The Brewing of a Toxic Culture

by Joseph Mattera | There is constant bickering and or resistance which then hurts the execution of the vision, which spills over to the rest of the organization—creating a toxic environment

The following 20 signs are based on my observations regarding organizational dysfunction associated with a toxic (poisonous) culture in any organization.

In this article, the word “culture” refers to the prevailing attitude, behavior, and unspoken feeling and or rules that motivate and determine how people respond, react and act in the context of their work.

The following toxic traits fit either a “for profit” or “nonprofit “organization (including nonprofits like a hospital, school or church).

1. The leader is a demanding micromanager.

When the leader of an organization is constantly hovering over staff and other team leaders—not only telling them what to do but exactly how to do it (although this is necessary temporarily when a new person is learning a new job until they prove their competency), it discourages the work environment because the leader’s leadership style demonstrates a lack of trust towards those under him or her.

2. The leader is emotionally abusive and demeaning.

A work environment is absolutely horrible when the boss is constantly putting the staff and other leaders down—never praising them and only speaking to them when he wants to correct them.

3. The leader doesn’t understand or desire to delegate tasks to others.

Often, micromanagers have a hard time delegating work to others because they have a “perfectionist” spirit and think they are the only ones who can get a job done the correct way. Even when they delegate, they don’t trust those they delegate to and are constantly on top of them, thus not giving them room to breathe or grow.

4. The leader and the governing board are always arguing.

I have spoken to numerous pastors or CEOs who say they dread board meetings because of philosophical differences. The result is, there is constant bickering and or resistance which then hurts the execution of the vision, which spills over to the rest of the organization—creating a toxic environment.

5. There is low morale among the staff, employees and participants.

When the staff and team leaders of an organization have low morale, it negatively affects the rest of the participants since it is like a virus that spreads to all.

6. The vision and mission are always changing based on the mood of the leader.

Any church or organization that has a new vision and mission every year has a confused leadership team. Since vision determines the organization’s responsibility and mission determines its authority, when these two are constantly changing, nobody understands what is expected; thus, creating confusion, lack of trust towards the leader and resulting in a toxic culture.

7. A culture of rampant gossip is tolerated.

When an organization cannot keep confidentiality among the leaders and staff, and when backstabbing and gossip is tolerated, the organization is poisonous and unfit to work in until there is a drastic shift away from this behavior.

8. There is a lack of transparency regarding financial decisions.

When any organization—including a church—doesn’t at least annually divulge financial expenditures, values and priorities, it shows a lack of accountability and possible mismanagement. When only the lead pastor and or CEO of an organization (not talking about a “for profit” mom and pop restaurant or small business) know the true financial state and or has access to the monies, it can be an ethical disaster waiting to happen. I’ve known of some cases where not even the trustees of the organization knew what was going on financially.

9. There is an ambiguous accountability structure.

When nobody on staff or in a ministry or job position understands who to report to, it creates a toxic, confusing environment without true accountability.

10. There is a lot of transition in the staff and middle management.

When a “season” of transition becomes years of staff transition, it becomes part of the culture and demonstrates some level of toxicity that chases people away from the work environment. People in healthy work environments usually enjoy going to work (unless they are lazy and unmotivated) and make a long-term commitment to serve.

11. There is no “buy in.”

The key to the success of all organizations is when the staff and participants go from being “employees” to “proprietors;” hence, only when the key players in an organization take ownership and have the attitude of a shareholder does the organization gain momentum.

An organization populated only with mere “employees” is a toxic organization that marginalizes its ability to execute its vision and mission.

12. There is an entitlement mentality among the leaders and staff.

When the leadership and staff of an organization have a “what’s in it for me” mentality—the organization is in big trouble.

This entitlement mentality spreads, then instead of a culture of servant leadership you have a culture of obtaining a title in the organization primarily, so you can enjoy the fringe benefits.

13. There is much activity without measurable goals and profitability.

When an organization has much activity without measurable goals, then it’s difficult to define success and failure. In a church like this, nobody has to exercise their faith in God to accomplish their mission and assignment. Consequently, it is an organization that is on autopilot or like an aimless ship at sea in the night. This causes much frustration and lethargy among the staff, and eventually creates a toxic environment.

14. There is blame-shifting and a lack of taking responsibility.

In any organization that doesn’t have clear lines of communication, leadership structure and accountability, it is easy to have a culture of blame-shifting. Since blame-shifting generates animosity among the staff (and irresponsibility from the ones blaming others) you have a toxic culture that needs to be cleaned up systemically.

15. The participants do the minimum amount of work required.

I have observed in many organizations leaders and staff who just do the minimum work required to keep their position. They clock in and clock out and don’t care to do above and beyond the general job description. This generates a very bad environment if it is not dealt with and results in resentment from other staff members carrying most of the weight.

16. There is a dearth of volunteers.

When it is hard for a nonprofit to garner volunteers, it may demonstrate that there is a disconnect with the vision, the morale is low or the people are not committed to the mission. This lack of motivation creates an apathy, that is toxic for the culture of the entity.

17. The boss regularly ignores the protocols.

Every efficient organization needs to have protocols in place related to communication, accountability, layers of leadership and responsibility so that participants know the when, where and who to report to. When the top leader continually violates these processes put in place he or she acts like they are above the law and become bad role models for other leaders who will also replicate their disregard for protocols and order.

18. The boss regularly bypasses the leadership structure set up.

When the top leader allows people to report directly to him or her—(thus bypassing the delegated leadership structure) it creates confusion, favoritism and disrespect towards those bypassed.

The result is resentment among those bypassed, a sense of entitlement and favoritism among those with direct access to the boss, resulting in a toxic environment that can only be fixed if the senior leader leads the way by ceasing to violate the hierarchical leadership structure.

19. Creativity and innovation are discouraged.

Healthy organizations encourage creative thinking, innovation, a certain level of risk-taking and cutting-edge methodologies to support and advance the mission.

When an organization is more concerned with protecting the status quo, the result is groupthink—a lack of creativity and a uniformity lacking a healthy dose of critical thinking, which eventually leads to the dulling and ineffectiveness of the organization.

20. There is no long-term planning.

The old popular adage “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is a proven truism. An organization constantly given to last-minute events (barring an unexpected crisis or emergency) or a lack of long-term planning (every organization should at least execute an annual planning meeting for future events directed towards advancing the assignment) is an organization without a spirit of excellence or proper focus.

The result will be many opportunities to maximize the gifts, talents and resources of the organization will be missed, which will frustrate many and hurt the morale of many.

Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He is renowned for addressing current events through the lense of Scripture by applying biblical truths and offering cogent defenses to today’s postmodern culture. He leads several organizations, including The United Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.



Strengthening Our Faith in a Time of Crisis

by R. Jared Staudt | Recognizing the never-ending crisis in the Church does not distract from the need for real reform and for holding people accountable. But it does point us to the heart of Jesus’s call to faith and trust in his providence (image: Shutterstock).
A crisis that strikes so centrally at the integrity of the Church necessitates a response from each one us. There must be general reform in the Church, but I’d like to explore how each one of us can respond to the Church’s crisis with a commitment to stronger faith and personal reform. In focusing on this personal response, I am by no means equating personal sin with the deep corruption we are discovering, nor seeking to take focus away from needed calls for practical change. The crisis to which I am responding, however, goes beyond the recent scandals to the underlying crisis of faith that has weakened the Church as a whole. Although the main thrust of this reflection predated the recent scandals, and comes from a talk I gave in the spring, I offer it now in hopes that it may help focus us on our response to them.

We must decide how we will respond to the storm. Jesus looks at each one of us as we are rocked by the waves. There is no one to grab onto, the wind is whipping up, and we are beginning to sink with discouragement. Do we keep our eyes on Jesus or do we focus on the storm surrounding us? Right now, many of us are drowning in the confusion and scandal caused by leaders of the Church. Does Jesus need to tell us, like Peter: “You of little faith, why so afraid”? The devil uses real problems in the Church to tempt us to sin against faith. If we take our eyes off of the Lord, we could be tempted to think that our faith is based upon the human dimension of the Church. There are so many reasons to be discouraged, but we are called to a supernatural response to God’s plan.

There can be no doubt that the Church is facing a general crisis. It’s not hard to find statistics of the precipitous decline in Church attendance as well as the reception of the sacraments, and there’s no need to repeat them here. Even many Catholics who come to Church do not fully profess faith in the Church’s teaching and may receive the Eucharist unprepared and in a state of sin. We now see that our leadership has been compromised in fundamental ways. And yet, the Church always faces some form of serious crisis. It is built into the nature of the Church as a mystical association of believers, to receive God’s sanctifying grace while remaining weak and sinful human beings. The Church contains both sinners who are experiencing lifelong conversion and hypocrites who reject God’s grace but remain within the Church and even hold positions of authority.

Recognizing the never-ending crisis in the Church does not distract from the need for real reform and for holding people accountable. But it does point us to the heart of Jesus’s call to faith and trust in his providence. God wills the Church to be weak and to suffer. That may sound nice in theory, but the self-inflicted nature of this suffering is particularly hard to bear. Pope Benedict XVI has often pointed this out: “The suffering of the church comes from inside the church, from sin that exists inside the church.” It is tempting to evaluate this statement only from the viewpoint of the clergy, particularly in light of grievous scandals, but the laity, too, must recognize that we are part of the problem. We are also a large part of the solution, if we cooperate with God’s grace. Looking to the saints, the great reformers, we must dedicate ourselves to reform, embracing the Lord’s call to conversion and holiness so that we can play our own part in the Church’s mission with renewed faith and strength.

Nature of the Crisis
There are three major fronts to the crisis facing the Church: doctrine, corruption, and secularization. We could describe these points further as not teaching and adhering fully to divine revelation and dogma; abandoning the call to holiness and the moral demands of God’s commandments; and a breakdown of Catholic culture and the Christian way of life. A fundamental crisis of faith underlies all three points: namely, not adhering to the faith and not living it out personally and socially.

It is true that the Church constantly faces challenges to faith and the moral life, but secularization offers a new and unique challenge. Never before have Christians lived within a secular culture, which pushes God to the sidelines of society, living life as if he did not exist. This secularization has brought unprecedented challenges to the Church and society, as we have called even the fundamental realities of life into question: marriage, the nature of man and woman, and the dignity of human life itself. Secularization is a challenge to the Church because it influences her members in fundamental ways that impede the life of faith, sapping the dynamism of their spiritual lives.

We cannot turn to the Church as a safe haven from our culture, because the Church lives in the world and a crisis of culture always enters into the Church. Catholics bring their struggles with them into the pews, because we live within and are shaped by the culture itself. Confusion and dissent on fundamental points of belief and morality have entered the Church. Despite the heroic witness of some, Catholics as a whole are responsible for the Church’s crisis:

Both the clergy and laity have not been true to the faith.

  • Clergy have not insisted on its integrity and have not taught it fully and faithfully.
  • The laity have rejected large portions of it and have fallen into relativism.

Both the clergy and laity have not lived the faith and kept true to the moral law.

  • Many members of the clergy have not been faithful to demands of celibacy or have fallen into spiritual mediocrity.
  • A large percentage of the laity contracepts, has gotten divorced, and has abandoned the practice of the faith.

Is there a connection between the overarching failings of the clergy and the laity? Absolutely, as neither has kept the other accountable, in large part due to their own failings.

Why the Lord Allows the Church to Suffer
The Church’s crisis of faith creates scandal particularly by fostering discouragement. As it appears that the Church lacks faith and holiness, many begin to question if they are real and possible. To fight against discouragement, it is important to reflect on why the Lord allows weakness and sin to remain within his Church. Paul described this by saying that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7). God wants the Church to be weak so that he can tell us with Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). The Lord desires to work through the ministry of sinners so that we realize that he alone is the source of grace and truth. The perpetual crisis of the Church continues when her members become self-referential, pointing to themselves above Christ and using the Church for self-serving ends.

Fr. Thomas Weinandy pointed to this reality at the heart of the Church’s crisis: “I have often asked myself: ‘Why has Jesus let all of this happen?’ The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops.” Ironically then, the Lord may allow the crisis we face to strengthen our faith in him. He helps us to realize time and time again that we can do nothing without him. The constant need for conversion entails turning from ourselves to Christ for our salvation. The woundedness of the Church continues the scandal of the Cross. Just as the Jews and Greeks objected to salvation through the Resurrection of one Jewish man, acknowledged to be the Son of God, so the world understandably bulks at this salvation coming to it through the ministry of sinful Christians.

The Church must guard against complacency to the sin of her members, however. Otherwise, Catholics, whether the clergy or laity, can become like the unfaithful servant in Christ’s parable, who says: “‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful” (Luke 12:45). We must constantly realize that we are sinners representing and serving God, who must seek ever-greater conformity to the Master. Otherwise, he will disown and punish us.

Never-Ending Reform
Lack of faith and the betrayal of sin have been a constant problem throughout history. Tracing the weakness of the Church—of God’s people—is not just a matter of history, but also a matter of listening to divine revelation. We can see how even our father in faith, Abraham, sought to force God’s promise by taking a concubine, how Israel rejected God in the desert after seeing his wonders, and how idolatry remained a constant struggle in the promised land. Most poignantly, we can see how the king after God’s own heart, David, responded to God’s promise that his throne would endure forever (2 Sam. 7), by committing the sins of adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11). Furthermore, his son Solomon, who received extraordinary blessings from God, fell into idolatry, only a minority of David’s descendants were faithful, and the promised line of kings ended in exile.

The Apostles weren’t much different. Jesus made another extraordinary promise to Peter only to call him “satan” five verses later for seeking to impede God’s plan (Matt. 16:18, 23). The same rock denies Jesus three times as all the apostles disperse, and one of them betrays his own master. Later, Paul had to correct Peter over his hypocrisy toward the Gentiles. Nothing could show us more directly how God works through weakness than how he established his Church upon the weakness of our humanity to manifest the power of his divinity. God gave us a clear sign to expect human weakness in our leaders, even as he showed us the transformation he could enact when the Holy Spirit acts through this weakness, such as at Pentecost.

The Church has faced many serious crises in history: severe persecution, which included not only the faithfulness of the martyrs but also many who betrayed the faith; heresies which overwhelmed a great number of bishops, especially Arianism; the destruction of images of Christ through the East in the iconoclast controversies; the external threat of Islam which overwhelmed the Christian heartland; the ignorance of priests and the corruption of the hierarchy in the Middle Ages; schisms in both East and West; the Protestant heresy which split Christendom in half; modern revolutions which nearly extinguished the priesthood and sacraments in entire nations; confusion in the Church’s liturgy and doctrine; and the secularism which has overwhelmed Western Civilization.

And what of the successors of St. Peter? We see both the power of God’s promise to make Peter the rock for the preservation of faith and the weakness and corruption of many popes who needed to be rebuked as satan for impeding the will of God. The laity has intervened at crucial moments in favor of reform. Even the monastic movement began largely as a lay response of personal conversion and reform, gaining popularity once the threat of Roman persecution waned and the Church entered mainstream society. The first ecumenical councils arose at the initiative of the Roman emperors. Similarly, early Germanic emperors intervened to depose some of the most corrupt popes in history in the tenth century. Nonetheless, the intervention of secular rulers would plague the Church as well, with Byzantine emperors seeking to impose heresy and Holy Roman Emperors and later monarchs attempting to control bishops (and many times succeeding).

Every crisis, however, brings forth a new champion of the faith, such as Athanasius who stood against the world in the Arian crisis. Merely human responses will not succeed and will introduce new problems. We cannot focus only on exterior solutions and policies without insisting on interior conversion. We can remove corrupt leaders, but who will replace them? The saints model the authentic reform that begins with oneself. St. Charles Borromeo led the true Reformation by modeling reform himself, which then inspired institutional reform. Holiness—expressed in prayer, penance, and virtue—must be the center of any true reform.

Strengthening Faith
As I’ve already noted, a crisis creates discouragement, but it can also inspire reform. If we are not simply ignorant of what’s happening, we face four possible responses:

  1. Giving up by abandoning the Church.
  2. Complacency in simply accepting things as they are for better or worse.
  3. Corruption in resisting reform and remaining in sinful practices.
  4. Reform by seeking holiness above all else for oneself and others.

Option four will require us to ask with Chesterton, “What’s wrong with the world?” including the Church, and also to answer with him: “me.” This answer does not deny the faults and corruption of others, or turn a blind eye to the need for accountability, but recognizes that my sins are part of the problem. In fact, they are central for each of us, because they are the part of the problem for which we bear direct responsibility. For reform to succeed, stronger faith, repentance, and the will to change must flow from many Catholics. Only in following my “yes” to personal reform, can I be a part of the broader solution by allowing Christ to act through me.

Trials in the Church invite us to strengthen our faith. They invite us to examine the source of our faith. Why do we believe? Because we grew up Catholic, have been inspired by a particular priest or fellow Catholic, have enjoyed coming to Church (as unlikely as that might be), or have been encouraged or comforted by being Catholic? These things may have a role to play, but our faith must be rooted more deeply. Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ who has come into the world for our salvation? We must remind ourselves that we believe in God, not in human beings. In response to the crisis of the Church, I affirm my faith in God and the trust I have in him, recognizing that he is the source of my confidence, not myself or any other human being.

I put forward the following points as my own response to the crisis of faith:

  1. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God become man to reveal the truth of God and to lead us to salvation.
  2. I believe that Jesus founded the Church to communicate his truth and transmit his grace in the sacraments.
  3. I believe that Jesus chose to work through flawed and sinful human beings, including his own disciples, despite the scandal that this involves.
  4. I believe that Jesus will preserve the Church from definitively teaching errors in faith and morals, even though Christians will fail in their own roles to teach and witness the faith.
  5. I believe that God’s providence will continue to guide the Church through history to the second coming, that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, and that God will use our weakness for his greater glory.
  6. I believe that God is calling me to holiness despite all the obstacles in my own life, the Church, and society. I know that I am a sinner and that the Lord calls me now to a deeper conversion and relationship with him.

As we renew our faith, we must also reform our lives so that they embody what we believe. This will require an increase in humility, recognizing our own weakness and absolute dependence on God. We must also increase our life of prayer, seeking the one thing necessary and recognizing that all good comes from prayer. In addition, we must practice mortification and penance to reach true conversion of life and to make reparation for our sins and those of the Church. We will have to hold fast to the truth in love and patience, witnessing to and serving others. Ultimately, we must form a Christian culture (or way of life) in our family, work, and in all that we do, recreating the necessary soil for renewal.

Genuine faith leads us to hope, especially in the midst of difficulties, which in turn leads to a greater love for God and neighbor, completing our response to the crisis. If we truly trust in Jesus, we can say with St. Catherine of Siena:

This desire was great and continuous, but grew much more, when the First Truth showed her the neediness of the world, and in what a tempest of offense against God it lay. And she had understood this the better from a letter, which she had received from the spiritual Father of her soul, in which he explained to her the penalties and intolerable dolor caused by offenses against God, and the loss of souls, and the persecutions of Holy Church.

All this lighted the fire of her holy desire with grief for the offenses, and with the joy of the lively hope, with which she waited for God to provide against such great evils. And, since the soul seems, in such communion, sweetly to bind herself fast within herself and with God, and knows better his truth, inasmuch as the soul is then in God, and God in the soul, as the fish is in the sea, and the sea in the fish.

R. Jared StaudtR. Jared Staudt works in the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver. He earned his BA and MA in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and his PhD in Systematic Theology from Ave Maria University in Florida. Staudt served previously as a director of religious education in two parishes, taught at the Augustine Institute and the University of Mary, and served as co-editor of the theological journal Nova et Vetera. He and his wife Anne have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.



What Scripture Says About the Reliability of Religious Leaders

by Fr. Jerry J. Pokorsky | In our day, can we expect better than those apostolic ratios? We certainly have the means, provided we respond with faith to the fullness of the graces of Pentecost. Our faith in Jesus Christ is holy, beautiful, true, and good.  The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ worthy of all our love and devotion. The Catholic faith is not the problem; the Catholic faith is the solution (image: YouTube)

The majority of saints canonized by the Church over much of her history are priests and bishops. I used to quip that this proves it is possible for a priest or bishop to get to heaven. This is no longer a playful quip but a wry truth.

You may know by now that within the last month, another senior prelate has fallen from favor. As a priest and a member of the clergy, and to the extent that I have the authority, I apologize. In my view, he should be in leg irons or at least under harsh interrogation in Gitmo.

Jesus, of course, is the Good Shepherd. And he established the Church to be governed by shepherds—priests and bishops, the clergy. So it is helpful for context to take a look at the leaders in ancient Israel during the time of Jesus. By and large, the priests, the chief priests, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees—Jewish equivalents of the clergy—do not make a very favorable impression.

Jesus recognizes the authority of the scribes and Pharisees: “Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you….’ He adds:  ‘…but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.’” He also supports their official teaching: “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

The Pharisees are corrupt almost to a man. They malign the mighty deeds of Christ: “It is only by Be-el′zebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” They try to set Jesus against the teachings of Moses: “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” They try to entrap Jesus: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” They have disdain for the miracles of Jesus: “And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him.”

But Jesus denounces these clergy-equivalents with courage and in no uncertain terms: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”  Also: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

He warns his disciples: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Also: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The clergy-equivalents respond with murderous indignation: “But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him, how to destroy him.” The conspiracy reaches the highest levels: “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and took counsel together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.”

Like prosecuting attorneys coming up short, the clergy-equivalents tamper with the evidence: “Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death….” And “the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.”

But the office of the clergy-equivalents at the time of Jesus was necessary to preserve and transmit the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. Despite their exalted role, the portrait of the clergy-equivalents in the Gospel is foul and obnoxious.

There are, of course, exceptions. Nicodemus emerges under the cover of the night to engage Jesus in a sincere theological discussion, admitting, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” In the infancy narratives, the priest Zechariah, initially flawed in his trust in God, becomes the father of John the Baptist and ultimately reclaims his honor.  In the Temple, Simeon piously prophesies as to the destiny of the child Jesus and the sword of sorrow that will pierce Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

But for the most part, the goodness and holiness of those in the Gospel are not found among the clergy-equivalents. They are found in the laity-equivalents: Elizabeth, Martha and Mary, Lazarus, the holy women at the foot of the Cross, and the Blessed Mother herself.

Hence, the faith of the good people of Israel is not the problem. The faith of Mary and the holy women at the foot of the Cross is not the problem. The lawful structures of transmitting the faith in Israel are not the problem. The problem is the infidelity and the evil scheming of the clergy-equivalents.

Among the true clergy, the Twelve ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper, the apostolic ratio of bad bishops is disturbingly high: Judas represents 1/12 of them. The apostolic ratio of good bishops who joined Jesus at the foot of the Cross is disappointingly low:  John, alone, represents 1/12 of them.

In our day, can we expect better than those apostolic ratios? We certainly have the means, provided we respond with faith to the fullness of the graces of Pentecost. Our faith in Jesus Christ is holy, beautiful, true, and good.  The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ worthy of all our love and devotion. The Catholic faith is not the problem; the Catholic faith is the solution.

Fr. Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Fr. Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal.