What I'm Working On Now
From listening to all of you, I know that many lay people are feeling completely powerless in the face of the vast and seemingly intractable problem of clergy sexual abuse and cover up. After talking to various priests and bishops, I have come to realize that our ordained leaders often feel the same way. Parish priests are struggling to figure out appropriate steps to take on the local level and don’t necessarily feel like they can make a real impact beyond their particular parish. Even well-intentioned bishops know they have only a limited ability to influence the wider Church. So, it’s not just the laity - everyone in the Church seems unsure about what they can do that will really make a difference.
A few days after I met with Archbishop Listecki, I followed up via email, thanking him for his time and asking if we could meet again for further conversation. The archbishop replied the next day, saying that his schedule does not allow for another meeting, but that he would be “happy to listen” to any ideas I want to send via email.
I do recognize that bishops are super busy, so I’m not surprised that I won’t get a second meeting, but I’m certainly going to take him up on his invitation to share ideas! Perhaps that’s what I should have led with in the first place - concrete suggestions that could be implemented in our Archdiocese. Certainly the laity want to feel heard and understood and valued, but more than that, we want real change. To make that change happen, I think we need to start being specific about what genuine transformation in our Church looks like.
Yes, clergy sexual abuse and cover up is a huge problem, not just in our own country, but around the world. Yes, given the scope of the issue, the purification and renewal of the Church will likely be a very slow and painful process. Yes, there’s a lot that I can’t do, a lot of decision-making that is out of my hands. But change has to start somewhere, and we all need to stop throwing up our hands and lamenting our lack of power. Instead, I think it’s time for every single one of us in the Church - laity and ordained alike - to start asking: Well, what CAN I do?
I have been compiling lists of ideas for months, especially for lay people who care and want to help. I am looking forward to working with all of you soon on small steps we can take together to make a difference. But right now, I’m focusing on creating a list for Archbishop Listecki, to encourage him to do everything he can, from his particular position, to heal and renew the Church.
I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, and I’m working on getting them organized this week. Could you lend your voice to the conversation? If you were going to suggest one concrete idea that is within the power of an individual bishop to implement, what would you recommend? Please comment with your ideas below - I would really appreciate any thoughts you might have! I’ll make sure to post my final list when it’s ready.
Thank you for your help!
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the entire Church with holy wisdom and holy courage.