King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel me to answer this people?”
Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him. So he said to them, “What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”
The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’
But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions."
1 KINGS 12:6-11 NASB
There are basically two types of leaders. There are those you embrace, and there are those you endure. To give an example, I embraced Ronald Reagan in my teens. I endure Barack Obama in my middle age. The truth is that I have endured virtually every president except Reagan. I would love to see another Ronald Reagan, but I am naive to think his kind will come again.
In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had a similar embrace/endure thing. They had embraced King David, but they had endured King Solomon. By the time Rehoboam took the throne, they wanted a break. Being a fool, Rehoboam promised to be even worse than his father. Ten of the twelve tribes revolted and followed Jeroboam instead. The civil war that ensued would be a permanent break that lasts until the present day with those breakaway Israelites becoming the hated Samaritans you read about in the New Testament.
Without a doubt, Rehoboam was a fool. But the promises rested with him and his descendants. This would be the line that would bring us Jesus of Nazareth. As for Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12 relates which way he went:
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel. Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”
So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense.
1 KINGS 12:25-33 NASB
Jeroboam was popular, but he knew he had erred. By rebelling, he had forfeited Jerusalem and the Temple. He had forsaken God. Knowing this would not end well, he instituted a new religion of idolatry to serve as a counterfeit to the true religion given through Moses. So, there you have it. You have a popular leader embraced by the people who lead them into error while the unpopular leader was the Lord's anointed that He picked. Why did God do this? The same chapter gives us a clue:
Thus says the Lord, “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.” So they listened to the word of the Lord, and returned and went their way according to the word of the Lord.
1 KINGS 12:24 NASBBasically, sticking with the unpopular and stupid Rehoboam was a test of obedience. If you believed in the Lord, you did not have the option to go with Jeroboam. Your fortunes and life were with Rehoboam. And Rehoboam was an awful king. Here is what he did:
Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with the sins which they committed. For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.
1 KINGS 14:21-24 NASBAs you can read, Rehoboam was as abominable as his brother Jeroboam in the North. We can see parallels in this episode with other schisms and splits in the Church especially the Protestant Revolt. Our fidelity does not depend upon the quality of the leaders but a belief in God's promises. Now, God continued to deal with the breakaway Israelites, but they would eventually fall away completely. God never forgot His promises to them which is why Jesus and His disciples reached out to those Samaritans. You may reject God, but God does not reject you.
When it comes to leaders, you can revolt, or you can embrace or endure. The simple fact is that God allows both good leaders and bad leaders, but we owe the same respect and obedience to both not for the sake of the leader but for the sake of God. This is an important point to consider in the aftermath of the sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church and this disastrous pontificate that is causing a new schism.
I embraced Benedict. I endure Francis. The fact is that there have been worse popes than Francis such that you might think Martin Luther had the right idea. But Luther did not have the right idea. He was wrong, and he led many astray with his heresies. As bad as a pope can be, the promise rests with the Chair of Peter. As such, regardless of who occupies that chair, you are required to be in submission to that authority because that authority comes from God Himself.
One does not need instruction on how to embrace a pontiff. Enduring a pontiff is another matter. St. Catherine of Siena lays it out:
Even if [the Pope an incarnate devil], we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom... He who rebels against our Father is condemned to death, for that which we do to him we do to Christ: we honor Christ if we honor the Pope; we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the Pope.St. Catherine nails it. Unfortunately, many Catholics are not getting it. You have the modernist heretics more than willing to embrace this pope because he is their guy. With Francis, the wind is at their backs as they pursue their modernist agenda. Do they do right? Of course not. They embrace the pope while rejecting Christ. The simple fact is that you never embrace a bad leader, and this includes the pope. You endure them while remaining steadfast to principle and the commands of Christ.
The flip side of the modernists are the Traddies who refer to the Holy Father as "Bergoglio." This is a deep insult and an affront to Our Lord Himself. You don't call the Queen "Lizzie." You don't call the President "Barry." Yet, these people insist on demeaning the Vicar of Christ. This is sin.
Enduring a pope means that you respect his office and respect him as a person. Where he does right, you support. Where he errs, you resist. But you don't do things like suggest he isn't the pope or that he turn in his resignation. Instead, you abandon yourself to God's divine providence and trust that He knows His business.
Faithful and true Catholics are left with a problem though. Should you ever speak out to correct an erring pontiff? St. Paul gives us the answer:
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
GALATIANS 2:11-14 NASBIn this passage, St. Paul calls out St. Peter. Now, St. Peter taught correctly, but he did not always live correctly. Who among us hasn't done the same thing? So, St. Paul lets the man know his error. From all I know, St. Peter took the rebuke. This is why Paul shares the episode not because he is bragging but to dispel controversy and scandal. Obviously, there had been confusion over the issue especially considering St. Peter's behavior. But by relating the episode, St. Paul shows that Peter was the authority since only Peter could definitively clear up the matter. Basically, Paul reminded Peter of what Peter had already been teaching and doing.
Speaking the truth is one thing. Acting on it is another. This is the error of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the SSPX. Lefebvre was orthodox but disobedient which earned him automatic excommunication. Lefebvre refused to be subject to the pope when ordered to disband the SSPX and also when he consecrated bishops in defiance of Pope St. John Paul II. This excommunication on Lefebvre has never been lifted. Meanwhile, the FSSP and its members are obedient and show what proper resistance should be.
I doubt I will run into the Holy Father in the near future to tell him my thoughts on Amoris Laetitia, but I do deal with prelates and priests on the diocesan and parish level respectively. When they err, I let them know, but that's it. So far, I have been spared having to sit through an interpretive dance at Mass or deal with rainbow flags in the sanctuary. As a layperson, I can only express the truth to those who clearly don't know it or disregard it. Beyond that, there is nothing I can do except pray for these people.
Someone once asked me what I would do if I caught a priest in the act of molesting a child. My answer was simple. I would call an ambulance to come treat whatever remained of that pervert after I had beaten him into the floor. But I would still remain a Catholic and go to Mass and confession. I wouldn't even talk about it except to the police.
Is it wrong to beat a pervert in the act? I would say that it would be wrong not to beat that pervert. Likewise, a priest is definitely not acting In persona Christi at that moment. This is one of the reasons we have a sex abuse crisis in the Church. Good people did nothing. Somehow, cradle Catholics have gotten the idea that these men are allowed to do whatever they like, and they have to put up with it. This isn't true.
What many laypeople do instead is engage in gossip, calumny, and detraction. When they have a problem with a priest, they don't say anything to him, but they do say it to everyone else that will listen. This is wrong. Or, they will go to that priest's bishop and nag the prelate until they get the priest reassigned. The priest never gets to mend his ways or defend himself. Often, the priest is in the right, and the parishioner is just being a crackpot.
Finally, there is the tyrant. Today, prelates hold virtually no temporal power. This was not always the case, and that power could and was abused. The most famous case is the trial of St. Joan of Arc who literally was killed by the Church that canonized her. Like Christ, she was obedient unto death. In more modern times, we have St. Padre Pio who was not condemned to death but suffered severe restrictions upon his ministry. He could have easily gone Martin Luther, but he did not. In both cases, they show what saints do. They are always obedient to Christ. You cannot be obedient to Christ and not obedient to His Church.