Non-Judgmental Shepherds

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement – (John 7:24)

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

By Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky on The Catholic Thing (slightly abridged) – Sunday, April 24, 2016

Many people today expect religion to be “non-judgmental.” Self-esteem, apparently, is in short supply at the moment. So there is a demand that priests be inspiring and vibrant and – above all – non-judgmental. All this, in order to enable us to “feel good about ourselves” – regardless of behavior.

Someone recently told me about a Catholic religion teacher who was called by a concerned parent. The teacher was presenting the Catholic faith in a methodical fashion. An upcoming topic was to be love and marriage. The parent wanted assurances that his young daughter would not be taught that the lesbian lifestyle of her older sister is immoral.

If the younger sister came home with a crisp understanding of Christian marriage, she would become hopelessly “judgmental” – a truly horrible person – at least in Dad’s judgment. And she might even find herself denied entry to one or more colleges on the basis of her “intolerance.” You see, believing and living the Catholic faith is “judgmental” and it ruins education – and careers.

The demand for non-judgmental authority figures, however, defies logic. If a criminal tries to break into your house and you call 911 for assistance, you wouldn’t want a “non-judgmental” police officer to be dispatched to accompany the burglar on his journey. In small claims court where you sue to retrieve a $500 over-charge, you wouldn’t want the magistrate to be “non-judgmental.” When a doctor discovers a dangerous cancer that needs immediate treatment, the last thing you want is someone who is “non-judgmental.”

Indeed, “non-judgmental” authority figures under these circumstances would be negligent – perhaps criminally so. Lobbyists for a “non-judgmental” morality would agree, but in so doing they render the term “non-judgmental” unintelligible, except as a “new morality” code word.

God created the mind to think and distinguish clearly and make judgments with sufficient evidence. The inability or refusal to judge is either virtuous or vicious. We are unable to judge, for example, the state of a person’s soul. We will never have sufficient evidence to judge whether anyone is condemned to Hell. God alone judges a person’s soul. This is why Jesus Himself teaches, “Judge not and ye will not be judged.”

But when we have sufficient evidence – as when a doctor diagnoses a patient – we have an obligation to make a judgment. When there is sufficient evidence that certain behaviors are sinful, we have an obligation to so judge. While it’s certainly possible to be uncharitable and even cruel with properly formed judgments, the failure in charity doesn’t make us “judgmental.” The error is not in the judgment; the error is in the evil use of a correct judgment.

Increasingly the non-judgmental “ideal” is used to silence the proclamation of the Gospel, betraying the diabolical root of the term. When a person is described as “non-judgmental” the term may evoke an attribute of kindness in general. Such a person “affirms people where they are at” regardless of behavior.

But below the surface of a so-called “non-judgmental” person are indulgence and apathy, an inability to see evil, personal narcissism, the pathological desire to be liked, going along to get along, as long as everyone is comfortable. This is why there are so many “non-judgmental” priests, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the People of God on each of them during their seminary education, an education that should have included solid courses on logic and Catholic moral theology. To describe Jesus Himself as “non-judgmental” is not only inaccurate, it is exceedingly shallow and insulting.

The Good Shepherd by Eric Gill, 1926

The Good Shepherd by Eric Gill, 1926

Similarly, to label a priest “non-judgmental” is damning. It means he is incapable of thinking clearly, affirms his people in their moral errors, and doesn’t take stands opposing the new morality of polite secular opinion. It means he doesn’t have the courage to warn his people against the danger of mortal sin and the fires of Hell.

“Non-judgmental” clergymen do not concern themselves with lost sheep. “Non-judgmental” clerics have made their peace with evil and are comfortable with the adulation of their sheep. They are hirelings, evil shepherds and anti-Christs. (I hope I’m not missing nuances.)

There is good reason the Lord calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” rather than the “Non-Judgmental Shepherd.” Christ was kind to the crippled and infirm; merciful but firm with the woman caught in adultery (“Go and sin no more”); courageous in calling out the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers.” He warned of the fires of Hell for those who were hateful. He was inflexible in condemning adultery. And He suffered gallantly on the Cross for all our sins – including the abundance of our rash judgments and failures in Christian charity. Christ is truth personified.

In contrast to the secular “non-judgmental” moral code, the vocabulary of the Faith is refreshingly clear. To be “good” includes virtues such as justice, mercy, honesty, reverence, kindness, generosity, prudence, courage, temperance, chastity, charity, and truth. Christ is the Good Shepherd precisely because He reveals and teaches the goodness of the Heavenly Father. And we can be good too if we honestly follow Him on His path to heavenly glory. It is virtuous and holy to encourage our loved ones to do so as well.

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7 Responses to Non-Judgmental Shepherds

  1. ginnyfree says:

    It is a nice article. I read it at its source this morning and liked it. Thanks for the link. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  2. Fr.Pokorsky has exhibited goofy behavior and poor ability to judge in my experience of him.
    The article is fine but nothing new or that spectacular that the readers of this blog wouldn’t already know.

  3. GC says:

    The article is fine but nothing new or that spectacular that the readers of this blog wouldn’t already know.

    I nearly always think the same thing when Bishop Bergoglio makes his news-of-the-world pronouncements. There is nothing new in the fundaments thereof.

    The little trick seems to be in the brief footnotes and slight nuances which the bishop can’t seem to recall later. I must remember how to do that myself in future when the occasion may call for it. Clever, but not super-impressively so.

  4. toadspittle says:

    “The article is fine but nothing new or that spectacular…”
    I’d have thought that “new and spectacular” were the last things anyone on CP&S would want.
    But what do I know?

  5. Francis says:

    There is nothing “goofy” about describing so well one of the most dangerous aspects of today’s pervasive anti-catholic thinking. That “non-judgmental” is vice disguised as virtue would be news to many.

  6. toadspittle says:

    “So there is a demand that priests be inspiring and vibrant and – above all – non-judgmental.”
    No, there isn’t. That is a ridiculous assertion. (the second part, at least.)
    The non-judgemental priest (or anyone) cited here, is a straw man. He does not exist. There is no such animal. We all make judgements every time we put on our socks, or stop at a traffic light. So the article is nonsensical and meaningless.
    Re: the lesbian sister, the teacher is asked to judge that her lifestyle is all right. If he pretends he think it’s all right – that’s another thing. But it’s (presumably) not his judgement – it’s lying.
    If it is his judgement, that’s all right. The question is – ought we to keep our judgements to ourselves.? Sometimes and sometimes not – I’d imagine. Depends.

  7. ginnyfree says:

    Very good Toadie. You caught on to their bull. It is a way of preventing the Truth from being spoken against any of the age’s sins, abortion on demand, contraception, serial fornication otherwise known as divorce and re-marriage and re-marriage and re-marriage, sex of all kinds, legalization of pot and other practices not healthy to body and soul, same-sex “marriage,” and the list could go on and on and on and on. I have a few places I can go for true Catholic homilies that do talk about sins. I go there to get refreshed and instructed as I should be. The horrible homilies I hear don’t hurt so much anymore since I’ve found good priests on the Internet who tell it like it truly is. Regular “Hell fire and brimstone” homilies that treat sin as it is: SIN! I listen to them each and every day. It lets me know the voice of God is still out there and not forgotten nor obliterated by those who do work against Him and His desires for His Church. I hear the voice of the Shepherd in them. It is good for my poor soul and I thank God each day that I’ve found places I can go for the Truth and not a good ear tickling that puts most to sleep in the spirit. God bless. Ginnyfree.

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