The Sheep are Leaving the Fold,In Search of Their Shepherd, Jesus!

According to the Magisterium or hierarchy, “The Church is a sheepfold whose one and indispensable door is Christ. It is a flock of which God Himself foretold He would be the shepherd,  and whose sheep, although ruled by human shepherds; are nevertheless continuously led and nourished by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd and the Prince of the shepherds, who gave His life for the sheep.” (Lumen Gentium)

Today, “The Vatican confesses: the hierarchical Church has lost the people” writes  Robert Mickens in his latest article from La Croix International.

“Vatican City Call it the Vatican or call it the Holy See. It hardly matters anymore because the difference and nuances between the two terms (or entities) are lost on most people. That includes the majority of Catholics. Increasingly, it seems, people don’t care whether a distinction even exists. Holy See and Vatican mean only one thing to most folks — headquarters of the Catholic Church or bureaucratic center of a two-millennia-old religious behemoth. And that behemoth, as I argued last week, continues to experience an implosion that dates back to at least the Reformation. Certainly by the time of the Enlightenment in the 17th century, this implosion became an ongoing process.”

In John 10:16 Jesus says “I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus rules his flock through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet the hierarchy claims themselves as the rulers.  

The norm, according to sheep herding. – is that it is the sheep dogs who contain and herd the flock to follow the Shepherd- there is only ONE shepherd per flock. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” The sheep dogs keep the sheep following their shepherd. SO the overseers or bishops act as the dogs- barking and mustering or gathering together the sheep to help them follow the one Shepherd, Jesus.

Notice how the language from Lumen Gentium implies certain concepts that are contrary to the attitude and teaching of Jesus. The title “Prince” is given to the one Shepherd but Jesus would object since he rebuked power, fame, and fortune, and the title “Prince” would be abhorrent to him! This is another interjection coming from the clerical dominance of the Catholic Church which allowed  the Royal leaders of nations to act as shepherds and bestow royal titles upon some of the sheep who became bishops. This must end. In Matthew 23, “..you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.” So why would they think that “monsignor”, “excellency”, “eminence” or “holiness” is acceptable? “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Ha! They ignored this as well!

“From time to time “enlightened” Christians raised their voice to warn the Church’s hierarchs that this was futile. Then, finally, the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) sought to make peace with “modernity”, including democracy.” (Robert Mickens )

Vatican II began when a man named Angelo Roncalli a “prince” of the Roman Catholic Church, was elected pope in 1958 as a compromise choice between conservative and liberal cardinals of the Catholic Church  after 11 ballots.  He was old, not part of the Vatican Elite, and hardly known to most of the People of God around the world. But he was loved by all the people he met and served and by those who met him and observed him. Many of the latter were non-Catholics from all walks of life, from various religions, and from different countries. He was truly a “people person”.

The Church, in Lumen Gentium, quotes Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful, as in a temple” It was that same Spirit that enlightened Angelo Roncalli and gave notice of his intention to convene the council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election. He said that it was time to “open the windows of the Church and let in some fresh air. He invited the Catholic bishops of the world, and Protestant as well as other religious leaders. Over 2,100 were in attendance at the 4 sessions that ended in 1965. It is that same Spirit who dwells in the hearts of all the faithful, that you and me!

The Council produced four major “constitutions” and twelve other documents. Together, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (LG), and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World , Gaudium et Spes, stand as the two pillars of the Second Vatican Council.The Dogmatic Constitution treats the nature of the church in itself; the Pastoral Constitution treats its mission in the world.

The first line of Gaudium et Spes reads: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.” “Led by the Spirit which implies that the overseers or bishops serve the people in carrying out that inspiration not the other way around.

The “messianic people has Christ for its head,…….The state of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in His temple.”

It seems to me that the Church hierarchy ignores the People of God or the “messianic” people over and over again. The majority of Catholics today were born after the council and are not adhered to the doctrines, devotions, and hierarchical structure or leadership in the Church. They have been taught that they have a significant role to play but the bishops have ignored this and many have not really implemented the documents of the council. Check out this article from the NCR- https://www.ncronline.org/news/survey-reveals-generation-shift-catholic-church#table2

Another development of late in America is the notion by Church leaders that Americans are to reflect religious values many of which are based in Catholic doctrine which condemns birth control, abortion, euthansia, and  homosexuality. Emposing such teachings on American culture through a political agenda is the motive for endorsing candidates that uphold such condemnations with the exception of birth control like the pill and condoms. The bishops seem to ignore the Johnson Amendment which calls for the separation of Church and State since the former President signed an order to direct the Government not to take adverse action against religious organizations that it would not take against other organizations in the enforcement of these restrictions.”

While the Johnson Amendment was weakened under the former administration it is still a law that is not enforced. The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Section 501(c)(3) organizations are the most common type of nonprofit organization in the United States, ranging from charitable foundations to universities and churches. The amendment is named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who introduced it in a preliminary draft of the law in July 1954.

Rather than play the game of hide and seek with the Catholic Church I decided to pray, listen to the Word of God, study the history and documents of the Church and follow my conscience. Too much information about Jesus, the Scriptures, and theology that the latest scholars have researched and written about is being ignored along with the fact that the Constitution’s ban on endorsing a religion and separation of Church and State is as well.

I follow Jesus’ basic teachings of the great commandment: Love God and your neighbor as your self. Keep in mind this includes the Word as well as the writings of many who followed Jesus in the past or are following him now. Many Catholics are already doing so and ignoring the doctrines and precepts of the Church which indicates that many more than President Biden should not receive Communion. The sheep are out of the fold looking for the one and only Shepherd, Jesus!

About Dr. Ernie Sherretta, D. Min.

Retired Director of Religious Education for the Catholic Church since 2014, granted a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Religious Studies from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Immaculata University, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Spiritual Well-Being Counselor
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