Donald Wuerl.jpgThat’s the title of the latest column by Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, in which he laments the polarized state of discourse in the Church–and begins to sketch a remedy by using an effective illustration:

At a recent clergy gathering, the principal celebrant at our Eucharistic Liturgy addressed the Gospel of the day. It was St. Matthew’s account of the Last Judgment where the Son of Man comes in his glory and, as a shepherd, separates the sheep from the goats. The homilist walked into the middle of the congregation and began by saying, “I think you on my right must be the sheep and you on my left must be the goats.” There was an uneasy chuckle, particularly from those on the left. Then, the bishop turned around and, facing the other direction, said, “Now, you must be the goats and you must be the sheep,” pointing to the same congregation but now having a different relationship to his right and left hand. Then he turned around again and said, “Perhaps the message of this Gospel is that we should not be judging. It is the Lord who judges. We are the ones who are judged.”

The archbishop, whose even temperment and strong convictions are reflected in this piece, has experienced his share of harsh critiques, and now that he has been in Washington for a couple of years, he has probably seen even more than he’d like of lacerating polemics up close. 

As he writes, “If we think something is wrong we should address it. But we are required to do so in a way that reflects who we are. Christians must not only speak the truth but must also do so in love (Ephesians 4:15).” And he continues:

We are called to a higher level of respect for the truth and for each other than often is witnessed in some radio and television talk shows. The intensity of one’s opinion is not the same as the truth. Speaking out of anger does not justify falsehood.


The more I reflect on our current level of Christian discourse, particularly in some of the highly opinionated publications, I sense the wisdom in the homily by my brother bishop when he reminded all of us that the division of the house into sheep and goats is really the task of the Lord in his role as Judge. In the meantime, unless we can truly say we are without sin, we should not cast the first or any stone.
Also check out the new blog of the archdiocese–it’s very good, and not just for a “church” blog!


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