I Didn’t Want To Write This Post
Updated: Jan 25, 2019
(Update: Read my follow up blog post with more information here.)
I had a meeting with Archbishop Listecki last Thursday, and I know a lot of people have been waiting to hear how it went. My intention had been to write a blog post the same day to update everyone about the conversation. But honestly, I was too upset to write anything thoughtful, and I knew I needed to give myself some time to process before sharing my thoughts.
If you don’t know this about me already, I think it may help to understand this - I am a cradle Catholic, and I first fell in love with Jesus while I was in high school. Then, while I was in college at Marquette, studying theology and immersed in an amazing, faithful Catholic community, I fell in love with the Catholic Church. The whole thing - doctrine, tradition, liturgy, hierarchy, and most importantly, the Eucharist. I fell hard and fast, and this conversion completely changed my life.
In the 16 years since I graduated, I have not wavered from these convictions. (Well, at least on the intellectual side. I’m definitely not a perfect person when it comes to living this out in my daily life.) I know that for many faithful Catholics, there have been years of skepticism about many Catholic teachings, a nagging distrust of church leaders, a feeling of distance and separation. But that’s not me. In so many conversations over so many years, I have been the voice defending controversial doctrine, encouraging trust in the hierarchy, trying to explain the words and actions of church leaders in the best light possible.
I think you have to know that about me to understand why all of this is so hard for me personally, why I have been so devastated by the betrayal and dishonesty from leaders of the Church, and why I am so conflicted about sharing the whole truth of what I’ve learned over these past few months.
But I am also committed to serving the people of God in whatever way the Lord calls me, even if it hurts, even if it goes against my every nice-girl instinct. So, I have been thinking carefully and praying fervently about what I can say that is honest, faithful, respectful, and actually helpful. This blog - both today’s post and all those that follow - will be my best attempt to speak the truth with love and humility. (If you think I’ve got the balance wrong, please do let me know. I’ll keep trying.)
OK, that was a long preamble, sorry. On to the update now.
My meeting with the Archbishop did not go well.
I wanted to come home from the meeting and tell you all that we had a really productive conversation, that I felt respected and heard, that I am hopeful about the way forward. Instead, I left disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged.
I will share more details in a second post soon, but the basic gist of it is this - For whatever reason, my questions and observations triggered a defensive response from Archbishop Listecki, and the conversation ended up feeling more adversarial than collegial. I don’t feel like anything I said broke through the wall that was put up between us, and I didn’t hear anything that made me feel hopeful about healing in our Archdiocese.
After I left, I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and just give up. We all know how easy it is to dismiss individuals or whole groups of people, to choose to stop listening to and engaging with those that see things differently than us, to presume the worst of those we disagree with. But that’s not what I want to do.
Today I sent Archbishop Listecki an honest but also conciliatory email to follow up on our conversation and to ask if we could meet again. Because I do want to try again. I want to keep trying. I know that the only way through this crisis is with the laity and clergy working together. We need each other. So, because I love Jesus and I love the Church, I’m not giving up.
Also, the more time I spend in conversation with ordained church leaders, the more I can try to understand their perspective, what this situation is like for them, why they are doing and saying the things that they are. Hopefully the more I understand, the better I can communicate with them in a way that is helpful and productive. I was not successful this time - but maybe, with a little more understanding, I will be more successful next time.
Side Note: When I opened my inbox this morning, I found an email with this quote from St. Augustine: “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." I truly believe that God is calling all of us to be people of hope right now. Maybe that requires a bit of holy anger and a whole lot of holy courage.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.