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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dies irae autem dies spei?

Even as I post, Fr. Roy Bourgeoise and his high-powered attorney, Fr. Tom Doyle, are meeting with Superior General Fr. Ed Dougherty in a "due  process" session, mediated by Fr. Wayman Deasy. As far as I have been able to ascertain, Doc won't be accompanied by a canon lawyer. This may be just as well, since this is not a judicial hearing or trial or negotiation or arbitration. It is, rather, an opportunity afforded Society members by our Constitutions when they feel they have not been treated fairly or ethically by leadership.

Absent a fly-spy on the wall, I am not sure if we will learn what exactly was discussed, but the very fact that Roy and Ed are meeting and talking face-to-face is itself an accomplishment, according to Bourgeoise, who claims there has been neither dialogue nor discussion between the two in the past three years.

I confess I cannot imagine what else can come out of this "due process" process, since there is, in fact, not much that can be reversed or undone. There is also a certain disadvantage for Doc in this kind of situation since the Vatican has made it quite explicit that not only are Catholics forbidden to talk about [DELETED] but we are to refrain from even thinking about [DELETED].

What we have here in microcosm is the same dysfunctional dynamic plaguing not only us here at the Center but, in fact, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. To wit: one side sees its authority and power eroding, perhaps irreparably, so it clings desperately to what little power it has. It appeals to blind obedience and to habit (if not tradition) and calls for strict adherence to anachronistic laws or policies; on the other side we have free spirits willing to enter into discussion, dialogue and process to reach some sort of mutually acceptable understanding and conclusion.

This strikes me as being at the heart of the apparent overreach by the Vatican regarding the Conference of Leadership of Women Religious (not to mention the Girl Scouts!). This likewise reverberates through our dining room when somewhere dare suggest moving pizza to another day. It's "Who Moved My Cheese" writ large. Our actions seem to shout: "We can't control our situation, by God we can control this!" and so we pounce for no better reason than that we can.

Age, disease, decreasing numbers force us to confront our limitations and mortality; as individuals, as a Society and as a Church. So what is the knee-jerk reaction? Come down hard on any individual or group you deem vulnerable but whose very actions underscore the embarrassing truth that the emperor lost his clothes decades ago.

Asked what he hoped would come from today's "due process" meeting, Roy replied: "Hope."

Not a minute too soon!

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