In my work as the USCCB Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry in support of national lay ministry formation and education efforts, I often have the opportunity to research topics of interest for those engaged in ministry today. One of these topics is conflict management and resolution. I have been fortunate to cultivate a professional connection with fellow theologian Dr. Ann Garrido, who has written several books and articles on this topic, including her award-winning book Redeeming Conflict. In fact, due to her thoughtfulness and generosity of time and talent, our office was able to host an even about conflict resolution with USCCB staff in early 2020 and she contributed a comprehensive document looking at how the national ministry formation and certification standards developed by the Alliance for the Certification of Lay Ecclesial Ministers could include additional resourcing on conflict literacy and management. Due to her contributions to our office and the work of the subcommittee I resourced, I was able to offer a presentation utilizing her insights in a webinar sponsored by the Catholic Apostolate Center entitled “Co-Responsibility & Conflict Management: Some Resources for Ministers.” That webinar is included below.
This topic is of more than a passing interest to me. My doctoral dissertation at The Catholic University of America focused on the understanding of theological community and conflict in the Church and on the spiritual dispositions, communication approaches and structural needs required to effectively respond to and address conflict in today’s Church. In discussing the history of resources on this topic in recent church documents, I was pleased to discover a 2002 guide published by the USCCB entitled Procedures for Resolving Conflict, which was the combined re-publication of documents from the 1960s and 1970s. They were republished with a recognition that they remain a valuable resource for conflict management and structural procedure for addressing significant conflicts in the life of the Church. Though it is not clear to what extent these procedures have been implemented, they remain an important marker in the discussions of the topic, such that Dr. Garrido made a special note of it in a recent blog post on her website.
Addendum 7/15/2023: Dr. Garrido’s document, my webinar, and the PDF of the USCCB document are all available together with other public resources from my time at the USCCB here on my website at https://churchmd.com/layministry.