Saturday, May 14, 2011
Do sheep flee from good shepherds?
This weekend we read in John 10 where Jesus excoriates the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees, for being false shepherds who expel those whom Jesus calls. Specifically the gospel passage refers to the Pharisees expelling from the synagogue the blind beggar whom Jesus personally touched and healed (John 9).
Church leaders increasingly expel people for questioning traditions Jesus never explicitly established. Meanwhile, these same actions violate Jesus’ explicit directive to the apostles, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you (Mark 10:42-43 and MT 20:25-26).” Sadly, it is increasingly “so” amongst today’s apostles.
Why do church leaders foster an environment where they “lord it over” people who question traditions based on things Jesus never actually said whilst ignoring things Jesus explicitly instructed?
They try to justify their actions by citing the Magisterium’s self-acclaimed role as superior discerners and defenders of truth. Yet, the clergy continue to be exposed as taking great liberties with truth, particularly when it comes to due process and the sex abuse scandal or even simple things like fact-checking homily material as mentioned in my last blog article. I appreciate all clergy are human and therefore capable of breaking any commandment. However, habitual 8th Commandment violators rightfully are not seen as credible, much less superior, guardians of truth.
In this weekend’s gospel passage Jesus says, “…the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers (John 10:4-5).” In 2010 alone, 180,000 of Pope Benedict’s fellow Germans left the church due to shepherds who abused children or enabled abusers. Every day approximately 1,000 Mexicans leave the church resulting in over 1,000,000 Catholics leaving every three years. Worldwide, millions leave the church due to the bishops’ behaviors and policies. Is this exodus indicative of good shepherding?