Friday, 5 December 2014

Giving 'Feedback' to Your PP

Over at Fr Z's Blog, I found this in the combox from Fr Angel Sotelo. It strikes me as a very wise list of pointers to remember when you want to tear a strip off your parish priest for real or imagined infractions.

Some other rules in “correcting” a priest whose behavior you do not approve of: 
1) This is your personal disapproval. DO NOT act like you speak for the parish–because you don’t, e.g. “Other parishioners have remarked that you….” Perhaps there are also parishioners who like Father very much, and would slap you if they saw you correcting him. So don’t make yourself the spokesperson of “the parish." 
2) Stick with very specific examples and do not turn into a mystical fortune teller, e.g. “If you keep this up, you will drive people away” or “Your actions are the reason the Church is going in a bad direction.” Beware of such prophecies, for many a parish has thrived under a harsh and rude pastor who had other good qualities that you didn’t notice. 
3) Describe behavior without judgments about the cause of Father’s behavior. Do not make yourself Miss Cleo the psychic and attempt to know Father’s inner intentions: “You’re constantly acting from your need to be the center of the universe.” Gee, and here we thought that only God can read interior motives and intentions. 
4) Do not get personal and lob nasty ad hominems, because even if Father forgives you, he may never forget, and his demeanor with you will be permanently harmed. Comments such as “I just knew you would not listen to my constructive criticism–I feel so sorry for the people who will suffer under your leadership” or “Priests like you make me ashamed and embarrassed to be a Catholic.” 
5) Remember that if you forget that Father is the human being he is, and push him too far, he could decide to give it right back to you, and blurt out something like, “Speaking of people who are suffering, your teenage son two weeks ago said he had the worst mother in the parish, calling you Queen B**ch to his friends while waiting for confirmation class to start. I can perfectly see now what he was talking about.” Many a parishioner has been left with lifelong scars that he or she picked up in an ugly showdown with a priest that got personal.

A masterly list, which is why I'm reproducing it here so that I can always find it again ...

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