One of the more ridiculous phenomena of the past few years has been the rise of a subculture of self-pitying MAGA priests who make their living generating moral panics among MAGA Catholics, bullying normal Catholics, telling their bishops and the Pope to drop dead, and grifting MAGA Catholics with tales of woe about being “cancelled”. “Cancellation” is MAGAspeak for “being held accountable for their scandalous behavior.
The locus of the grift is an absurd organization called the Coalition for Cancelled Priests. Essentially, its a little clatch of MAGA priests whose bishops have told them to stop being grifting sociopathic narcissists who think the world owes them a living, stop wasting time on the web screaming GOP talking points and culture war bullshit, and get their asses back to doing priestly stuff. For this, they feel mightily persecuted and have chosen instead to rebel against their bishops and cosplay as Holy MAGA martyrs for the same sort of suckers who think they are Restoring the True President by sending their cash to Donald Trump.
So, for instance, this entitled pack of vainglorying bad shepherds seriously believe they are entitled to get the laity to pay for a $2.3 million dollar property where they can relax in style as they keep posting their paranoid conspiracy theories, assaults on the Holy Father, nutball Vigano lies, kooky James Altman racism, and endless requests for more money. Now, admittedly, the thought of this many gigantic egos stuffed into a Home for Narcissistic Priests has a certain comedic potential. But not enough to drain the laity of 2.3 million bucks of their hard-earned cash. So, in reply, as a layperson who actually knows what the Tradition has to say about rebellious, predatory, narcissistic priests at war with the Church, permit me to offer a selection of readings for these bad shepherds and their MAGA antichrist cult.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Mt 7:15–23)
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. ¶ So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord God, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice. (Eze 34:1–16.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (Jn 10:1–15)
I have known so many good priests in my life. So many. Good, self-sacrificial, compassionate, wise, generous, thoughtful, gentle men to whom I owe so much and to whom I am so grateful. Men who have shown me Jesus consistently and sometimes at great personal cost to themselves. Grifting crooks like the Coalition for Cancelled Priests are not just an insult to the Good Shepherd who is Christ, but to the countless unsung and often deeply under-appreciated guys who have done my soul and the souls of so many people so much good. If you have not thanked a good priest in your life, please do so. One of them is worth a dozen of these thieving narcissists. Maybe ask one to dinner at your house or out for coffee. They need friends and allies as all decent people do. And they are often the last ones to seek it out from us because they are thinking of us, not themselves.