I was just going to say your words are needed in the thread on charismatic renewal, while not everyone must agree on the matter it just keeps going on and on. We as Christians need to be united not calling others out for there faults and our likes and dislikes. I had to leave it alone and I finally left the thread, but these words you have shared are very true and beautiful and maybe would enlighten some there. God Bless
I agree that it is important to act for the good of our families, our parishes and the Church and not just gripe about problems. However, there is actually a time to criticize. St. Paul for example did this, and just to take some passages at random, there is Galatians 2:11 to 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-14 and1 Timothy 1:3-7. There are countless examples of this in the history of Catholicism, not to mention some exortations of Christ, and too for example of Isaiah and Jeremiah. It may be that it can be more prudent to be quiet, but at other times it can be more prudent to speak out about what we see.
I agree that there can be criticism that can be harmful, being divisive and imprudent. Probably some sorts of personalities should err on the side of being silent. But criticism can have a proper place, and so it is examplified in Scripture and the lives of the saints.
Outside of the monastic and mendicant order, I don’t think there is any question that critical thinking can be a healthy and helpful activity. I believe that the first thing that we must reform in our thinking to ensure that it is truly critical thinking and not gratuitous criticism and complaining.
I say outside of monastic and mendicant orders, because each of them has restrictions on how much they allow their members to share critical thinking and how much of it bind the community. I can only speak for the Franciscan family. Among Franciscan friars of the four branches, the Poor Clares and the Secular Franciscans, the Minister of the community reserves the right to act without counsel or to hear counel and act freely, because he or she is the direct successor of Francis of Assisi In his testament Francis wrote that the brothers and sisters were bound to obey him, even after his death. And he insisted that only his canonically elected successors had the same right of obedience as he did. Councils in the Franciscan family are just that, counselors. The Franciscans, secular, friars, regular, nuns and sisters, have a say when they are gathered in chapter, but even after a vote, the Miniter can overrule the entire community and the community is bound to obey. If he declares that a topic is closed for discussion, that’s the end of it.
On the other hand, if the minister allows an individual to pubish his or her throughts on a particular issue, it is for the benefit of the reader, not always the order. I believe the same applies within the monastic communities such as Benedictines and their various branches. The abbot or abbess can quiet any criticism. The only way around it is to go to Rome.
The laity needs to understand that critical thinking does ot mean that the Church has to act on what the laity has to offer. The hierarchy, religioius superiors and the conferences of bishops can listen and then decide, even if it is contrary to the feedback that they receive from the laity.
Many lay people find this offensive or difficult to deal with. But the truth is that we have to reform our way of thinking about the use of authority in the Church and accept that even though we are encouraged to critical thinking, even by Canon Law, it does not mean that we are right and the leadership of the Church is wrong or that even if the leadership of the Church is making a mistake, by not listening, that they have done something wrong.
At some point we have to accept that we have shared our point of view and the Church has decided. It is at that point when we have to let God take over. Often we are reluctant to do that.
An important part of personal reform is to find the balance between critical thinking and obedience, as long as we are not asked to sin or commit a crime.
The point here is to reform our way of thinking about our role in the Church. The laity is encouraged to take an active part int he minisry of the Church. But that does not change the fact that the Church is hierarchical and humility must also accompany any critical thought.
In addition, we must learn to think critically, not just spout off something becaue we like it or because we have strong feelings about it. Those are our feeings and our thoughts. They deerve respect, but not always acceptance by the hierarchy or other Catholics.
So, let us learn to think critically by trying to understand the good that the Church sees in certain choices that she makes, even when we disagree. Then let us pray for humility to accept her decisions, whether it is at the parish, the diocese, the religous order or the universal Church.
You are quite right in what you say. And I can imagine that bishops, priests and others in leadership in the Church receive many complaints to do one thing or another, many of which, maybe even most of which, would do more harm than good.
I recall though that one of the traditional acts of mercy is to admonish the sinner. This would not seem to be a matter of complaining. We can criticize out of love, and the person wouldn’t have to be sinners, hoping that a person will do the right thing after they hear us. It could even be about a problem that they did not realize existed.