Can the True Church be led by Sinners?
Coming from a strong Catholic family, I have become disillusioned. I feel Catholics are more concerned with doctrine than trying to become good Christians. The belief that we are the true religion in the line from Jesus, has confused me of late. How can molesting priests represent the Church, or in earlier centuries, those bishops and popes who fathered children? I feel I would rather be part of a church that is Bible and Christian-centred, where we don’t live with the pressure of being Catholics. Please help me.
Perhaps you are confused because you feel that if we are the true Church, how can we have in our ranks people who are untrue to what Jesus taught us? My guess is you feel that sinful bishops and priests (and others) seem to think that, provided that they keep the doctrines of the faith, they can turn a blind eye to their own sins. They are concerned about the Church’s good image and so conceal sinfulness in their ranks.
Look at the problem from two viewpoints: reason and faith.
Our reason tells us from experience that human nature has a tendency to do what is evil and to turn a blind eye to it or deny it when it suits us. History holds many examples of this kind of behaviour. We find it in our governments and even in our families. Clearly, we also have it among religious people, Christian and non-Christian.
From the viewpoint of faith, such behaviour is part of the problem of moral evil, which the Catechism (311) says is permitted by God because he respects our freedom of choice to do good or to do evil. Faith tells us that only Christ can redeem us from this situation (Rm 7:15-25), and that bad people are to be found in the kingdom of heaven on earth (Mt 13:36-43). This is of little comfort when those ordained to serve Christ in the Church are the culprits who shock us. You are not the only disillusioned Catholic.
The old Latin proverb, corruptio optimi pessima (the worst corruption is that of the best person), is appropriate. We are stunned when ostensibly exemplary Christian leaders let us down.
The Church is making efforts to correct these wrongs. We must live in faith, hope and love, and rely on the grace of God because without it, human nature will keep on failing, as Romans 7 stresses. Updated from 2011