Saturday, January 08, 2011

this way out? (part 2)

Reflecting on the comments from the other day's post about pastoral responses to people's decision to leave the Church, I kept going back to the reasons some people gave for their departure from active Catholic life. It was hard going; I felt like I was reading somebody's divorce papers. (Which about sums it up.) Given that the reasons we "give" for a decision may not be the actual motivation, most of the respondents were expressing disillusionment, under one form or another. Only, as Kristen commented, deep listening could ever hope to get behind that disillusionment to the actual cause, case by case.
My own experience with disillusionment tells me that it is really a matter of expectations. This is what I think could be a useful approach to a pastoral conversation. For example, do the expectations tied to one's understanding of Church life correspond to the true nature of the Church (including its sacramental nature)? On the part of the pastoral staff, do the expectations they bring to ministry correspond to the nature of the baptismal priesthood, its integrity and dignity? Are some of those expectations bound up with individual persons, or with specific personal goals? (Failing to achieve one's deeply desired goals can really set a person up for disillusionment!)
Were those expectations ever fully articulated and acknowledged?
I think that this whole arena of expectations could be a fruitful area for conversation, with hope that "both" sides (the Church is so much bigger than "a" side, though people usually speak of it as a monolith) could really benefit.  Otherwise, the concept of an "exit interview" seems more like an occasion for one party to vent in a very unhealthy way--which is what I saw in the sometimes acrimonious examples presented in the America article. But that could just be me.

No comments: