Of course, this is the well known title of the book by Joanna Bogle (click the picture to go to the Google books page). But never was a truer word spoken. We Catholics are not under any illusions about how bad things are in Holy Mother Church. Past Elder, when he used to frequent this blog, delighted in calling her a “whore” rather than a “mother”. We can see how he might come to that conclusion.
Here is a less colourful, but rather more extended critique of things as they stand, from an article by Philip Blosser [ ‘The Kasper-Ratzinger Debate and the State of the Church’]:
With a few thankful exceptions, our collective acquaintance with Scripture is piecemeal, our knowledge of Tradition is pathetic, our hymns are embarrassing, our religious art is ugly, our churches look like U.N. meditation chapels, our ethics are slipshod, and our aesthetic and spiritual sensibilities are so far from being sublime that they almost look ridiculous.
No wonder a gap is widening between the Church’s official teachings and the actual practices of many local churches! No wonder the Church’s official positions are implemented with increasing reluctance or simply ignored! For over two generations our faith formation has been shaped by a media culture that has portrayed our Church as a dinosaur that is either an impediment to social progress or simply irrelevant. We are blinded by ignorance. Where there is no vision, the people perish. The truth is that our Church’s traditions and teachings have not been tried and found wanting; they have been found demanding and are no longer tried.
Many blame the Second Vatican Council and 1968 and all that, but the roots of the current problems in the Church (I have it on good authority) go back long before that. One scholar (in a yet to be published book) reckons the rot can be traced back to the rise of nominalism in the fourteenth century…
And yet still we say: Come on in! Still we urge our brothers and sisters in other communions to come into full communion with the bishop of Rome. Still we carry on evangelising and baptising and raising people in the faith in this Church. Why don’t we just give up on her and go elsewhere? (Of course, there are many – most of them over on Catholica – whose litany of woes in the Church would be the direct opposite of Blosser’s above, and yet who also show a decided attachment to the Old Mother and show no signs of bailing out just yet!).
I believe it is because we are convinced that this “whore”, this “old woman” is, warts and all, the Bride of Christ. The two texts that stand out most for me are: John 6:68 (“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”) and Matt 16:18: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” They give one a kind of reckless optimism which nothing can extinguish.