East Of Houston, Is There A Problem?

I was having a lunch conversation with my new pastor this past week. We were talking about cult leaders, and when things begin to tip into a kind of worship for a church leader.

It doesn’t just happen for presidents. Airport bishops, retired nuncios, lay composers, and other gurus suffer it and make others suffer too. I have to watch it carefully in my own life. For me, it’s part of the consideration for moving on to a new community: when discernment fades for a parish along with the focus on Jesus and the striving for self-improvement. I once heard about a music director who preferred to play his guitar and sing in front of his choirs. By itself, that means little. But for me, a dangerous pose–not to mention an uncomfortable one.

Is this bishop dangerous? I follow bishops beyond my own much less these days.

Bishop Strickland hasn’t merely been consorting with anti-vaxxers and pandemic deniers, either. He has also been outspoken in his denial of the election results. He has voiced his disappointment that the US bishops acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, tweeting, “It remains troubling that the USCCB treats the election as certified when it is not & it continues to be a source of division.” He also led a prayer at Saturday’s “Jericho March,” a religious rally aimed at overturning the results of the election. Other speakers included Alex Jones and Archbishop Viganò.

I tend to align with Pope John Paul II on bishops and politics. They don’t belong together. A bishop is a pastor, and not of a flock of personal choosing. One reason why pastors don’t belong at protests like those at abortion clinics: they are responsible for the spiritual welfare of all their people–not just the ones on the “right” side of an issue. Certainly, a choice and an appeal to prudence can be made. Leaders have different responsibilities from ordinary citizens.

On that Jericho March, strange bedfellows, I’d say. Lies, no matter how often told, no matter how many millions of followers or dollars follow, are on the wrong side of history. National, universal, church, or whatever. Abusers and enablers have been outed. JP2/B16 “orthodoxy” has been exposed as ethically deficient in many instances. Usually to the detriment of the needy.

The Mother of Jesus had the measure of it all:

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty. (Luke 1:51-53)

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in bishops, Church News, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to East Of Houston, Is There A Problem?

  1. nassauny says:

    Please note Rocco’s upbeat post when Joseph Strickland was appointed in 2012. I could be wrong, but maybe this politicking is something like assimilation. In 27 years, the diocese has gone from 2% Catholic to 9%. Blend in, don’t be different. Following the good example of non-Catholics can sometimes be rewarding. Our pastor has a friend in a suburban Memphis parish, where the “tithing” rate (or per-capita collection receipts) is double that of our affluent suburban NY parish, maybe because that is what Baptists do.

    • Todd says:

      Rocco is always positive about new bishops. Those guys don’t get appointed on good looks or exercise habits. I think Catholics outnumber Evangelicals in Texas now. Perhaps blending in with a bishop on the opposite side of the state would be preferable to California wine country.

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