In the clamor of the world demanding that the Church conform to its mandates—an eternal demand now emanating again—the bark of Peter throughout the 2,000 year history of the institutional Church has largely stayed on course, and during this present time of worldly demands has done so admirably, under the wise guidance of a great pope.
This excellent article from The Catholic Thing addresses that.
“The great modern theologian Henri de Lubac S.J., once wrote: “The supernatural good that the [Church] serves in this world is something that reaches its totality in the invisible order and finds its consummation in the eternal.” (Splendor of the Church) This good news about the Church is important to keep in mind in light of the other news we are hearing these days. Supporters ask the Church to hire a media relations firm while opponents insist that the Church reform itself – which somehow they think involves married and female priests, and the abandonment of the Church’s teaching authority, all of which have nothing to do with the problems at hand.
“The pope and the bishops have to act in ways that acknowledge and respond to the legitimate concerns of people outside the Church, yet never lose site of the eternal goal. Benedict XVI certainly understands this dual historical mission. The visit to Malta, for example, offered one of many occasions for him to meet with the victims of clerical abuse and to weep with them – but also to be present as the pastor of the flock. The recent days in Portugal have shown that he grasps the problem and is able to articulate it at greater depth than anyone on the public stage.
“Now all real Catholics are quite aware of human failings. They know that the City of God and the City of Man meet – and compete – in our hearts. The human condition requires us to live justly, despite this dramatic tension, until the end of our lives. The same tension can be found in Church organization, from the Vatican down to every diocese and parish. History is made in the very thick of the drama of decisions, in cooperating with grace and truth. True character emerges in this process.
“Though few realize it, Benedict has already implemented the needed changes in procedures, beginning in 2002 when, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was tasked with dealing with child abuse in the Church. He has met with victims face-to-face during many of his visits and will do so again and again. He has pushed bishops to get their houses in order. But the attacks on the Church and on Benedict personally have increased, not due to a rise in cases (the numbers are the lowest in decades), but for quite other reasons.”