How to deal with the crisis in the church.
Precisely one year ago, we all awoke to media reports about the church scandals. As any other catholic I was deeply upset. It is always hard to see the bride of Christ suffer. As the world and media lashed out with hatred and anger at the church, I felt called to defend her. I didn’t know what to do or how I would explain the truth of Catholicism, the one and only true Christianity, in the midst of all the turmoil. Likewise, I would like to point out that, as an eastern rite, Syro-Malabar, catholic I couldn’t just sit around and use the excuse that only the western church was suffering because there were problems occurring in the east too.
During the turmoil, I felt urged to write something from my heart because I kept seeing people respond on the internet in perhaps the wrong way. It wasn’t until many months later that I realised that St John Paul II, when he was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, had written something very similar during the second Vatican council. Now, what I’ve written is no way near as great as his, but I think we share some common direction. I would like to share some of what I wrote that day with you.
27th August 2018
“Oh dear bride of Christ, how much have you suffered and continue to do so. You saw pain, persecutions, fear, hatred, hurt and allegations. But you stood upright with your head held high for your beloved spouse. You held within your palms the footsteps of saints… (And) many sat on the chair of Peter whether holy, wise, kind or not so. Here you prayed with them, supported them or prayed for them. You have seen it all sweet bride of christ! You still have much more to see until the day your beloved comes to call you to your everlasting home that He has prepared. He is proud of you and so are we your children! We are with you every step of the way! We love you, One, Holy, Catholic and apostolic church!
As Catholics, we hold true the belief that the catholic church is the bride of Jesus, redeemed by His blood. However, Jesus, before His ascension, left a teaching authority to His apostles , with Peter being the head of the apostles and thus the head of the universal church, His bride.
Catholic apologist, Steve Ray, often comments that Jesus did not leave a book to be followed but rather men who lived with and knew Him. It is the traditions taught by them (in the deposit of faith) that we follow, and these were eventually combined to form the Holy scriptures in the 3rd century. Thus, the catholic church alone has the truth of the Gospel because she is built upon the faith of the apostles. This puts upon our shoulders the responsibility to protect and strengthen her.
I often see a lot of Catholics, begin to despise the church and get very heated up in conversations against the magisterium. It is as if they see no hope or point in loving Christ’s bride. I disagree strongly here, and it brings tears to my eyes seeing others behave in this manner. Now, I understand the distress, but the problem lies in seeing the church as a purely political institution which it isn’t. The church was not created by men, like Protestantism and orthodoxy. The church was established by Jesus. This is His church! He is the ultimate head of the church and the pope, the successor of Peter, is His prime minister acting with the authority given to him by Jesus . Jesus told Peter “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). As Catholics, we are obliged to believe in this promise of Jesus because God is always faithful to His promises. The church always has and will prevail until the second coming when Peter will hand back the ‘keys of the kingdom’ to Jesus the true head.
Precisely, at this point people will start to point out all the bad priests. To this I say, the church is holy, but she encompasses sinful men and women. Our priests are not devoid of sin; they are imperfect humans like us. Some of them fall into the temptations of the devil and others may fail to live up to their vows. However, it is important to understand that the majority of priests are holy men who give their entire lives for the kingdom of God and the church. We are committing real offence if we see every priest, bishop and cardinal in a bad light. St Teresa of Avila once saw a vision that she described as follows “ two devils of hideous aspect who seemed to have their horns around a priest’s throat while he celebrated Mass”. Thus, instead of fostering anger, we laity should take upon ourselves the willingness to pray for our seminarians and priests because their calling comes with extensive trials.
The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ. - St. John Vianney
Similarly, the public are quick to point out church politics (by politics I mean the disagreements and conflicts). It is simply not fit to use this argument against the church because wherever there are a group of human beings there is bound to be problems. We are very good at this aren’t we?
If you look back at the history of the church, you will find that from the beginning of Christianity there were problems. There were cardinals who disagreed with one another, bishops who excommunicated one another and numerous heresy. However, the only reason why Catholicism has continued with the same teaching and belief for more than 2,000 years is because it’s guided by the holy spirit. This is the church we belong to!
Finally, it is important for us to remember that Satan understands, more than anyone else, that Catholicism is God’s institution to administer His truth. Hence, we must expect that Satan will attack the church from every corner. We as Catholics have to do everything, we can, to make sure that this faith does not crumble. Therefore, it is our duty that we pray for the papacy and the catholic church. Likewise, we mustn’t be going against our church. We have to consistently ask ourselves this simple question “ Can I be the next Francis of Assisi ? Can I be the next Catherine of Sienna?”. These saints supported ‘mother church’ during horrible trials. Where are such people now? Can you and I preserve and follow their paths of faith in the one, true church?
~ Jubia xx