Q – I absolutely love being Catholic and the amazing gifts that we have been given through our Catholic faith in the church. I am a little troubled about the scandals which you sometimes here about, some of them perpetrated by our priests and bishops. What should I do about this and how do I defend the church…or do I at all?
A – Thanks for the questions. My advice would follow these points:
1 – Let others know that you are offended by the scandals of those in authority, just as they probably are offended. Also, let them know there is no justification for a leader ever trying to cover up a scandal for the sake of public image. We should be outraged and upset about these things. It is an issue of justice to be stirred up about such horrible scandals.
2 – Pray and forgive. Pray for the victims, the perpetrators of these crimes, the Church, those that have left the Church because of these scandals, and yourself. Remember that God is offended by such sins even more than we are. Yet, he is merciful enough to forgive any sin. If we are to be more like God, we need to also forgive. But, our forgiveness does not mean we do not seek earthly justice for the victims and punishment – esp. if there is a crime perpetrated.
3 – Make a reasoned defense of the Church. The Church itself is the Bride of Christ. Her holiness will never be changed because of the sins of her members. Yet, she is also full of sinners and in need of constant purification. As long as humans are alive and members of the Catholic Church, there will be horrible sins committed by the Church’s members. This does not change the truths of the Church of the grace she is a vessel of.
4 – The Church is not defined by a scandal. I may be alone in this, but I am tired of blaming every problem in the Church on the scandals. Yes, it is a big deal. But, we can’t throw the entire Church under the bus for the sins of a few members. Furthermore, I believe the scandal has become an excuse, for some, to maintain the status quo and not challenge ourselves, our neighbors, and our leaders to grow.
5 – If we are to fix any problem is starts with us. We need start working out our own holiness. This is ultimately the fix to every problem within the Church – a lack of holiness. Holiness is not achievable by our own merits or hard work, but only by cooperating with the grace that God provides to us through the sacramental life. Therefore, holiness is not so much what we are doing, but what God does through us.
As in all things in the spiritual life, we must start with the proper recognition of God and ourselves. When we are able to properly examine the relationship of God to man, we see that we must become more and more humble. Humility is the basis of all the other virtues, because without humility we will not be able to recognize that it is all because of God’s power, salvation and grace that we do anything of eternal value. If we are not humble, we cannot be holy.
Lord give your Church’s members humility and make us holy Saints!
I hope this helps.