Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Sonja Corbitt

2/27/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scandal, scandal everywhere. As, then, Cardinal Ratzinger prayed, [The] Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers." When the Church seems like a boat about to sink, like a boat taking in water on all sides, there is safety in obedience, and it is the measure and mark of the Saints.

Highlights

By Sonja Corbitt

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/27/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: faith, clergy, scandal, misconduct, authority, obedience, justice, Sonja Corbitt


NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - Priest, deacon, bishop, parent, or god-parent, whether serious or minor in comparison, sin makes us doubt their leadership. We question their legitimacy to guide. We question their Catholicism, their holiness, their credibility. We question the Church. We question everything.

Scandal, scandal everywhere. As, then, Cardinal Ratzinger prayed, "[The] Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion." (Cardinal Ratzinger's Meditations for the Stations of the Cross, Prayer at Ninth Station).

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers" (CCC 675). A sign of the times, even orthodox Catholics grow anxious and faint while the enemy - in seemingly too many forms to fight - surges and exalts within the ranks.

What better way to "deceive even the elect" (Matt. 24:24) than to cast doubt on the leadership? "All of you will be scandalized...for it is written, 'Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter'" (Matt. 26:31). The sheep race in every direction, terrorized into fleeing the safety of the flock so they are easily devoured.

"Be sober. Be watchful. For your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).

What is our duty when the sin of our fathers and leaders is on full display, when we are sick with grief over their real or perceived falls from grace, when we are subject to a disappointing or even treacherous leader who raises questions of legitimacy in our hearts?

Deceiving ourselves into thinking we are fully on the side of purity and truth, their sins often draw forth self-righteousness from us. They provoke us to division, to a lack of charity and to gossip, when we are, instead, instructed to pray fervently: "He that knows his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask: and life shall be given to him who sins not unto death" (1John 5:16). 

The temptation is, like Martin Luther, to abandon ship and do our own thing, to stop discerning the Providence and direction of God through the authority, or to place our orthodoxy above our obedience. According to the Saints, this is a grave mistake. To do this is to follow the false doctrine of Satan, whose sin was rebellion.

"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Rom. 13:1-2).

Obedience is the measure and mark of the Saints. When there is sin in the ranks of the authorities we are instructed, "[I]f your brother offends you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church" (18:15-17). As far up the hierarchy as is appropriate and necessary, we can avail ourselves of the authority of the Church.

And then? The Lord has providentially spoken. Sit down in sackcloth and ashes. Shut your mouth. Pray. And wait on God's deliverance. Jesus was led like a lamb to the slaughter by the hierarchy of his faith, yet "He opened not His mouth" (Is. 53:7). He obeyed unto death, "even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8). Why? Because they occupied the position of legitimate authority, even in their sin.

Don't stone me. I didn't say it. Jesus did:

"The scribes and Pharisees sit on the Chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach and do not practice" (Matt. 23:1-3). Until they have been legitimately removed, they are legitimately in authority. We are commanded to obey legitimately placed leaders and submit to them, for they are responsible for our souls and will have to give an account to God for those under their leadership (Heb. 13:17).

Look, my whole life has been one loooong, painful instruction in authority and obedience (see Healing the Father Wound. I know this is difficult. But what is faith, if not this? We worry we will be treated unjustly and abandoned. Do we not trust God will provide for and deliver us? We worry that others will be led astray. Do we think God does not care for those? We worry the sin of our leaders will scandalize others. Do we not trust that God leads His Church, and that He can and will remove "bad" leaders when and if the time is right?

It's not that we mustn't do anything at all; we have a duty to work for justice. But in working for justice, we must be very careful that we follow the structure and method God has laid out.

"Take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men...keep away from them and let them alone; for if this plan or work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you be found to fight against God" (Acts 5:35-39).

"We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel, between Christ and Antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence.It is therefore, in God's Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously" (On the Present Age, John Paul II).

In the meantime, there are many radiantly faithful clergy, and a glorious batch of faithful seminarians in the works; we must pray them through the danger they will surely one day encounter.

But most of us are laity, and in the shadow of this time of widespread, fading clerical influence, John Paul II prophetically said, "...the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council marked a decisive turning-point. With the Council the hour of the laity truly struck, and many lay faithful, men and women, more clearly understood their Christian vocation, which by its very nature is a vocation to the apostolate" (Jubliee of the Apostolate of the Laity).

We are called, within our sphere of influence and the bounds of authority, to work in apostolate for justice, and it has never been more important that we do so: 

"The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all" (Cardinal Ratzinger's Meditations for the Stations of the Cross, Prayer at Ninth Station).

This is our Church, and come sin and hell and scandal, anti-pope, antichrist, or personal faults and failings, "the gates of hell will not prevail against her." THANKS BE TO GOD!
-----

Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scriptural evangelist, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit pursuingthesummit.com to book Sonja for your next great event, or to order her CDs or 10-week, DVD-driven Bible study Soul of the World on the Old Testament tabernacle as prototype of the soul and Church.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

Hurricane Katrina: Ten Years Later Watch

Image of Hurricane Katrina tore communities apart.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hurricane Katrina left nearly 2,000 people dead and thousands more were homeless and wounded. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused America's most expensive natural disaster, with a repair bill of $150 billion. Entire roads were washed ... continue reading


PASTORPOCALYPSE - At least 400 church leaders to RESIGN Sunday after Ashley Madison accounts revealed Watch

Image of At least 400 pastors are expected to resign this Sunday.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This Sunday could be a distressing day for millions of churchgoers across the country. As many as 400 pastors, some of them leading megachurch congregations, may resign following the Ashley Madison leak. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hypocrisy can be found in ... continue reading


Christian man beaten to death by Muslim refugees in Maine Watch

Image of Freddy Akoa, the victim of a savage beating by three men.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An assumed Christian man was found dead in his apartment with a bloody Bible near his head. The murder is believed to have been committed by three Muslim refugees who attended a party at the dead man's home in Portland, Maine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


St Augustine on a Personal Relationship with Jesus Watch

Image of St Augustine

By Deacon Keith Fournier

But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we ... continue reading


'We're going to get through this together': WDBJ stands together the day after the tragic live-shooting of reporter and cameraman Watch

Image of Colleagues hug during the moment of silence for their fallen team members.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

WDBJ-TV station grieves the loss of Alison Parker and Adam Ward the morning after their on-air murders.  Los Angeles, California (Catholic Online) - Thursday morning was emotional, as WDBJ-TV anchor Kim McBroom joined hands with anchor Steve Grand, who came in ... continue reading


Colorado movie theater assassin James Holmes will never step outside of a prison - ever Watch

Image of Obsessed with killing people since he was a teenager, James Holmes said he studied neuroscience in part to fix his own

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes, now 27, walked into an Aurora, Colorado movie theater during a late-night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." He opened fire, killing 12 people and wounded 70. Holmes will never step outside a prison ever again - he was sentenced ... continue reading


Bizarre, twisted story trails behind Virginia TV reporter killer Vester Flanagan Watch

Image of Failed TV news anchor Vester Flanagan was notorious for his

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Stories have come forward regarding 41-year-old former TV news reporter Vester Flanagan, accused in the on-air shooting deaths of 24-year-old WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old camera operator Adam Ward. Flanagan, who committed suicide after the ... continue reading


Vatican did not consent to sponsor Palestinian flag initiative at United Nations Watch

Image of Only member states' flags are currently eligible to fly at U.N. headquarters.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It seems that certain parties leapt to conclusions too readily... The Vatican has requested that the Palestinian U.N. mission to remove all references to the Holy See from a draft resolution. The Palestinians have put forth a formal request to the U.N. General Assembly ... continue reading


Now legal for police to fly drones armed with weapons in North Dakota Watch

Image of Police drone illustrating abilities to release tear gas from above.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With the last-minute push of pro-police lobbyists, it is now legal for the North Dakora law enforcers to fly drones equipped with "less than lethal" weapons such as tasers, pepper spray and tear gas. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - During a hearing in ... continue reading


Catholic hospital forced to bow down before ALCU, will perform sterilization - religious freedom dying in the name of convenience Watch

Image of A Catholic hospital in Redding, CA has been forced to agree to perform a sterilization procedure.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The ALCU has succeeded in forcing a Catholic hospital to perform a sterilization procedure in what is certainly a direct affront to religious freedom. More importantly, the case could be a predictor of how the larger issue of religious freedom will play out across the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2015 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know St. Sabina only ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter