Does it matter if your priest is Holy or if your Church is Orthodox?

I am wondering if any of this matters since the Church is holy in of itself and the sacraments operate by the virtue of their own powers. So for example if there are bad or indifferent priests or if your parish is lacking reverence towards the true presence of Christ, should we be concerned since all that matters is to focus on the Eucharist in the end? It seems that there are two sides to this thinking. One could say stop judging you are at mass for Jesus alone. Others could say that it does matter because of GIRM and God is a God of order. Is there middle ground on this? I hear of people who claim how great their priest is etc but does that really matter?

Should lay people be concerned about abuses in the Catholic Church? Should lay people worry about the lack of leadership in the Catholic Church?

It seems that the more sin there is in the world, the less people want to talk about it, even in church.

Absolutely it’s important!!! Consider that you only spend 50 Minutes being exposed to the Faith by going to Mass, if you don’t do anything else to enrich your spiritual life or to grow in holiness, how in the world can you ever achieve holiness if your priest and parish are not solid?

Of course it’s important.


I tend to agree that its important. It’s gets confusing though between what priest are actually saying. I listen to sermons by Fr. Corapi and Fr. Bill Casey from the Fathers of Mercy and it seems I’m hearing two different sides of the Catholicism. One priest preaches about how God is love and not to worry and another preaches that God is love but his love demands moral changes on our part and that we change our minds and hearts. It seems to me that you need to have both the positive and the negative to have power. If anyone preaches on immortality anymore is might offend or scare people to know there is a hell. I have to wonder if this is why I don’t seem to be hearing about hell anymore. It’s as if everyone is going to heaven and is as good as in anymore.

The Church is holy in of itself. Its the people who associate themselves with the Church who needs to get themselves up to the level of holiness of the Church. Thats one thing about “being in communion” means.

Sometimes some messages sound contradictory but they are not. By focusing on God’s love we can make ourselves holy without necessarily worrying about the sin-and-punishment model. This is one of the approaches of Theology of the Body, wherein Pope John Paul II teaches the holiness of our bodies and how a great gift it is from God. If we understand the value of our bodies, then we will not abuse it, thus we will not smoke, drink too much, have premartial sex, take contraception, objectify ourselves and others, etc.

A priest told me once, when you’re right don’t make the other person feel they are wrong. Telling them they are wrong will make them defensive and will close their minds to why you are right. Make them understand why you are right without telling them they are wrong, they will figure that out.

These sort of things do matter. I could go on much more, but simply put, you wouldn’t see things like this in church documents if it didn’t.

[quote=Redemptionis Sacramentum]6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power [read: this is their DUTY to correct abuses] to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected.[Yes. All abuses. This sort of thing *does matter.]

This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful,has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

My apologies if I sound uncharitable. That is not my intention. But I don’t like to beat around the bush and tell people what they want to hear either.

It depends by what you mean by “does it matter.” If you are concerned only with the efficacy of the sacraments, then it does not matter. Efficacy of the Sacraments are not dependent on the disposition of the minister. However, if you are talking about faith formation, then the orthodoxy and spirituality of the parish priest plays a vital role.

Well, yes it matters but it is not an impossible situation. If you keep yourself informed through reading and your private devotions, you can grow spiritually and your example can affect others. Sometimes it takes a good core group of people praying for their parish to turn things around. I’ve seen it happen. Our parish has gone from a parish with a moderate pastor at one time with liberals lay persons running things to a conservative very devout parish. But there has always been a strong Legion of Mary and people devoted to the rosary and Perpetual Adoration.

“By focusing on God’s love we can make ourselves holy without necessarily worrying about the sin-and-punishment model”

Is seems though that this could lead to lukewarmness and moral relativism. Maybe not for all but I certainly worry myself sometimes about getting too comfortable with life. It’s like the more we realize God is love the less sin is discussed. God loves every sinner but he hates the sin. Hate is a pretty powerful word. What are we to do though when people don’t even know what sins are or that they are even sinning. It’s obvious that there is more sin now then ever and yet we have become desensitized to immorality, the loss of the sense of sin. The explosion of sexual immorality and the programming on tv shows what this world tolerates. Why does the world tolerate this now but didn’t before? Could it be because this is what the people want. Sooner or later I fear we will be able to watch hardcore porn on cable anytime we wish, it already occurs on the internet.

The answer, as always is two sided:

  • to get the absolution from sins at the deathbed, it does not makes any difference weather the priest is holy, or a sinner living in homosexual concubinage, or a liberal priest abusing the liturgy every day. The absolution (with imperfect contrition in the part of the penitent) true way to the salvation of that dieing man.

  • to represent Jesus Christ better, and thus to draw more souls to God, the priest should be holy

From the part of the priest this means that he should not be frustrated if his attempts toward holiness are failing again and again; he has an important role any way serving the Church and Jesus Christ.

From the part of the laity this means to pray for holy priest, but accept with humility then one, who is there for him. Laymen are allowed to shop for priest/parish in the neighborhood and select the best one (I myself do so) but they are not allowed to despise their priests, or gossip about their sins with others than the proper authority, that is sin.

But the very fact of focusing on God’s also requires that we focus on sin. In loving God, we recognize that sin is offensive to Him. The very fact of loving God caries with it a requirement that we have no toleration for sin. We therefore seek to correct it in our selves and in others.

That is why the Church considers both the reproachment of sinners, and the instruction of the ignorant to be Spiritual Works of Mercy.

If one is either ignorant of the Church teaches on the conduct of the Liturgy, or worse, is knowledgable, but acts with diliberation contrary to it; we would have a duty to show them the Mercy of fraternal correction.

Doing so is an act of love towards God, and an act of Mercy to the person(s) involved.

If the message is delivered properly then it brings great holiness in many. The problem today is a lot of people don’t even believe in God, so how can you even put the fear of hell in them? But if you make them understand that they are good, they are holy, they will treat themselves more with respect and this includes avoiding sin.

I don’t agree. This is something I learned from Theology of the Body. The problem of Adam and Eve is they knew God and they knew good. The devil tempted them that to be equal with God they needed to know sin. The fact is Adam and Eve were already created in the image and likeness of God as they are, they didn’t need to know evil to be in equal footing with God.

We do not need the knowledge of evil as Adam and Eve did before the fall. We need to concentrate on whats good and whats holy, and everything else will follow.

I don’t disagree with you on delivering the message correctly out of love but if we make them understand that they are good, they are holy when they are living a morally bad life I don’t see how that will create for them repentant heart. Sure no one wants to offend anyone and we don’t want to be judgmental, but we should also call sin by its proper name. An example of this would be a fallen away Catholic who left. If I never was to tell them the truth and I was to say if its good for you it’s good for me how will that stop them from avoiding sin? Sure we are to respect them. Free will is very broad. Do they respect themselves because their conscience tells them its ok when clearly its not.

This is the two sides I speak about Heaven and Hell and both are true. Some are more geared towards only talking about good things and mercy and leave out sin or Hell. Others talk about hell and how bad sin is. I think both need to have proper balance and talked about.

The greatest love of all is concern for your neighbors eternal salvation. It is never mercy to affirm people in their sins or to turn a blind eye to wrong doing. Isn’t this what Christan love is all about?

“We do not need the knowledge of evil as Adam and Eve did before the fall. We need to concentrate on whats good and whats holy, and everything else will follow.”

Sure we want to accentuate the positive but we can’t leave out the negative. In an electrical current we have a positive pole and a negative pole and there’s no power without both of them. I say its important to keep in mind sin and that it is entirely possible for a good holy person to fall into the trap of sin. It’s not as easy as saying everything will follow with only positive thinking, but thanks be to God we have hope and he’s here for us.

In ToB, Pope John Paul II certainly showed what was good, but he also gave us insight as to why things like contraception were wrong.

Was your perception of ToB that Pope John Paul II was saying we should not be concerned about contraception and immoral sexaul acts in our society as a whole? Or that we should not work towards the elimination of such evils?

If so, I sugges that you re-read that particular work. Rather, he showed us what was good about our bodies with the intent that we should share this knowlege with those who do know this good, or are too willing to remain with the evils that they were doing to their bodies.

Likewise with the GIRM and Redemptionis Sacramentum. They point towards the goodness of the liturgy, not only so that we might participate more fully in what the Church intents ( like ToB points towards what God intends with our bodies).

But likewise, when this goodness is not recognized by others, or that acts contrary to this good are even forced upon us, we have a right and a duty to both inform others and act within our power to correct it.

The goods articulated in ToB, the GIRM and Redemptionis Sacramentum were never meant to be enacted in isolation from our fellow Catholics, but rather shared with them, and acts contrary to be resisted.

This has be stated before in this thread, but bears repeating

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

The same pontif who wrote ToB also promulgatged this was well, telling us that it is a “serious duty” to see that abuses are corrected. Thus it cannot be said that the enaction of this duty could ever be seen as contrary to the philosophy of the Theology of the Body.

Why keep sin in mind? Sin is not of God. What we should seek is to keep sin out of mind.

Yes, he showed that our bodies, being created by God and the ultimate gift of God to man (angels were not given bodies, only man). With this knowledge, we can love ourselves more, love God more, and this will lead us to avoidance of sin without being given the hellfire-and-brimstone talk. I’m not saying the other way doesn’t work, I’m saying this way works contrary to what most people think. When we appreciate the value of something, we don’t need to be reminded about its loss to give extra care for it. The problem today is that many people themselves do not give this high valud to our bodies, so how will telling them what is sin or not change their mind? Most people think sex is natural and that we should give in to our sexual urges all the time. So how can “promiscous sex will lead to damnation” change their minds about it? I don’t see the adulterers and fornicators today being converted in droves given the message of the Church about their sexual sins.

So we don’t fall into it. If sin is not of God, why did is it that Jesus talked about it so much? How do we keep sin out of mind if we don’t even recognize the sense of what sin is? How do I know something is a sin unless someone tells me?

If our focus is on God, we shouldn’t worry about anything else. Adam and Eve did not know sin, but when they did know sin they didn’t avoid it, they fell into it and dragged all of creation with them.

Another good example is Peter walking on water. As long as his eyes were on Jesus, he did the impossible. But when he took his eyes off Jesus, he fell into the water. Was it right for Peter to be aware of the high winds and big waves? Wasn’t it enough he had his eyes on Jesus? Keeping our eyes on God keeps us from sinking.

Keep it in mind? No real requiement to do so. But when we see sin, we have to oppose it. Because sin offends God. If we love God, by defintion, we must object when He is offended.

What do you feel should be the Catholic response when we encounter sin?

There are three logical choices. To encourage itt, To ignore it, To oppose it.

Which do you advocate?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit