St. John Eudes: A Terrible Punishment
The greatest sign of God's anger and His most terrible punishment on this world is to deliver His people into the hands of nominal pastors who treat the sheep with the cruelty of wolves rather than with the love of affectionate guardians, who tear and devour the sheep they are assigned to feed, leading them to Satan instead of to God, to hell instead of heaven, and acting as poison and darkness instead of as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
"For we pastors and priests," says St. Gregory the Great, "We shall be condemned before God as the murderers of all the souls who go daily to eternal death through our silence and through our neglect" (12 Homily on Ezekiel).
In the 27th Homily, this same Saint reasons, "For since there is nothing which so outrages God (and consequently provokes His anger and draws more malediction on both pastor and flock, on priests and people) than when He sees "those whom He has commissioned to correct others give themselves the bad example of depraved lives, and instead of preventing God's being offended, they themselves are the first to persecute Him. When these pastors are indifferent to the salvation of souls and think of nothing but their own comfort or convenience; when all their affections are for earthly creatures, seeking avidly for human esteem, using their blessed ministry for private ambition, abandoning God's service to serve the world; occupying themselves in worldly and profane matters instead of the work of sanctification"—
When God permits such a state of affairs, it is a most certain proof that he is extremely angry with His people, and this state itself the most frightful retribution that He can impose on the world. This is why He unceasingly cries out to all Christians: "Be converted to Me and I will give you pastors according to my own Heart" (Jer. 3-15).
What shows most conclusively that the evil lives of pastors are a punishment for the sins of the people, and that, on the other hand that God's greatest mercy on the people and the most precious grace He can impart is when He gives pastors and priests according to His own Heart—men who seek only His glory and the salvation of souls. The richest gift and the most precious favor that divine goodness can effect in a church is to give it a good pastor whether bishop or priest. This is the grace of graces, and the gift of gifts comprehending within it all the other graces and gifts. For what is a pastor or a priest who is 'according to the Heart of God'? An inestimable treasure containing an immensity of Goods...
St. John Eudes
In THE PRIEST, HIS DIGNITY AND OBLIGATIONS. New York, P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1947.