3. The sins of the Church

And again, the world’s media echo, with a large deployment of certain offenses committed by priests or of the compensations in the millions that the Diocese must pay to the victims of these. In addition, and as if that were not enough, in any conversation with an anticlerical arises the question of the Inquisition or the Crusades and, if the anticlerical is Latino, not missing is the theme of the massacre organized by the Spanish in America and allegedly backed by the missionaries. It seems as if the Church had committed, in its two thousand years of history, nothing but disgraces.

Teaching of the Magisterium:

“Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. the Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit”. (Catechism, no. 827).

“What can you tell us the third fall of Jesus under the weight of the Cross? Perhaps it makes us think about the fall of men, in which many are far from Christ, with the tendency to a secularism without God. But, should we not also think about what must be the suffering of Christ in his own Church? How many times is the sacrament of His presence abused, and in the vacuum and evilness of hearts where it often enters. How many times we celebrate ourselves without paying attention to Him! How many times His Word is deformed and abused! What little faith there are many theories, how many empty words! How much filth in the Church and among those who, because of their priesthood, should be fully devoted to him! How much pride, how much self-sufficiency! How little we respect the sacrament of Reconciliation, in which He hopes to lift us from our falls! Also, this is present in His passion. The betrayal of the disciples, the unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest sorrow of the Redeemer, which pierces through the heart. We shout from the depths of the soul: Kyrie, eleison – Lord, save us (cf Mt 8.25).” (Cardinal Ratzinger. The cross of 2005. Ninth Station).

“Forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God who, in his merciful love, has produced in the Church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbor, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. We ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions. Let us confess, even more reason, our responsibilities as Christians for the evils of today. In front of the atheism, religious indifference, secularism, ethical relativism, the violations of the right to life, to disinterest in the poverty of many countries, we must ask ourselves what our responsibilities are. For the part which each one of us, with our behaviors, has had in these evils, thus helping to disfigure the face of the Church, we humbly ask forgiveness. At the same time, as we confess our sins, let us forgive the sins committed by others against us. In the course of history Christians have suffered many times abuses, oppression and persecution because of their faith. As we pardon the victims of such abuses, let´s also forgive ourselves. The Church of today feels and has always felt obliged to purify her memory of those sad events from every feeling of rancor or revenge. In this way, the Jubilee becomes for everyone a favorable opportunity for deep conversion to the gospel. The acceptance of God’s forgiveness leads to the commitment to forgive our brothers and sisters and to be reconciled”. (John Paul II, Homily at the Mass of the Day of Forgiveness. 12 March 2000).

“We believe that the Church is holy, but in it there are sinful men. It is necessary to reject the desire to identify only with those who have no sin. How could the church to exclude sinners from its ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. It is necessary to learn to live Christian penance with sincerity”. (Benedict XVI, 26 May 2006).


The Church does not hide the sin of its members, of all its members with the exception of its founder, Jesus Christ, and his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. It never has done so. It has never claimed to be an institution formed by “perfect people” and open only to “holy ones”. In fact, described as heretics to those that sought – the Cathars. Therefore, the first thing we have to say is that, indeed, the church is made up of sinners and that that is exactly what makes it possible for those who consider themselves to be sinners to have a place in it.

That does not mean that the Church itself is sinful. The Church is holy, though many of its members are sinners. It is holy in his head, Christ. It is holy in Holy Mother Mary. It is holy in the thousands and thousands of saints who, despite having been sinners, were converted and already enjoy the vision of God in heaven, the Church Triumphant, which is a very important part of the Church. It is also in those who are still making their pilgrim way on earth and are struggling to be their best, rising every time they fall, whether these falls are small or large – the Church militant, formed by all living Catholics -. That is why it is not correct to say that the Church is holy and sinful at the same time. The Church is holy, though many of its members are sinners. It does not hide the reality of sin within the Church but does not make anyone into a sinner. It would be as if she, as an institution, was promoting the sin, the sin, justifying the sin; in that case would have become an instrument of sin and if it would be sinful. But if this were to happen would have ceased to be the church of Jesus Christ.

The Church, therefore, does not commit sins. Some – or many – of its members, yes, commit them. And one thing is not the same as the other. In addition, it is not a coincidence that the barrage of accusations against the Church is due to the fact that it refuses to become an “instrument of sin”. Because It does not want to be this is why they accuse her of sinfulness and aerate the sins of its members. For example, because the Church does not accept homosexuality as something normal and therefore legitimate, is the reason why the sins of homosexuality of some priests are published. If the Church allowed good sins such as abortion, marriage of the divorced, the genetic manipulation of human beings, the revolutionary use of terrorist violence, etc., the pressure against it would end. But if to do so it would have ceased to be “holy”, because it would have become an institution that justifies evil, that blesses evil. Therefore, while she condemns sin, will remain holy, as is its head, Jesus Christ. Only when that sin is blessed will cease to be. And the sins of its members, as many and serious as they may be, do not affect or will affect his holiness.

According to this, when someone accuses the Church of being sinful, we must reject it outright. It is, first of all, by the holiness of Christ and of many of its members. But, in addition, it is because she as an institution created by Christ is at the service of the holiness and in permanent struggle against sin. We need to help those who attack the Church to realize precisely this detail: that the attacks and insults against her are due not to the members of the same who are sinners, but that she doesn’t want to call good what is bad, what is sin. Precisely because it denies this, in spite of the enormous pressure that it receives, that the Church is holy. Curiously, those who call it sinful would cease to do so if it really was; because it is not, because it is at the service of good and not of evil, is why they accuse her of being it.

Another aspect to be stressed is the opening of the church to sinners. Those who say the Church is full of them should considered themselves to be perfect, because if they were aware that they’re sinners wouldn’t so much aversion to the fact that in an institution have a place people with birth defects. The Church, which has been strict with sin, has never expelled sinners from her breast. On the contrary, has welcomed them with a mother’s love, as Christ did. What it has not done has been to justify his sin, bless him. Continually ringing in the ears of Catholics are the words of Christ to the adulteress: “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more” (Jn 8: 11). This attitude of the Church should not be seen as a gesture of complicity with sin, but as an extended hand the sinner for the lifting from his prostration, to undertake the path of conversion, relying primarily on the strength of grace, in the divine mercy.

Finally, we must not fail to highlight, before the one accusing the church of sin, the almost infinite good works that the Church as an institution and its members have carried out, both in the present and in the past. Only a voluntary blindness can fail to see this. There are the artistic monuments of different types, the contribution to civilization, and especially the enormous works of charity, as well as the defense of the rights of the weakest. Interestingly, it is because the Church insists on doing good, defending those that no one defends -as is the case of unborn children, why it is so attacked. Although this is not new. In the same way, the church was attacked by Hitler, attacked by Stalin, and has been attacked by various tyrants and murderers of history. They have done so, not only killing millions of its children, the martyrs, but smearing their name and pretending to confuse the facts, slandering the innocent, so that which is holy appears as sinful, precisely because it is determined to be faithful to Jesus Christ, to be an instrument of sanctification rather than an instrument of sin.

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