Why do we stay in the church?

Photo by Joshua Davis on Unsplash

It is no secret that this has been an agonizing summer for the church in the United States. Catholics across the country are still reeling from the disclosures of past sexual abuses committed by members of the clergy, as well as the catastrophic failure of many of the church’s leaders to protect the most vulnerable among us. And many people are asking why anyone would remain a Catholic in the face of these scandals. It is a fair question.

When I was first appointed editor in chief, I often said that the most important question we would face in the years ahead would concern ecclesiology, that field of theological reflection that seeks to answer the question, what is the church? I still think that today, mainly because someone’s answer to the question of whether to stay in the church will depend, in large measure, on what he or she thinks the church is.

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For their part, the fathers at the Second Vatican Council answered the question this way: The church of Christ, “constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.” While there are “many elements of sanctification and of truth” in other communities outside of the church’s visible reality, “these elements, as gifts belonging to the church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity.” In other words, while good things and good people can be found everywhere, there is something unique about the Catholic Church and its relationship with Jesus Christ.

I still think that today, mainly because someone’s answer to the question of whether to stay in the church will depend, in large measure, on what he or she thinks the church is.

Now all of that highfalutin language is not very helpful—unless you happen to believe it. Then it’s very helpful. I am one of those people who believe in faith that Jesus Christ founded a church and that it exists in a unique way, even today, in the Catholic Church; that the church is the visible, efficacious sign of the City of God and, as such, is aptly called a sacrament.

But sometimes it is even more important to remember what the church is not. Augustine of Hippo, the fifth-century saint who first described the two cities, the City of God and the City of Man, was drawing a distinction not between two visible organizations but between two invisible realities of the human heart. Put simply, those with evil hearts belong to the City of Man, while those with righteous hearts, said Augustine, belong to the City of God.

While the church is the visible sign of the City of God, the two, strictly speaking, are not the same thing. That is important because it means that the church visible counts among its members men and women who are righteous and men and women who are evildoers. This side of heaven, just who belongs to which city is something definitively known only to God. And whether you are a Catholic or even a priest or a bishop is no guarantee of residency in either. Thus, like all communities populated by human beings, the church involves both good and bad. Just as the good can be very good, sometimes the bad is very bad indeed; in fact, it can be downright evil.

I am one of those people who believe in faith that Jesus Christ founded a church and that it exists in a unique way, even today, in the Catholic Church.

One might ask, however, how the church can be a sacrament and holy when its members do such evil things. That is also a fair question. I find my answer by remembering that what is holy in a sacrament is not ultimately what I bring to it, but what God brings to it. When I am absolved in the sacrament of reconciliation, I don’t thereby cease to be a sinner. When I am strengthened by the sacrament of the Eucharist, I don’t thereby cease to be weak. When I was confirmed in my baptismal faith by the Holy Spirit, I did not thereby cease to have doubts.

Likewise, our holiness does not determine whether the church is holy. Why? Because we didn’t make it holy in the first place. Jesus Christ did that, and he is still doing it. That alone is what makes the church different from any other human association, whether it is a bowling league or a nation-state. Either that difference is real, or it is not. If it is real, then how could I ever leave? If it is not, then why would I ever stay? Why would I care?

In the end, despite my anger, my sorrow, my sinfulness and the sins of others, I stay because I do care. Why do I remain a priest? This summer reminded me of something my father, a retired firefighter, said to me after the 9/11 attacks: “Those firefighters who died in New York,” Dad said, “they died running into the building. When there’s a fire, Matty, and lives are at stake, somebody has to run into the building.”

I stay because the church, in all its glory and misery, is the building God has made our home on Earth. I remain a priest because somebody has to run into the building.

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

Strange question.

Belief that the Church was set up by God for salvation and the horrendous sins of others are completely separate and unrelated issues. We just went through a series of Gospels where Christ proclaimed the proposition that He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. One might ask why thousands of priests do not believe this? If they believed they would not have done what they did.

Aside: the early church was not called Christianity but "The Way."

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
1 week 6 days ago

J Cosgrove wrote above: “Aside: the early church was not called Christianity but "The Way."

Acts of the Apostles 11:26 states:
“For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.*
http://www.usccb.org/bible/acts/11

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

Two things

Thank you for the reference. It describes the members not the Church and doctrine.

My source for this was a homily by the priest in charge of a local seminary. I assume he taught theology since he was in charge.

Maybe there were multiple descriptions. See below from Wikipedia

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

The Christian movement was referred to as 'The Way' based upon the well known statement by Jesus: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6. Consequently, it appears in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 9:2, Acts 19:9 and Acts 19:23). Some English translations of the New Testament capitalize 'the Way' (e.g. the New King James Version and the English Standard Version), indicating that this was how 'the new religion seemed then to be designated' whereas others treat the phrase as indicative—'the way', 'that way' or 'the way of the Lord'.

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

The disciples were first called "Christians" in Antioch (as related in Acts 11:26). Accordingly, "Christians" was by 49 already a familiar term, mostly in the Latin-speaking capital of the Roman Empire. As the church spread throughout Greek-speaking Gentile lands, the appellation took prominence, and eventually became the standard reference for followers of the faith. Ignatius of Antioch was the first known Christian to use the label in self-reference and made the earliest recorded use of the term Christianity, around AD 100.

lynne miller
1 week 6 days ago

To answer your question, it is quite possible to believe one thing and still, in sin, act against it. Most of these priests are not deliberate evildoers, at least at the beginning. They have a psycho/sexual propensity which probably they never recognized before the entered the seminary or were given charge over others, they most likely fought it, and, in sin, they lost. Many of us behave in the same way - not that we abuse anyone, but in whatever our own weakness is. We believe in God and the Church, but being weak humans, we behave differently, unless we get help. There should be no shame attached to getting help.

Laurence Ringo
1 week 4 days ago

Here's something for you, Lynne...Read and meditate on The Epistle to the Romans, chapter 6.I call it the"sin-breaking" chapter.I
won't say more, just prayfully read it and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you what He revealed to the great Apostle Paul, and God bless you.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
1 week 6 days ago

Very powerful article and a definite shot in the arm. Thank you Fr Matt. This is why I am a paid subscriber because your periodical feeds me. I appreciate that and I am glad I financially support your ministry

The evil swirling about the Church, e.g. Vigano, EWTN, Charles Chaput, Raymond Burke, Timothy Busch, Edward Pentin, et al do not bother me. What does bother me is the scandal they have caused others and I have recently met many Catholics who are hurting because of the damage these evil men and “conservative” self righteous forces have done. So we pray and we ask the Holy Spirit for a cleansing of all things evil, dirty and clericalism

Fr Federico Lombardi SJ put it wisely:

“Father Federico Lombardi, already Vatican spokesman, interviewed by TV2000, defines the Pope’s homily as “a reflection that we can spontaneously connect to today’s situation in which we have a wave of extremely aggressive accusations that mix some elements of truth with many elements of falsehood that confuse and above all tend to create a situation of division in the Church”. “Faced with this situation - adds Lombardi - the Pope reiterates his intention not to respond directly to these accusations and not to get involved in a terrible spiral of disputes, violent contradictions that can only lead to further divisions and a deep evil in the Church. The Pope chooses to imitate the attitude of Jesus who places himself at a higher level of patience, humility and does not allow himself to be involved in the extremely low and bad level of accusations and counter-attacks”.
http://www.lastampa.it/2018/09/05/vaticaninsider/the-inaccurate-memorie…

Gerald Nichols
1 week 6 days ago

One would fool himself if he believed this "be like Jesus and continue to be silent" attitude PF is trying to sell. I am shocked when I thought I couldn't be further shocked. Being "silent" is what coverup is all about!

Edward Ray
1 week 6 days ago

Fr. Matt, Why do I/we stay in the church?
Simply put, I stay in the church because it sucks less than the alternatives. The Catholic Church has existed as the least suckiest choice for about 2,000 years now. Two steps forward, 1-3 steps backward, depending on the time in history. Unfortunately, at this time in history we may be in schism (3 steps back) territory. We are about due. The prior schism was about 500 years ago (1517 - Protestant Reformation), and the one before that was about 500 years ago (1054 - East/West schism) as well. The Catholic Church will persevere. We have survived ignorant Popes as well, and we will survive the current occupant of Peter's chair.
Sadly however in this age of instant media everyone gets to suffer through the clown show in real time. Time to join a monastery with a good library.
As Church Father Ambrose and my mentor Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar have said, the church is a "Casta Meretrix."

Douglas Fang
1 week 6 days ago

I agree with the previous commentator – It’s about time for another schism. From my point of view, a schism can happen in several forms – “walk away” or “vote by feet” – many will simply stop being a Catholics. I believe that this is by far the greatest form of schism. The other forms of schism are small-scale schisms. A best example I can think of is the recent secession of the Society of St Pious X led by Marcel Lefebvre. I know about this ultraconservative group because a well-known Archbishop in my foreign-born country joined this group.

However, I have a completely opposite view from this commentator about this statement: “…We have survived ignorant Popes as well, and we will survive the current occupant of Peter's chair…”

My view is that together with the current God chosen Holy Father, Pope Francis, we / the Church will survive the “…the evil swirling about the Church, e.g. Vigano, Charles Chaput, Raymond Burke, Timothy Busch, Edward Pentin, etc…”

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
1 week 6 days ago

Abuse of innocents and covering up therein have also stained Abp Charles Chaput and EWTN. The Church will continue. No one is Lilly white

##
“Chaput defends posting bail for Lynn”
“PHILADELPHIA Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on Friday defended his decision to post bail for Msgr. William J. Lynn, saying it was reasonable and just for the archdiocese to help him.

"Msgr. Lynn presents no danger to anyone. He poses no flight risk," Chaput said in a letter to parishioners that was released by the archdiocese.

"The funding for his bail has been taken from no parish, school or ministry resources, impacts no ongoing work of the church, and will be returned when the terms of bail are completed.“
“Chaput's action sends the worst possible message to current and former Catholic employees: No matter how recklessly, callously, and deceitfully you [endanger] kids and protect predators, the Catholic hierarchy will help you," Barbara Dorris of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said this week.”
https://web.archive.org/web/20150507041309/http://articles.philly.com/2…

###

Catholic priest, ex-EWTN TV host, fathered child; he's now in custody fight, accused of abuse
By Greg Garrison, Jul 24; Posted Mar 25, 2015

David Stone, 54, formerly known as Father Francis Mary Stone, was host of the TV program "Life on the Rock" on Eternal Word Television Network. He fathered a child born in 2008. The mother was fired from EWTN and Stone was put on long-term leave of absence, according to Jefferson County court documents. (Screenshot from the EWTN program 'Life on the Rock')
A national group that monitors allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy has focused attention this week on the Alabama case of David Lawrence Stone, a Catholic priest and former EWTN TV host who was arrested in 2013 and charged with sexual abuse of a minor under 12.“
https://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2015/03/catholic_priest_ex-ewtn_tv_…

Daniel Shazzar
1 day 10 hours ago

You are spot on that the Church of Christ will survive - it just may not be the RCC built by men & based on tradition. Throughout history, God has always preserved a remnant for His glory built by Christ.

And yes, many will stop being Catholic & renounce the traditions of denominations - like Martin Luther, John Calvin et al. Not because of the scandal of the day per se but because God calls His people to worship in spirit & truth. Come Lord Jesus - come!

rev_kmacphersonj@accus.us
1 week 6 days ago

I am 73 and have been a devout Catholic all of my life. My ministry takes me to the streets and ICU units of major hospitals and prisons. Nothing is getting better. Until Roman Catholic priests get out of their comfort zone and actually live with the poor and share their suffering, the problems will never go away. I am a chaplain in a county hospital and I never see Catholic priests ministering as they should to the poor. I am in the 19th largest city in the US, population over 800,000. The local Bishop has one wonderful but very aged priest for all of the hospitals.

lynne miller
1 week 6 days ago

God bless you for your ministry! I agree that until the Church values human beings more than wealth and status, there will be problems. I hope other priests will join you in your ministry - for their sakes as well as those to whom they minister.

Phillip Stone
1 week 5 days ago

You put Rev in your name, you claim you minister in streets and hospitals and you speak as if Roman Catholic priests are a species other than yourself. Is this a self-appointed work in your old age? Are you Episcopalian, or a nun, or what?
You boast, the young these days call it virtue signalling.

Christ is the redeemer, he shared the sufferings of humankind and died the only man born of woman who remained sinless and undeserving of death. It is possible that his mother having been spared through his merits, shared mysteriously in this redemptive suffering and as he died, he said "It is done!"

We are charged with the privilege and obligation to go out to the whole world and preach the gospel, NOT TO DO SOCIAL WORK OR BRING ABOUT SOCIAL REVOLUTION.

Jesus refused to be the expected LIBERATOR of the Jews from the yoke of Imperial Rome and he told us unequivocally that the poor would always be with us and that his father allowed both persons sprung from good seed and from bad seed to flourish intermingled until the harvest.

If you are ordained, you are a helper of a successor of an apostle, a presbyter - not a social worker.
If you visit prisons, I hope you are taking on the single most important battle of this century, militant proselytising Islam. I hope you have learned how to make believers of Muslims and protect others from becoming recruited by them.

Crystal Watson
1 week 6 days ago

The idea that you stay because you think the Catholic church is the only authentic Christian denomination goes against what was decided at Vatican 2 (Lumen gentium 8). People in other denominations are just as Christian as Catholics and their churches don't have the baggage of sex abuse on a massive scale.

Jim Lein
1 week 6 days ago

Good point.

Toby Gillis
1 week 6 days ago

But the best part is, some (a very small part) of us don't have the baggage of false pagan doctrines although the vast majority of Protestants still hold on to them

Crystal Watson
1 week 6 days ago

Every Christian denomination has its own nutty doctrines, including the Catholic church. There's no scriptural back-up for the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, for instance - the gospels claim Jesus had brothers and sisters.

Toby Gillis
1 week 5 days ago

I agree 100%, there is also no Scriptural back-up for the doctrine of hell, or of the immortal soul, (both being pagan constructs) as a place of punishment that is ONGOING forever. Destruction of the wicked is total, eternal, and everlasting. There is no place called hell other than the grave.

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

Yeah, but there's Gehenna, Sheol, and Jesus talks about the "outer darkness" and the "lake of fire".

Laurence Ringo
1 week 4 days ago

Is that some kind of perjorative launched against the Protestant churches, Gilles? If so, what exactly is your point? Frankly,your ignorance of the faith of non-catholic Christians is laughable, and you need to end yourself instead of spouting off like an uninformed ignoramus. Besides, shouldn't you concern yourself with the infestation of priest baby rapers infiltrating YOUR church right now? I think you should. Peace
.

Jim MacGregor
4 days 22 hours ago

Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said: "He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all."

Matt Teegarden
1 week 6 days ago

I am in the greatest struggle of faith in my life. At what point does my standing behind the Church become an act of enabling institutional abuse?

Jim Lein
1 week 6 days ago

Good question.

Esperanza Y Paz
1 week 1 day ago

Please do not think of yourself as standing behind the church. You are the church!!! Do all the good you can wherever you can and fight evil from within. The Way, the Truth, the Life will prevail. Often severe pruning will bring in the most beautiful new growth. We must be ready to carve out all that is diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound wherever it has intruded in our community and we must put an end to the persuasive decay. Each member of our church is called to do their part in this. Stand tall and be a beacon of light!

Gerald Nichols
1 week 6 days ago

In the church the Body of Christ there are only saints, the saved.
In the visible professing church there are both unsaved and saved.
What scripture indicates Jesus founded a church while on earth before His death and resurrection?

With all due respect to Augustine and Fr. how is it that Jesus
"founded the RCC on Peter" when Jesus walked the earth? Jesus Christ only gave Paul the "blueprint" for the Body of Christ church from Heaven after His death, burial and resurrection.
Peter wasn't given the message of the cross[I Cor. 15:1-4] and didn't know it.
There are no unbelievers in the Body of Christ church.

Peter Schwimer
1 week 6 days ago

Fr. Malone gave it his best shot. Was it good enough? I don't really know. I do know that I believe the Church of Jesus is not the church of the hierarchy. Thanks be to God!
However, I also agree with some of the responders, our priests need to get out of their comfort zone. Maybe they need to get part time jobs at the local supermarket to find out where the dollars really come from. Maybe they should be required to man soup kitchens once a week (on their days off) to see what the rest of us do all the time. Just some thoughts before it's too late.

Corinne Corcoran
1 week 6 days ago

There should be seven sacraments for both sexes. The yang imbalance of power and access to grace has left us sick and perverse. I keep forgiving the male club, but I believe the church would rather die out than change.

Lucie Johnson
1 week 6 days ago

What does it mean for a layperson to stay in the church? Or leave?
One would leave maybe to join something else... but abuse in a religious setting makes one doubt of the validity of any religious institution. Spiritual "power" is a dangerous thing. Something from which to stay away.
So maybe one is just "less there". Staying away from church functions and rituals. Being less active. Sacraments don't mean much. Abuse has occurred to Mass servers and penitents, at the hands of their priests.
One hopes things were better, and then one finds out that there is corruption and cover-up at the highest levels of the hierarchy. The fact that this also happened in the 1500's or some other time is no consolation... Now is now, and historical abuse is no excuse. Yes, there are many good people, and many good priests, and so, as a layperson, I'll try to find them and associate with them, and support their work.
As a layperson, I wait to see what happens next; I live my ordinary life as well as I know how. I pray.
But don't expect me to trust the institution right now...

John Chuchman
1 week 6 days ago

Because we thought we were the chosen, not realizing we were the frozen.

John Mack
1 week 6 days ago

Not unique, supreme and exclusive.The statement quoted avers supremacy, not specialness or uniqueness. Be honest.

Richard Kramer
1 week 6 days ago

Your commentary was a needed glimpse of the basis of the Church "tomorrow". I'm completing prep for a 'small group' on the Scriptural Basis of Church - a combo of Lectio Divina, discipleship training, volunteer/leadership development and "Why?". Your observations point to our need for this Church. Your 9-ll reference to first responders is spot on but I would like to add a little something to it - First, it didn't make a difference why the Tower was on fire. Terrorists...an unauthorized Pig Roast on the 65th Floor...whatever. The sole reason for their existence was to save lives, provide help and combat the problem. People need to pay attention to that order - Victims/Stop Immediate Danger/Secure the Area/Then conduct an investigation whose primary purpose is to prevent re-occurance more than pursue a variety of avenues of finger-pointing, incriminations and recriminations, hazy histories and theories parading as truths. Second, anyone whether laity or clergy, who fails to turn around and join you running into that building should consider whether their failure to do so is a form of "accessory after the fact" to the sin and evil that underlies the conduct resulting in this crisis. If we choose to avoid entry, we let this evil continue to seek to perfect its grip. As Jesus continually demonstrated, there is usually a lot more to "Follow Me" than a pleasant hike through Middle Eastern countryside. I choose to remain involved, vocal, proud to be a Catholic and proud to be Jesuit-trained!

lynne miller
1 week 6 days ago

What a great column! Thank you!

lynne miller
1 week 6 days ago

What a great column! Thank you!

Ann Reid
1 week 6 days ago

No one will EVER cost me my Faith, given to me at birth through my Baptism, but as the child of an Irish Catholic mother and a Protestant father, I grew up realizing that the ways of men and mankind can be flawed and destructive, and as a layperson, it is exhausting to constantly attempt as a Roman Catholic, to attempt to pick apart what are the foibles of men that come between innocent Faith and self serving humanism. I believe the doors of Church must be thrown open and the cleansing needed must include women in all capacities. If we hear a homily on The Feast of The Assumption referring to the Blessed Mother as “The First Disciple”, why do we refuse to acknowledge and believe that? If we are to find a new, clean Church, our membership must begin to welcome women with equal reverence and respect. What we have been doing in the past has been seriously flawed, as is obvious. I stay because I LOVE GOD, and look forward to seeing what we as Catholics will do to honor the Presence of God in our lives.

Vincent Gaglione
1 week 6 days ago

From the author Frank Sheed:
Christ is the whole point of the [Church’s] functioning. We are not baptized into the hierarchy, do not receive the cardinals sacramentally, will not spend eternity in the beatific vision of the pope … Christ is the point…

From: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/when-orthodoxy-doesnt-…
Holiness, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “the fullness of Christian life and . . . the perfection of charity” (2013). Right understanding of and belief in the Church’s teachings on faith and morals assist us toward that goal, but don't in themselves guarantee that we are holy. That requires not just understanding and assent but a lifetime of virtue and cooperation with grace.

For me, the Catholic Church is the one true avenue of finding redemption and salvation through Christ.

Peter Saracino
1 week 6 days ago

It's o.k. for both priests and laity to stay. But, if "staying" means remaining silent in the face of the criminal sexual assault of children and vulnerable adults at the hands of Catholic clergy than you are as complicit as the Catholic hierarchy. Your continued silence is consent. This is actually a wonderful opportunity for both priests and laity to PRACTICE their faith. Speak truth to power. Demand transparency and accountability from Church leadership. To do otherwise is a profound betrayal of children, their families and the Church's very mission.
"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good."
- Ghandi

Peter Saracino
1 week 6 days ago

It's o.k. for both priests and laity to stay. But, if "staying" means remaining silent in the face of the criminal sexual assault of children and vulnerable adults at the hands of Catholic clergy than you are as complicit as the Catholic hierarchy. Your continued silence is consent. This is actually a wonderful opportunity for both priests and laity to PRACTICE their faith. Speak truth to power. Demand transparency and accountability from Church leadership. To do otherwise is a profound betrayal of children, their families and the Church's very mission.
"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good."
- Ghandi

Johnny Nasheo
1 week 5 days ago

A few thoughts as a former catholic who years later had a career in Catholic Healthcare:
1. Caring can be done from anywhere. The Daughters of Charity who live out the mission of Jesus taught me way more about caring than the Church ever tried to teach. They introduced me to Catholic Social Teaching which the church never mentioned. I've yet to meet a single catholic outside of the Hospital who knows about these critical teachings.
2. These missions ARE the building. They CARE for the poor and underprivileged. They don't just talk about it. They also take on the church over important issues which aren't consistent with their mission nor even with the words of Jesus (like discriminating against LGBT).
3. You're all gay or pedophiles. The church gave you a safe place to be to avoid those (now irrational) fears of society an the punishment they might mete upon you. Society is now much safer and less prejudicial for the gay person. Come out. 4. The last people who won't come out are the pedophiles. I pity them. There will never be an accepted place in society for them and I can't imagine the hell of that existence. It's so unfair. There doesn't seem to be a cure. But is the church really the safest place for them to be? Given the temptations?
5. The church isn't MORE different from any other human association. It's A different one, but there are many of those. The missions of Jesus are great missions and there are many others to choose from.

In the end, the church has practiced apologism for centuries, if not millenia. The church has apologized and asked for patience for issues it's entire existence (see the 400 year struggle of Galileo which STILL doesn't seem to be able to reconcile itself). No other concern in the history of humanity has ever received as much tolerance, patience, and space as the Catholic Church to "correct" itself. And it never does. And it won't until those who enable it stop the enabling.

God will smile upon the church when it finally does the right thing. How long do you wish that to take? He's waiting for you.

John Orsulan
1 week 5 days ago

Hello Father Malone...I think that Your statement On the Catholic Church Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal was just another Smoke Screen over the real issues involved. And I want to say that there are a whole lot of other issues affecting our Church right now besides the Sexual Abuse issue...The abuse Scandal is just the tip of the Iceberg. Why don't You address the Fact that 80% of the Sexual Abuses were Homosexual Acts. And I have heard about Homosexual Networking among Catholic Clergy...No One has even mentioned that if there is this much Homosexual Abuse...There must be a whole lot more of Illicit Adult Clergy Homosexual Sexual Activity...Why doesn't Our Church enter into some Dialogue about having a married Clergy, Like other rites of the Catholic Church that allow Married Clergy. Father James Martin is a Very Impressive, Intellectual Priest. Of course we need to bring LGBTQ Folks to Jesus And Maybe I'm wrong but it seems to me that He is Reluctant to Inform LGBTQ People about what the Catholic Church and the Catechism and the Bible teach about HOMOSEXUALITY!!!! Or do we now Ignore the SIXTH COMMANDMENT??? Is it OK to have Pre-marital Sex??? Is Adultery now OK for Heterosexual Catholic Church Members? Is Masturbation now OK...Maybe Gays are unable to control their sexual impulses and their Lust is OK? Just where does Father Martin want to go with the Sixth Commandment...Jesus (MY SAVIOR) Was Whipped Mercilessly tied to a Post for my and all Peoples sexual Sins. I'm sorry Jesus...Is Contraception now OK?...Is Abortion now OK??? Father Martin once told a Joke in a Catholic Church and the Punch Line was; Hey God, I'm a Jesuit, What are You doing in the Judge's Chair? TERRIBLE AND FULL OF PRIDE...THE WORST SIN OF ALL! (The Joke concerned a Dominican, Franciscan and Jesuit). Ask him about it. Aren't we supposed to be Humble?...Our Pitifulness and Humility are what attracts Jesus to Us, I think. I love you Jesus...I know You are crying now. God is the Greatest...The Judgement Day gets closer and closer. I want to have my Light Lit for Your arrival. Also Please take a Look at this Article in the NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER by Msgr. Charles Pope, "THE 6 HABITS OF HIGHLY INEFFECTIVE CHURCH PEOPLE" >>> http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/structural-layers-to-the-curre… >>>>According to Bishop Barron (Aux. Bishop of L.A.) for every one new person entering our Church (Actually Jesus' Church) 6 are leaving...Clergy Members don't seem concerned or worried...Many Church Members don't know the theological Underpinnings of their Faith...They were never Catechised properly...The Bible is not taught or explained to the Young People at my Parish. I was told that the Parents were responsible for teaching the Bible to their Children...That is Mind-Boggling! Our Area is Full of Protestant Churches and We have the 100% True, Authentic, Christian Belief System (Faith) in a small Catholic Church and No One seems interested in Evangelization. If You talk about the Bible, Catholics start thinking that You are a Protestant, Maybe. Jehovah Witnesses mock the Catholic Church for not Evangelizing. Probably other Protestant do also. AND FINALLY >>> HERE IS MY UNDERSTANDING ABOUT CATHOLIC HUMAN SEXUALITY IN A NUT-SHELL...THE ONLY SEXUAL ACTIVITY THAT IS NOT GROSSLY SINFUL BUT IS IN FACT ENCOURAGED BY GOD IS BETWEEN A MARRIED MAN AND WOMAN, WITH OPENNESS TO NEW LIFE! Any other Sexual Activity is VERBOTEN! God is Great...Thank You, Jesus...Worthless Servant of Jesus Christ, John

Phillip Stone
1 week 5 days ago

In the life of my parents and myself, we have been presented with fresh reminders of the meaning and purpose of the life of the faithful on earth.

Christ the King left a community “constituted and organised in the world as a society which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”
Pius XI
King;
V2
society
governed
sacrament;
and Cardinal Suenens described it as
Charismatically Institutional.

All in all, a mystery! For us, we are called and chosen first and then ratify or accept the invitation, the call, and agree to live as if we are bona fide members, TO DO HIS BIDDING and not to boast about our inclusion!

Rea McDonnell
1 week 4 days ago

Rea McDonnell
If we believe that in baptism we are plunged [baptizo] into the One who was Raised and are so deeply united with and in him, then in Christ, no one is excluded [cf Galatians 3:20]. I cannot "leave" the church because I am the church; we all are the church. Thanks be to God!

Rea McDonnell
1 week 4 days ago

Rea McDonnell
If we believe that in baptism we are plunged [baptizo] into the One who was Raised and are so deeply united with and in him, then in Christ, no one is excluded [cf Galatians 3:20]. I cannot "leave" the church because I am the church; we all are the church. Thanks be to God!

Eric Lomas
6 days 10 hours ago

"Either that difference is real, or it is not."
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Father, there is some consolation in them.
It's difficult to deny that "that difference," which makes our Catholic faith unique, may have gotten off track in the last few millenia. Conversely, it's easy to imagine Jesus turning over a cathedral altar in indignation at how His Church is handling/has handled this affront to its most innocent members. Very trying times right now. A lot to be angry with the leadership of the Church about.

Jim MacGregor
4 days 22 hours ago

For me the essence of Fr. Malone's discourse is the following:
"While the church is the visible sign of the City of God, the two, strictly speaking, are not the same thing. That is important because it means that the church visible counts among its members men and women who are righteous and men and women who are evildoers."
Catholic and Protestant should remember this. I have read where the late Jewish theologian, Pinchas Lapide suggested the same. as follows regarding the Church and the Holocaust:
" But as a Jew, I view the Church and the Papacy as human institutions, as frail and fallible as all the rest of us. Frail and fallible, Pius had choices thrust upon him time and time again, which would have made a lesser man falter."

Michael Barberi
4 days 20 hours ago

Good article Fr. Malone. I would add a few words of my own.

We must remember that we worship Christ, not a Pope, the Vatican, the Church or the magisterium. It is one thing to be angry with how the Church is being governed. It is quite another to be angry with Christ and turn your back on Him. He is the way the truth and the life, not the Church or its bishops or popes.

Frankly, I believe that these recent revelations are a good thing for the Church. Far too many of our Church leaders have strayed from a call to holiness into the structures and habits of sin and darkness. Now we need to eliminate the culture of clericalism and the cancer that is causing all of this moral corruption. Hopefully, what emerges from the ashes of this scandal is a renewed Church, priesthood, hierarchy, governance and a bright and new message for the faithful.

I hope that the Church will not swing too far to the right where the badge of holiness was determined by how rigorist you adhere to every letter of the law. Let's give Pope Francis a chance to reform our Church.

Jim MacGregor
4 days 15 hours ago

I really like the approach you take in your post. Thanks. 😇

Al Cannistraro
3 days 16 hours ago

Why do so many here assume that the currently spotlighted problems are not longstanding and part of something more generalized and more culturally systemic?

There clearly is a widely held assumption that these misbehaviors (to put it mildly) are a modern phenomenon. And many commenters here attribute them to normative changes originating at Vatican II some decades ago.

But what if there actually is more continuity, going back much further, involving all kinds of sexually-rooted "misbehavior?"

The celibate/chaste ideal represents a very high bar, realistically speaking., and it's only realistic to assume that many have not been able to clear it (and some might not have taken it seriously).

It might be that the only thing that has changed is modern communication, and the fact that modern parental and student norms and values have knocked clergy off their holy pedestals, thereby making it thinkable to call out the misbehavior and to label the bad actors as miscreants.

When I was an altar boy in the early 1960s it was widely rumored among us youths that two particular priests should be avoided, but there was no care about this among adults/parents as far as I knew.

Likewise violent forms of "discipline" and "keeping order" in Catholic schools was considered normal and necessary and even admirable in the names of "in loco parentis" and "building character." Looking back, I feel confident to say that those clerics who employed these methods with relish were acting out of pleasure (that probably had some sexual dimension).

My point is the problem should not be studied in a way that focuses the spotlights only on the sexual abuse of youths problem and the factor of more openly homosexual clergy. Rather, a longitudinal analysis of RC church culture over more than just recent decades might result in deeper and more useful understanding.

The following article is suggestive of what I mean:
http://jamesalison.co.uk/texts/were-in-for-a-rough-ride/

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