It seems incredible, but many animals will abandon their normal parental instincts and kill or eat their own young.  The phenomenon is found in all sorts of species, including mammals.

Scientists have proposed a variety of reasons for this behavior.  It is sometimes ascociated with the survival of the parent, but often has a link to reproductive competition.  See this article from the Smithsonian.

Animals sometimes kill the infants of rivals, but they have also been known to kill and eat their own children.  See this article from PBS.  The theory is that it increases the chance of survival for the more healthy offspring, or for the next generation.

It’s not quite so extreme, but I have noticed that there are clergy who seem happy to let their churches die – not literally of course but they do seem happy to let the numbers drop until a dispirited group of exausted lay people finally give up, or the church is forced to close.

The sadest situations happen when a vicar holds on for decades as the church declines and the people dwindle.

It is tempting to think that these vicars hate their churches and are happy to let them die.  Others might be more sympathetic, viewing them as captains who choose to go down with their ship – although they often retire on a pension before the ship sinks…

Are we looking at some form of clerical infanticide – in which a vicar chooses to let a church die?

In some cases this is a possible diagnosis.  It’s quite possible that some vicars might be happy to kill off a church rather than allow it to be adopted by another “father”.  I guess this instinct is most likely to happen if there is a percieved external threat of take-over and a lot of internal stress…  plus some very unhealthy thinking…

I hope I’m wrong about this, but I fear there may be something in this…

Categories: Leadership

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