Institutional Paradox

There’s no point in arguing that the Church doesn’t carry a lot of baggage. Though divine in origin and infallible in her teaching, she is human in her administration and inclusive of many fallen humans. It could only be so. If the Church were only for the perfect, no one would be allowed in. So we sin and we repent. Leaders justifiy a certain amount of evil means to justify good ends. Worldly values of different ages compete with timeless Gospel values. And hindsight is always 20/20. We can easily see the incompatibility of torture, war and oppression in the name of Christ. We see less clearly the practices of our own time at which future generations will shake their heads.

But Jesus, of whom Isaiah said “a bruised reed he shall not break”, tells us to not to pull the weeds lest we harm the wheat; that all will be separated at the harvest. And so we go on, failing in our trust in God, repenting and trying again.

We face the paradox of deploring the triumphalism, collusion with empire and other injustices of the very institution which has preserved, in her teachings and in the lives of the saints, the faith that teaches us these things are wrong.

We must resist the temptation to leave such a band of hypocrites in self-righteous indignation to go it alone–or to start our own church, or even a movement within the Church with the idea that “We are finally going to get it right”. Those who travel that road soon discover their own fallen humanity and that of their followers.

Times change and circumstances change, and we must adapt and rise to the challenges of our own age. But human beings are baiscally the same, coming into the world needing to learn the same lessons and making the same mistakes. An institution as old as the Catholic Church has probably made every mistake that can be made, learned and survived.

Let us press on, always putting all our trust in Him who said “I will be with you till the end of time”


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