The Church is not perfect- "RCIA"

I’m an RCIA sponsor and I was kind of upset when they taught that Vatican II stated the Church is not perfect. I totally disagree. The Church is perfect but the people that make up the Church, lay people, priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, etc… are not. Their imperfection does not negate the perfection of the Catholic Church. Am I incorrect?

I think I see your point but I would disagree. The Church is the body of Christ on earth. The body is made up of individual believers that are not fully sanctified. The Church is therefore by that measure imperfect.

Ephesians 5:25-27 sheds some light on what I am getting at. It says:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

It would seem that the Church is not fully sanctified, but that it will eventually be presented without spot or wrinkle, and without blemish. That could be at Christ’s second coming.

The book of Revelation discusses the faults found in the seven churches. The “seven” churches represent the fullness or the whole of the church. None of them is found perfect but they have faults which Jesus mentions. So there is a sense in which the Church is not perfect. There may be another sense in which it is. Perhaps, the sense in which it is perfect could also be explored further in this thread.

[quote=Pax]I think I see your point but I would disagree. The Church is the body of Christ on earth. The body is made up of individual believers that are not fully sanctified. The Church is therefore by that measure imperfect.

Ephesians 5:25-27 sheds some light on what I am getting at. It says:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

It would seem that the Church is not fully sanctified, but that it will eventually be presented without spot or wrinkle, and without blemish. That could be at Christ’s second coming.

The book of Revelation discusses the faults found in the seven churches. The “seven” churches represent the fullness or the whole of the church. None of them is found perfect but they have faults which Jesus mentions. So there is a sense in which the Church is not perfect. There may be another sense in which it is. Perhaps, the sense in which it is perfect could also be explored further in this thread.
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The Church is the body of Christ in Heaven and purgatory as well as on earth. The Church is perfected in Heaven, it is imperfect in purgatory and on earth.

I’m an RCIA sponsor and I was kind of upset when they taught that Vatican II stated the Church is not perfect. I totally disagree. The Church is perfect but the people that make up the Church, lay people, priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, etc… are not. Their imperfection does not negate the perfection of the Catholic Church. Am I incorrect?

You are correct, Mike.

In *Lumen Gentium * 1:4 (The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church) we find: “Hence the universal Church is seen to be a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and Spirit.” (Which, btw, was a quote from St. Cyprian of Carthage.)

Here, St. Cyprian, of course, and the Second Vatican Council also, spoke of “A PEOPLE” as one organic whole, not as merely the sum of the number of individuals. That is because the Church is One Mystical Person of Christ and Body in a supernatural union of Grace by the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in three states: of blessedness in Heaven, of purification after death, of visible communion on earth. This means that Christ dwells in all and only in all that comes from Him (what He joins to Himself), but not in any of what contradicts Himself. This is why there can not be a facile identification of the Church with its visible members with all the actions of all or any of its members.

All that comes from the sin of its visible members, of course, is not the Church, because it departs from union with Christ. The opposite distortion is this “we are the Church” materially understood as one would of any other sociological grouping of humanity, which is a radical secularization of a Divine Mystery. This is why one can say that every member of the Visible Church sins, but the Church does not sin. Thus in the Holy Father John Paull II’s “apology” a few years ago we see clearly that he does not identify the Church herself with the sins of which her sons and daughters, however lofty their position, have committed.

Thus the Church is HOLY, not sinful as its members are (taken individually or materially, for there are many dead members of the Visible Church who are only materially, i.e., externally, joined to the Church and to Christ, who nevertheless have the opportunity of being revived, especially by the prayers and sacrifices of the alive members.)

It can be difficult for some to see this since they approach the issue superficially, materially, without understanding the depth of the union of Christ with His Visible Body. When that Visible Body teaches it is Christ Who teaches.

Thus only what is done out of this union with Christ in us is the Church, such as teaching on faith or morals by the Magisterium, the sacramental life of the Church, the acts of virtue done in grace by the faithful, above all the lives of heroic sanctity of the Saints. All this is Christ in us who cooperate with Him. The errors in teaching by individuals or sections of the Church, the moral failures, the exercises in poor judgment, the omission of doing good when the circumstances require it, all this is done not by virtue of union with Christ, but by virtue of sinners’ own initiative as first cause themselves, and thus not by the Church. It takes divine faith that the Church is this Great Mystery of union between Christ and His Body to see this; a purely sociological approach misses this entirely as does an historical/scientific approach without faith.

To repeat: The Church is Christ extended. One can not speak of the Church in simply a material sense as an organization as sociologists do. We are not the Church so much as CHRIST is the Church. HE is the Temple in His own personal Body. Qualitatively in Him personally is the fullness; by incorporation into Him we participate in this fullness His personal Humanity has. Whatever He unites to Himself is the Mystery of the Church. Now He united Himself visible with the apostolic community at Pentecost never to be separated from that historical community.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]The Church is the body of Christ in Heaven and purgatory as well as on earth. The Church is perfected in Heaven, it is imperfect in purgatory and on earth.
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Br. Rich,

You are absolutely right and I stand corrected.

[quote=FCEGM]You are correct, Mike.

In *Lumen Gentium * 1:4 (The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church) we find: “Hence the universal Church is seen to be a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and Spirit.” (Which, btw, was a quote from St. Cyprian of Carthage.)

Here, St. Cyprian, of course, and the Second Vatican Council also, spoke of “A PEOPLE” as one organic whole, not as merely the sum of the number of individuals. That is because the Church is One Mystical Person of Christ and Body in a supernatural union of Grace by the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in three states: of blessedness in Heaven, of purification after death, of visible communion on earth. This means that Christ dwells in all and only in all that comes from Him (what He joins to Himself), but not in any of what contradicts Himself. This is why there can not be a facile identification of the Church with its visible members with all the actions of all or any of its members.

All that comes from the sin of its visible members, of course, is not the Church, because it departs from union with Christ. The opposite distortion is this “we are the Church” materially understood as one would of any other sociological grouping of humanity, which is a radical secularization of a Divine Mystery. This is why one can say that every member of the Visible Church sins, but the Church does not sin. Thus in the Holy Father John Paull II’s “apology” a few years ago we see clearly that he does not identify the Church herself with the sins of which her sons and daughters, however lofty their position, have committed.

Thus the Church is HOLY, not sinful as its members are (taken individually or materially, for there are many dead members of the Visible Church who are only materially, i.e., externally, joined to the Church and to Christ, who nevertheless have the opportunity of being revived, especially by the prayers and sacrifices of the alive members.)

It can be difficult for some to see this since they approach the issue superficially, materially, without understanding the depth of the union of Christ with His Visible Body. When that Visible Body teaches it is Christ Who teaches.

Thus only what is done out of this union with Christ in us is the Church, such as teaching on faith or morals by the Magisterium, the sacramental life of the Church, the acts of virtue done in grace by the faithful, above all the lives of heroic sanctity of the Saints. All this is Christ in us who cooperate with Him. The errors in teaching by individuals or sections of the Church, the moral failures, the exercises in poor judgment, the omission of doing good when the circumstances require it, all this is done not by virtue of union with Christ, but by virtue of sinners’ own initiative as first cause themselves, and thus not by the Church. It takes divine faith that the Church is this Great Mystery of union between Christ and His Body to see this; a purely sociological approach misses this entirely as does an historical/scientific approach without faith.

To repeat: The Church is Christ extended. One can not speak of the Church in simply a material sense as an organization as sociologists do. We are not the Church so much as CHRIST is the Church. HE is the Temple in His own personal Body. Qualitatively in Him personally is the fullness; by incorporation into Him we participate in this fullness His personal Humanity has. Whatever He unites to Himself is the Mystery of the Church. Now He united Himself visible with the apostolic community at Pentecost never to be separated from that historical community.
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That is what I thought too, however I have discussed with many knowledgeable people and they say you can’t seperate the people from the Church.

[quote=ND Mike]I’m an RCIA sponsor and I was kind of upset when they taught that Vatican II stated the Church is not perfect. I totally disagree. The Church is perfect but the people that make up the Church, lay people, priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, etc… are not. Their imperfection does not negate the perfection of the Catholic Church. Am I incorrect?
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The Church is still growing up - it is immature, incomplete: in that sense, it is certainly not perfect.

Christ, is perfect :slight_smile: - and the Church is meant to grow up into the full stature of Christ. If the Church were perfect, we would not still be awaiting the Coming of Christ.

[quote=ND Mike]That is what I thought too, however I have discussed with many knowledgeable people and they say you can’t seperate the people from the Church.
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Well, Mike, you and I are in extremely good and truly knowledgeable company with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI :slight_smile: :

. . .let us go back to that prayer which liturgical wisdom inserted at the most solemn moment of the Mass, to that moment of physical, intimate union with Christ who has transformed himself into bread and wine. The Church presumed that anyone who celebrated the Eucharist would need to say I have sinned, Lord, look not upon my sins. It was the obligatory invocation of every priest: each bishop, the pope himself like the least priest had to pronounce it in his daily Mass. And also the laity, all the other members of the Church, were called to unite themselves to that recognition of guilt. Therefore, everybody in the Church, with no exception, had to confess himself to be a sinner, beseech forgiveness and then set out on the path of his real reform. But this in no way means that the Church as such was also a sinner. The Church – as we have seen – is a reality that surpasses, mysteriously and infinitely, the sum of her members. In fact, in order to obtain Christ’s forgiveness, my sin was set over against the faith of his Church.

Today this seems to have been forgotten by many theologians, priests and laymen. It is not only the change from the I to the we, from personal to collective responsibility. One even gets the impression that some, although unconsciously, may reverse the prayer by understanding it in this way: ‘Look not upon the sins of the Church but upon my faith. . .’ Should this really happen, the consequences will be grave: the faults of individuals become the faults of the Church, and faith is reduced to a personal event, to my way of understanding and accepting God and his demands. I really fear that today this is a widespread manner of feeling and thinking. It is another sign of how greatly in many places the common Catholic consciousness has distanced itself from an authentic conception of the Church.

. . .We must. . .go back to saying to the Lord: ‘We sin, but the Church that is yours and the bearer of faith does not sin.’

The Ratzinger Report, pp. 51-52

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