Sunday, July 22, 2007
Encourage and respond to criticisms
I share the sentiments expressed by Shenton Thomas of Johor in his letter “Is there justice in the Church?” (HERALD, July 1, 2007). His question “Does the hierarchy of the local church read the letters that are published weekly?” is very relevant and is a question that lingers in the minds of many.
Day after day our national dailies carry numerous letters, comments and suggestions from members of the public on the various problems they encounter. Do the relevant authorities really read, take note of them and take remedial action? The vast majority of them do not as they don’t bother to reply to these queries and comments.The situation is not much different in our church. Week after week responsible and concerned Catholics take the trouble to raise a number of problems that they feel need to be addressed but, regrettably, there is hardly any response from the hierarchy of the Church to these comments, let alone attempts to solve them.
I can see only two reasons for the total silence from the members of the hierarchy to the various feedback from the people. They are either not bothered or they have total disrespect for the opinion of the members of the laity.
A lot of money is spent to publish and maintain a publication like HERALD. The purpose is to provide information as well as to get the feedback from the people on various issues confronting us. Feedback is so vital for the successful running of any organisation and it not only must be allowed but actively encouraged as well.
Opinions, especially dissenting ones, are in fact more important than those that merely praise the authorities. The latter just helps to boost the ego and nothing more. It is the constructive criticisms that help to improve the conditions of service and in the case of the Church, to build God’s Kingdom among us.
We must adopt a culture in which criticism must be seen as a means of improving ourselves. It must not be construed as being anti-establishment and those who air it, as trouble makers.
The HERALD is the only means available to the laity, who are also the Church, to provide feedback. If the authorities responsible for administering the church are not interested in listening to the people, then they might as well do away with the opinion columns or even close down the weekly publication altogether. I am sure the money can be put to better use.
Dr Chris Anthony
Recognise the role of the priests
Sunday, August 12, 2007
This refers to the letter ‘encourage and respond to criticisms’ by Dr Chris Anthony in the HERALD dated July 22. At first I felt outrage at the comments by the writer but on reflection I was overcome with sadness. The writer seems to regard the clergy as if they were elected to office and are now accountable for their actions to the people that put them there.
Nevertheless, I doubt if our clergy act like dictators. The fact of the matter is that no priest can please every individual that turns to him. Please remember that our priests are on call 24 hours a day, attending to the needs of each and every one of us that belong to the parish under their care and often further than that.
It is sacrilegious therefore to suggest that the clergy is egoistic and does not care or show respect for the laity.The priest has to play the role of spiritual guide, confessor, parent, guardian, counsellor, teacher and a host of other things for the entire parish community We expect the clergy to take the lead on social issues.
They have to deal with individual matters as well as those that affect the whole community. They have to be very much a part of the fabric of society and yet remain detached.
Very often, we complain because we disagree with the priest. Surely, we do not need to voice out our problems in the HERALD. If it is a serious matter of faith or doctrine, we could refer it to the local ordinary.
However, if it is simply about what flowers to use next Sunday or how the choir sings, surely a casual remark to the priest will suffice.
Caustic comments on vague issues are not only damaging but reflect poorly on the individual that claims to be a follower of Christ.
Susai Anthony Muthu