Something has caught my attention over the last week and I am having a hard time letting it go. The Bishop of Madison, Wi has given a warning to the parrishoners of had expressed displeasure with a newly appointed pastor. I read the letter and the bishop stated that everything the pastor did was “stylistic” and new heresy or false teaching, so the parrishoners should accept it. One of the things that the pastor changed was the removal of female altar servers. The Bishop instructed the parrishoners to not read into the change the pastor has issues with women.
If the changes were totally stylistic and the reaction was over 40 percent of the parrishoners very upset, offerings dropped 50 percent, and the school that was founded 70 years ago closed was it really worth this pastors choice of style? I understand that the church is not a democracy. I will also concede that no organization will succeed if every member does his/her own thing. This looks like a raw power struggle though. It looks like the Bishop has lost a Catholic grade school and is willing to risk putting the entire parrish into danger over what he admits is only a personal preference of the pastor.
I think the Bishops admonishment to not jump to conclusions that the pastor has issues with women is a) much easier to say than do and b) a condescending dodge. Catholics today are not illiterate unintelligent serfs of middle ages. They can recognize someone who is uncomfortable with Vatican II changes. They see the dangers of the slippery slope.
One of the comments I have read in support of this Pastor is that we need to conform to the church, not the other way around. If the changes are really only style then what is this pastor saying to his parrish: it is better to risk the parrish to have everyone conform to my “style” than listen to the needs of his parrishoners. If the changes are so important that everyone must conform to them, then they must be more than just style. Why doesn’t the Bishop and Pastor then come out and say so?
Personal growth often is accompanied by painful experiences. I hope every involved is growing through this experience.