In this spot, I occasionally express my fear and concern about various problems and weaknesses we see within the Catholic Church at the beginning of the 21st century. These concerns are real because the problems are real, but I have to stop occasionally and make myself realize that although we have to be sensitive to problems, we must also see them in the context of overall strengths and accomplishments. This is not only a fair way to approach life but it also helps to avoiding discouragement.
The Church today? Well, needless to say, I am going to by-pass theological issues, such as being sent into the world by our Lord himself or his continued presence in the Eucharist. Rather I am going to talk about strengths at the natural level. For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Church is something that is virtually important for an organization that is now 2,000 years and has been promised that it will be around until the end of time. I am referring to the gift of stability.
I am a Catholic bishop and I have the same job that St. Augustine had as Bishop of Hippo in the 4th century, the same job that Irenaeus had in the 2nd century. Living as it has through these 20 centuries, the Church has experienced things both wonderful and terrible – massive conversions, political convulsions, countless saints and scandalously failed leaders. However, through it all the Church is stable. From century to century, it goes on in calm confidence of its origins and optimistic about its endurance. Jesus promised that the Church would last until the end of time. However, he did not guarantee what condition it would be in. It is up to us to take his commission and the continuing grace, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and move the Church into the future with greater effectiveness in bringing the good news to this battered human family.