Is the Catholic Church "Perfect?"

I was having a discussion about The Catholic Church and churches in general with an older friend, a non- Catholic (for all I know). We were talking about how so many Christians are going off the rails these days, supporting SSM and abortion and whatnot. His response was, “Well you know, there are no perfect churches out there.” I countered, “Well, mine is!!!”

For some reason which I cannot understand, he kind of rolled his eyes and didn’t seem interested in any further dialogue. Go figure. Anyhoo, Is the Church perfect? Sure, we have sinners just like everyone else, but I mean the Church itself. And question #2: Why do we say the Church is “perfect in all its members?”

It’s not as perfect as God wants it to be and through Christ he has sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church through all time.

The second question has to do with the members being perfect individually or collectively? Not a chance.

Whoops, I’m sorry. :blush: The Church is holy in all its members.

The Church’s teachings are perfect, but the members aren’t.


If you find a perfect church, stay away! You’ll corrupt it!

I believe the conventional wording we use to express the reality it is that:

The Catholic Church is holy, but it is made up of sinners - another way of saying what sneaux posted earlier.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it this way:

The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners.” Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

Right, the Church is holy because her Head (Christ) is holy, her Soul (Holy Spirit) is holy, her doctrine is true and saving, her sacraments sanctify, and she is endowed with many Saints. But at the same time, we have many sinners from top to bottom.

Also, it is said the the Church is a “perfect society,” but what this means is that the Church exists as a self-sufficient society, not dependent on any other society for it’s authority and being (it’s dependent on God of course).

Don’t you listen at Mass?

Priest: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.
All: Amen.

And again…

All: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

The Catholic Church is a perfect organization made up of imperfect people.

Belshazzar #1
Is the Church perfect? Sure, we have sinners just like everyone else, but I mean the Church itself. And question #2: Why do we say the Church is “perfect in all its members?”

The Catholic Church was established by God – Jesus the Christ, and therefore, since God is perfect and all-knowing, His Church “is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy” [Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, art 39].
* Favors granted by God above and beyond the powers or capacities of the nature that receives them but not beyond those of all created nature. Such gifts perfect nature but do not carry it beyond the limits of created nature. They include three great privileges to which human beings have no title – infused knowledge, absence of concupiscence, and bodily immortality. Adam and Eve possessed these gifts before the Fall. [Fr John A Hardon, S.J.]

FALLEN NATURE. Human nature since the fall of Adam. It is a nature that lacks the right balance it had originally. It is a wounded but not perverted nature. Since the fall, man has a built-in bias away from what is morally good and toward what is wrong. He is weakened in his ability to know the truth and to want the truly good. With the help of grace, however, he can overcome these natural tendencies and become sanctified in the process. [Fr John A Hardon, S.J.]

So the reality is that it is people in the Church who may do bad things. So, in *First Things *(November 1997), Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote that “the Pope himself has acknowledged the mistakes and sins of Christians in connection with, among other things, the Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of the Jews, religious wars, Galileo, and the treatment of women. Thus, though the Pope himself is careful to speak of sin or error on the part of the Church’s members or representatives, rather than the Church in its fullness, that important theological distinction is almost always lost in the transmission.”

Christ’s Church is unfailingly holy. People, including popes, are judged by God. We are commanded to judge actions, speech, writing against truth.

When’s the last time you tried getting a baptismal record from a far away parish or an answer about something from the chancery. :rolleyes:


About 16 years ago. My wife and I were going to be godparents for out nephew and had to provide the necessary documentation that we were Catholics in good standing. We each got our baptismal certs from our childhood churches 100s of miles away (two different churches) and our marriage certificate from a third church. Received all of them in a timely manner.


Since we are the Church and we are not perfect, it would be unhelpful to say that the Church is perfect. It is a human institution of Divine origin.

A better approach would be to say that the Church is infallible when it is teaching formally on matters of faith and morals.

I’m glad to hear that but the Church is not a perfect organization. Far from it.

Bishops building mansions with marble bathrooms, sex scandals, even at the parish level there political infighting, gossip and lots and lots of pride.

Anyone who thinks the Church is a perfect organization needs to be more involved in their Church.


It seems that based on the tone of OP, that unstated conclusion is that an imperfect church cannot declare objectively true teachings. Is that your conclusion as well? If so, why?

That’s what I’m talking about when I say “imperfect people”.

the roman catholic church is perfect because God created it. it derives its perfection from its founder.

we men who make up the church are not perfect. when you see the people in the church doing imperfect things, it is not because of the church that they do imperfect things.

if by perfect you mean that the church it should take away the body of believers imperfections, you would be right. however, the church does that by respecting the free will of each of its members, not by magically eliminating their free will. all who follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a sincere heart as that Gospel is given to them will grow less imperfect.

the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is available to this world and its inhabitants only through the Roman Catholic Church.

of course, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so perfect and powerful that even those who share only some of its perfection can benefit and grow in grace. simply acknowledging that we should love one another without recognizing that this knowledge comes to us most completely through Jesus Christ, even not having heard of Jesus Christ but believing that people should love one another has a sanctifying effect on people. that is only because of the perfection and power of the Gospel.

that reality is why the Church Jesus founded is perfect, because only through it can the human soul be perfected.

It is the same as the question: Is a Priest perfect?

The title Priest is Perfect to God, because it is God’s title for His elect. Take a broom as an example. People use a broom that is full of dirt to sweep a floor. Well, God takes a priest, who is like the broom and hears confession to absolve sinners of their sin, even though that broom(man) is full of sin. The Priest is Perfect in God, so the priest title is perfect when hearing confession, celebrating the Mass, or distributing any of the sacraments. Yes, the priest is perfect, but the “man” who is a priest “is not perfect”.

The Catholic Church is Perfect in that Jesus created IT for Peter. Peter had no hand in the creation of the Catholic Church. Peter was given the keys to Jesus’ Perfect Catholic Church that is also a heavenly rule in the bible: Matthew 18:18: Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. As Heaven is Perfect so is the Catholic Church Perfect.


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