The meetings will include participation by The Reid Group, a non-profit that bills itself as "...a consultation and mediation service which specializes in assisting Catholic organizations transform challenges into opportunities."Noting the state of affairs in some dioceses which have seen priests and bishops at loggerheads in the years since the sex-abuse scandals eruped on the national stage in 2002, Pope Benedict told the nation's bishops during his mid-April visit that "a vital part of your task is to strengthen relationships with your clergy," especially in venues where, he said, "tension has arisen" between the two.
In a May 26 letter to priests, Braxton stated, "The goal of the discussions was to explore ways of working toward better communication among priests in order to move beyond the current situation."
The discussions will be coordinated by the Presbyteral Council, a priests' organization that was instrumental in raising criticism of Braxton for misusing money donated to restricted funds and failing to meet with priests concerning other issues.
The sessions, which will continue into the fall, will not be made public.
"It is important that these conversations take place in the prayerful spirit of Christian fraternity and not in the public spotlight," the letter said.
"It is important that you continue to show [priests] your concern," the Pope added, "to support them, and to lead by example. In this way you will surely help them to encounter the living God, and point them towards the life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks.
"If you yourselves live in a manner closely configured to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, you will inspire your brother priests to rededicate themselves to the service of their flocks with Christ-like generosity. Indeed, a clearer focus upon the imitation of Christ in holiness of life is exactly what is needed in order for us to move forward."