Sunday, January 29, 2012

To teach with authority

It has been a decade now since the pedophilia explosion in Boston that rocked the Church around the world. What some then saw as a symptom of the liberal US Catholic Church, was discovered to be a metastasized cancer in countries around the world, even the most traditional Catholic countries. Once more we have seen how the heinous action and inaction of a small number of people can damage the entire body of Christ.

What does this have to do with today's readings? The readings today speak about teaching with authority.

Some would argue that scandal in the church undermines its authority. If that were true then all of Paul's letters would need to be stripped from the new testament. Was he not a murderer? Or go back through the Old Testament. How many of the great figures were fatally flawed people?

The authority of the Church to teach does not come from the holiness of the individuals, but from the Holy Spirit. We speak of the human writers of the scriptures as being inspired. It was the Spirit in them that gave authority to what they wrote, and that same Spirit guides us still. Throughout the bible God often chose the most flawed and least capable to make that very point.

It is always better when a leader of the church is holy, and practices what they teach, giving good example. But let us not delude ourselves. Every member of the church from the pope down to the most recently baptized is a fragile imperfect human being, including you and I.

For me this does not however undermine the ability of the church to teach with authority, because my faith rests not in the spokesperson but in the one who inspires, God. I believe the Holy Spirit is alive and well and continues to guides the Church, and will continue to do so until the end of time.