There are all sorts of chaplains. Yours truly is a Catholic priest. But am I, specifically, or is any other police chaplain a detriment to the faith? Are you ready for the answer? Hold on tight!
Who, I ask, is going to risk his life to assist in lessening hell on earth if not whatever kind of law enforcement? I mean, you know, directly. There really are bad and evil people who need to be assisted in halting their deadly aggression against everyone.
The lawless knuckleheads kill men and women, boys and girls, infants, babies, shooting, beheading, chainsawing, burning, melting in vats of acid until nothing is left. No, really: all the time, entire villages at a time, no exceptions in those towns, adding up over the decades now to hundreds of thousands. Mayhem. Chaos. The domain of Satan. So, let me ask again:
Who is going to risk his life to assist in lessening hell on earth if not whatever kind of law enforcement? I mean, you know, directly. There really are bad and evil people who need to be assisted in halting their deadly aggression against everyone. That putting on the brakes, my friends, is a contribution to the virtue of justice. Defense against unjust aggression is natural law. It is of divine right.
I have a good friend for whom I have much respect. We discuss things quite intensely. I love that. It’s a kind of rabbinic discourse, answering a comeback by raising the stakes with a provocative challenge begging for an answer which itself raises the stakes once again. Well…
This friend of mine played the devil’s advocate with my being a police chaplain, making me think, so that I might get around to publishing some thoughts about a Catholic priest who is busy in his parish also being a police chaplain, you know, writing then about whether or not also being a police chaplain is detrimental to the faith of the parish, that police “accompaniment” meaning that, in a fake zero-sum game, that is just how much I am not paying attention to my parish, failing in my duty just that much in my assisting our Bishop in his apostolic mandate to care for the souls given to him by the Lord, failing therefore in my duty to nourish those souls in the faith, failing in my duty to protect those souls from the wolves.
Let’s put that differently:
In being a police chaplain, do I fail my priesthood? Do I fail my parish church? Do I fail the diocese? Do I fail the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Do I fail Jesus? Do I fail His good mother, Mary Immaculate? In choosing to be a police chaplain, am I signing up to go straight to hell? Am I the devil’s puppet, Satan’s little play-thing? Am I racist? A white supremacist regardless of my pigmentation or lack thereof? Do I lack in honesty and integrity in being a priest who is also a police chaplain? Should I just go loot and pillage and commit arson and be… you know… on the right side of dialectical history?
Let’s put that differently again:
Are the police, of late, proving to be inhumane as a totality, so that ALL police officers are inhumane and also inhuman, so that they are not only in a basket of deplorables but are also irredeemable, rightly marginalized from any encouragement, any support, so much so, in fact, that all police must be discredited, defunded, disbanded, thrown on death row even for perfectly following protocol, agency policy, city law, county law, state law, federal law, the Constitution, natural law, God’s law to love one’s neighbor as oneself, they being at the read to lay down one’s life at any given moment? Is it downright harmful to the Church and to humanity to be a police chaplain?
This is insane, but let’s put that differently yet once more:
Is it impossible that any member of a police force belong to one’s parish family? It is impossible that any member of the police force could benefit from chaplain support? Are we all to just say: To hell with them all!?! Saint Michael, patron saint of law enforcement, protect us!
If the police are thought to be so far out in the peripheries that we are not bother with them, then I answer in three ways:
(1) Pope Francis wants members of the Church to get over themselves, to stop being self-referential, self-absorbed. He wants that especially his priests and bishops to go out into the peripheries. I’m NOT saying that police are actually on the peripheries, even though the media and my interlocutor would present them as being such. Yours truly is a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis. I’m mandated to go out into the peripheries by the Pope. I say all that just to shut people up.
(2) But that’s not good enough. Let’s turn to the greatest of all prophets, Saint John the Baptist. The great Saint John pointed out the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, thus setting the good example for any police chaplain, shielding any police chaplain from the unjust aggression of police-haters. Saint John went out of his way to encourage even the military occupation style of law enforcement of his day so that – get this – so that they might also be saved (see Luke 3:14). Get that? No, really: Get that?
(3) But that’s not good enough for some. So, let’s just go ahead and turn to Jesus’ take on such self-referential, self-absorbed idiocy:
- “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy (the thief being play-acted by my kind interlocutor above); I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I HAVE OTHER SHEEP THAT DO NOT BELONG TO THIS FOLD. THESE ALSO I MUST LEAD, AND THEY WILL HEAR MY VOICE AND THERE WILL BE ONE FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” (John 10:10-18)
Again, this is not to say that any officer – because of being a police officer – does not belong to the the sheepfold of the Lord. This statement of our Lord is offered for the sake of my interlocutor, who was challenging me to defend my being a police chaplain. If our Lord Himself wants us all to help each out in getting to know Him – and He does want that – then there should be no problem whatsoever in being a police chaplain. In that case, being a police chaplain is not inconsistent, contrary, or contradictory with being a parish priest. One’s ministry is not divided by being a police chaplain. This is not a zero-sum game. Our Lord Himself wants all to hear his voice. We all need to help each other in hearing the voice of our Lord so that there may be but one flock, one shepherd. That is His will. Anyone going against the will of the Lord is risking… risking what? You tell me.
Let’s put that a different way:
My interlocutor is saying that we are instead to be so self-righteous that we are not to evangelize, not to proclaim the good news, not to help others get to know Jesus even while these others might already know Him better than we do, that being beside the point, the point being that we, regardless of anything, are to try to help each other get to know Him, Jesus, all the better.
Truth be told, some of our police officers are so keenly interested in the faith that they speak as do the Fathers of the Church and I am the one learning. Yes. How could it be otherwise? Christ also comes to us through others, whomsoever they may be, for it is the Lord who is working on all souls, having all of us help each other out in getting to know the Lord.
- Does all that make for better policing? Yes.
- Does all that make for great evangelization all around? Yes.
- Does joy and enthusiasm for all that is good and holy and honest and patriotic and honoring of the Constitution of these United States make for a better society? Yes.
- Does all that build up the Church, the Body of Christ, with Jesus the Head of the Body and we the members of the Body? Yes.
Finally, again, my interlocutor is a great guy, entirely pro-police, but he’s really, really good at baiting people to reach for excellence on any and every topic. Kudos to him.
There are not zero sum games when it comes to friendship with the Lord. Being a police chaplain in one’s parish does not take away from being a parish priest in that same parish. It is one. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.