William Oddie struggles with being called out on some basic Christian theology:
I have been pondering on one response to a blog I wrote recently, the headline of which ended “Few understand this pontificate: but it’s the Church that saves us”. The response began “… Wrong! It is Jesus Christ who saves us”. I naturally assumed that this was written by a Protestant …
It was a Catholic challenge, thank goodness, and spot-on. Dr Oddie scrambles to suggest that the Church is the tool through which Jesus saves, so therefore the Church saves. It’s also difficult to take “friendly fire” for one’s fuzzy theology, so naturally, only meaniehead Protestants attack “faithful” Catholics.
I suppose the distinction is apt as well for my power tool: I tighten and remove screws, but it is really my drill that does the work.
Does my drill get callouses and strains? Does it plug itself in and make adjustments with extensions?
When it wears out, can’t I just buy a new tool?
It is a fundamental Catholic principle that the unworthiness of the minister cannot effect the validity of the sacraments he celebrates.
Not only the sacraments. It is the strange and twisted affirmation of God that even a pope disliked for his “confusing” statements about traditional trimmings can actually restore credibility lost to the focus on the institution. A pope who just shows up for Mass and celebrates as a baptized person, not as a priest as such. A pope who suggests we must start with people rather than the law. A pope who identifies himself as a sinner–an admission that’s likely to get you put on a traditionalist’s hit list for ridicule, job loss, and (horror of horrors) identification as a Protestant–gasp!
Dr Oddie focuses on the sacramental life of the Church and sacramental efficacy. And well he should, as a good Catholic. But if the sacraments are so important to salvation, perhaps it is time to reassess sacramental practice at the margins. Somehow, I don’t think the whole supernatural edifice of grace will come crashing down if a few remarried Catholics are returned to the sacraments.
Does the church save? Maybe a little too much.