It was worse than a crime—it was a blunder
There are credible reports that Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, head of the secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, ordered the confiscation of pro-marriage materials legally mailed to synod participants last October. In addition to whatever international and/or Vatican City State laws might have been violated thereby, and besides the possibility of the violation of Canon 1389 (abuse of ecclesiastical office), [!] this action, if indeed it was taken by ranking prelate, offends at a level that will, I suggest, haunt Church staffers for years to come.
I cannot count the number of times over the decades that I have heard good Catholics, concerned for this problem or that in the Church, despair of having their voice heard as follows: “Why should I bother writing to the bishop? Someone on his staff will not like my letter and make sure it never gets to him.” [Exactly. This is a common lament. However…]
I have many, many times, assured Catholics that such “mail-filtering” was a myth and that, in my experience, bishops see every letter addressed to them. They don’t always answer, I admit, but they do see it. Who knows, perhaps a few Catholic decided to write to their bishops after all, upon my comments.
Now, the myth of ecclesiastics filtering mail that they don’t want others to see has been given a new lease on life. We will be decades living the story down. Put another way, this stunt, assuming it happened as it seems to have happened, was worse than a crime—it was a blunder.
The truth of this matter needs to come out, and, if the story is false, it needs to be contradicted if only for the common good; if it’s true, consequences need to come. Quickly.
I agree with Peters that, at least in dioceses, it would be a rare thing indeed for mail to a bishop to be so filtered. Sure, a good secretary or executive assistant will keep some of the truly knuckle-head stuff of his boss’s desk. But, mail gets through.
If you write… don’t be a knuckle-head. Don’t write unhinged ravings that will get your letter sent to the circular file.
I have a few TIPS for writing to ecclesiastical officials. Adapt these to your circumstances and you’ll have a greater chance of a good hearing.
Free tip: Don’t use a single exclamation point.