Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.-- Hebrews 13:17, 20-21
May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the Blood of the eternal covenant, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
We are to defer to our overseers, the bishops. Each bishop is the shepherd of the flock in his diocese, in service to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of His Church.
Where bishops lead their flocks astray, as has happened with the sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance perpetrated in the unfathomably grave abuse scandals, the laity should, of course, speak out and organize to protect children. But those shepherds who have allowed the brutal victimization of children will have to give an account: it will be better for them if millstones were tied round their necks and they were thrown into the sea, than that they should have connived in allowing the sins of wicked men to be perpetrated upon innocent children.
However, let us not lose sight, as mainstream media screeds about the abuse scandal seem directed toward having us do, of the fact that we are not the bishops, and that most situations are far away from resembling anything like the abuse scandals. Where the bishops instruct us in matters of faith and morals we are to obey and intellectually assent. Where the bishops instruct as to prudential matters of politics, we are to defer to them, and strive to bring our thinking into line with theirs.
There are times, as in the abuse scandals, when remonstration with the bishops is called for. But our default response to the leading of our shepherds must ever be obedience and deference, not the assertion of individual will.