In 1633, the Vatican condemned Galileo and placed him under house arrest for the remainder of his life. His crime was that he stated the earth revolved around the sun. He ended up taking back his statement. In 1992, John Paul II righted the wrong by apologizing for the “Galileo Case.” It only took 359 years!
I think it’s safe to say that adapting to change is not one of our historical strong points. The comedian Kathleen Madigan humorously said, “If there’s one thing the Catholic Church isn’t hip on– it’s change. The last pope, before he died, made a special trip to Russia to apologize to the Orthodox Church for things we did in the year 1204. That’s the file their on! They haven’t even gotten to gravity yet!
I believe the speed of today’s change is going to be one of the greatest challenges to the Church. We are in a world that’s changing at an ever-increasing rapid pace, and we are often standing still, frozen in time. We have a tendency to address issues when they are no longer issues or embrace learning approaches or practices when the rest of the world is moving on to something new. (I am not talking about changing doctrines and morals—that stability is one of our greatest strengths)
According to RDR Group’s research, “In a changing world, it is not the strongest organization, nor the one with the most knowledge that survives; it is the one most resilient to change.” They define resilience as the ability to foresee, adapt, learn and benefit from change with speed and agility. The RDR group identified three common responses to change: 1) becoming a victim, “there’s nothing I can do.” 2) being a survivor, “That’s just the way it goes.” or 3) being a navigator, “I can make a difference; here’s what I can do.”
The third response is the one we need to embrace. We are the People of God! We are entrusted with the task of sharing the greatest news the world will ever know, and therefore, we should be the innovators and the navigators. The dignity of our message demands it. The value of young people requires it.