In a previous post, I mentioned that I called two of The Appalled Four bishops that were mentioned in the now-famous leaked e-mail. I did so at the urging of Muzhik who said “get in touch with your bishops.” Being the non-sophisticated rube from the hinterlands that I am, I took him seriously.
The bishop in question graciously accepted my phone call and we talked for about an hour. For that I’m grateful. I said that I wouldn’t betray any confidences and I’ve kept my end of the bargain.
What I will discuss to day is What I Didn’t Hear.
What was missing from the entire conversation was a sense of pastoral concern for all the members of our Church, not just the Metropolitan.
Look, I’m gonna be blunt here. I’ve been in positions of church leadership on the parish level and dust-ups are endemic. However when the inevitable crisis comes, true leaders rise to the fore and try to make things right. Egos are assuaged and injured parties invited to dinner or the club for a round of golf and drinks. If nothing else, one gets on bended knee and pleads “for the good of the parish.” Or “OK, I’ll get Bob to apologize if you agree to do this.” It’s horse-trading and it’s not pleasant, but in the context of the Church, it’s incumbent upon leaders to do whatever is canonically permissible to calm the situation.
What I didn’t hear was, “You know, we all blew it. Yeah, +Jonah’s got problems with running his mouth but we’re working on our own problems as well. Skordinski described us as lacking basic business skill-sets, and she’s right. We really need to get our house in order.”
Or, “Look George, +Jonah bit off more than he could chew. Did you know at one time he was bishop and locum tenens of five different dioceses? We never should have allowed that to happen. We set him up to fail under those circumstances. We need him to rest. On a practical level, it just doesn’t look good for us to lose a third Metropolitan in six years.”
Or, “For the life of me, I don’t know how we let the institutional rot in Syosset settle in like that, or why we can’t tighten up our standards for membership on the Metropolitan Council. We’ve got a long slog ahead of us. George, this isn’t going to be pretty, pray for us.”
Any one of the above statements would have indicated to me that this bishop was acting in good faith and for the betterment of the Church. Instead, other deficiencies and concerns were discussed. Not cool.