Leave Jesus Christ out of the atrocities, but recognize bad followers and pay homage to the good done by Christians
Christianity has a long history. With this longevity comes a track record of noble deeds and some evil acts.
Yet, the bad events seem to overshadow the glory of the Catholic Church. With our society descending further into relativism and religious skepticism, the wicked seems to outweigh the righteous glow of Her mission.
With the immoral comes a lot of negative events in the history of the Church. Many hot button moral cases like the Galileo controversy, “Hitler’s Pope”, the Crusades or even the massive priestly sexual abuse scandal are routinely named.
As Catholics, we should hold those Christians that have committed evil accountable.
But at the heart of this objection, people want to know how can Christianity reconcile itself with atrocious acts in the past.
A Close Inspection
Firstly, regarding the ‘horrors committed in the name of Christ”, sure we can go back and forth all day debating whether or not wicked people have done evil deeds.
Sometimes, people who have this objection will group at least three unrelated events in history and try to find a moral equivalency in them.
How is that even fair?
Ultimately, we have to examine each event in Church history rather than issue a sweeping generalization of condemnation. This requires an honest and true investigation.
Secondly, Christianity is replete with horrible examples, but Christianity isn’t rooted in man’s disobedience but has its foundation on the sinless perfection and obedience of Jesus Christ to God the Father.
He is the sole example we should measure ourselves up to. It may seem acceptable to compare my “good” moral life to someone else, but when I go against Jesus…Boy, I’m in trouble!
Against his perfection, how could I stand?
It is often said “Don’t leave Jesus because of Judas” but even this phrase points to the truth of Christianity: a sinner’s example shouldn’t triumph the glory of Jesus Christ.
Hall of Saints
Next, the Catholic Church calls home sinners who need divine grace to be conformed and grafted to the author of the faith, Jesus Christ. It’s these individuals that eventually become Saints.
These holy men and women that the Church lifts up because they understood Jesus’ message: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength AND You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 12:29–31, RSVCE).
No one stays a Catholic Christian because of the evil examples of others but stays because the Church is the dwelling place of the Saints that embodied how to follow and live for Jesus.
Lastly, with all the evil done by bad apples, you can’t eclipse the immense good the Church has done and continues to do.
When the Church was born, so did works of mercy. Birthed out of performing acts of charity and providing assistance to those in need, many in the early church were engaged with relief services.
The Acts of the Apostles describes how personal possessions and property were sold and whoever had a need got relief (4:32–35).
In addition, it is often claimed by many Catholics “The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world.” Although I’ve never seen a source to back this up, it’s definitely something to consider.
The Church with its countless missionaries, religious, and other members are scattered across the globe performing charitable deeds. Globally, many Catholics are educating those in abject poverty, attending to destitute women and children in villages, and giving nutritional assistance to communities that have famines or crop damage.
Jesus declared, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 7:21). The will of the Father is to treat people with mercy and compassion through love.
With that said, many followers that have committed immoral wrongs have acted out of conduct. Indeed, those Christians and their crimes deserve to be scrutinized and evaluated.
Inspired by Jesus’ command to care for the least of society, men and women since Christianity’s inception have done great acts of charity.
We must not allow a few bad characters to eclipse the beauty of countless Saints that have performed loving self-sacrifice commanded by our Lord.