WHEN PASTORS FAIL TO LEAD
by Chriss Rainey
by Chriss Rainey
On June 23, in a Catholic church bulletin in Reston, VA, there appeared under the heading: "From the Pastor" a letter I believe underscores one of the greatest enemies of our faith, tacit accommodation of our clergy who thereby fail to lead us with the truth.
The priest began by acknowledging the fact "we are in the midst of the second annual call from our Bishops for a program called Fortnight for Freedom--two weeks of prayer and action to protect religious freedom." And then he said, "We have not scheduled any specific activities for the parish as a whole, simply because we find scheduling these events does not generate a great deal of presence.
Many reasons account for this, most especially the schedules that many of you keep." In other words, he understands people's lives are too busy for church. He makes no effort to suggest that they reprioritize their lives and focus more on God and the future of our ability to live our faith. Then as a token to the event, he suggests that individuals "engage in your own way in prayer.......for religious freedom." In other words, to the extent it is important to you, but no further.
He then remarks that "some may think this an unnecessary action," but that he disagrees with that assumption. He continues by saying, "Recent actions in our country have caused serious concerns, not only among Catholics, but people of other faith traditions." Would it not be enough if it were only Catholics affected? Do actions have to be beyond the Catholic church before they get his attention and the respect of those who buck the teachings of the Church? Who are these people who would think no action at all is the best course for us at this time? Which parishioners is he concerned about keeping happy, so happy that he would deny the entire parish the opportunity to come together in prayer and worship for the sake of the future of our Church?
I think it is pretty undeniable that Fortnight for Freedom came to be as a result of the HHS Mandate, that promotes death and demands the participation of every citizen in the program, when we know it is a violation of moral truth. One can only conclude that those who reject Fortnight for Freedom do not respect life and those who fail to carry it out are too fearful to stand up for what is right.
The pastor then says, "You may differ in the position the Church has taken in regard to the morality of this issue, but the real point of this protest which should cause concern on the part of all of us, is that the guarantees of conscience that have been part of our country's tradition are being eroded by decisions like this one."
First of all, we may NOT differ with the Church and a pastor has the job to tell that to his flock, whether it makes them feel good or not. He is responsible for the souls under his wing. Secondly, it is wrong to give them the idea they can decide on their own what is right and what is wrong. To further say that while our rallying point as Catholics may not be the life and death issue of abortion and birth control, what we all can and should agree on is the right to our own opinion, is probably one of the worst things I've ever heard from a member of the clergy. If we are not to stand together on life itself, then what else matters? Does it really matter what your opinion is if you have sacrificed life in the process?
He continued by mentioning the decision of the "Obama administration not to impose any age restriction to obtain contraceptives." His objection was not that these drugs should not be available to anyone, but only that parents have been taken out of the decision to use them.
Then, in a Hamlet sort of reflective moment, he begins to sum up the situation. "What does all this mean? To me it is a clear reflection of the growing secularism of our society that no longer sees faith and religion as integral factors in determining actions that truly affect the way we live."
The fact is, the secularists never have seen religion as a factor. What he misses is the fact pastors like him have failed to call us to hold fast to our faith and have allowed so many to slip ever closer to the valueless lifestyle of the godless.
He follows this with some advice. "all of us need to be on guard that the basic principles governing our country since its inception seem to be gradually eroding in the face of a growing understanding that there are no longer innate principles that help us decide good and bad in society. " Wow. I'm not sure what the gradual part is. The way I see it, thanks to people like this pastor, who have failed to promote truth, we are hurtling at break neck speed into a world where anything goes. "Innate principles" don't "help us decide" they make it unquestionably clear. Jesus said. "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:18-24) This calls us to put the truth of Christ before our own desires and opinions, to do what is necessary to remain faithful even when it causes us to be unpopular or uncomfortable, and to look always to the truth for guidance and direction. Christ said, "I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6)
The letter concludes with this: "There needs to be some guiding principles determining right and wrong that go beyond personal preference. May we never lose sight of that."
It is very sad to me that he didn't say, those "principles" are found in the words of our Lord. And sadder still that he cannot bring himself to see that he is a party to an attitude that the Church is perhaps only one of many sources of guidance and not the single most important factor in our lives. Only when he finds the strength and wisdom to speak the truth, and I pray that he does, will he ever be part of the solution and not an aid to the forces of destruction.