AA 23: One Big Happy Family

AA 23 begins “chapter five” of the document, a larger section dealing with “External Relationships”

Whether the lay apostolate is exercised by the faithful as individuals or as members of organizations, it should be incorporated into the apostolate of the whole Church according to a right system of relationships. Indeed, union with those whom the Holy Spirit has assigned to rule His Church (cf. Acts 20:28) is an essential element of the Christian apostolate. No less necessary is cooperation among various projects of the apostolate which must be suitably directed by the hierarchy.

On one hand, the hierarchical nature of the Church is reinforced. But also, direction from bishops and clergy must be “suitable.” All in the name of unity. Read on a bit …

Indeed, the spirit of unity should be promoted in order that fraternal charity may be resplendent in the whole apostolate of the Church, common goals may be attained, and destructive rivalries avoided. For this there is need for mutual esteem among all the forms of the apostolate in the Church and, with due respect for the particular character of each organization, proper coordination. This is most fitting since a particular activity in the Church requires harmony and apostolic cooperation on the part of both branches of the clergy, the Religious, and the laity.

The second sentence above is often a tough one. “Mutual esteem” is particularly lacking today as the Church has grown more polarized in ideology. And both bishops and laity share blame for competing tendencies in the Body. Priests have squandered some good will for significant numbers involved in financial and sex scandals. It’s sad that such scandals have probably always been going on. Most all lay people were (and a majority still are) willing to give a cleric the benefit of the doubt. In other words, a new priest or bishop coming in usually doesn’t find himself having to prove himself. But parishes and dioceses hard hit by mismanagement or scandal are much tougher crowds than they used to be.

And the much-maligned groups, CTA and VOTF: one was formed in conert with clergy and bishops, and the latter was formed only because one cardinal had bungled his ministry to a shockingly immoral degree unheard-of since the sixteenth century popes.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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