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The future of the church: Discernment or intimidation?

Sr Joan Chittister

While Sr Joan Chittister writes within the Catholic context, her writing about change applies very closely to the LCA.  The complete article is worthy of reading.  The following is only an extract from The Future of the Church: Discernment or Intimidation.

It is possible to repress change temporarily — to slow change, to resist change, to deny change — but it is impossible to stop a change whose time has come. It is impossible to ignore change once it has begun to well up through the cracks in the cement of a society, however rigid the barriers to it.

Repressed, people will resist. Ignored, people will remove themselves from an arthritic society. Unheard and unheeded, blocked and obstructed, the seed of a new idea simply grows like ground pine until the ideas break out everywhere and evolution that could have been handled by a process of peaceful reform gives way to unmanageable revolution. Ask the King and Queen of France.

Clearly, for the sake of the society itself, it is imperative that people minister reflectively and consciously at a time like this. Otherwise, in trying to preserve its past, an institution may well destroy the life of its living mission. People will ignore it, deride it, resist it or abandon it. …

To suppress the question now can only delay its coming and, at the same time, increase its impact when it does. The question of women’s place in the church, let alone the issue of the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, for instance, has been ignored at the highest levels of the church despite the growing demand for attention among the faithful.

Nevertheless, the sense of inevitability has continued unabated in society at large and affected people’s attitudes toward the church. …

Second, openness about emerging issues and good theoretical preparation must fill in the gap between institutional readiness to consider the questions and the resistance fatigue in the people. To deny the question will only, in the long run, reduce the credibility of the minister on other issues as well as on the question at hand. …

There is a great deal for us to do on this issue even when it seems that there is nothing we are able to do at all. The time is coming and is now at hand, all the numbers of all the facets of church now say, when the Holy Spirit will once again change history.  Source (The Future of the Church: Discernment or Intimidation)

 
 

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