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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  • Jeni

    Hey now, pretty scandalous video there, my friend? I didn't watch it, but the picture alone is bad enough to cause temptation — especially to those prone to that sort of thing right? I stay as far away from lust as possible and that has worked for me so far!

  • Marc

    uuhhh, potentially? i mean the video portrays that in a pretty corrupt, negative light, making it clear it's a bad pope who has a mistress – not promoting anything, not oversexed…i guess the picture itself could be a temptation, which is why it's the front picture, to generate clicks.

  • Marc

    but prudence. ok it's gone.

  • Christina

    awesome post! "If we [Catholics] haven't destroyed the church, it MUST be from God!"

  • Rebecca

    I've been following your blog for along time. That's a lie. I first read it last night. But I really, really like it. Somehow through the clickety-click labryinth of the interwebz I started at and landed here.Nice work. I like your writing style. It's brave. If I were in charge of writing something more profound than sticky notes that say 'diapers/milk/vodka' I'd hire you in a second.Your post reminds me of a joke. Napoleon said to the Pope 'I will destroy your church' and the Pope said 'If 1800 years of popes,priests and laypeople couldn't do it, neither can you'lol, lol, lol.

  • jacsab

    Hi, my name is Jacopo and I'm from italy,sorry if my english is not good.I will try to answer the "too much power" thing.Some months ago a priest from Africa was invited to talk in a television program of the italian left party national channel , one question was about the power of the church, this question was made just to attack the priest ,something that is become the italian and european national sport for the people who votes the left party ,this priest answer was very simple:"The church needs the power, because without the power the church is not free to say what it thinks,the Pope will not be able to do what he wants and he can be commanded by the first president,prime minister,politician who decides to use him, in the same way the China wanted to use the Dalai Lama and he had to flee from his country."I think this answer was very good , and the fears of this priest are becoming more and more real in europe.For example look what's happening in the united kingdom where the church is not free,politicians are trying to order to the anglican priests to celebrate omosexual weddings, or again in the UK catholic couples can't adopt childs because they think omosexual sex is a sin , not that is illegal but a sin, in europe doesn't exist the laicity but a kind of atheistic idea of the state, something that Pope Benedict likes to call laicism.PS: is the first time I'm on your blog,from today I think I'll read it all the weeks.

    • Snookerin

      Oh my the vativan is not at all ‘free’ from political ties

  • Marc

    Jacopo!It's a honor to have an Italian read my blog! I have visited your country many times and I am in love with it. Gelato, The Vatican, Assisi, Bibione, the language, culture, food and people!I agree with you. The Church must remain above the tide of secular power, as it knows from past experience the damage that can be done when it is made a puppet of some state.I would add to that a quote I heard from Pope Benedict who said that the church does not have power, it has authority. That's important to remember, that it is the teachings and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that allows the Catholic Church to rule its people, not monetary, military or secular power.

  • Mary Floyd

    Imperfection in English, not in doctrine, bothers me. Please reserve the use of “it’s” to mean “it is” and “its” to mean “belonging to it.” Then you won’t end up with messes like “its’s” to poke holes in your argument.

  • Alejandro

    The crusades were not a good thing, the only good thing they did is that prevent us from being under muslim rule now, and Islam is not even bad because modern Islam is like fundamentalist Christianity, a perversion of it’s original teachings. Besides, there are other bad things the church did. Like:
    Destruction of pagan temples
    Persecution of pagans and heretics
    Causes prejudice against sinners like women who abort
    Ignorance to a certain extent
    Child molesters
    Imposition of her morals in states
    Pretty sure there are more. Look, I’m a catholic and I agree for the most part with your article, it’s actually pretty good, but you can’t exculpate the church from many things, and the church should stop acting like a moral authority we all should obey.

  • Snookerin

    I disagree ( and I’m Catholic ) : ) I say the abuse of power is, in fact, the fault of the Church because the structure of the hierarchy allows- facilitates even- the abuse of the power. Also, and I am really not trying to be unkind here- have you read the history of the Crusades?