Sending a letter to my regional Bishop


#1

I intend to send a letter to my regional Bishop. (I am not a priest). I simply want to raise some concerns about a particular priest within this Bishop's domain/ authority.
This is my first letter to a bishop. What can I expect? Can I assume that the letter will eventually end up in the Bishop's hands or will an administrator or other official preview the letter and decide on its merits. Will I more than likely get either a detailed reply, a standard acknowledgement reply, or no reply?


#2

I am highly interested in this concept as well as I do need some confidential talks with our Bishop.


#3

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:321551"]
I intend to send a letter to my regional Bishop. (I am not a priest). I simply want to raise some concerns about a particular priest within this Bishop's domain/ authority.
This is my first letter to a bishop. What can I expect? Can I assume that the letter will eventually end up in the Bishop's hands or will an administrator or other official preview the letter and decide on its merits. Will I more than likely get either a detailed reply, a standard acknowledgement reply, or no reply?

[/quote]

Depends on how the bishop chooses to deal with letters from his people. There is no set policy in the church.


#4

Fr John Zuhlsdorf has some really good tips on writing to Bishops and other authorities on his blog: wdtprs.com/blog/tips-for-writing-to-bishops-and-to-the-pc-ecclesia-dei/


#5

Before you write the Bishop, have you given the local priest the respect he deserves and discussed whatever issue(s) you are going to bring to the Bishop with him? Priests deserve that respect. Most priests have an open door for dialog.


#6

[quote="GRATEFULONEjim, post:5, topic:321551"]
Before you write the Bishop, have you given the local priest the respect he deserves and discussed whatever issue(s) you are going to bring to the Bishop with him? Priests deserve that respect. Most priests have an open door for dialog.

[/quote]

+1!

Writing to your Bishop should be a last resort, especially when complaining about a priest. You really need to have your i's dotted and t's crossed and facts straight. The Bishop would likely side with the priest if your complaint is frivolous or without facts.

For every ones sake, I would really think it over and pray on it before writing...


#7

In all likelihood a letter to the bishop would be opened by his secretary first. Either the administrative secretary who sits at the desk in his office, usually a lay woman, or his personal secretary who is usually a priest who is his right hand man so to speak. They would determine if the bishop needs to see it or if should go to another department. If it is a complaint about a priest or situation in a parish they often send it to the pastor of the parish unless it involves something illegal, dangerous or really something that needs to be kept confidential.


#8

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:321551"]
I intend to send a letter to my regional Bishop. (I am not a priest). I simply want to raise some concerns about a particular priest within this Bishop's domain/ authority.

[/quote]

As others have said your first port of call must be to the priest himself.

Then if he is not the Parish priest you must go to the Parish Priest to whom that Priest reports.

Only then should you consider reporting directly to the bishop (unless of course the matter is exceedingly serious - involving matters requiring immediate Police Involvement or serious crimes against cannon law. (desecration of the Eucharist, breach of the seal of confession, advising his flock to break the 6th commandment or to procure abortions....)


#9

If you do end up writing to the bishop (after speaking to the priest, etc.), please don't expect any response concerning exactly what actions he did or didn't take. You may get a standard acknowledgement letter, but any actions the bishop takes will be private between him and the priest. Also, a future transfer or change in the priests actions would not necessarily be as a result of your letter.

Please pray for your priest always!

As others have stated, if the issue is about abuse or other criminal charges, please check you diocesean website for procedures to follow and report immediately.

If the issue is a church issue, than follow the normal process of speaking to the individual priest, than the pastor before going to the bishop.


#10

A lot depends on the issue being raised, the individual bishop, and what steps you have already taken to address the problem.

I think Catholics United for the Faith does a great job of outlining the steps to take to resolve disputes within the Church with their Effective Lay Witness Protocol.

As others have said, the first step is almost always to talk it over with the priest involved. The first thing the bishop is going to want to know is what the priest said when you brought it to his attention. If you haven't bothered to do that, the bishop is far less likely to take your complaint seriously. He cannot give full attention to every complaint from every disgruntled parishioner with an ax to grind. Following the proper order shows that you are not just a disgruntled parishioner but someone with a legitimate concern.

Again, depending on what the issue is, you may get no response. But that doesn't mean it is not being handled. A bishop is unlikely to share private actions regarding his priests with others, unless it regards criminal activity of course. Imagine if he did that. Then you could conceivably go around the parish flashing your letter from the bishop and disparaging the priest. That's not a position the bishop is likely to put himself or the priest in.

My advice is to (of course) pray. Pray long and hard about whether or not this is an issue that really needs to be addressed. Make sure you talk to the priest and attempt to address the concern at that level first. Document that meeting. Only then, if it still persists would you then consider passing it to the bishop.


#11

Thank you so much for this link!! :smiley:
I think this should be a “sticky”!!


#12

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:321551"]
I intend to send a letter to my regional Bishop. (I am not a priest). I simply want to raise some concerns about a particular priest within this Bishop's domain/ authority.
This is my first letter to a bishop. What can I expect? Can I assume that the letter will eventually end up in the Bishop's hands or will an administrator or other official preview the letter and decide on its merits. Will I more than likely get either a detailed reply, a standard acknowledgement reply, or no reply?

[/quote]

Lets say that you write a letter to your councilman, mayor or state representative. Do you think that you would be likely receive a detailed, prompt, and personal response that answered your questions and concerns?

I doubt it.

Same with a Bishop. Odds are, unless it is something really big, he won't even read it. It is possible that the Diocese may have a pilicy of sending out a form letter saying something along the lines that they welcome your concerns and appreciate that you took thetime to write or something like that, but hats really about all you could reasonably expect in the majority of cases.

Sorry, but that is just the way it is. Bishops are very busy and delegate a lot of stuff down to ther staffs.


#13

The bishop may not even see it. In my archdiocese, the Vicar of Clergy deals with that sort of thing.


#14

[quote="Joe_5859, post:10, topic:321551"]
A lot depends on the issue being raised, the individual bishop, and what steps you have already taken to address the problem.

I think Catholics United for the Faith does a great job of outlining the steps to take to resolve disputes within the Church with their Effective Lay Witness Protocol.

[/quote]

You took the words right out of my mouth. :)


#15

[quote="Joannm, post:7, topic:321551"]
In all likelihood a letter to the bishop would be opened by his secretary first.

[/quote]

I'm not Catholic, but I think this is probably very true.

My father tried to contact Bishop Blake of the Church of God in Christ, and he didn't speak to the Bishop himself. He talked to a secretary.

There may be some things that he did before he got as far as the phoning step, but I don't know.


#16

[quote="Oneofthewomen, post:11, topic:321551"]
Thank you so much for this link!! :D
I think this should be a "sticky"!!

[/quote]

Yes, I promote it whenever I can. :) They have done a great job of outlining things. Being the humans that we are, there will always be conflicts that arise within the Church. We want to make sure we try to resolve them constructively.


#17

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