By Monsignor Hilary C. Franco, Advisor at the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
The Old Testament tells us how difficult it was to deal with a world immersed in a lax paganism with no set values or norms. We believe that all that was due to what we call the original sin.
It was truly hard in a world like that to prepare for the coming of the Savior. The prophets of the Old Testament tried to convey the message with not really great success.
When the Savior came, you would figure that things would change, but humanity persisted, even though it had been elevated to a higher (if not the highest) level by the Son of God who had deigned himself to come down from heaven and share our human fragility. Even though He could have done everything by Himself (with an act of His will He could have saved the world), He decided to enroll the help of human beings in order to fulfill His plan of salvation; and, in doing so, He instituted the Church.
You would expect marvels from the Church since it had been established solely to put into action what was the providential plan of God for humanity. Instead, all through these 20 centuries we have witnessed many infidelities, betrayals, misinterpretations of His message, scandals, etc., with many laudable exceptions.
Would it be better to go back to the spirit of the early Church, even considering the then present defections and deviations? Or should we look forward to a Church devoid of the many trappings which we have - sacred and profane - and taking into account the search for political favors and consequent worldly power?
The Church of the low and high Middle Ages is gone, and so is the Church of the Renaissance and the Church of the Baroque era, with all their pursuit of uncontrolled wealth, worldly power and prestige. But I wonder if THAT Church is really gone. I should say ‘no’ if I have to judge from the crises we are witnessing nowadays... or still from the overwhelming pageantry of some of our solemn liturgies... in the Roman Basilicas and elsewhere... or from the great promises that do not correspond to bare facts and resulting actions. Read Monsignor Franco's engaging memoir: SIX POPES: A Son of the Church Remembers. [more...]