140 – “Do we love the Church as we love our mothers, also taking into account her defects? All mothers have defects. The Church also has her defects”

“Do we love the Church as we love our mothers, also taking into account her defects?” This question proffered by Francis, reveals the high concept he has of the institution he governs. The defects of the Church? What is he referring to? Didn’t Saint Paul proclaim her to be “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27)? It’s possible that the Bishop of Rome does not know how to make a distinction between the Church as a divine institution and her sinful children??!! But in that case, the defect would be his, not of the Church.

On the contrary, this matter was always very clear for anyone with the most basic instruction. Perhaps Francis does not remember that the divine Church welcomes defective children in its midst, providing them with all the means necessary to cease sinning. If one refers to the divine aspect of the Church, there really is no defect to be found. But if one alludes to the human part, it is not necessarily the moment to cover it up, since there are so many scandals that we are obliged to hear about each day; a motive of real dismay for all of those who seek to fulfill the laws of God and of the Church.

If Francis wishes to know if we love the Church as our mothers, we respond that yes, and that is why it pains us to see that she is publically offended by the very one who is called to defend her. In this respect, we ask what kind of son invents lies about his mother and then spreads them to everyone on the pretext of showing love. We recall the words of Gregory XVI: “Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose […] as if she [the Church] could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune” (Encyclical Mirari vos, August 15, 1832).

We don’t deny that there are many sinners in the midst of our Holy Mother Church, but we must not confuse the children with the Mother. And we must also remember that these sinners are not in need of comprehension for their defects, but rather support in order to convert, which may even include the necessity of chastising them. Or by chance does Francis’ concept of mercy bring us to ignore the sins of those who commit them, attributing them instead to the Mystical Spouse of Christ? In this case, the greatest sin is committed by the one who affirms such an aberration…



Quote A

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

I – The Church is a divine institution, without blemish just as the Holy Spirit who animates her
II – Made up of sinful members, the human part of the Church is faulty, but the actions of these members cannot alter the Church’s impeccable essence
III – The defects of unworthy members of the Church need not be ‘taken into account’ nor ‘glossed over’, but rather corrected and eradicated

I – The Church is a divine institution, without blemish just as the Holy Spirit who animates her

Sacred Scripture

The Church is holy and without blemish

Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:25-27)

The holy city Jerusalem, Scriptural figure of the Church, gleamed with the splendor of God

He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. (Rev 21:10-11)

The Spirit of truth will be always with the Church

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth. (Jn 14:16-17)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Holy Spirit sanctifies, guides and directs the Church

When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth (cf. Jn 17:4) was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that He might continually sanctify the Church, and thus, all those who believe would have access through Christ in one Spirit to the Father (cf. Eph 1:18). He is the Spirit of Life, a fountain of water springing up to life eternal (cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39). To men, dead in sin, the Father gives life through Him, until, in Christ, He brings to life their mortal bodies (cf. Rom 8:10-11). The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful, as in a temple (cf. 1Cor 3:16; 6:19). In them He prays on their behalf and bears witness to the fact that they are adopted sons (cf. Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15-16 and 26). The Church, which the Spirit guides in way of all truth (cf. Jn 16:13) and which He unified in communion and in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits (cf. Eph 1:11-12; 1Cor 12:4 Gal 5:22). By the power of the Gospel He makes the Church keep the freshness of youth. Uninterruptedly He renews it and leads it to perfect union with its Spouse (cf. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer, 111 24, 1). The Spirit and the Bride both say to Jesus, the Lord, ‘Come!’ (Rev 22:17). (Vatican Council II. Dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium, no. 4, November 21, 1964)

The Church’s divine origin: founded by the Lord

Then, when He had by His death and His resurrection completed once for all in Himself the mysteries of our salvation and the renewal of all things, the Lord, having now received all power in heaven and on earth (cf. Mt 28:18), before He was taken up into heaven (cf. Acts 1:11), founded His Church as the sacrament of salvation. (Vatican Council II. Decree Ad gentes, no. 5, December 7, 1965)

John Paul II

The Church is assisted by the Holy Spirit who leads her into all the truth

In her reflection on morality, the Church has always kept in mind the words of Jesus to the rich young man. Indeed, Sacred Scripture remains the living and fruitful source of the Church’s moral doctrine; as the Second Vatican Council recalled, the Gospel is ‘the source of all saving truth and moral teaching’ (Dei Verbum, 7). The Church has faithfully preserved what the word of God teaches, not only about truths which must be believed but also about moral action, action pleasing to God (cf. 1Thess 4:1); she has achieved a doctrinal development analogous to that which has taken place in the realm of the truths of faith. Assisted by the Holy Spirit who leads her into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), the Church has not ceased, nor can she ever cease, to contemplate the ‘mystery of the Word Incarnate’, in whom ‘light is shed on the mystery of man’ (Gaudium et spes, 22). (John Paul II. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, no. 28, August 6, 1993)

Gregory XVI

It is absurd and injurious to propose that the Church could be subject to defects or other imperfections

To use the words of the fathers of Trent, it is certain that the Church ‘was instructed by Jesus Christ and His Apostles and that all truth was daily taught it by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit’ (Council of Trent, session 13). Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain ‘restoration and regeneration’ for her as though necessary for her safety and growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a ‘foundation may be laid of a new human institution,’ and what Cyprian detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing ‘may become a human church’ (Saint Cyprian, Epistle 52). (Gregory XVI. Encyclical Mirari vos, no.10, August 15, 1832)

Pius XII

The Church is enriched with the abundant gifts of the Paraclete

But if our Savior, by His death, became, in the full and complete sense of the word, the Head of the Church, it was likewise through His blood that the Church was enriched with the fullest communication of the Holy Spirit, through which, from the time when the Son of Man was lifted up and glorified on the Cross by His sufferings, she is divinely illumined. […] so at the hour of His precious death He willed that His Church should be enriched with the abundant gifts of the Paraclete in order that in dispensing the divine fruits of the Redemption she might be, for the Incarnate Word, a powerful instrument that would never fail. For both the juridical mission of the Church, and the power to teach, govern and administer the Sacraments, derive their supernatural efficacy and force for the building up of the Body of Christ from the fact that Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross, opened up to His Church the fountain of those divine gifts, which prevent her from ever teaching false doctrine and enable her to rule them for the salvation of their souls through divinely enlightened pastors and to bestow on them an abundance of heavenly graces. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, no. 31, June 29, 1943)

Pius XI

The Church is a most admirable mother and an incomparable and perfect teacher

Such are the fruits of Christian education. Their price and value is derived from the supernatural virtue and life in Christ which Christian education forms and develops in man. Of this life and virtue Christ our Lord and Master is the source and dispenser. By His example He is at the same time the universal model accessible to all, especially to the young in the period of His hidden life, a life of labor and obedience, adorned with all virtues, personal, domestic and social, before God and men. Now all this array of priceless educational treasures which We have barely touched upon is so truly a property of the Church as to form her very substance, since she is the mystical body of Christ, the immaculate spouse of Christ, and consequently a most admirable mother and an incomparable and perfect teacher. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 100-101, December 31, 1929)

John Paul II

Sanctity is the identity of the Church as the Body of Christ

Sanctity constitutes the profound identity of the Church as the Body of Christ, vivified and participant of his Spirit. Sanctity gives spiritual health to the Body. Sanctity also determines its spiritual beauty: that beauty that surpasses all the beauty of nature and art; a supernatural beauty, in which the beauty of God himself is reflected, in a more essential and direct way than all of the beauty of creation, precisely because it is the Corpus Christi. (John Paul II. General Audience, November 28, 1990)

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Spirit sanctifies the Church

What does the Spirit do in the Church?
The Spirit builds, animates and sanctifies the Church (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 145)

The Holy Spirit resides in the Church

Why is the Church called the temple of the Holy Spirit?
She is so called because the Holy Spirit resides in the body which is the Church, in her Head and in her members. He also builds up the Church in charity by the Word of God, the sacraments, the virtues, and charisms. ‘What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the members of Christ, that is, the body of Christ, which is the Church’ (Saint Augustine). (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 159)

II – Made up of sinful members, the human part of the Church has faults, but the actions of these members cannot alter the Church’s impeccable essence

Pius XII

The Church is a spotless Mother, but has weak children - it cannot be laid to her charge if some members fall

Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary grace through which with inexhaustible fecundity, she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors. But it cannot be laid to her charge if some members fall, weak or wounded. In their name she prays to God daily: ‘Forgive us our trespasses’: and with the brave heart of a mother she applies herself at once to the work of nursing them back to spiritual health. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, no. 66, June 29, 1943)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Sinners too are embraced by the Church, herself holy, innocent and undefiled

While Christ, holy, innocent and undefiled (Heb 7:26) knew nothing of sin, (2Cor 5:21) but came to expiate only the sins of the people (cf. Heb 2:17), the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal. (Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, no. 8, November 21, 1964)

The Heavenly Church and the Church here on earth are not two separate realities; they form one complex reality

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. (Vatican Council II. Dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, no. 8, November 21, 1964)

Paul VI

The Church is, by divine vocation, holy and without blemish; it’s members are defective

During the council, in fact, the Church, in an effort to arrive at a more profound meditation on the mystery of itself, examined its own nature in all its dimensions and scrutinized its human and divine, visible and invisible, temporal and eternal elements. By first of all examining more thoroughly the link which binds it to Christ and His salvific action, it has underlined more clearly how all its members are called upon to participate in the work of Christ and therefore to participate also in His expiation. In addition, it has gained a clearer awareness that, while it is by divine vocation holy and without blemish, it is defective in its members and in continuous need of conversion and renewal. (Paul VI. Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini, February 17, 1966)

The Church is holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace

She [the Church] is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Paul VI. Motu proprio Solemni hac liturgia, Credo of the people of God, no. 19, June 30, 1968)

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The holiness of the Church is the fountain of sanctification for her sinful children

In what way is the Church holy?
The Church is holy insofar as the Most Holy God is her author. Christ has given himself for her to sanctify her and make her a source of sanctification. The Holy Spirit gives her life with charity. In the Church one finds the fullness of the means of salvation. Holiness is the vocation of each of her members and the purpose of all her activities. The Church counts among her members the Virgin Mary and numerous Saints who are her models and intercessors. The holiness of the Church is the fountain of sanctification for her children who here on earth recognize themselves as sinners ever in need of conversion and purification. (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 165)

III – The defects of unworthy members of the Church need not be “taken into account” nor “glossed over”, but rather corrected and eradicated

Council of Constance (Ecumenical XVI)

All mortal sins should be corrected and eradicated

Likewise, whether he believes that all mortal sins, particularly manifest, should be publicly corrected and eradicated.(Denzinger-Hünermann 1279. Council of Constance, Bull Inter cunctas, February 22, 1418)

Paul VI

Bring the members of the Church to a clearer realization of their duty to correct their faults

A vivid and lively self-awareness on the part of the Church inevitably leads to a comparison between the ideal image of the Church as Christ envisaged it, His holy and spotless bride (Eph 5:27), and the actual image which the Church presents to the world today. This actual image does indeed, thank God, truly bear those characteristics impressed on it by its divine Founder; and in the course of the centuries the Holy Spirit has accentuated and enhanced these traits so as to make the Church conform more and more to the original intention of its Founder and to the particular genius of human society which it is continually striving to win over to itself through the preaching of the gospel of salvation. But the actual image of the Church will never attain to such a degree of perfection, beauty, holiness and splendor that it can be said to correspond perfectly with the original conception in the mind of Him who fashioned it. Hence the Church’s heroic and impatient struggle for renewal: the struggle to correct those flaws introduced by its members which its own self-examination, mirroring its exemplar, Christ, points out to it and condemns. And this brings us, Venerable Brethren, to the second policy We have in mind at this time: to bring the members of the Church to a clearer realization of their duty to correct their faults, strive for perfection, and make a wise choice of the means necessary for achieving the renewal We spoke of. (Paul VI. Encyclical Ecclesiam suam, no. 10-11, August 6, 1964)

John Paul II

Ever since Apostolic times, the Church’s Pastors have unambiguously condemned the behavior of those who proceed sinfully

No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel (cf. 1Cor 5:9-13). The Apostles decisively rejected any separation between the commitment of the heart and the actions which express or prove it (cf. 1Jn 2:3-6). And ever since Apostolic times the Church’s Pastors have unambiguously condemned the behaviour of those who fostered division by their teaching or by their actions. (John Paul II. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, no. 26, August 6, 1993)

Just as Jesus, the Church has always taught the prohibitions of the moral commandments, without any exceptions

The Church has always taught that one may never choose kinds of behaviour prohibited by the moral commandments expressed in negative form in the Old and New Testaments. As we have seen, Jesus himself reaffirms that these prohibitions allow no exceptions: ‘If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments… You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness’ (Mt 19:17-18). (John Paul II. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, no. 52, August 6, 1993)


It is the part of God’s mercy to threaten sinners and call them to repentance

For it is the part of God’s mercy not silently to inflict punishment, but to send forth threatenings to recall the sinner to repentance, as He did to the men of Nineveh, and now to the dresser of the vineyard, saying; ‘cut it down’, exciting him indeed to the care of it, and stirring up the barren soil to bring forth the proper fruits. (Pseudo-Basil quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea on Lk 13:6-9)

Benedict XVI

I must punish the one who has sinned against real love

The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love: she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd hardening of the mind, even in very good people. Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate. In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and the need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth. And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love. (Benedict XVI. Light of the world. The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. A Conversation with Peter Seewald, pg. 17)

Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin

The Scriptures tell us: ‘Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more’ (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). […] The Church’s tradition has included ‘admonishing sinners’ among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness. (Benedict XVI. Message for Lent 2012, no. 1, November 3, 2011)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

If the sinner is unwilling to amend his ways, he should be made to cease sinning by being punished

As stated above (a. 3) the correction of the wrongdoer is twofold. One, which belongs to prelates, and is directed to the common good, has coercive force. Such correction should not be omitted lest the person corrected be disturbed, both because if he is unwilling to amend his ways of his own accord, he should be made to cease sinning by being punished, and because, if he be incorrigible, the common good is safeguarded in this way, since the order of justice is observed, and others are deterred by one being made an example of. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica II-II, q. 33, a. 6)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Let us love the Church as a Mother – do not tolerate that they calumniate and blaspheme Her

Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church: Him as a Father, Her as a Mother: Him as a Lord, Her as His Handmaid, as we are ourselves the Handmaid’s sons. But this marriage is held together by a bond of great love: no man offends the one, and wins favor of the other. Let no man say, “I go indeed to the idols, I consult possessed ones and fortune-tellers: yet I abandon not God’s Church; I am a Catholic.” While you hold to your Mother, you have offended your Father. Another says, Far be it from me; I consult no sorcerer, I seek out no possessed one, I never ask advice by sacrilegious divination, I go not to worship idols, I bow not before stones; though I am in the party of Donatus. What does it profit you not to have offended your Father, if he avenges your offended Mother? What does it serve you, if you acknowledge the Lord, honor God, preach His name, acknowledge His Son, confess that He sits by His right hand; while you blaspheme His Church? Does not the analogy of human marriages convince you? Suppose you have some patron, whom you court every day, whose threshold you wear with your visits, whom you daily not only salute, but even worship, to whom you pay the most loyal courtesy; if you utter one calumny against his wife, could you re-enter his house? Hold then, most beloved, hold all with one mind to God the Father, and the Church our Mother. Celebrate with temperance the birthdays of the Saints, that we may imitate those who have gone before us, and that they who pray for you may rejoice over you; that “the blessing of the Lord may abide on you for evermore. Amen and Amen.” (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Expositions on the Psalms, Psalm 89, no. 41)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email