To comment on a very good homily today, where the priest said that the latest crisis in the Church is not disturbing his faith.
Okay, not disturbing your faith. Fine. Not mine either. But I can't help but observe that to be consistent oughtn't it disturb our faith, when the good periferies comfort our faith? How is that consistent? Let me give an example. If we are glad when hear of some convert to the Faith (the more famous the better!), shouldn't we feel an exactly proportionate sense of disappointment when someone leaves the Faith (the more famous the worse!);when we hear of the greatness of a bishop, pride, the great sinfulness of another, shame? So I would say that if faith is strengthened is it not also weakened?
What is faith, then - the ability to act in accordance with belief against prudence? When it is stronger it is more daring; when it is weaker it cowers, even if it does not retreat. Others make me bolder, so others can make me more timid. Successes encourage me, while failures discourage. But neither erases conviction that x is x and y is y. Faith is not merely belief that something is true, but the will to act in accordance with it.
There is something about me, I think, such that, even if I ever lost the supernatural virtue of faith I would not, then, be inclined to another sort of Christianity or another sort of religion, just like if I was deprived of sexuality I would not end up a pedophile (contrary to certain suggestions to the contrary!). This is where the preacher and I begin to see things differently. When observing that, in light of the abuse crisis, some have left the Church, he seems to miss the fact that these apostosizers are operating from a wholly different set up antecedent probabilities, or set of intuitions, or what have you. Although these people were Catholic, what they meant by 'Catholic' was very different from what he and I mean by it. The fact is, for me, there is Catholicism or there is nothing. And, luckily, my Catholicism does not require impeccable bishops - although I could understand how some others' would require it. They are being consistent by leaving; I am by staying. I don't think there's much more to it than that; not much more needs to be said. Does it make me better? It makes me correct, catechetically speaking. Faith is a gift, and here, in my adhesion to the Catholic doctrine of the ex opere operato (the power of the sacraments independent of the sacramental minister), I have the gift of faith, or, maybe it is better to say that the gift has included adhesion to this article of faith.
Is it an inferior idea to believe that a Church should only have holy ministers? Of course not. Well, the real Church is not like that. Thus, insofar as it is untrue is that idea inferior, but it is not inferior because it represents a theoretically inferior state of affairs.In fact, it represents a superior state of affairs. Kind of reminds me of those who maintain that there must be no one in hell since it would be better if there were no one in hell.
We rejoice in the saints. I have always been greatly comforted in their edification. If I found out tomorrow some rude fact about St. Jerome, for instance, my faith would not be weakened. I would be saddened. On the other hand, the indisputable evidence of the orthodoxy of the Roman See in Antiquity (indisputable that it had a much better record than any other see), in other words, that it was always on the right side of doctrinal disputes, is something altogether different, kind of like the infallibility of the Scriptures. It comforts my faith, in a way that the holiness of bishops comforts and confirms the faith of others. So I understand. In the Protestant mindset good living is the sole "mark of the Church", if we could so speak. Thus, the Church is where, and is only where, there are holy people. That is not the Catholic Faith, but you can understand how intuitive it would be for many.