Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Is There a Perfect Church?

In his life on earth, Jesus did much good, but he also left much good undone. Listen to St. Cyril of Jerusalem speaking about the miracles of Jesus:

“At Siloam, there was a sense of wonder, and rightly so. A man born blind recovered his sight. But what importance is this when there are so many blind people in the world? Lazarus rose from the dead, but even this only affected Lazarus. What of those countless numbers who have died because of their sins? Those five miraculous loaves of bread fed five thousand. Yet this is a small number compared to those all over the word who are starved by ignorance. After eighteen years a woman is freed from bondage of Satan. But are we not all shackled by the chains of our sins?”

The saint stresses the mystery of the cross, which is Christ’s lasting gift to us.

Isn’t it true, though, that we want a Savior who creates a perfect world instantly, leaving no suffering, no questions, no evil left to plague our world?  Why didn’t he recreate paradise when he came among us?

At least, why didn’t he create a perfect church?

We’d like a church that’s perfect. Not a pilgrim church that plods its way through time, but a church that knows everything, can do everything, and can judge everything. Be nice to be part of a church like that. Or would it?

So, why shouldn’t a pope blunder in his relationship with the Jews by dealing with a crazy bishop? Popes have blundered before. Native Americans and native peoples may have a better understanding and appreciation of the environment than Christians do; feminists may appreciate the role of women in the world better than the established church does.

Isn’t there room for a “learning church?”

The disciples were “slow to understand” when they walked with Jesus on the way to Emmaus. The scriptures don’t say they knew it all when they left the table after seeing him.

We’re back to the mystery of the cross. We’re always back to the mystery of the cross.

Does Religion Answer All Questions?

Is religion about  answering questions, all questions? The perfect  Christian, then, would be someone who has the answer to everything.

I was interested in something Pope Benedict XVI said  recently on the subject of God.

“The words of St Ignatius spring to mind: ‘The Christian is not the result of persuasion, but of power.’ We should not allow our faith to be drained by too many discussions of multiple, minor details, but rather, should always keep our eyes in the first place on the greatness of Christianity.

I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.

If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith – a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.”

It seems to me that the Christmas season, which we’re still celebrating, is about a great mystery of faith. God has sent his Word, become flesh, and he has given us a share in his life. The pope is right, he (and we) don’t have to have all the answers; our first duty is to be humble before the power of God made visible.