Letters from 9
to 15 February 2009
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but whatever can be done about it?
very much for
your spot-on comments about the various officeholders who affect the
life of a parish, and, particularly, for your reference to Walter Mitty,
which will do much, I think, to help me put things in perspective in
the future! As a parish rector, I have found that people who feel frustrated
or undervalued in their life outside the church are likely to use the
congregation as an arena for seeking and exercising power.
between a church and a corporation, however, is that, in the great
majority of instances, the officers are not employees, but volunteers.
A priest can't fire a parish officer any more than family members can
fire one of their siblings. No matter how frustratingly poor the person's
performance might be, asking an officeholder to step down is simply
not an option for a rector, unless that rector is willing to face the
enormous upheaval in which that action is likely to result. Corporate
CEO's are beholden to customers and stockholders. The situation is
much less clear-cut for a parish priest.
both ways, of course. The congregation which is frustrated by a rector
who is a "poor manager" doesn't simply fire its priest, but must embark
upon an often painful process, involving the bishop, whereby the pastoral
relationship is dissolved.
is a sacred mystery; the corporation isn't. That we are living in the
midst of that mystery is - to use a phrase familiar to Anglicans -
both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness.
The Reverend William
St. Paul's Church
Marinette, Wisconsin, USA
13 February 2009
Can you help
us in Port of Spain?
Do you have
any information on implementation of Occupational Health and Safety measures
in the Anglican Church? In Trinidad and Tobago, the law was passed for
OSHA, and the Anglican Church has been asked to implement same.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral
Port of Spain, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
10 February 2009
(Ed: We hope
that our readers may know something that will help you; we'll relay any
information sent to email@example.com. We suspect that OSHA
implementation is unlikely to be different in a church. After all, OSHA
rules are about workplace safety in the physical world, and that physical
world does not change much from one office environment to another.)
God keep two sets of books?
to a report in
The Guardian (Monday
2 February 2009) Pope Benedict has
promoted to auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria, the Rev. Gerard Maria
Wagner, an ultra-conservative Austrian clergyman who called Hurricane
Katrina "God's punishment". He wrote that Hurricane Katrina was an act
of "divine retribution" for the sins of a sexually permissive society,
and that it was worth considering whether environmental catastrophes
should not be seen as a result of "spiritual environmental pollution" —
a type of "divine retribution" for New Orleans' relaxed attitude towards
sexual promiscuity and homosexuality.
attention paid by the media to divisions within the Anglican Communion
over matters of sexuality, it is no doubt tempting to welcome focus on
this sad example of ecclesiastical stupidity; but it is a temptation
that ought to be resisted.
of God as a divine accountant who keeps book on evil, and then visits
indiscriminate wrath on entire populations, is unfortunately as alive
and flourishing in the USA as in Linz. Bishop Gerhard Maria
Wagner may be an idiot, but he is neither unique in his "reasoning" nor
alone in his vindictiveness.
St James Cathedral
Naperville, IL USA
15 February 2009
Wagner's appointment proved unpopular in Austria and it seems that he
has asked the pope to take back his promotion).
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