Though it sounds nice enough, this is actually known as the “Chinese curse.” “Interesting” has no value. It simply means that someting draws your attention. So St. Maxamilion Kolbe’s life was very interesting, but I would not want to live it. Patty Hirsh’s life was interesting but . . .
So occasionally someone desiring to give a priest a compliment says, “Oh! You should be a bishop some day!” Every priest knows this is meant as a compliment but most know it is an ecclesiastical curse. And for those priests who don’t see it as a curse there is the adage, “He who wants to be a bishop deserves to be one,” also not meant in kindly terms.
If there were glory days for being a bishop they are over and have been for some time. We have occasional glimpses of what seems to be pretty swell lives but those moments are few and far between and not quite what they are cracked up to be. In fact there is a problem about getting priests to become bishops. There was, perhaps, at one time, a false modesty in which a man might refuse the office, “Oh, but I am not worthy,” as opposed to today when it appears that more and more priests say, “No thank you,” and pray they are not asked the second time (when it is much more difficult to say no.)
This post was on the docket today before the latest news broke out in the Diocese of Cleveland. If you missed it the Vatican reversed some of the closings of parishes in this diocese. Now if I do something for which I might be taken to task for by my parishioners it is just that – I have a group of parishioners mad at me. But if I go to the next parish over for dinner they most likely have no idea what I did to make a few people angry. If you are bishop and something like this happens, it is on the front page of the newspaper. As the song goes, “Nowhere to run to nowhere to hide. . .”
There are some bishops that I tend to agree with and those whose decisions on certain issues I might not, but I don’t believe there is one bishop who wakes up in the morning thinking, “How can I destroy the Catholic Church?” No matter what he might do, he thinks he is doing the best for his diocese – for the people he is charged to serve. I also fully believe that Christ founded a not just a religion but a Church, His Church, and that He left people in charge to assist us; namely the pope and bishops. Like St. Peter they are sometimes brilliant and sometimes not so much. But you know what, 2000 years later and having every other government on earth either defunct or changed dramatically the Catholic Church struggles on. And that God pulls this off using fallible human beings is just further evidence that it is the Holy Spirit holding things together.
So I guess this is a call to respect and honor the office of bishop (and by no means wish it on anybody.) By this I do not mean that everything a bishop does is correct and that concerns should not be brought to his attention (it is our right and duty to do so) but to bear in mind that he is our spiritual father of the local Church and to respect the office. And should things not seem quite right in the state of Denmark to pray all the more for your bishop. The best outcome is that either he or we convert to truth and that we can be united once again in Christ.