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Monday, January 09, 2006

Unringing the Division Bell.

As noted briefly below, before the hatchet came out, there has been a lot of serious talk about the divisions in the Catholic Church in America. The only unserious part of what has become an interesting back-and-forth is the observation that the numbers of combatants are small. The proper reply is: so what? Decisions in the Church are made by a miniscule number of people. To borrow the Harry Turtledove coinage, the Church is not big on snoutcounting. It's not like the changes that have been coming to you for the past two generations are made by a careful polling of the vox populi. Change a few minds here and there--especially the bishop at the top--and the game is up.

Moving on: Yes, this is a weird change up, in the immediate wake of a fisking, but here goes: the fundamental problem is one of trust. Neither side trusts the other further than they can be tossed. Distrust of motives, the moving of goalposts, double/triple/quadruple standards, histories of mistreatment and abuse of power all work to poison the dynamic. Worse, there is no real mechanism for resolution of the problem--there's not even a place to air the grievances. Certainly not the USCCB structure, which has the same rifts and is part of the problem in any event. What the Church needs is some facilitator or facilitators trusted by a critical mass on both sides, and I'm at a loss as to even one person that fits the bill.

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