We have heard discussions before about the “Church Above” - the male, celibate hierarchy with their theologies and agenda, versus the “Church Below” – local level parish interactions, laity, and simpler spirituality. This is played out again and again.
Most recently, on the one hand, Cardinal George seemed practically gleeful in an interview when he spoke about bishops feeling their authoritative oats, saying “ bishops are more prepared to “take possession of their vocation,” not just as teachers and preachers, but as governors who exercise, however reluctantly, “the power to punish.”
On the other hand, a recent Woodstock forum headlined the concept that the Church can only be saved by the Laity. Bishops are unable or unwilling to meet the spiritual needs of the Church. Bishops are scared to enter into dialogue with anyone but themselves because “they do not trust the laity.” The feeling is mutual.
Speaking about the number of cradle-Catholics who are leaving active participation the Church, Rev. Thomas Reese, SJ puts part of the blame on the bishops. He said that church leaders want to blame the exodus of Catholics from the church on sinfulness, dissent, lack of commitment, or other factors, but they are ignoring a major issue. “If this was a retail outlet, we’d say we’re blaming the customers -- and that’s not a way to make your bottom line,” he said. They’re not buying what the bishops are trying to sell.
Here is a link to a cogent report by Jerry Filteau on presentations made by Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, Dolores Leckey, and Fr. Raymond Kemp at the Philadelphia forum. http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/saying-bishops-scared-panelists-urge-laity-take-lead