41. Apostolic innovations, which are later to be undertaken, should be planned with careful study.
Can the Church say it too much? Be exceedingly careful. Sometimes, it seems as if we are too timid, and the opportunity, the moment is lost. How to reconcile that? The bishops aren’t likely to listen to me–and I feel as if my enthusiasm for the effort has been blunted by three decades in the trenches.
On the one hand, it is the duty of the bishops through their office not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good (cf. 1 Thes 5:12 and 19-21; Lumen Gentium 12), in such a way however, “that the spontaneous zeal of those who engage in this work may be safeguarded and fostered” (Ad Gentes 30); religious superiors, on their part, should cooperate actively and dialogue with the bishops in seeking solutions, in arranging the programming of choices made, in launching experiments, even completely new ones, always acting in view of the most urgent needs of the Church and in conformity with the norms and directives of the Magisterium and according to the nature of their institute.
More dialogue. Yada yada yada. Conform to the Magisterium. Ditto. Sometimes spontaneity happens and later the Magisterium races, out of breath, to catch up. Maybe those lines of communication are pretty essential after all.
Bishops and superiors together monitor those experiments and innovations that can so easily go off the track.
42. The commitment to a mutual exchange of help between bishops and superiors in appraising objectively and judging with equity experiments already undertaken should never be disregarded. In this way, not only evasions and frustrations but also the dangers of crises and deviations will be avoided.
Sure. But it seems just as likely that old, ossified programs can easily hit crisis and/or deviation.
Periodically, therefore, such undertakings should be reviewed; and if the endeavor has not been successful (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 58), humility and at the same time the necessary firmness should be exercised to correct, suspend or direct more adequately the experiment examined.
So this means bishops and superiors must be working together. What happens when a prelate thinks something is going swimmingly and the superior sees sharks in the water? Or vice versa? Is there a level of trust between people in the Church to navigate these waters?
Thoughts or comments? Don’t forget that you can read the full document online here.