Are we living in the end times? Is chastisement coming? Is our country going to collapse financially? Is the Catholic Church going to collapse because of the abuse crisis? Does anyone believe that the end of the trail is in sight?
The older I get the more flabbergasted I become as I watch failed leadership. Being a leader is not an easy task. If it were easy everyone would want the role. However, when a person finds himself/herself in a leadership position, is there a decision made by that individual to lead with integrity? Even if mistakes are made in the decision-making process, is there at least an intent to lead well?
In too many instances it seems that the people in charge are simply looking out for themselves. "Servant leadership" is not part of their vocabulary. This is especially disheartening when one experiences such arrogant attitudes among Church leadership. How are we going to effectively build up the Kingdom of God if leadership is only looking to preserve their own legacy?
Since the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops just ended their annual fall meeting in Baltimore, I will use them as an example. I believe that there are many good bishops with sincere hearts trying to lead well. Sadly, they are in such a quagmire that it is difficult to see one's way out of the muck and the mire.
It is nearly impossible to regain trust when you have lost all credibility by repeatedly failing, and in some cases directly lying, to the people you are called to serve. Matthew 17:21 comes to mind as I consider the predicament of the episcopate. How will they remove those bishops from their ranks that need to be removed? How will they deal with priests and deacons teaching things which the Church does not teach? How will accountability be established among all ranks of leadership within the Church?
The Church should be the moral compass for society. Unfortunately, society now has one less institution of influence to guide it in a positive way. The Church is a divine institution and the gates of hell will not prevail against Her. However, the influence of the Church, at least in the United States, has diminished to the point of irrelevancy. It will take decades, if not centuries, for the damage inflicted by unfaithful leaders to be overcome. How many souls will be lost due to this unfaithfulness?
When does the end of the trail arrive for each of us? We do not know the day nor the hour when the Lord will call us home. Are we prepared? Whether we are clergy, religious, or lay faithful, we will each render an account on judgment day. For those of us who have accepted leadership roles in the Church, we will certainly be held to account for what we did and what we did not do. The consequences of leading anyone astray are harsh. (See Matthew 18:6 or Luke 17:2)
My dear people, love God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Be a person of fervent prayer. (Pray for me--that I may remain faithful in my calling as a deacon.) Use your particular charisms to build up the Kingdom of God. Bloom where you are planted. Be a servant leader in your home, your church, and your community. Be a saint!