From McNamara’s Blog we have this lovely response to a question that has long plagued Catholics and non-Catholics, “Will you not admit that many of the leaders of your Church— her Popes, Bishops and priests— have been wicked men? How can you call such a Church holy?”
“The Church remains holy, no matter how many of her leaders prove faithless to the Gospel they preach, for these men are cut off from the Church’s life by their sins, which can never be traced to her teachings or laws. Would you call an apple tree bad, because you discovered some rotten apples lying on the ground beneath it? No, you judge the tree by the ripening or ripe apples on its boughs. Wicked churchmen will one day have to render a strict account to Almighty God for their stewardship, for as Christ said: “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much will be required” Luke xii. 16.
“Out of a long line of worthy popes, seventy-six of whom are reckoned among the saints, only a few were unworthy of their high office, such as John XII 955-964, Benedict IX 1024-1032, and Alexander VI 1492-1503. But the proportion of unworthy Apostles was one out of twelve. No world dynasty can be compared from the standard of virtue with our illustrious dynasty of two hundred and sixty-two Popes.
“At all periods of Church history there have been unworthy Bishops and priests, but as a rule they either repented of their sins before they died, or proved their utter wickedness by apostatizing in times of trial and persecution, or by lapsing into formal heresy and schism.
“Is it fair to be ever citing the evil lives of the minority, when all admit that the majority of clerics have ever been faithful to God and the things of God?”
The post is at McNamara’s Blog: From the Question Box: “Scandals and the Church”. What makes this so interesting is that the response to this questions is from Rev. Bertrand L. Conway, from his book, “The Question Box: Replies to Questions Received on Missions to Non-Catholics” published in 1929 by Paulist Press.
Obviously, the key point here is that the laity, clergy and religious of the Church are not the Church – the Church is Christ, who uses us all as he brings us all into his loving arms. Nonetheless, the evil within the Church must be brought to justice in our world, if possible, but most definitely will be in the next.