Thoughts on Good Shepherd Story

April 23, 2012 at 15:16 2 comments

In today’s Gospel Story (John 10:11-18) Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd. These days there is no shortage of reasons to question the meaning of the Story in the Catholic Church of today.

I love the Church. These days, though, I’m not sure which Church it is that I love. I know I love the Church that is the folks in the pews or who used to be in the pews. They are trying their best to get through life that is not always easy. Their pastors are working hard and doing their best to serve their folks, often with little help and great interference from the Bishop’s Office.

There is the Church of a Bishop who has caused, and continues to cause, great pain and suffering in our diocese, and who has destroyed our rich ethnic heritage and inner city cooperative ministries. He probably is hurting a lot himself, and I do not wish for him to be in pain. I have learned through my own life that sometimes a person’s pain is so bad that they only way they can deal with it is to inflict pain on others. Been there, done that. It is not an enjoyable experience. The bishop is a good man with his own journey and his own pains which none of us fully understand. He needs help, and so do we. He has hurt us badly. He is trying to be pastoral, but it might be too late. Perhaps it is time for a parting of the ways, hopefully with honor and peace, and an opportunity for healing and forgiveness. Right now there is something wrong here.

I love the Church of the Cleveland Diocese. We have been bullied and ill treated and many have just walked away. Some have chosen to stand and fight for what they believe is right. An absence of compassionate central leadership is continuing to make good folks’ efforts even more difficult and divisive. The current money raising campaign is business deal inflicted on us in the name of the Gospel, contrary to the advice of consultative groups. Pastors feel abused not only because they have to pretty much follow a script and know they cannot be completely honest with their folks, but also because they were ordered to send their complete contributors’ and amounts list downtown, something that many pastors feel is a violation of confidentiality they owe their parishioners. They are then told how much to ask each parishioner for, often with a representative of “downtown” sitting there with them. The priests, deacons, and parish staffs are continually abused and are really worn out by such things as complete disrespect of the parish efforts to prepare confirmation liturgies, as well as public and loud corrections of deacon’s ministries.

There is the Church of the hierarchy and the USCCB and staffs with their militant efforts to impose Catholic beliefs and morality on all Americans through getting their own laws passed in Congress, and to persecute folks who do not follow their exact dictates. They demand respect but do not reciprocate. Of course the bishops are right and everybody who disagrees with them is in error, and error has no rights. Is this what the Good Shepherd wants? Is this how he lived and taught? There is talk of some kind of a charm school at the Vatican for new all bishops. Perhaps the beverage of choice there is cool-aid.

There is the Church of the Vatican which seems to be reinstating the inquisition, if, indeed, it ever went away as shown in the recently ordered silencing of some Irish priests who are in favor of ordination of women and of optional celibacy. Rome’s latest act is to order an investigation of the Leadership Council of Women Religious and to put an archbishop in charge with operational control. Sounds like celibate men afraid of strong women. Where would we be without these wonderful women whose biggest mistake is to live the Gospel as Jesus taught and lived himself? No wonder they are in trouble with Rome. It seems the Gospel does not apply to Church leadership.

Also, in the name of Jesus the Good Shepherd, this Church is harsh, abusive, and unyielding towards our brothers and sisters who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. When BXVI said “every one of us is the consequence of a thought in the mind of God, everyone of us is necessary, everyone of us is important, none of us is an accident”, did he really mean it? Our folks whose marriages have failed and have remarried, but are not in a convenient canonical category, are denied full participation in Eucharist – also in the name of the Good Shepherd? This Church prefers an abusive or bullying style of leadership absent of dialogue and intolerant of any who do not toe the party line. They have been very effective in creating a divide among catholics that at times is judgmental and vicious, pretty much a reflection of the Vatican itself. They really believe they are acting for Jesus and in Jesus’ name. Is this what the Good Shepherd has in mind?

The Holy Spirit is alive and well and involved in the Church. If we believe this, our own prayer is absolutely essential, and we have to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and courage, and the grace to live up to our Confirmation.  Bonhoefer said that a person cannot wait for clear knowledge of what to do, but has to obey the impulse to do something, however hazy the impulse might be, and faith will come. Good people are suffering, downtown, in parishes, throughout the country, around the world, all in the name of Jesus as perpetrated by the Church and not found in the Gospels. He is the Good Shepherd. Now about those who claim to act in his name?  Just sayin  .  .  .




Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Forbidden topics, Gospel thoughts, Local issues, Priest. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Thoughts on Schism Gospel Thoughts 6 May 2012, I Am the Vine

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Metcalf  |  April 23, 2012 at 15:56

    Amen, Father Jim.

  • 2. Father Anthony C. Dinoto  |  April 29, 2012 at 09:05

    Been there and done that. I’m now an Episcopal Priest happily serving my Lord as a married priest to a parish that is 50% former Roman Catholics now celebrating their catholic faith in the Anglican Tradition. Come on in! The HOLY WATER’s fine.


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