Matthew 231 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
There is no question in my mind that the clerical sexual abuse we've seen in the last several years has led to an exodus of the faithful from the Church. That is sad. Sadder still is what the victims had to go through with the very men they should have been able to trust. Something I haven't heard mentioned often however, is the turmoil of what we, those of us that sit in the pews week after week, have gone through also. How do you explain to your non-Catholic friends why you still belong to a Church that has so harmed innocent children? How do you explain why you still support an institution that is riddled with scandal such as this? So, why NOT leave the Church behind?
This brings me to the above verses from Matthew. Jesus began lambasting the Pharisees as white washed sepulchers, hypocrites etc, then he turns to the people and tells them that despite all of their leaders weaknesses, they are still the ones in authority. They are still the teachers of the law, and that their teachings are to be obeyed. Never once did he condone the people to leave their faith and synagogue. Jesus, a Jew himself, did not abandon his faith. On the contrary, he told the people to keep obeying what the teachers taught them but not to emulate them. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were the lawful authority of the people, just as the Pope and bishops in communion with him, are the authorities over Catholics.
If Jesus walked the earth as he did during the time of the apostles, I can hear him say to all Catholics, "1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The Pope of my Church and the Bishops sit in the Chair of Peter. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
As difficult as it is to accept, we, as Catholics, have no moral right to leave the Church because of the sins of others, for if we do, we rain condemnation down upon our own heads. We know better, so let us continue to be faithful to His Church and pray for strength, for there is no question about leaving the Church...ever.