The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 25, 2023 - 11:45:01

Structural reform isn’t “rupture”. On the contrary.

Katie van Schaijik, Feb 05, 2022

Re-reading an old post, I noticed a link in the comments I'd neglected to follow up on. It goes to a 2020  America Magazine article about newly-issued Vatican instructions regarding the role of the laity in parishes, particularly in places where there is a shortage of priests.

I haven't yet read those instructions, but I can say that this article generally reinforces the sense I have been working to articulate these last several years. Take this: [my bold]

"Given that the church is mandated by Christ to be missionary, evangelizing and outward-looking, a reform of her structures is continuously required in order to respond to the challenges of the day," the monsignor wrote.

And this:

"Dropping plans upon the people of God from above, without their involvement, should be avoided," Msgr. Ripa said in his written presentation.

Ya think? And yet, that's what we get. The priests decide, sometimes in consultation with laity they employ or who sit on their advisory councils, but never with the body of believers as a body of believers. We have no say. In some places, we have less than no say, in as much as our attempts to speak up are treated by clergy as a burden or a vicious, uncharitable rebellion. (Case in point: When I not so long ago respectfully approached our pastor to explain to him my deep objection to wearing a mask at mass, he got mad at me. He got so mad, he was visibly shaking. "I can't understand or respect that view at all," as he tried to get away from me. I said, "It's my conscience," and he snapped, "Then I question how you formed your conscience." There was more. Right after that "conversation", he posted signs on all the parish doors announcing that masks were now mandatory. Never mind that our Archbishop had explicitly said that no one is to be turned away from the sacraments for not wearing a mask. He, the pastor, asserted that there is room for individual pastors to make a different decision. But no room, apparently, for individual Catholics to make a different personal decision, no matter what the documents and our bishop say about our rights.)

Here is what I want us all to realize: We will continue to have no say in the affairs of the church until we organize and embody ourselves as a communal subject, an association of lay believers in our respective localities. In effect, we have to unionize—not in a political sense, but in a personalist sense, which is to say, as I've said before, not adversarially, but spousally. The aim is to establish proper complementarity for the sake of love (which is the mutual self-donation of complementary opposites), not to establish opposition for the sake of snatching at power.

God, come to our assistance. Lord, make haste to help us.

Talking about this yesterday with Jules, I stressed again that the "formation", the corporate embodying of the laity I'm calling for must be accomplished under the grace and power of the Holy Spirit given to us in our baptism and confirmation, and by which we have a share in the offices of "priest, prophet and king."

Unless the Lord build the house, the builders labor in vain.