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Was Jesus organized? (Thu Sept 15, 2005 12:57 pm)

by Robert Schutzius

Jesus taught us to love one another, and to follow God's will. Neither his teachings nor his accomplishments included how to get things done. Organizations do that. Our Roman Catholic Church has long associated following organizational rules with the will of God, with the essential requirement for

membership, and with the mark of a true follower of Jesus (although even he did not follow all the organizational rules himself).

BUT IS IT ESSENTIAL that we be organized and follow the rules to succeed in following what Jesus asks of us? As humans we do both. We are, at times, organized without being loving, and we can be great lovers without being organized. The ever-nagging question is which is essential and which comes first? Martha received the answer from Jesus when Mary chose to disregard the household (organizational) rules (Luke 10:38-42).

ARCC defends the priority of our human rights over the institutional rules. The Charter of Rights of Catholics in the Church defines operating rules so as to give priority to the individual's and the community's need to put love for one another above all other organizational needs. The ARCC Constitution for the Church tries to institutionalize the way our Church community can be organized without having the organization become the focus and end-all of why we exist. Such a re-orientation of priorities is long overdue.

Love is not organized, and many times not even reasonable. Our own experience and the example of others bring this home. Why God loves humans is beyond our ken and we can think of lots of logical, rational, reasons to the contrary. Organizations have their own goals which are idolized by efficiency, productivity, and rules. They direct how we get things done, but they become Martha-like when they define who we are and why we come together as a community. When this happens the organization becomes the idol of misdirected loyalty.

"Misdirected loyalties" describes well the current situation in our church. We need to redirect our priests and bishops away from the power-full organizational lure of control, reward, and prestige towards serving the more urgent spiritual needs of people.

Each of us can support this movement by a willingness to assume a more active role in parish/diocesan administration. By way of example, Identifying the canonical and especially the legal ownership of the parish is a good place to start. For the love of one another, ask!

Other voices

Another Voice

Questions From a Ewe

Challenges Facing Catholicism
(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

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