In a suffering world, where should Christians stand? Especially where should pastors stand, those men who dare to speak on Jesus' behalf, to "feed" His sheep? I think the answer is clear from the example of their Master. Jesus shed the glory of Heaven to find the most vulnerable, the suffering, those estranged from God who deemed themselves unworthy even of mercy. He suffered with them and for them. He calls on us to take up the cross and follow.
Which of the Apostles stood with Jesus on the darkest day in history, Good Friday? Just one, the Apostle "He loved," whose name was John. He was the only man strong enough to stand by the women, especially Jesus' mother — who never fled Him. As a Catholic, I believe that John was one of the Church's first 12 bishops. One had already betrayed Christ, while another pretended he'd never met Him. The rest remained in hiding. And Jesus gave His greatest earthly treasure, His beloved mother, into John's care.
So John has always been my model for what Church leaders should look like. Whatever their personal weaknesses, they must not flee the Cross. However Caesar threatens, they do not bend the knee. Whatever their "prudent" colleagues do, they will not run and hide.
With great sadness, I must say that few Christian leaders today live up to this standard. The more power, prestige, and visibility such leaders have, the greater their failure when they flee. That's why I've been bold in my criticisms of the most powerful Christian on earth, Pope Francis. His alliance with communist China and embrace of pro-choice globalists might be the greatest scandal in Catholic history. Popes appointing their illegitimate children as Renaissance cardinals? That pales by comparison.
In the United States, one of the most prominent, well-funded, visible and "connected" bishops is Robert Barron. He's known and respected on both the theological Right and the progressive Left. When Benedict XVI was in office, Barron sounded orthodox. Now that Francis rules, Barron tilts that way. Read theologian John Gravino's staggering exposé of Barron's leadership in "mainstreaming" gay clergy in the Catholic Church.
He is all things to all popes, it seems.