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Remember: This only makes sense in context. Here’s the Introduction that explains this series.
Do you fully understand how our Church operates, what are its lines of communication and authority, by what processes are decisions made, how and when it needs your help, how to offer constructive criticism, how to handle problems?
I really don’t have a clear picture of all this! Mostly, I assume somebody else does, and that I could find out if I dug around. But I don’t see an Easy Guide to Your Archdiocese anywhere, or an org chart, or a communication tree. Mostly, I’m content to let others just run it all, and glad I don’t have to. The only problem is that this is hardly an adult mode of participation. It strikes me that I ought to know more than I do. If I were in any other voluntary, membership organization, you can bet I’d know how it works.
Are you creative, innovative, artistic, have lots of new ideas, or feeling like a round peg in a square hole within the Church? (Oh yeah!) If so, how can we make a way to harness your energy, or make you feel more fully welcome in the Church?
Most of my ideas on this score are in a presentation I gave for the Catholic Fine Arts Council which was, apparently, ‘ahead of its time,’ if anyone is interested in this answer. I think ‘ahead of its time’ actually means ‘too threatening to the status quo,’ or ‘going to be ignored.’
What are the issues and problems you find most distressing in the world around you right now?
(I asked this because, somehow, the Church ‘large’ must be able to be influenced and shaped by the Church ‘small’. If each of us is the locus of God’s encounter with the particular realities we face, then we are each a sort of ‘listening post’ for the needs of the world on a small scale. Our hearts must move us to act, to respond outwardly (toward ‘the world’) and also to communicate inwardly (back to the Church as a whole Body) what we perceive. Yes, we might also communicate with local or state authorities and with others who try to meet various needs, but we must, surely, have a responsibility to in-form our Church as we are in-formed.)
I’m concerned about the need to build bridges with non-Catholic Christians, to strengthen the sense of community and skill at community building within the Church, to serve together where there is need in front of us, to improve the thinking and writing ability of Catholics, and to heal wounded women. What reality does your heart need to voice for the Church to hear?
Do you worship in your own parish? If not, why not?
I do, but I asked this because, if I were the Bishop, I’d want to know if people were feeling their parishes did not want them, or were being hijacked by dissidents, or if they were not sure about parish boundaries, or were church-hopping to avoid commitment. I’d want to strengthen the stay-in-your-parish vibe, and understand why/if it is weak.
OK, that’s all for now. Catch me next month for the last sets of Q&As in this series. (Unless you submit suggestions for other Questions You Wish the Bishop had Asked Me/You/Us!)
…it is difficult for poets to remain acceptable or contented party men; they ask too many questions.
Dorothy Sayers, in the Introduction to her translation of Dante’s Purgatorio