On March 10 I joined 1,000 Catholics from the eight dioceses in New York State in Albany to lobby our state senators and assembly members on the public policy issues important to Roman Catholics in the state. I had gotten up at 4:00 am in order to board a 5:00 am bus with 50 other people from the Diocese of Rochester. When we arrived at the Albany Convention Center, we went to the registration tables where our name tags were arranged alphabetically. I easily found mine and picked up a packet of materials for the day.
That's when I noticed a table at the end with a large sign that said: "Bishops and VIP's." Although I wasn't sure how a VIP would know he or she was one, I knew immediately that I wasn't one...even though I and the 1,000 other volunteers were there to do the work of lobbying. Frankly, I found it to be offensive and unchristian. Why create classes of people? Surely even Bishops and VIP's were not alphabetically challenged. Surely they could find their name badge just as easily as I did. It can only be that Bishops and VIP's are different from the rest of us, special, and in fact better and thus deserving of special treatment rather than being treated like the rest of us.
This may seem like a small thing but I think it speaks volumes about the problems with a church that creates status levels to no good purpose and in contradiction to the words and actions of Jesus Christ. "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and these great men make their authority over them felt. But it shall not ge so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant. Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45)
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!