, all of us together including especially our Bishop, and we priests have some mission of leadership on this journey. We can learn from our folks, and they can learn from us. We are all in each other’s lives in a special way these days. The situation has brought folks into contact with each other who probably would never have known existed, so there is good happening.

The Pentecost Story shows what happens when folks are afraid – we close ourselves off from others we see as threats. The Story also shows what happens when the Holy Spirit comes through our locked doors, which just might be where we are now. We might find ourselves in positions and relationships hinted at by the Story of the Apostles speaking different languages. What matters is our openness to the Spirit. It might be time for our Bishop to leave, and it might not. We don’t know. In the wisdom of the Spirit that might not even be a worthwhile goal. We don’t know. We just have to do what we believe is right at every moment, trusting the Spirit and responding to grace.

What is, is. We are where we are. Some of us might be afraid. There are a number of comments calling us brave, but being brave has nothing to do with any of this. Our Bishop is not our enemy. Our focus is pastoral, and so is his. We have significant differences in how we think and operate. Maybe these differences can be resolved locally, maybe they can’t. Again, we don’t know. The important thing is to be faithful to our prayer and go wherever this takes us. We don’t have to know the Spirit’s long term plan, we just have to do our best to be open right now, whatever this might be.

Disagreement is not disloyalty, disrespect, or disobedience. It is tough love, loving loyalty, loving respect, loving obedience. It can be costly. Jesus showed us that. If we choose to act, we do so out of love for our local church and our Bishop. We certainly are not judging him, but we question his style of leadership. Maybe this can be “fixed”, maybe it can’t. We need to be committed to the process of dialogue and openness. We don’t know where the Bishop’s recent letter about meetings with priests will go or even what it means. The Holy Spirit is calling the shots here.

It is important, too, that we not judge our brother priests who may or may not agree with us. We are all struggling, we all have our fears and concerns, and we are all here together because this is where grace has placed us. We are not enemies. We pray, then, for each other, our Diocese, and our Bishop, even as he prays also for us.

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Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Priest. Tags: , , , .

Gospel Thoughts 20 May 2012, Ascension Trinity Sunday, Thoughts on Current Situation

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