Church Leadership, A Closer Look The Spiritual Reflection

Megan Cokeley is Director of the Office for the New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Like many people, Megan has been disturbed about what has occurred within the Catholic Church. Yet, Megan is not one to simply complain. Her approach is positive and proactive.

She put together a presentation entitled ”What can we do? The role of the Laity in a Time of Crisis.” She put this presentation out as a webinar. She was somewhat surprised at how many people showed an interest in it. Soon after that, she developed a presentation that she could offer “live.” She offered to give the presentation to parishes and venues around the archdiocese. You can find a link to Megan’s speaker schedule on my website.

I called Meagan several weeks ago and invited her to come and speak at St. Monica. She said, unfortunately, her schedule was full. Many parishes had also called to asked her to give the presentation to them. We both agreed that this was a very powerful and very positive development. It was also a credit to Megan’s positive approach, solid research and professionalism.

A few weeks ago Meghan gave the presentation nearby. Several St. Monica parishioners went to listen to her. They took notes and forwarded them to me. This week I would like to begin to look at some of the material that Megan presented.

Many have taken the bishops and even to Pope to task on the current difficulties within the Church. The Catholic Church is a hierarchical institution. It has been a positive and stabilizing feature for 2,000 years. Still, there is a standard by which the hierarchy is to be held accountable. “Although the church possesses a hierarchical structure, this structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members” according to Saint John Paul II (Mulieris Dignitatem, ”On the Dignity of Women). Many people have expressed concern that this standard has not been met.

We have seen the failure of church leadership before. Saint John Henry Newman pointed this out in his essay, “In Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” The example he points to happened at the beginning of the Catholic Church. During this time, the Catholic Church faced a major, theological crisis known as Arianism. “There was a temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia Docens (or the teaching authority of the Church: primarily the bishops). The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously - one against another. There was nothing after Nicaea of any firm, unvarying, consistent teaching and testimony for nearly 60 years.”

Yet, history has shown that the Church has a self-corrective instrument within the Body of Christ. Next week we will look at what this method of conversion is.


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