Disputes between members of the Church


Laudatur Iesus Christus.

The Lord said:

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew (RSV) 18:15-17.)

Does the Church implement this teaching? Are there procedures for bringing disputes between members of the Church to mediation or even to arbitration, so that rifts can be healed and unity between members meaningfully realized? Do parish priests or deacons have duties to assist in such interpersonal disputes?

It seems that many parishes have long-standing feuds (or at least rifts) between parishioners, which ought to be resolved, if the above directions were taken at face value.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


Well, in those directions, the parishioners themselves are supposed to bring it to the Church. If they do not do that, deacons and priests have no right to go inserting themselves into situations where they were not asked. Never mind that they do not have the time or resources to go about solving every social disruption in the parish.

So if the individuals participating in the rift do not follow this direction and bring it to the Church authorities… how then does the Church get the blame for not solving it?

BTW, perhaps you have been unlucky, but I have not seen “many” or even any parishes where there are obvious unsolved feuds going on between members. :confused: And in the 16 years since I became a serious, practicing Catholic, I have attended 8 parishes in 6 different states…


Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear Duskyjewel:

The scenario I had in mind was two people in a dispute, one offending the other. The offended party then tries to discuss the matter, but is rebuffed. The offended person then seeks two or three others to meet with the parties and try to mediate the problem. If either the offending party refuses to meet with this group or the group cannot come to a resolution, does the parish (or the diocese) have responsibilities to mediate and try to bring the matter to a successful resolution, according to the mind of Christ?

It seems the offended party has a duty to seek reconciliation, until the Church acts.

So, I am not thinking of an “intervention” by the Church, but whether the priests, deacons, or anyone views this passage as imposing a duty to try and help with such things when asked.

With even divorce so common in parishes, and so many talking about “looking for another parish” as a way of avoiding disputes or problems, it seems that these issues of peace within the Body of Christ must be prevalent.

I am interested in whether anything is in place or whether there is a need for an effort along these lines.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.