Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (November 17, 2005)

Published November 17, 2005

I receive a lot of mail that includes requests for a meeting with me! I think that it goes with the territory of being the Archbishop of a large and growing local Church. I try to respond to all my mail in a timely fashion—but not always as quickly as I would like, and I suspect not as rapidly as some of you might have hoped. Nonetheless, I do take my correspondence seriously, whether it’s the “snail mail” form or the electronic form. I am working on developing a more efficient way to get the mail processed at the Chancery—and processed more quickly.

When a person asks to have an appointment, I have developed the practice of asking them to describe in some fashion the nature of the issue that they wish to discuss before setting up the appointment. This may annoy some people, but it also saves a lot of time. Often, the Archbishop is not the best person to address or to resolve a particular issue. An answer might be achieved much quicker through a conversation with the person directly responsible for a given matter.

My wonderful secretary has the delicate task of asking people who call to give some indication of why they want to see the Archbishop. She wants always to respect the privacy of individuals, and therefore she might ask the person to put into writing the nature of their concern. She does not mean to be obstinate or difficult—she is only doing what I have instructed her to do. Obviously, occasionally a person may decline to disclose why they want an appointment, and that becomes a bit dicey! If this has been your experience, I apologize for the frustration, but I am simply trying to handle issues in the best possible way and in the quickest possible manner. Knowing why a person is coming in to see me will help me to be better prepared to provide assistance.

Occasionally, I personally receive letters and notes when I visit a parish. This happened several times last week. People will hand me a letter at a parish reception or even during the recessional for Mass. These letters might be requests to help them with an annulment process or with tuition assistance. Sometimes the letters are thank-you expressions for a visit that I made or an activity at the parish. Those are the easy letters. Then there are the letters that are angry or even hostile. I have come to believe that while I may not deserve all of the criticism that comes my way, I certainly don’t deserve the kindness and the praise—so it’s a wash!

Between the snail mail, e-mail and hand-delivered notes, I do manage to gain a better sense of some of the things that are going on in this local Church. Overall, there are more positive developments than problems happening in the Archdiocese—and that alone is why I keep opening up the mail that comes to my office.