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“Ask a Priest: How Should a Catholic Deal With a Divided Church?”
Q: It’s been some years since I got back home and reconverted to my Catholic faith. One of the many things that got me back is the united and common faith we all share, no matter where we live in the world. I do not regret my decision, but I feel there’s been an increasing division within the Church – the elections don’t help – that makes me feel sad. I want to be faithful, but I don’t know how to react to all the things that are happening. There is so much hatred on both sides of the fight. Many blame Vatican II, others the Pope or Freemasonry. What should a Catholic do to remain with the Church but attached to our Tradition? After so many abuses in our parishes, it makes me feel that is better to attach to an SSPX chapel. Thank you. – D.P.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s great to hear about your return to the faith. Our Lord has given you a great grace.
In your question you touch on two key points about the Church.
First, we are united by a common set of beliefs (as well as liturgy, etc.). This is part of the supernatural dimension of the Church.
On the other hand, the Church also has a human dimension. And this dimension is torn by division, as you mention.
So, what should a Catholic do? A few suggestions might help.
First, it’s good to keep your focus on Jesus. He is the reason why we are here. He founded the Church. He is the head of the Church. The Church can be thought of as his mystical body. Jesus works in the world through the members of his body the Church [read: you and me].
Although it’s understandable that you dismayed by the scandals (liturgical and otherwise) in some parishes, opting for a Society of Saint Pius X venue might not be the solution. Indeed, it could help fuel the divisions within the Church.
It also might be useful to read about Church history. Divisions and conflicts within the Church are nothing new; they have occurred since the very beginning and never really stopped. It’s all part of the spiritual battle.
It might be better to seek out a parish where the homilies are solid and the liturgy reverent. In any case, remember that it’s Jesus who is at the center of any Mass.
In the meantime, you might consider joining an ecclesial movement or something similar – Focolare or Regnum Christi, for instance.
The years ahead might not be any easier for Catholics. Cultures are becoming more secularized, and families are feeling the stress. But Jesus promised to be with us “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
This is the moment you want to commit yourself to defending the Church. The Church is our mother, and she needs our help.
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