Stories, Questions, and Mysteries

Stories, Questions, and Mysteries

Sunday, 28 May 2017

John Warhurst on Church reform

John is an intelligent and credible Political Scientist. Here I wish to further the discussion he invites about reforming the Catholic Church in Australia. The approach needs to be radical and systemic.

An organization like a good building needs to have a form which supports and enhances its function. From follows function. So what is the function of the Catholic Church? What kind of form does it need and need to fund to progress the message of Christ? What do the members of the organization need to advance their spiritual lives? What form do reformist Catholics need to embrace to do what? And if there is something wrong it is a good idea not to make changes without adequate diagnosis.
A couple of observations or questions from one who has worked with organizational structures and cultures for several decades.
Anyone ever thought of asking a bishop if he says his prayers? What has been the effect in a secular world of the vacuum where genuinely spiritual matters ought have had primacy? And no I do not mean dogmatic, or scripture study, or moral reflections. Certainly not prayers of petition. I mean sharing and learning from the great tried and true spiritual traditions many of which surround Australia in our Asian setting.
What would happen if the structure gave first place to The New Testament and those best able to support it and leave the bureaucratic structure to managers? Does ordination confer any special administrative skills? So the bishop could be the dogmatic/spiritual/prayerful leaders of an area and with a lay management system.

Why do Australian Catholics imagine in their widest dreams that the the Hierarchic cadre which have mismanaged can have some remarkable change of hearts, skills and investments in their egos to now turn around and exercise leadership reform? They have had the blueprint from Vatican ii for years and been tardy or reactive.
Why, especially when the Pope has invited Catholics to experiment with change not try a few things? E.g. invite divorced people to come to communion, if a priest wants to get married let him announce his intentions and see if the community still want him as their pastor and on and on. The Pope knows enough about organizations and the Vatican not expect change from the center. He knows as organizational experts know that much change comes from the periphery.
And finally, I find it remarkable that Catholics, now that the Royal Commission has put the hierarchy and provincials in the stocks in the village square and shamed them that the laity throw stuff of their own. Some form of distancing? The laity  have been slavishly obedient, colluded with bad decisions,(administrative, managerial, financial, political, cultural and educational) seen their leaders punished by quisling informers to Rome. They have winged to one another but supine in their confrontation of the offending cleric who was the more appropriate target of their complaint, since the formation of the colony. Few have ever walked out of an offensive sermon. It was not just the clergy, but teachers, coppers, parents, lawyers and judges who managed the cover ups of abuses. No, if the laity wish to operate with integrity they must acknowledge their complicity, their collusion in corrupting the body which needs reform. That would put them on a more humble footing with the clerics they now want to change and leadership in the acknowledgment of the sinfulness of us all.