In the interests of full disclosure I want to admit that I am pretty opinionated. Therefore, when I am talking about my own pet peeve of folks being judgmental and accusatory, I’m really talking about myself. I have my own version of “stated” and “operational” values. While I state my opposition to folks who label and judge, operationally I myself label and judge a lot, often very cynically and sarcastically.
An encouraging factor, I suppose is, that Jesus’ own disciples tried to follow and learn from him, but in the process often misunderstood him and made mistakes. Their hearts were in the right place, and I certainly hope mine is also. I sure make a lot of mistakes.
Having said this, I am disturbed at the attitude of the Church and its current leadership taken as a whole, or at least the bishops and others who appear as the public face of current leadership. I am sure there are any number of pastoral bishops throughout the world. I just haven’t heard about too many of them. They are smart to keep themselves off the radar. Probably a number of bishops are hurting, too. There is the situation with Bishop Cordileone in Oakland and his recent DUI, as well as our own bishop here whose profound pastoral sense is overshadowed by his administrative shortcomings. Recently he sat through a series of meetings with his priests, some of which were very hard on him. We all wait to see what the next step will be.
It bothers me that so many bishops seem to think they alone have all the answers for everything. A number of them seem really to think they are princes. They pronounce on medical practices, lifestyles and orientations, personal and private issues, issuing condemnations and sanctions. Often they disregard the lived experience of the people they are supposed to be leading. Many do not allow dissent of any kind. They have no personal involvement in many of the issues on which they pronounce. For them much of this is just an intellectual exercise while good folks are really hurting. Who wants to hear their “leadership” describe them or their children as “intrinsically disordered”?
I don’t understand why there does not seem to be room in the current Church for divergent opinions. It seems to me there are a few core beliefs, not many, and we agree on them. In fact, most Christians of all stripes agree pretty much on the basics. I learned this from the folks I served with in the Army. We found we had much more in common than we differed on.
It bothers me that the bishops think they can impose catholic beliefs and values on the citizenry by enacting laws that favor them. Do other traditions have any rights? I am moving towards understanding of “freedom of religion” as including freedom from religion. They way things are going, I am also leaning towards taking away the church’s tax-exempt status. BXVI said “the Gospel is to be proposed, not imposed”. Guess some bishops didn’t get the message. Even on his own staff.
Just saying . . .