Imperfect Catholics

Q. With all the scandals in the Church in recent years and over the centuries, how can I keep my faith in God?

A. Here’s a reply from Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:

Imperfection was built into the Church from its very beginning. Think of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and Peter's denial, and of the fact that most of the apostles fled by the time of Jesus' crucifixion.

Consider how slow Thomas was to recognize the resurrection of Jesus. One might well conclude that the Church got off to a very questionable start.

This history of the betrayal of Jesus by members of the very community to which he entrusted his ministry is balanced only by the fact that Jesus told his disciples that he would never abandon them.

The disciples might well abandon Jesus, but he would never abandon the community he founded. Christ proclaimed that he would be with his Church until the end of time, and that the gates of hell would never prevail over it. It is quite understandable that people are distressed by scandals in the Church today. Scandals should never be underestimated or played down, and the Church is called constantly to purge itself of what stands in the way of faith and virtue.

But we should never forget that the clergy (from popes to deacons) and the human aspects of Church institutions are never the ultimate objects of faith. Neither is the laity.

Christian faith is focused on the Trinity, the scriptural word of God, the sacraments and the Communion of Saints. When we are scandalized by those who serve the life and ministry of the Church, we should rehearse our priorities, recognizing what is central and what is not.