I have carried a few posts earlier this week about Joseph Gentolini, and his ministry of writing to the bishops. This is a strategy I would like to see far more people adopting. These are some guidelines Joseph one wrote for Dignity on how to go about it. I find these suggestions constructive and helpful. I commend them for your own serious consideration:
14-Point Summary When Writing Our Bishops
Building the Relationship
1. The goal is to develop a relationship with the Bishop, not to send a quick letter and then be done with it. Realize that this will be a long-term communication process. If you can, try and arrange a meeting with your Bishop. If not, then write him.
2. Know your purpose in writing: to influence? To vent? To Blame?
3. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. “You” statements usually come across as blaming. This is not what you want to do.
4. Do not use words that convey intense anger. This goes along with #2. You may be angry, but try to take out the “blaming” or “accusatory” language. This only puts the other on the defensive and makes it more difficult to hear your words and message.
5. Be vulnerable – you have to share yourself – your thoughts, feelings, and spirituality. Be humble and not arrogant.
6. Speak for yourself. Do not judge or assign motives or intent. Talk about how Church teachings have hurt you.
7. Whenever you have the opportunity to see the Bishop, make sure you introduce yourself again. My partner’s nieces have been confirmed and I made sure I went up to meet the Bishop again, telling him that I was working on another letter to him. Several years ago, he told me that he “enjoyed our communication through the mail.”
8. Be respectful, if only for the office the Bishop holds in the Church or, if you can’t respect the Office, respect his person.
Other Important Thoughts on Content and Prayer
9. Tell your story about being a gay or lesbian Catholic – the pain and the joys. If you are in a relationship, make sure he knows this and what it means in your life.
10. Use the Bishop’s own language and symbolism if you can. For example, in one of my letters, I used the language of the Catechism on racism to make a point on gays and justice. After Always Our Children came out, I thanked him and told him that I hoped all parishes received a copy. I also told him that it was orthodox just the way it was and urged him not to allow any changes.
11. Don’t hit all of the issues in one letter. Take them each as they come up.
12. Don’t forget to look at the Diocesan paper, even if you find it offensive. If there is an article on homosexuality or related issues, see if there is a letter you can write to give your point of view. This is another way to communicate.
13. Allow God to act – I am not responsible for the results of what I do or say – God is! Let the Spirit use you – this takes an act of faith.
14. Finally and maybe most important, pray for the Bishop and the Church and let him know that you keep him in prayer.
COPYRIGHT 2007: Joseph Gentilini, Ph.D.
- Bishop of Wakefield writes about homophobia (thinkinganglicans.org.uk)
- Gay Altar Server: Tolerance & Reconciliation? (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com)
- “Speaking the Truth” on Catholic LGBT Inclusion (queering-the-church.com)