Random Thoughts on Crisis in the Church

There are many in the various media outlets who are describing the Church as being in the crisis of the century. They are suggesting that the credibility of the papacy is on the line, and the Church is being split in two between the “orthodox” and the “liberals”. They predict a mass exodus from the pews.

I don’t think those who issue these dire predictions know Church history very well.

There are anecdotal reports of individuals saying they will never confess their sins to a priest again because they no longer believe priests are holier than them. In all honesty, I have known that priests are no holier than the laity for years. For God’s sake, I have found no one holier than my own mother (a convert to Catholicism) or my grandmother who was not baptized until she was in her 70s and remained a United Methodist after coming from the United Bretheran congregation. 

Why is it that the Church survives? Because despite the sinfulness of its members, the Church possesses the Truth, and adherence to the Truth gives us freedom. Our very human nature gravitates to this Truth and freedom.  Its pull is inexorable.

Christ was all about setting us free from our slavery to sin, and restoring us to our original dignity as sons and daughters of God. Where Christ is present, there is freedom. We obtain that freedom when we are obedient to the truth, not to ourselves. Those who seek the truth only in themselves find themselves enslaved to themselves and never find lasting happiness.

Despite the Church’s present turmoil due to sin and sickness, participation in ecclesial life brings happiness, freedom, and meaning. The wrenchingly painful reality of sexual abuse in the Church must be addressed. The suffering must be supported, and justice rendered. But the Church is more than the pedophiles in the ranks of clergy. The Church is the People of God coming together as God’s family around our Lord Jesus. The Church is a communion of saints in heaven. The Church is the flock of Christ, and yes, the flock includes a few Judases. The Church is an organized society of faith as willed by our Lord. The Church is the Body of Christ, broken and given for all. The Church continues Christ’s saving work on earth, and identifies with those suffering the agony of their own crucifixion. The Church is always the Church of the Resurrection.

I have found in the Catholic Church the truth which has set me free. Once I met Jesus, I dare not turn my back on him.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.
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6 Responses to Random Thoughts on Crisis in the Church

  1. Loretta says:

    Your last sentence leaves me wondering. It almost sounds like you think He will get you in the back. If you met Jesus, you should be able to turn any which way if you trust Him.
    Don’r worry so much, you can’t get away from Jesus.

  2. Deacon Bob says:

    Yes, Jesus will never abandon or hurt us!. Thank you for your comment.

    What I was trying to say in that last sentence is that we run the risk of falling and hurting ourselves if we turn from the Truth who is Jesus. We will lose our way and get lost.

    I think you are right in saying that if we trust Jesus, we are free to live in a variety of ways. There are many vocations and ways of life in the Church. Our faith relationship with Jesus frees us in so many ways.

    Have a great day, Loretta!

  3. mary says:

    loosen up. It’s ok if you make a mistake and turn your back on Jesus. He is always seeking us.

  4. Deacon Joe says:

    Mary is right. Many people like to say that they found Jesus. But Jesus was never lost, they were.

    A Blessed Easter to you all!

  5. Deacon Gordon Richard says:

    I have many feelings, as most people do, about the clergy sexual abuse. It is a great sin and coming from within makes it even more evil. Not to mention the most innocent of victims. Much needs to be done and it is my hope that Benedict will do it. The most significant feeling is betrayal. And to be betrayed by the Church is most terrible.

    One suggestion I have heard is to have a ‘truth telling’ much like they did in South Africa and I have seen to a lesser extent with Native Peoples. Healing is what is needed and that requires an openness the Church is not used to. I am hoping our pope can lead us through this and out of it to a healed or, at least, a healing Church,

  6. Deacon Bob says:

    Good to hear from you Gordon. The evilness of child sexual abuse is difficult to describe. What I find even more difficult to adequately describe is the psychological realities of the perpetrators of this abuse, and the psychological and spiritual consequences for victims.

    I have been to more professional conferences than I can count about all of this. Perhaps the person I have heard speak most intelligibly about the psychological mindset of perpetrators is Anna Salter, Ph.D. from Madison, Wi. John Briere, Ph.D. from Los Angeles has written much on the realities for victims (as have many others).

    There are many different kinds of perpetrators, requiring different responses.
    All victims need to be heard. Perhaps the “truth telling” process you remind us of at the end of apartheid is a viable method.

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