Openness and dialogue the Christian way

Let us be open and engage in dialogue

The church has rightly chosen the theme “Openness and dialogue” for the months of February 2006.The NEWBEC bulletins contain a detailed explanation of this theme.

I do hope our bishops and priests would have also discussed and reflected on this important issue of openness and dialogue during their PPMC III.

Openness and dialogue is of utmost importance in the administration of any organization. An organization is administered for the benefit of its members, without whom the organization fails to exist. This important fact has to be the main consideration of the leaders and administrators of any organization when dealing with problems of that institution. The church is no exception.

A lot of problems in the world and our country are the result of failure to practice openness and dialogue. Laws and policies are implemented unilaterally without proper dialogue and discussion with the people.

Problems like racial discrimination and religious intolerance are classified as sensitive thereby not subject to open dialogue. They are pushed under the carpet only to crop up later with much more serious consequences. How can inter-faith unity and tolerance be developed if the Muslims refused to participate in any such dialogue with non-Muslims?

Openness and dialogue are also essential in the church, which is an organization of the followers of Christ. The priest is the special representative of Christ in this organization, who guides, advises and at times reprimands us, based on the true teachings of Christ himself. As lay members of that organization, we hold our priest in high esteem, although as normal humans he has the same weaknesses as any of us.

Failure to comply with these 2 principles, gives rise to a lot of problems in our parishes from time to time. Very often we have an authoritarian priest who fails to listen to the people, bulldozing his views and ideas despite strong protest and opposition from the people. We also have the over-demanding and suspicious people who will never be satisfied whatever is done. These people fail to appreciate the human weaknesses of the priests.

As leaders of families we must be open and engage in dialogue with our spouse, children, sibblings and even in-laws to solve problems that we may encounter. Majority of family problems arise out of minor misunderstandings which can be overcome only if we are open minded and prepared for dialogue.

The Catholic Church should take the lead to establish this openness and dialogue in dealing with problems with its congregation. We should not expect the government to be open when we ourselves are far from it.
So let us just not preach but put into practice what we preach. As Gandhi said “an ounce of practice is worth more then tons of preaching”.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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