Because the Church Is Too Powerful

The second issue for me is the institution… the Catholic church… it had and still has too much power.. and it’s authority is justified through the divine, a source of power which is really unchecked… And now if the church used it’s power to do good things in the world.. I could ignore that.. but that’s not the case.. And now you’ll tell me that the church helps plenty and donates to charity and whatnot… but does that excuse all the other bad deeds the Catholic church has done? Can’t we have a charitable organization that only does charitable things? So my problem with the church is that it has too much unchecked power.

The truth of the matter is that – and please don’t stone me in the marketplace – Ambre is right. The Church has way too much unchecked power. Thousands of sensible people were screaming “No, are you insane?!” when Christ said to Peter “You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.” I was probably one of them. You’re giving that power to man? Man who has consistently and constantly spent his time screwing up? Man who cheats, lies, steals, commits adultery, fornication, worships false gods, writes awfully long books promoting atheism, watches porn, drinks too much, ignores the poor, kills his brother, invents blogging, and all the rest? He is to have the power to forgive sins, the power to bind and loose, the power speak the absolute Truth? “Yes!” says Christ, and then flies off into the sky with a “good luck!”

And so here we are. The largest single institution in the world. And hey – surprise, surprise – the men and women within it haven’t improved since Peter. But what is the Catholic Church? Is it the collection of these priests and bishops and popes? No, that’s simply the Church hierarchy. Is it them plus the people? Well yes, in one sense, that The Church is made up of all it’s members. But it must be remembered that – as in all institutions – a single member, or a group of members is not the institution. That’s why we don’t say that the American government is evil when Nixon turns out to be a cheat. Or why we don’t stop flying when one guy falls asleep at his control tower. Or why Muslims say, “Islam is not truly represented by extremism.”

So one equally cannot say, “Look at this Pope who had three wives and invaded Portugal! The Catholic Church does bad things!” There’s no logic there.

Where are we left then? Well, if you really wanted to call the American government evil – not the current people governing, the actual American Government – you would look not to individuals, but to the Constitution. And there you would see one of two things. That the Constitution itself was evil. That would settle it; if the doctrines of the government are evil, the very principles by which it operates, then the government is evil. If there’s a kill-orphans clause…well, there’s a kill orphans clause. Or alternatively you could see that the Constitution was good, but has been changed. There is a kill-orphans amendment.

So when the statement is made that “the Catholic Church does bad things,” the only possible way this can be true is if the doctrines of the Church are bad. If one member of the Church kills a bunch of orphans in the name of Jesus, one can only say “the Catholic Church does bad things” if it is a doctrine she teaches; that you can kill orphans in the name of Jesus. It isn’t.

And the fantastic thing is, despite having scumbag popes, secular takeovers of the Vatican, and all in all remaining a sinful people, not a single teaching of the Catholic Church has changed. This is especially incredible when you realize that many of these secular takeovers (killing the pope and replacing him with a king or prince or priest loyal to some monarch) were carried out with the express purpose of changing the doctrines of the Church, usually that pesky “don’t get divorced” one. (Though not so incredible for Catholics; we know our Church is guided by God, and thus no human power could change a teaching of the Church.)

I don’t know what “bad things the Catholic Church” did that Ambre refers to, and chances are they’re the Crusades – which I think were a fantastic thing. But the end point is this: say the Catholic Church is bad and evil because it preaches the doctrine of original sin, because it says that you shouldn’t commit adultery, because it says that marriages are sacraments, fine. But don’t say the Catholic Church does bad things because you read about a pope having a mistress, or having people tortured. All that says is that Catholics are bad, and trust me, we are already aware.

I guess I didn’t answer the “too much power” thing. But perhaps I did, given that power is only a problem if its’s being used for evil. There are people who abuse the power the Church has, but that is the fault of the person, not the Church. You would burn down the forest for fear of the weeds, for the power of the Church lies in her teachings.

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