One would think that after leaving the message I did in the chancery office on the phone line for the bishop Sunday night that someone from the diocese would have gotten back to me personally at the latest before the close of business Tuesday, seeing as how I had left the message within an hour of the incident happening.
Not so. Funny, I would have thought by day two SOMEONE would have called me first and apologized, unprompted. But. No. Not in THIS diocese. It would have been nice if at the end of Monday, someone would have called to say: "We're SORRY, the bishop is hearing Fr. Mark's side of the incident, etc." [In the left message I said I'd like to set up a meeting with the bishop .]
It was nearing the end of the workday Tuesday, when I had to call the diocese to see if the janitor had erased the message or what. There hadn't even been the simple courtesy call from the diocese to acknowledge the message I left almost 48 hours previously. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nichevo. BUPKIS.
So around 3:45 give or take on Tuesday, I called the diocese and got the bishop's secretary. I said "I'd like to speak with the bishop." I told her who I was, and it was clear SHE knew about what I'd said. on the macine "Sorry, he's on another line." "I'll hold." 5 minutes later: "He's still on line."
I asked what time the office closed and she told me 4:30. I called at 4:25 and he was "in a meeting." So I asked her to speak with whomever sets up the bishop's meetings. I was told he did that himself. Riiight. So I said "Please have the bishop call me. My job doesn't allow for calls during my work day, so please call during my lunch hour, or he may call at his leisure after 4:30."
Today, I got a call from the diocese. Bishop? Nope. The chancellor. A layman, with no power to tell the priests to do anything. I said that I'd like a meeting with the bishop. I said as I understood it, people had a right to request a meeting with the bishop - and that I wanted to bring a letter of formal complaint. He said he didn't know where I'd gotten that idea. He said that he'd recommend me meeting with the pastor first - as that's their "policy." I told him I didn't see what could be gained by that. I told him again what the incident entialed and said that I don't know why a bishop would not be concerned with preserving the sanctity of the Eucharist. And he said I was "putting words in his mouth."
They know the pastor has had a stroke in the past, and has been known to "go off" on people since the stroke. I am not the only one to have run into his temper. So they essentially want to throw me into a one on one private meeting with the pastor, where I have no "Friend at court" or have any power to discipline him to do the right thing. I.E. For him to stop instructing people not to stop people walking away to the pews with the Eucharist unconsummed. Frankly, what's to "discuss?" We're not having a "difference of opinion" if the hymns are any good or not. As regards protecting the Host, I feel perfectlly safe in saying I was 100% right in guarding it, and he was wrong.
I have no power to compel him to do ANYTHING. I believe correcting priests is the job of a bishop. Not a layperson. It's "above my paygrade." I thought that was the point of having bishops, in part - to see that the priests in the diocese were "With the program."
The chancellor said "nevertheless, we'd prefer you to meet with him first before requesting a meeting." I said "I'll *consider* it, and get back with you tomorrow." At that time I hadn't even thought that they MUST know of the pastor's tendency to temper when he's under stress. What were they thinking? Are they sitting there chortling and hoping this will go away?
I'd already been thinking of possibly writing to the appropirate dicastery for such things. Although, apparently these things tend to get kicked back to the diocese. But I think I will send a registered letter to the bishop, also requesting a meeting (if I don't get an apology, etc) and frankly if bishops aren't going to do their job of correcting the priests when they need to, then maybe things like this should be the nail in the coffin for Communion in the hand.
I think the ball is *supposed* to be in their court. If they HAVE spoken to the pastor, then they should have had the courtesy to tell me. But they seem to think the ball is in my court, and sadly, I think it is. I shouldn't have to do all the work. If they are being ostriches, they need to stop and wake up.
I expect people in Holy Orders to have enough sense to be on the same page on this, and it's appalling that they are not. Why should a laywoman have to do the bishop's job, frankly?
The irony of all this is that at times the pastor can be warm and generous. And I've known him for over 26 years. This PAINS me.
NO LAYPERSON should be put in this position!
[I probably ought to ALSO send a registered letter cc: directly to the diocesan archives.]