There are bound to be bad seeds in such a large group as the Catholic Church, says St. Augustine. But the Church can’t be blamed for people who don’t follow its teachings, since the Church is always trying to bring them back.
Don’t bring up against me those people who claim the name of Christian but neither know nor show any evidence of the power of their profession. Don’t hunt down the numerous ignorant people who, even in the true religion, are superstitious, or so given up to evil passions that they forget what they’ve promised to God. I know that there are many who get really drunk over the dead, and who bury themselves over the buried in their funeral feasts, and indulge their gluttony and drunkenness in the name of religion. I know that there are many who claim to have renounced this world, and yet desire to be burdened with all the weight of worldly things, and rejoice in those burdens.
My advice to you is this: that you should at least stop slandering the Catholic Church by protesting against the conduct of those whom the Church herself condemns, trying to correct them every day like wicked children. Then, if any of them are corrected through good will and by the help of God, they regain by repenting what they had lost by sin. On the other hand, those who persist in their old vices with wicked will are indeed allowed to remain in the field of the Lord, and to grow along with the good seed, but the time for separating the weeds will come.
–St. Augustine, Morals of the Catholic Church, 34
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
When I think of scandals in the Church, would it help me to remember St. Augustine’s words?
Father, you are rich in mercy, and you desire to cleanse the guilt of every sinner. Have pity on your Church, and take the sinfulness from her erring members.
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