A while back I did a thread on choosing between a poor-in-every-regard but Catholic church with rotten priest and a charismatic thriving megachurch, in which the Catholics demonstrated that they would always choose the Catholic Church. Point taken. But here I wish to slice it finer and see if I understand the distinction. This is not a slam against the Catholic church but an effort to draw out an important distinction.
Church A is Catholic. The priest however, is not particularly so, though a validly ordained priest. He has denied the resurrection, the Virgin Birth, transubstantiation, and just about anything else you can think of. Someone wanted a class on the Catechism and his response was that “nobody believes that stuff” anymore. He is casual with the Eucharistic elements and has been known to address them with a “bread thou art, and bread thou wilt remain.” He has mocked the pope and the bishop in homilies and regards faith as a crutch. He holds no hours for confession because “it’s not necessary. If you need help. see a shrink.” His morals outside of church are deplorable. Outraged members sent a videotape of him first to the bishop and then to Rome. Rome says they will send someone “to look into these matters in which we share mutual concerns.”
Church B is Anglican. The priest is extremely reverent and is working in his movement (having left the Episcopal Church) to bring them into the Catholic Church. He holds classes on the Catechism. There is a Marian prayer group. He has a high regard for the pope and has read everything he has written, and quotes find their way into sermons. He is compassionate, walks on water for a hobby, encourages Adoration etc. He, in other words, out-Catholics the Catholic priest. He upholds Catholic doctrine in every way and is torn by the fact he is “not yet” Catholic as an internal tension, yet feels called by God to do what he is doing.
Catholics will tell me, I think, that Church A is the true Catholic church. Why is organizational unity with Rome the telling factor, rather than faith (this goes beyond Donatist arguments regarding the piety of the officiant)? Why are B’s sacraments invalid and those of A’s valid?