The Church and the Costa Concordia: A Lesson

Righting the ship. If you’ve been following the efforts  to raise the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise vessel, grounded for nearly two years on an Italian reef, you know it was no simple operation. It took vision, commitment, lots of money and equipment and time.

Righting the Church (which is, even for those of us who share Pope Francis’s graced optimism, always in need of righting) is the much the same.

It only takes one person—the Concordia‘s captain, who swears he didn’t know the reef was there and then had the arrogance to jump ship; the Catholic, stubbornly traditional or radically avant-garde, who believes she or he must ignore the maps and push ahead (or astern) full speed—to leave a trail of miserable wreckage.

And it only takes one person—Nick Sloane, the South African salvage expert who believed his crazy plan would work; the saint, which (as Fr Dwight Longenecker writes so beautifully today) means you and me!—to make the course correction.

Fr Dwight and Nick Sloane preach the same lesson: Don’t sit around waiting for there to be a better time, and don’t give up.

“She was heavier than I expected,” Sloane told reporters after getting a few hours of sleep. “But you have to be patient. You can’t do it with a stopwatch.” Read more.

Finally, remember this, we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Why did you think that the church would be free from corruption, scandal, indifference and heresy? It has always been like this and it always will be. Read church history. The complainers and protesters never accomplished very much. The saints did. The saints confronted corruption with radiant lives of simplicity and power. They skewered scandal with radiant lives of purity and goodness. They overwhelmed indifference with radiant lives of zeal and joy. (Fr Dwight Longenecker)

So, quitcher bitchin. Roll up your sleeves and heave ho, me hearties. In the long run, it’s all about salvage.


  • MeanLizzie

    Wow, that’s a terrific addendum to Fr. Dwight’s piece and an excellent analogy, particularly for me, today, as I feel like so much wreckage!

  • Gail Finke

    Fabulous analogy!

  • Y. A. Warren

    It’s time for mutiny on The Bounty. The ship of The Roman Catholic Church can’t be saved because the officers are corrupted by their own power and too attached to their own comforts. It’s not The Universal Catholic Church that needs salvaging and scrapping; it is the Vatican and all its officers.

  • ZenDruid

    The Costa Concordia is a dead ship, and will be sold for scrap. Do you really like this analogy?

  • Jasper0123

    Does the church really need Patheos?

    • Thomas L. McDonald

      “The Church” does not need anything or anyone, including you. We need the Church, and the people who expose themselves to ridicule and hostility in order to build up the Kingdom need Her prayers. And yours.