Soap box
Yup, this post is going to be one of those religious ones, and in the wake of the Pope’s recent (last week) encyclical, it was just a thought I reckoned I had to share (Don’t I always?).

I’ll admit my knowledge of the encyclical strictly comes from the reports I’ve heard and read rather than from having read it myself. But you’ll also be happy to know that this post is not going to be on his writing about climate change and ecology (How boring would that be?), but rather, about the poor. It’s funny how the media has jumped on the bandwagon more about his statements on ecology (“He’s talking about things outside his expertise!”). I, however, am going to head upstream. And I promise to keep it brief.

I’ll wait till you finish cheering…

Though I agree with the Holy Father’s words about poverty, and the poor, and about how priests need to be “shepherds … living with the smell of the sheep,” it’s infinitely easier to make such a dramatic statement such as these when you’re the one being taken care of for the rest of your life, no matter what happens. Furthermore, the clergy to whom the Holy Father voices his displeasure all receive “stipends” of $100,000 a year and more between their combined salary and benefits. The clergy almost always get paid a lot more than the people to whom they minister.

It’s also very easy for these clergy to stand up and wag a finger at the people in front of them, glorifying the virtues of poverty, when they’re living in a house that’s paid for by the parish or community they’re admonishing – the same people who also pay the clergy’s utilities, mileage on the car (if not paying for the car outright), paying a handsome salary as well as a monthly housing allowance, health insurance, and just about everything else except for the food they eat and certain “personal” items.

I think you see where I’m going with this…

It’s easy for the clergy to preach to the people about how everyone should forsake riches and the eschew wealth to help the poor when they know they don’t have to. Yeah, they claim to be “poor” themselves by right of the title “priest” or “clergy” or “pastor.” But it’s the same clergy spouting this rhetoric that never need worry about their own futures. They’re rarely fired, because the Church will always take care of them, or move them around as necessary. It has nothing to do about whether they do a “good job” or a “bad job” with their parishes or congregations, they’ll just be moved on to another church where they’ll continue to receive the same “stipend” and benefits.

No, I’m not labeling every religious out there. I know a number of good ones that aren’t greedy SOBs. But I’ve had my fill of the money-grubbing, self-centered ones who continue to sully the terms “religious,” “priest,” and “clergy.” They’re the ones who make it all the more difficult to hear the words urging poverty and honestly believe them. People more easily learn what they’re seeing from others.

I think I know what the Holy Father is getting at in regards to “shepherds … living with the smell of the sheep,” but I think it would be a lot easier to see (and swallow) if we started seeing some clear-cut examples from the clergy, themselves.

Now I’ll step off my soapbox…