The sins that have been exposed in the latest sad revelations are despicable, unthinkable and outrageous. A heartbreaking betrayal of trust and abominable failure has occurred among who knows how many bishops, covering up hideous sins and causing more innocent people to be abused and violated.
Nevertheless, our altogether justified revulsion to all that (I have condemned it in no uncertain terms and called for an “ultra-zero tolerance” purge) is not a good or sufficient reason to leave Holy Mother Church. This is nothing new (i.e., in terms of sinners – even very despicable ones) in the Church.
To offer an analogy: If Isaac Newton — heaven forbid — had been found having sex with a little boy, it wouldn’t alter the fact that gravity is a scientific truth. We wouldn’t reject his established, demonstrable teaching.
St. Paul didn’t hesitate in calling the Corinthian assembly “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; RSV) even though terrible sexual sin had occurred within its ranks (1 Corinthians 5:1).
He was even more harsh with the Galatian church. He charged them with “deserting” Christ and “turning to a different gospel” (Gal 1:6) and stated that they were “severed from Christ” and had “fallen away from grace” (5:4; cf. 3:1-3; 4:9; 5:7). Yet he still referred to them as “churches” (1:2), “sons” of God (3:26; 4:5-7), and “brethren” (1:11; 4:12, 28, 31; 6:1, 18).
Somehow, our Lord Jesus still called the assembly of Christians in Thyatira “the church” (Revelation 2:18), despite the presence therein of (how familiar!) wicked sexual immorality (Revelation 2:20-25).
Jesus called all seven assemblies of Revelation “churches” (2:1; 2:8; 2:12; 3:1; 3:7; 3:14; along with the repetition of “what the Spirit says to the churches” in 2:7 and similar passages), yet excoriated several of them in no uncertain terms (2:4-5; 2:14-16; 3:1-3; 3:15-18).
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