How do you live with a sinful church?
There is a classic question that most will have to answer at some point in their lives: How do you live with a sinful church?
All institutions are flawed because they are made of human beings… not only churches but businesses… sports empires… governments… non-profits… even families. At some point, we all have to figure out how to deal with those institutions when they let us down / when they don’t meet our expectations / when they make poor decisions.
It is hugely tempting in these modern times to walk away when church fails us. Human nature—like flowing water—will always seek the path of least resistance. Society and culture further entice us with other options. If we don’t like this parish, then there’s another perfectly good one down the street… it’s just not a deal. The easiest choice is to turn tail and run… the human ego prefers anything, just about anything , to falling or changing or dying. ( <= Check out that link…)
It doesn’t make sense to walk away from the church…
… unless your core beliefs have changed. Even though I am hugely frustrated with the actions and decisions of clerics in my world, I still hold Catholic theology at my center. The God I know is real and true and bigger than any priest could ever be… which I find immensely comforting.
It does make sense to take a break though… I have a friend who can’t go to Mass anymore because it just makes him/her mad by bringing to mind all the ways that the institution is failing to walk its own talk… i.e. How can you say that all people are made equally in God’s image but then deny women the role of priesthood? How can I trust an institution that covers up the horrific abuses of children? … just to name a couple. I think it’s a temporary place, my friend.
Most people in the West are spiritually lazy.
71% of people who left the Catholic church said it was because they either just gradually drifted away or their spiritual needs weren’t being met. Some of them went on to other denominations, but most just stopped going at all.
I think it’s really more a spiritual laziness… and when we are lazy, we stay on whatever path we are already on. Until some “necessary suffering” comes along… a job loss / the death of a loved one / personal tragedy / natural disaster… we will remain stationary until something shakes us up. It’s human nature.
The Necessary Suffering
Perhaps this angst with Catholic leadership is the necessary suffering that will propel us forward. But festering angst will do nothing… people have to decide to change and then be willing to do what it takes to create that change. Until then… it doesn’t make sense to walk away. If you do, then you forfeit your turn at bat.