By DR. BERNARDO M. VILLEGAS
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI continues: “And there is another story, to the effect that Napoleon once declared that he would destroy the Church. Immediately, one of the Cardinals replied, ‘Not even we have managed that!’ I believe that we see something important in these paradoxical tales. There have in fact always been plenty of human monstrosities in the Catholic Church. That she still holds together, even if she groans and creaks, that she is still in existence, that she produces great martyrs and great believers, people who put their whole lives at her service, as missionaries, as nurses, as teachers — that really does show that there is someone there upholding her.”
I would advise those Catholics whose faith may waiver because of the bad example of their leaders among the clergy to immediately think of all the good priests and religious men and nuns that they have personally known in their lives. We cannot allow our image of the Body of Christ to be tainted by a one-sided picture of the evil done by some of us. Even in earthly terms, despite many attempts of powerful rulers and influential theological rebels to destroy it, the Catholic Church is presently acknowledged by secular science as the largest non-governmental provider of education and medical care in the world (just think of the nuns of St. Teresa of Calcutta).
Serious secular historians have discovered that Catholic priests and laity have been at the foundation of enormously beneficial things such as modern science, university education, economics, hospitals, international law, human rights, and Western art. These works reflect, in the eyes of theologians, the identity of the one true God: Logos (Reason), Truth, Love, Justice, and Beauty. According to ‘Catholic Answers,’ people are misplacing the blame when they say that they do not believe the Church because of the hypocrisy of pedophile priests and bad Popes: “If a preacher, religious or layman falls to live up to the standards he is preaching, the blame lies with him and not with the message he preaches. His actions say much about himself but not about the teachings of Christ…By way of analogy, if it were proved tomorrow that Albert Einstein was a child molester, that would not disprove the theory of relativity.” In fact, the Catholic Church does not have more child abuse cases than other human institutions such as the family, public schools, Boy Scouts, Protestant and other religious groups. It must also be said that the Catholic Church has done more than any other institution to address this problem of today’s society.
It is heartening to read that a good number of Catholic faithful in the dioceses of Philadelphia have declared that although they are very sad and shocked to know about the crimes of those pedophile priests and the sins of the imprudent, unjust, and cowardly bishops, they will remain believers and practitioners of the Catholic faith. They know that despite the sins of its children, the Church is called holy because its Founder, Jesus Christ, has decided to formally unite Himself to it as His body, giving His power of sanctifying. Jesus gave His Church the power to forgive sins in Confession (John 20:23) and to celebrate His saving sacrifice (Mark 14; 1 Corinthians 5). It is individual Christians who back away from His sanctifying power and cause scandal, making it difficult for people to see Christ in the Church. But Christ is there, because when He was on earth, He loved to be with sinners and He continues to be with us precisely because we need Him. We only have individually to strive for personal sanctify because the only way to drown evil is to do a lot of good.
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