Editor’s Scratchpad

Human flaws
needn’t shake faith

Missing from much of the news coverage of the turmoil within the Roman Catholic Church, here and on the mainland, is a distinction between church and faith. They are not the same thing.

For many Catholics, including this one, the church is temporal and, like all human institutions, populated by imperfect people. We may be dismayed by sexual abuse, the blind adherence to a celibate and male priesthood, a Mass that lacks poetry, and sermons that cause snoring in the pews, but we understand that those are mortal imperfections.

The faith is spiritual and, we like to think, a universal and eternal core of beliefs given by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, the writings of scholars like Augustine and Aquinas, the sense of the faithful, and yes, even the magisterium, or teaching, of the church. The ills of the temporal church are unlikely to cause the faithful to abandon their spiritual heritage.

As The New York Times reported Sunday morning, "The crisis within the American Catholic Church now resembles an anguished argument among troubled relatives, none of whom is ready to disown the family." Or, as someone once wrote, "No matter how tawdry the chalice, the wine remains pure."

--Richard Halloran

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