The holiness of the Catholic Church

Stained glass 1I believe we should all adopt a more exact and adequate language in speaking about the Church. The word ‘Church’ refers to the Holy Bride of Christ, without wrinkles and without stains, the pillar and foundation of Truth (1 Tim. 3-15), the depository of the plenitude of Christian revelation.  She was born on Calvary.  She was founded by Christ Himself.  She, who alone among all Christian denominations, has been given the keys through Peter.  The Church who, although a community, is also a supernatural person whose beauty is visible to the eyes of Faith. The fullness of revelation is confided to Her.  She is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, opened to all and transmitting Christ’s message in all its purity.  She is infallible in her dogmatic and moral teaching.

We need only watch TV or follow the news media to find out that they have no clue as to the true meaning of the word ‘Church’.  When they speak about the Catholic Church, either they refer to the actions (or omissions) and declarations of certain individual members of the clergy whose behaviour is often in sharp contrast with the teaching of Holy Church, or they refer to decisions of assemblies of bishops, of congregations, of members of the Curia which certainly do not deserve our commendation. Collegiality is not necessarily a blessing.

No individual Catholic can ever say that he is an exemplary Catholic – the greatest saints always declared themselves to be sinners.  The reason is clear: Catholicism is not just a set of laws and rules to be obeyed, but it commands us ‘to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect’.  This is something that no human being can achieve without divine help, that is grace.

Those who hate the Church, for whatever reason, have a field day pointing to the sins and errors committed by members of the Church in the course of the centuries.  But every sin committed by Her members, including Popes, is an explicit betrayal of the Gospel.

We live in a world in which religious and historical ignorance is endemic.  People superbly ignorant of the history of the Church on most issues are, thanks to the news media, constantly reminded of the horrors caused by the Crusades, of the cruelty of the Inquisition, of the ruthless eradication of heretics.  The most ignorant among us knows the name of Galileo, even though he would be hard put to explain why he was condemned.  The conclusion drawn by the slaves of the news media is that the Church is opposed to both science and progress, imprisoned as She is in the choking narrowness of Her dogmas (!).

How right Chesterton was when he wrote, in his autobiography, ‘… a large section of the intelligentsia seems wholly devoid of intelligence – the dangerous criminal is the educated criminal … the entirely lawless modern philosopher’.  The man called ‘The Apostle of Common Sense’ certainly hit the bull’s eye!



8 Responses to “The holiness of the Catholic Church”

  1. 1 Marcie June 16, 2009 at 16:22

    I’m with you again 😉 all I hear, everywhere, is people criticizing the Church.
    In Catholic theology, the Church is distinguished by four marks: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Within this structure, bishops are the successors of the Apostles, that group of 12 men whom Jesus gathered around himself. He gave this rather motley crew of fishermen, tax collectors, twins, and zealots his own authority to go and tell the world a specific message — that God created the world and we mucked it up, but he had come to redeem us from a mess of our own making and bring us to eternal life with him. Jesus invested the Apostles, the Church’s first bishops, with the exclusive authority to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. The ministerial priesthood is not a “job”, it is a “vocation”, a calling. God is the One Who calls. Of course, we all know that this does not mean that God’s will is always done and that those men He has called (and them alone) answer that call, but their sins do not negate God’s faithfulness.

  2. 2 bigjohn June 16, 2009 at 16:46

    I still don’t agree but I thank Matthew for the video in reply to my last comment I think under the post Our Last Hope.
    The church is in a mess and I really believe it should change a lot of things like let priests marry, women priests, let priests say the mass as they wish, and lots more. Really guys, times have changed! If the church opens up then I’m sure so many bad things won’t happen ….. like the abuse of children!

  3. 3 Katherine Jane June 16, 2009 at 17:17

    Look, bigjohn, are you just repeating parrot-like what most people say without thinking the matter out? Don’t be naive.
    There are many groups or sects or heretical religions that allow married priests and women priest and whatever you call “modern”, this doesn’t mean to say that THEY don’t commit evil, that THEY are all holy contrary to us poorsouls who commit such bad things!
    The Church is a mess because it’s run out of track.
    We don’t need a re-invented Church, we (laity and clergy alike) need to be RENEWED. All the ecclesiastical laws in the world won’t help if we aren’t attuned to the Divine Law.
    The Church is not ours to reinvent, just like the faith is not ours to reinvent or reinterpret. We receive it and hand it on (thus, “tradition”).
    And just like there are good people and bad people, there are good clergy and bad clergy. But don’t let their sins be the reason you question the Church’s founding and institution and purpose and future.
    Thank you Gabriella for your “thoughtful” posts, they make me feel at home and through you I have discovered other “cool” blogs like Brian’s and Churchmouse and A Catholic Life and Christopher and all those under your “favourites” list 🙂 Koodos to all.

  4. 4 Davide June 16, 2009 at 21:18

    Bigjohn’s points are valid and I am glad that someone has bought them up. Many people, like bigjohn, think that modernization in the Church is the way out of the current crisis. The times have changed and change is the only way to bring people back to the Mass. However, common sense tells us exactly the opposite. Let me explain. Starting in the late 1960s, the Church introduced record changes in the Mass with the intention of making it more attractive to the young generations of believers. The Mass was changed in the vernacular and priests were given some degree of freedom in how to celebrate certain parts of the Mass. And what has Church attendance been like over the past 40 years? I can only think of one word and that is ‘pathetic.’ In Italy, alone, seeing a twenty-five year old man at Mass is as rare as seeing a unicorn! The majority of people at Mass are older women. It is pretty evident that Mass attendance has been declining over the years. Suggesting that additional modernization of the Church is the solution is preposterous. All we need to do is look at the protestant churches. Unlike the Catholic Church, which claims the least authority of all Christian religions, protestant churches have introduced many changes and moved with the times. They started by allowing divorce since that was becoming more common. They then allowed women priests. And recently they have allowed, or are in the process of allowing, women bishops. One protestant church, the Episcopalian church, has even allowed a gay bishop. Now, let’s ask ourselves, what is the Mass attendance like at these churches, and what about the rate of abuse of children in these churches? Protestant churches also have seen a great decline in attendance, and the number of child abuse cases surpasses that of the Catholic clergy. But you never hear about this in the media!! I am in no way justifying such an evil act but I am blaming modernization and the so called ‘changing with the times’ for the crisis we find ourselves in.

  5. 5 Raman Chakravorthy June 16, 2009 at 22:15

    Am so happy to have found this blog.
    Oh yes, there is unbelievable hostility towards the Catholic Church and perhaps some of it is well founded. Humans being humans will never change and there will always be the ones who cause scandal, hurts and doubts and drive people away. Our only hope of staying united is to focus entirely on God, the original and true teachings of His Son and to depend on the Holy Spirit, protector of our Church, in prayer for guidance in all things.

    Bigjohn, both Davide and Katherine have given you strong points to ponder but if you are really interested in this subject there is a very good book, it’s called Animus Delendi (but the book is in English), really good I assure you.
    In my town here in India many of us would like very much the Mass in the extraordinary form but the bishops and priests tell us that in Asia we don’t have clown masses, we are already serious and sober, so no need for beautiful Latin Mass 😦

  6. 6 RAnn June 17, 2009 at 13:52

    I’m RAnn and I’d like to invite you to join us for Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. It is an opportunity for Catholic bloggers to share their best with others. See this week’s entry at

  7. 7 Don Alfredo June 17, 2009 at 14:09

    Io ascolto le persone intorno a me quando parlano della Chiesa e mi domando “la vita delle persone che accusano la Chiesa è davvero intemerata? La loro condotta è davvero così limpida? Costoro non hanno mai da vergognarsi di se stessi?”
    Un’altro fatto strano: la Chiesa pur avendo il Vangelo come base per la propria condotta viene continuamente fatta oggetto di vituperio per le colpe dei suoi uomini, sebbene poi si debba ammettere che ci sono pure i santi e che gli uomini sono fatti di carne. Ma come mai sui regimi che non hanno per base il vangelo ma una ideologia sbagliata nei suoi stessi principi e che poi ha partorito uomini pessimi e autentici criminali si continua a rimanere zitti? Eppure questi regimi polizieschi (Cuba, Cina, Birmania..) ci sono anche oggi. Come non dimenticare che in Russia il comunismo ha prodotto 20 milioni di morti e in Cina 80?
    In conclusione e giustamente come hai scritto, quando si parla di Chiesa bisogna distinguere tra la Chiesa in quanto sposa di Cristo e in quanto è costituita di uomini.
    In quanto è Sposa di Cristo la Chiesa è santa nella sua dottrina e nelle sue opere. E per questo bisogna riconoscere che l’umanità ha ricevuto moltissimo dalla Chiesa. Si provi a pensare che cosa ne sarebbe del genere umano se non vi fosse stato l’apporto della Chiesa nella cultura, nell’arte, nella solidarietà tra gli uomini e i popoli, nella dedizione al prossimo, nelle opere di assistenza, di carità .. In quanto invece è fatta di uomini troviamo in lei le debolezze umane.
    Ma chi è senza peccato scagli la prima pietra!

  8. 8 Antonella Oliver June 18, 2009 at 09:21

    Yes the holiness of the Catholic Church. Lets not forget that the church is made up of us (poor suffering humanity). We are all sinners so there can never be a perfect spotless Church. The smoke of satan has entered the Vatican….
    Lets not forget that God is still in control and loves His church (us his people)..the Holy Spirit is at work always and thus we are seeing changes for the better. Evil is still amongst us but hey Christ has overcome so in the end all will be well. It is how we live our individual lives that count and our relationship with Jesus Christ and in the day to day our striving to be holy and so be a true reflection of a child of God.


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