I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. (I put all the adjectives AND the noun in capitals just to ward off any reading this blog who might quibble about “big C” and “little c”). We talk a lot on this blog about what it means to be “One” and “Catholic” and “Apostolic”, but what about “Holy”?
Well, Zenit recently askd the question of Fr Miguel De Salis: “Is the Church holy?” – a challenging question in the light of current revelations.
Two of Fr Miguel’s responses are worth emphasising:
1) The Church is objectively holy because the Holy Things of God are to be found in her: “the Sacraments, the Word of God, the Presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the moral law an all the other gifts that God has given her to carry out the mission he has entrusted to her.” Thus, the holiness of the Church depends upon God, not upon the holiness (or otherwise) of her members. This objective grounding of the Holiness of the Church in a sure and certain reality beyond us is of utmost importance – in effect, to say that the Church is holy is to say that Christ – God – is holy. The Church’s Holiness is entirely derivative.
2) While we are used to likening sin in human society as a “disease”, sin in the “visible society” of the Church is more to be likened to a “wound”. For a disease affects the whole body; when one has a disease, no part of the body is healthy. That is what the human race is like. However, sin in the Church is like a wound – the part that has committed the sin is sick, but this does not preclude other parts of the body being healthy. Of course, the whole body suffers from the sin of the member, and needs to work hard to effect the healing of that member for the sake of the health of the whole boy, but the sin of a member is not a negation of the health of the body as a whole.
Both thoughts are very encouraging and worth keeping in mind.