Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Does the Church Need Defending?

This morning this headline caught my attention and made me stop and think:

Los Angeles archdiocese pays $10m to settle abuse cases 

(Read more here

A church rightly ends up paying $10m to victims of abuse when so much good could have been done with that money?   I have no reason to doubt that  Cardinal Roger Mahony is a reasonable God fearing man who has acted out of the best of intentions so what had gone wrong?

It appears that in this case, and others, the Roman Catholic Church has put the defence of itself and its institutions before the needs of the abused and downtrodden.  At that point it would be easy to write this off as a problem with that church, to tut, and to carry on but I think there is a lesson here for all Christians.

The Church has, over the centuries, developed many organisations forms to help administer and direct its work.  Whether this is right or not is irrelevant because that is where we all are be we Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican or even Baptist.  The problem arises when we react to defend the institution over the individual and in doing so we lose sight of our original objective to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.  We do this by discouraging troublemakers and try to maintain unity at all costs in order to protect 'the church.'  An example of this is the efforts made in the Anglican church to keep everyone in the fold over the issue of women bishops; the church has got so caught up in trying not to upset some people that it is prepared to disadvantage women over a matter of justice.

Churches are, generally, good places full of people trying to do God's work but we need to be careful that it remains the way to God's Kingdom and not the Kingdom itself.