Culture of Complaint Surfaces

Anonymity is the best policy. Edward Pentin at NCReg:

Such is the climate in much of today’s Church, one of the appeal’s chief organizers told the Register that most of the signatories prefer to remain publicly anonymous because they “fear reprisals, or they are concerned about repercussions on their religious community, or if they have an academic career and a family, they fear they might lose their jobs.”

I seem to remember a significant number of reprisals in the past two papacies. I also remember a number of very public stances with very public persons attaching their names.

The thing about this anonymous appeal: we have no idea who is behind it. Catholic scholars could be university professors, grad students, or even bloggers who have read the Catechism.

“Concerned” Catholics often get things wrong. The definition of a troll for example, which now means somebody who brings me bad news I don’t want to hear.

As for complaining, it is often a cottage industry in many Catholic parishes. Good pastors know that anonymous mail is best left as company for empty styrofoam cups, candy wrappers, and outdated software.

There is a way to give complaints, and a way to address them. Healthy communities don’t lack them. The difference between a holy Church and a dysfunctional one is the degree of openness conflict is handled and resolved.

Personally, I see no problem with people who state their difficulties with Amoris Laetitia. I would hope to seem them here. Certainly, they are welcome to discuss on this site, preferably with real names. Honesty is nearly always a superior policy, especially in the long-term. By no means should a person lose a job over something as minor as misinterpreting a Church document.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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10 Responses to Culture of Complaint Surfaces

  1. Melody says:

    I think being able to have robust discussions without fear would be a good antidote to polarization, where people only talk to those who think like they do.

  2. Um, no, your definition of “troll” does not align with mine nor Kathy’s, Todd. I rather think both of our’s is likened to someone fishing for whatever might bite the line. Fr. Chepponis’ rebroadcast over the Sarah flap was just late in casting his bait.

    • Todd says:

      Actually, it’s not my definition. It’s how I observe vocabulary adjusted by some to mean something a bit different from the norm. I see many thread-starters there with bait dangling on the end. It happens a few times a week. Whatever Fr Jim’s point was, nobody asked; it was just assumed. And with a drop of name-calling. In many human interactions, one can disagree without being disagreeable. That is a quality somewhat more scarce in some internet locations.

  3. Fr. Jim Chepponis says:

    Todd, Thanks for coming to my defense. I found it surprising that some folks presumed to know my intentions. I simply posted a link to a newsworthy article about a recent development that had not yet been posted on that site. I had no way of knowing whether folks there already knew about it or not. In fact, the post could be seen as a follow-up to someone else’s previous posting about the Cardinal’s speech. So, I’m called a troll. I think Mark Thompson’s comment is enlightening: “I don’t get it: posting (with zero polemic) about things which are both true and relevant to the subject matter of the forum, but which we wish had not occurred, is “trolling” now?”

  4. I found it a non-starter. I did think that our mutual colleague’s unfortunate choice of words did set a negative tone, when it was NOT necessary. I never received Sarah’s address in London in any sort of mandatory perspective, all one had to do is read the transcript to get that. OTOH, I’m not sure that hierarchical explications dampened the inertia of the Sarah prescription, or actually causes more inflammation.

    • Fr. Jim Chepponis says:

      Charles, shall I presume that I am the “mutual colleague” mentioned here? If so, I’m confused about your comment that the “unfortunate choice of words did set a negative tone, when it was NOT necessary.” Shall I presume that the words you are referring to are “clarified” and “clarification”? If so, I simply repeated the same words used by both the communique issued by the Vatican Press Office as well as the transcript from Vatican radio. I don’t see how those words are negative in light of the questions about the meaning of some aspects of the Cardinal’s speech, as reported by many news outlets and internet sites. It seems that some things were not clear to some people, so clarity was therefore offered at the Vatican. Offering clarity seems to me like a positive thing for someone to do.

  5. Todd says:

    Among some but not all CMAA folk, the news may have been unwelcome. I thought Kathy’s intervention on comment #3 set a very bad tone. I was surprised by the blatant name-calling–probably an etiquette violation.

    As for what stirred people up or calmed them down depends entirely on what group one finds oneself. And sometimes inflammation is self-inflicted.

  6. No Padre, I was referring to Ms. Pluth’s admonition not to “feed the troll.” I am discomfited by that in most usages.

    • Liam says:

      Part of the problem I fear is an echo from ham-fisted moderation at another blog some time ago. Energy of that sort shows up in different guises, especially peevish and resentful and quick to nip like a border collie. Mirroring has its uses but it has to have a reasonable object.

    • Fr. Jim Chepponis says:

      Charles, Thanks for the, um, clarification! Sorry if I presumed incorrectly.

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