Obedience September 19
. . . the superior must not be made a puppet at the beck and call of the community; on the other hand, the legitimate desires of the community must not be thwarted by the superior (Const. 9.4).
The members of the community and the superior can experience conflict because of differing interests. On the one hand, everyone can agree on certain objectives but not on the means to accomplish them. On the other hand, conflict can occur over the objectives themselves. Is there an acceptable process of “negotiation” that respects the perspectives and rights of everyone? In the spirit of the Gospel, each party searches in all sincerity to influence the other. This is not a question of the imposition of authority or of community revolt. It is rather a question of discernment toward consensus, that is, towards a solution that the all parties can live with in good conscience. To achieve that, an effort has to be made at mutual information, research of viable alternatives, dialogue about the acceptability of proposed options and, if possible, the acceptance of a resolution satisfactory to all. When there is no decision, the Constitutions give the superior the right to make a provisional decision that commits everyone but which is reevaluated by everyone at a determined time in the future. This is a process of evangelical negotiation that protects the integrity of the fraternity.
To arrange a meeting, one does not bring a knife that cuts but a needle that sews. (Bahumbu)