Why I love the Corrupt and Crime Ridden Catholic ChurchFATHER DWIGHT LONGENECKER
Hatred for the Catholic Church comes from all quarters, and one of this attack — that the Catholic Church is "corrupt, immoral and riddled with crime" is one of the more typical.
What I find curious in the present wave of anti-Catholicism is that the new atheists and the old fundamentalists resort to many of the same attacks on the Catholic religion. Hatred for the Catholic Church comes from all quarters, and one of this attack — that the Catholic Church is "corrupt, immoral and riddled with crime" is one of the more typical.
What no one stops to consider is that no knowledgeable Catholic disputes the fact that there is immorality, crime and corruption in the Catholic Church. We've known that from the beginning. In fact, the Lord Christ himself said that the sheep and the goats would be mingled together and that the wheat and the weeds would grow in the same field. Indeed, among the holy apostles themselves were those who were less than holy. Judas was a traitor who sold his Lord and his soul for a bag of money then went out and hung himself. Peter was a loud mouthed coward, Thomas a timorous doubter, Paul a violent and ignorant man and an accessory to murder. The list could go on.
Of course there is immorality and corruption and crime in the Catholic Church. What did you expect — a tighty whitey sect of grinning do gooders with their hair combed and their shoes shined and their ties tied out handing out gospel tracts? What did you expect a group of nice old ladies who bake cookies and run a soup kitchen? What did you expect — a group of sincere activists who want to bring in a more politically correct world for all the people they happen to feel sorry for? You can certainly find groups of do gooders like that, but they won't be the Catholic Church. They'll be some sort of frightful sect you wouldn't want to join if you had a chance.
Instead, in the Catholic Church — like any group of human beings — you'll find the good and the bad mixed up together. You'll find the agony and the ecstacy — the joy and the sorrow — the sinner and the saint, and isn't that what you'd expect to find if you were looking for an authentic religion? Isn't that what you find when you read the Old Testament? Isn't that what you find when you read human history? Isn't that what you find when you study your own family tree? Isn't that what you find when you look in the mirror?
The reason I love the 'corrupt and crime ridden Catholic Church' is that first of all we admit that it is such, and second, we're sorry that it is such and third, that we are trying to do something about it. The Catholic Church might be corrupt and crime ridden, but the Catholic Church is also the only institution that can do anything about it. Of course the Catholic Church is full of sinners. Just like a hospital is full of sick people. The Lord does not call the righteous but sinners to repentance, and since that is the case we should expect that it is sinners who respond to the call, come in out of the cold and ask for the necessary treatments to make things better.
We are all not happy with the crime and sin and corruption in the Catholic Church, but we can't imagine any other church that would be any different. Catholics are a work in progress and those of us who acknowledge we are sinners feel comfortable with other people who are also still working on it. Like an AA group: "Hi I'm Dwight. I'm a sinner."
So I'm not real worried about the Catholic Church being full of crime and corruption and a good number of sinners. It makes me feel at home.
What worries me are the self righteous people who blame the Catholic Church for being such. Do they really think they are so much better than everybody else? Geesh! It's those type of people who give me the creeps — not the sad sinners who sit in our pews week by week. At least they know they need help. The ones who think they don't need help? They're the squeaky clean zombies that make me shudder.
Father Dwight Longenecker. "Why I love the Corrupt and Crime Ridden Catholic Church." Patheos (Standing on My Head) (November 5, 2012).
Reprinted with permission from Father Dwight Longenecker. Standing on my head is the blog of Father Longenecker on Patheos.
Father Dwight Longenecker is the chaplain of St. Joseph's Catholic School, Greenville, South Carolina. He also serves on the staff of St. Mary's, Greenville. Father Longenecker studied for the Anglican ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and served for ten years in the Anglican ministry as a curate, a chaplain at Cambridge and a country parson. In 1995 he and his family were received into full communion with the Catholic Church. He is the author of books on apologetics, conversion stories and Benedictine spirituality including: St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way, Adventures in Orthodoxy, Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing, Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers, More Christianity, Challenging Catholics: A Catholic Evangelical Dialogue, St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way, Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate, and The Path to Rome. Visit his website here and his blog here where you can listen to his podcasts of his lectures and homilies and read regular updates.
Copyright © 2012 Father Dwight Longenecker
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