Pray for our bishops
Most of them are over my head. As a doctor, I can discuss the neurophysiology of the limbus tract,or the life cycle of Schistosomiasis, but I'm not good with theology.
But one of the treasures that I discovered Gregory the Great, Pope and Saint. His writings remind us that the present day problems of the church are not really new...
I am forced to consider the affairs of the Church and the monasteries. I must weigh the lives and acts of individuals. I am responsible for the concerns of our citizens. I must worry about the invasions of roving bands of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock. I must become an administrator lest the religious go in want. I must put up with certain robbers without losing patience, and at times I must deal with them in all charity..
Sounds like not much has changed in the last 1500 years...and our bishops face similar problems.
Here in the Philippines, it means treading a fine line between condemning politicians accused of graft (but not proven) while not appearing to take sides in political squabbles. At the same time, it means opposing a powerful population lobby, aiming to "allow" (read "mandate") family planning in government clinics.
In the US, there is another problem. After 40 years of Catholic bishops laying low in the political fight against abortion, we see a slight of hand by the Obama supporters against the Catholic church.
Abortion was not discussed as an issue, so many Catholics did not take it into account, or saw it as a lesser issue (i.e. one that no president could change) against financial and immigration issues.
At the same time, Obama surrogates campaigned to pro life Catholics, emphasizing that the law couldn't be changed, but that by voting for their candidate, you would lower abortion via increasing social programs.
Now that the election is past, however, the "progressives" have come out in force. The bishops have been publicly mocked in articles, saying that see, your people don't listen to you so you have to change your mind (never mind that the bishops' opposition got little or no press coverage).
There is a big worry that the first thing a President Obama will do is sign the "Freedom of Choice Act" that will remove all restrictions against all abortions, an action that would mandate Catholic hospitals to cooperate with abortions.
He also could remove a recent Bush administrative decree protects pro life medical personnel against being fired for refusing to cooperate with procedures against their conscience.
A lot of people think this is about abortion, but it has more ramifications, since euthanasia is coming, and pro life pharmacists will now have to give out not only abortion pills but euthanasia pills....and states such as California that mandate doctors tell terminal patients of all choices of treatment can quickly morph into suicide counseling in the near future.
So what is a bishop to do?
If he is harsh, he is mocked, and his words are twisted. If he is quiet, he is ignored. If he rebukes in private, he is under fire by those saying "why doesn't he do something", but if he rebukes in public, his actions could result in the erring sinner becoming bitter and hardening their heart against real repentance.
Not an easy choice.
So what can we as laypeople do?
We can pray for our bishops and priests, that they are given wisdom.
God is in control.
That is why spending an hour a day in prayer for our country and for our clergy will be more valuable in the long run that writing essays or letters to the editor...