On Reconciliation at Holy Spirit Parish
Holy Spirit Parish continues to be broken. It saddens me to see the dismantling of our beloved parish, its ministries and all of those now excluded members who once were in “good standing” as Catholics, before Fr. Louis came. And one should not forget the firing of our four church workers and the lack of a working relationship between our current pastor and these four workers. The modus operandi is now one of secrecy, abuse of power and the unwillingness to be open to a community that is diverse, yet inclusive.
During Lent we were honored by Bishop Pena’s visit to Holy Spirit Parish. This was followed by subsequent visits by Fr. Mark from Corpus Christi. From the tone and content of Bishop Pena’s talk, it appears that he was implying that those parishioners who were unhappy with the status quo should just forgive and apologize for any possible hurt and move on with our parish life. I wish it were that simple.
He also made some implicit, and maybe not so implicit threats to those that continue to pursue upsetting the status quo. This truly did not appear to be a visit to invite dialogue and reconciliation. However, this appears to be Bishop Pena’s approach to reconciliation? It’s difficult to imagine he truly believes that just saying, “Forgive me, I am sorry” will suffice as a means to be reconciled.
There is much written about the process of reconciliation, and I emphasize process. As an example, Hizkias Assefa, professor of Conflict Studies at Eastern Mennonite University, outlines the process containing the following core elements:
Honest acknowledgement of harm/injury each party has inflicted on the other;
Sincere regrets and remorse for the injury done;
Readiness to apologize for one’s role in inflicting injury;
Readiness of the conflicting parties to ‘let go’ of the anger and bitterness caused by the conflict and injury;
Commitment by the offender not to repeat the injury;
Sincere efforts to redress past grievances that caused the conflict and compensate the damage caused to the extent possible;
Entering into a new mutually enriching relationship.
In summary, the process calls for both parties to reflect and take responsibility for the conflict or hurt caused to the other. Each party seeks new ways of redressing the injury that has been inflicted. The final step, and this may be the most important, is that both parties agree to refrain from causing further damage to the other and to work towards constructing a new, more positive relationship.
To date, there has been no true dialogue. There has been no true process. Therefore, the question remains: Have we experienced any true reconciliation at Holy Spirit?
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