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Kicanas: communications candor

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When discussion turns to the matter of communicating the church's message (the churchspeak is "use of the social means of communication"), too often the occasion becomes just one more opportunity to tee off on the messenger.

Rarely do church leaders reflect on their own roles and what they may need to do to be more effective communicators.

Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas took a refreshingly different tack in a speech last month during a meeting in Philadelphia of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, which this year is focusing on communication.

It's a fairly lengthy speech, but worth the time, and worth especially getting to his "What we can do" list at the end.

Early in his talk, Kicanas discusses his love of theater and draws five "ingredients" necessary for effective communication:

-- Those telling the story must themselves be taken up by it;

-- The church's message is best communicated succinctly with emotion and color, and in concrete language people understand and that engages them;

Two-by-four therapy

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Yesterday, the "Morning Briefing" contained a link to an article by Frances Kissling, in which she takes on the "common ground" approach to abortion in general and Chris Korzen, the executive director of Catholics United in particular. She writes, "I am very curious about what makes Chris tick; what he thinks and believes and how two people with somewhat similar politics and the same access to knowledge and information -- possibly an ethics professor in common -- could come to such different conclusions on critical social justice issues." These are the words of someone incapable of seeing the other side of an argument.

Well, it is not my place to speak for Mr. Korzen as to what makes him tick, but let me venture a guess. He, unlike Ms. Kissling, takes the church's unambiguous teaching seriously when it sees abortion as a social justice issue, a point reiterated by the magisterium as recently as last week's encyclical Caritas in Veritate. But, Kissling has made a career out of arguing both that the church should be silent on the issue and that a Catholic can, in good conscience, ignore the church's teaching.

Episcopalians take historic vote for gays, lesbians

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I think of Episcopalians as our ecclesial "kissin' cousins," so I keep abreast of what they're doing. And this week, it's historic.

As recently as a few weeks ago, most Episcopalians were saying this vote was impossible. And then it happened. The Episcopal General Convention, meeting in Anaheim, Calif., voted overwhelmingly this week to allow openly gay men or lesbians to become priests and bishops. Today, the House of Bishops and House of Deputies take up the question of official blessing ceremonies for same sex unions.

Do you know Bill?

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"Take my yoke upon you ..." Matt 11:25

A man sitting on the bench at the bus stop kept looking at me as though he knew me. I didn't recognize him, and things only got more confused when he asked me, "Do you know Bill?" He was about my age, looked a bit worn at the edges, but he was engaging and eager to talk. As our conversation continued on the bus, I learned that "Do you know Bill" was an AA catch phrase one alcoholic might use to identify another.

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April 11-24, 2014

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