Pope acknowledges "bad fish" in Church

From Reuters:
Pope Benedict urged lapsed and lukewarm Roman Catholics on Thursday to rediscover their faith but acknowledged there are “bad fish” in the Church itself.


“Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual desertification,” he said in his sermon of a morning Mass, opening a worldwide “Year of Faith”.

“We see it all around us … the void has spread,” he said.


Later, on Thursday evening, the pope made an impromptu address from the window of his apartment overlooking the square and made references to the sexual abuse scandal and conflict within the 1.2-billion-member Church.

“In these years, we have seen that there is discord in the vineyard of the Lord, we have seen that in the net of Peter (St Peter, the first apostle) there are bad fish, that human fragility exists even in the Church,” he said.
Quite an admission. But the question is, what is the appropriate treatment for “bad fish” (to borrow the Holy Father’s words)?

The full text of his homily in which he talked about spiritual desertification can be found at

An English translation of his evening speech, in which he mentions “bad fish” can be found at

(If you can understand Italian, there is a video of the speech at the link, too)

In the evening speech, he tempers the “bad fish” remark by saying

[T]he ship of the church journeys in the face of an opposing wind, amid storms that threaten the ship. And sometimes we have thought that ‘the Lord is asleep and has forgotten us.’ But this is only one part of the experience of these fifty years. We’ve also been made to experience the presence of the Lord, the gifts of his goodness and strength.

he fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Christ is never one that devours nor a destructive one. It’s a quiet fire, a small flame of goodness, of goodness and truth, that transforms with its light and warmth. We have seen that the Lord doesn’t forget us – even today, his way is humble.

Re-evangelization is going to be a big part of it.

Your question brings to mind two pieces of advice I have heard. First, be as Catholic as you can be – “if someone asks you, you believe even this strange little dogma? Say that yes, I believe especially in that!” I often feel tempted to hide my faith in certain situations (like doing the sign of the cross when passing a church with agnostic friends in the car). I think that that is a bad thing. Second, spread the joy of Catholicism. Everyone recognizes joy, human warmth, and self giving. I think that it’s Maya Angelou who said “someone is probably going to forget what you told them, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

In my experience, people don’t believe in a moral value or system, until they see someone living a truly happy fulfilled life following it. Life in God especially gives a much deeper happiness than the superficial kind offered by consumer society.

These two Fr. Barron Word on Fire videos on evangelization today are worth watching.


Thanks for the links, Robert. I see Pope Benedict understands the last 50 years as central to the current problems inside and outside the Church. But God has promised our boat will not sink and that we will all not parish.


It’s sad that Catholics need evangelizing.

But not surprising.

Just look at the ancient Jews during various times. :tsktsk:

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