June 7, 2008 – My 2 Cents Worth

Hi again,

When I began this blog a few months back, I wasn’t sure what form it would take or what I would end up talking about, but one thing I have tried to be careful of is not to get too “opinionated”, or to not take a stand on something without respecting the view of the other side.  This being said, there have been some events in the past week that are leading me to vent my opinion, so please bear with me.

You may have seen an article in the Belleville News Democrat a couple of days ago that talked about the bishop and the executive committee of the Presbyteral (Priest) Council agreeing to bring in an outside mediating firm called the Reid Group to help improve communications between the priests of the Diocese and the Bishop.  Bishop Braxton sent a letter to the priests of the Diocese stating that these meetings will be meant to explore ways to work toward “better communication among priests and between the Bishop and the priests in order to move beyond the current situation.”

On the surface this appears to be a positive step.  The Reid Group works strictly with Catholic organizations and has had many successful mediations and consultations in the past.  It also appears encouraging that the Bishop is acknowledging that there is a problem, and is taking a pro-active step to find a solution.  However, my optimism is tempered.  In order for this process to work, it is going to take the full committment of both sides, and I do not know if this is a possibility.

This morning I was supposed to be at a meeting in Belleville with our Bishop as part of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.  This council is supposed to act much like a pastoral council in a parish – it is an advisory group that the Bishop can seek opinions from.  Likewise, we have the freedom to tell the Bishop of issues in the diocese we feel need to be addressed.  A few days ago, we received an e-mail stating that the Bishop did not wish to meet with us at the present time – no explanation given.  All that we were told is that as this process with the Reid Group begins, this may give us a reason to meet in July or August.

It is certainly not unusual for a Bishop to have to postpone a meeting when things arise in his schedule, etc.  But to simply say that no meeting is necessary leaves the impression that our opinions are not valued or welcomed.  This is not a new occurrence.  There have been other advisory groups who have had the same experience.  So this is why I am somewhat skeptical of this step.  I’m sure there is expense involved in bringing in a consultation group, and people are going to be asked to re-arrange their schedules in order to accomodate these meetings with the mediator.  If the Bishop is truly committed to this, then the effort may certainly be worth it.  But if the attitude of the hierarchy does not change, then my fear is that this will be time and resources wasted.

My sincere prayer is that this process does bring positive results, and if I am asked to have any small part in it, know that I will be first in line.  Again, I hope this didn’t sound too much like an editorial, but I wanted to give you a little of my own insight into how we reached this point, and what the future may hold.  I still am, and will always remain a proud member of the Catholic faith, despite of what differences we have.  As I have said before, the church is built on the message of Jesus, and that will always rise above anything else.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the next few months.  If you have a comment on the situation, please leave it below.  God’s blessings be with our Bishop, our priests, and all of us as this process unfolds.




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