Whenever I get depressed about the state of the Church, I take great comfort from this statement by Ronald Rolheiser:
To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child molesters, murderers, adulterers, and hypocrites of every description. It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul within every time, country, race, and gender.
To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.
“[T]he church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion.” It is good to be reminded that the Church has always been in a mess; there was no “golden past” [whether that of Francis of Assisi or of Bing Crosby in “The Bells of St. Mary’s”]. We are no worse now than we were then – we are as much in need of God’s mercy and love now as we always have been.
And, while it takes a moment to embrace being associated with “scoundrels… and hypocrites of every description,” it is the truth – whether or not we’re affiliated with the Church, each of them is a beloved child of God just as much as we are and, thus, they are our brothers and sisters. And, on the upbeat side, we also get to hang out with the Communion of Saints. How wonderful is that?