Today Catholic women of childbearing age are on the pill. If they were to stop and consider that they have been given the gift of
assisting God in the creation of the next generation, it might occur to them that they are physically obstructing God's plans, and offending Him greatly.
The reason that they do not stop and consider is that this would require a public and authoritative statement from a bishop, and/or a homily from a priest. As provided for by Christ Himself (Matt 28:19).
But in their lifetimes, none such has occurred. Bishops write on social justice (Fulton Sheen's 'Gospel of Judas'), priests waffle on about how God loves us as we are. No need to do anything. We are all going to Heaven anyway.
Hell's Gonna Be Crowded
So many teachers and admin staff working at Catholic schools are married women of childbearing age. They are on contraceptives to keep their jobs. The teachers don't teach the Catholic faith, because they have never been taught it themselves.
The same with abortion and homosexuality. There are enough laypeople strenuously opposing these for Catholics to know that the Church does not approve them. But they hear nothing from priests or bishops, and satisfy their consciences with the thought that the defenders of the faith are extremists, and don't represent the Church of the bishops and priests, and this is unfortunately true.
The same arguments apply to the lack of attendance at Sunday Mass. Deliberately missing a single Mass can send a person to Hell. But no one says anything, so perhaps this old rule has fallen into disuse.
At Easter and Christmas we get thousands turning up and receiving Communion. A dreadful sacrilege. But the priest, who could easily warn them, remains silent.
There are many other areas like these, where silence from bishops and priests is the norm. So what share of the blame will go to those who have responsibility for souls?
It is likely that the judgement of sinners who have never heard the teachings of the Church will be mitigated. Sure, given that their souls were on the line, they really could have been expected to carry out a bit of a search for the behaviour that God expects. After all, the purpose of this life is for each of us to make his way to God. But it is not impossible that some sinners may find enough circumstances in their lives to avoid Hell. Only those in Heaven know how many will really be saved.
But God is infinitely just, and He rightly demands an account of each of us. Bishops and priests volunteered for the job of bringing souls to Christ. Where they carried out this task, only to be thwarted by wilful Catholics, they bear no guilt. But in those cases where they failed to teach, the full burden of judgement falls on them.
God has made His view very clear. An example is at Ezekiel 33.
33 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’
7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot find a way to escape the thought that bishops and priests who do not teach the faith, and have no reasonable excuse, are more likely to be damned and spend eternity in Hell, than those laity who actually committed the sins.
Saints and popes agree.
St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius, Saint John Eudes, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope Leo XIII.