If Iraq emerges one day as a stable, independent democracy then a crucial step in that process occured several years ago in Anbar province. For a long time, that region of Iraq had a reputation as a hornet’s nest within which the opposition to the U.S. occupation was violent, viscious and chronic. It was the center of Al Qaida’s efforts against the American forces in Iraq.
And then something shifted. The people of Anbar province began to see the Al Qaida operatives for what they truly were: hate- filled extremists who had no more fondness for the Iraqi people than they did for the American soldiers. Almost overnight it seemed, the people of Anbar province began cooperating with the American forces and Al Qaida was on the run. All of the might the American military could muster proved largely ineffective until the people themselves decided to help.
There is a lesson in this bloody and tragic chapter of American and Iraqi history for the Church. Insistence on orthodoxy must be accompanied by a genuine desire to dialogue with the faithful so that the Magisterium of the Church might understand where the real needs and concerns of the faithful lie and how to communicate essential truths in ways that can be heard. Otherwise the doctrine will largely fall on ears which are not listening and hearts which are not receptive.
Pope John XXIII stressed that true authority in the Church is grounded in the example of service and commitment to discipleship exhibited by those who lead the Church.
Seems to me Jesus said something like that, too.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)