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A Reflection

The call for financial accountability has exposed us. 

While it is imperative that the Synod of Bishops call for a comprehensive audit, it is also imperative to acknowledge the frailty of our autocephalous Church. The various and often opposing responses to having a comprehensive audit should not be construed as a sign of health but of a spiritually fatal disease that undermines every aspect of our ecclesial life.

To disagree with or to question anyone or anything related to the administration of the Church results in division.  Witness the rhetoric that fills cyberspace. Anyone with a feel for language can detect anger, vitriol and dare I say even hatred spewing from the snide, bombastic and scatological remarks of so many clergy.  So much duplicity in the name of Christ, Truth, Gospel, Church, Hierarchy, Catholicity.  So many hidden agendas beneath the thin veneer of brotherhood and conciliarity.

The call for financial accountability has exposed us. 

We are an "us" versus "them" Church.  The clarion call to action has been sounded.  The scramble to tap the usual arsenals is underway.  Scripture, Fathers, Canons, Liturgy are being put to work for the building up of the invisible and impregnable walls of division.

Accountability is no longer just a matter of fiscal responsibility.  That the simple question "Are the allegations true or false?," has not been directly answered confirms the fear that permeates the Church. The "culture of fear" is real.  All of us are part of it.  All of us allow it to reign over the Church. 

No one can claim to have clean hands. The inherent swagger prevalent in so much of the erudite and pious language used to correct, clarify and advise all camps is a testament to the fear that has been strangling the Church in America for decades.  We launch verbal salvos at each other but do we really "communicate" with each other?  Are we in communion with each other?  Do we want to be in communion with each other?  Upholding and defending the truth has been overtaken by the quest for self preservation.

The culture of fear is real because of the obvious lack of trust we have in each other.  If the contrary were true - if there was no fear and lack of trust - would the Church be so polarized? Would blessings, salutations and embraces be poisoned by the sardonic formality we have trained ourselves to accept and perpetuate? 

Resolution(s) to the issue of the Church's finances will not heal the deeper problems and sins affecting us. The resolutions and changes that ensue will only be cosmetic until clergy and laity cease transforming "the pillar and foundation of truth" into a pile of dust. 

Drawing near to one another will not be easy.  The recovery of personal integrity will demand more than perfunctory apologies.  The Lenten spring draws near.  If we are humble enough we can enter together and learn once again that sin and death no longer have the final word.  If we are wise enough we will flee the vanity of the world and run to the embrace of the Savior who, by the Spirit, will again teach us to love one another as he loves us. 

Through the Lord's self-emptying love all fear will vanish and we will again go about the work of salvation.  

      - A Priest in the Diocese of New England

        (Fr. Robert Arida)







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