Why Stay Catholic?
By Bishop David J. Malloy
Why stay Catholic? That question is heard more and more often these days. 
The question is many times provoked by the scandals that have marred the face of Christ in the Catholic Church in recent years. Many of the faithful (and to be honest, many priests and bishops as well) were shocked, angered and disheartened by the reports beginning in 2002 about the clerical sexual abuse of minors.
Having followed the press reports, the distressing stories of victims and the resulting general humiliation of the Catholic Church, many thought the programs and changes made by the Church since that time had addressed the problem. The addition of predominantly lay boards to advise bishops, the commitment to transparency and reporting to civil authorities along with widespread training and annual audits was a good start.
Then came the news last year about Theodore McCarrick and other bishops whose lives were causes of scandal because of sinful revelations. 
The Holy Father convened a meeting of bishops from all over the world in February to address these issues, and the bishops of the United States finally voted to adopt procedures of greater accountability for bishops. 
Still the confidence of many, especially in the leadership of the Church, is once more being tried and tested. 
For others the question of why they should cling to their Catholic faith is a response to the current culture. Most especially in the area of morality, and particularly sexual morality, our culture bombards us with the idea that the Church is out of step, unrealistic, or just plain wrong. 
All of us, but most especially our Catholic young people, are under intense pressure to join and blend in with a culture that more and more eschews marriage and its sacrifices (as well as its joys). 
A sense of reverence and commitment as part of this fundamental component of human existence is being replaced by an exaltation of personal freedom that displaces God and His creation from our understanding of ourselves, our genders and the human person.
In the midst of these challenges, Bishop Robert Baron has issued a word of encouragement to the faithful. He has written, “this is not the time to leave; it is the time to stay and fight. … everything you love in the Church is still present and is worth defending.” He gives several reasons very worth our reflection and prayer.
He notes first that we stay with the Church because, in our secularized and irreligious moment, the Church speaks about God. Who else does or will? 
However flawed the messengers at any given moment, the message of the Church is something we and the world need. 
Joined to the message of God is the story of Jesus, God and man, who came to live and die among us. The Church reminds us of Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Bishop Barron writes that the Church is not simply a memorial society. In the Catholic Church we are joined to Jesus and to every element of His teaching.
Bishop Barron then gets to the heart of the matter. The Catholic Church conveys to us the grace of the sacraments. Baptism joins us to Christ and confirmation strengthens the Holy Spirit in our souls. The Eucharist, given at the hands of a priest, is food for the journey. The forgiveness of sins, administered by a priest acting in the person of Christ, reconciles us to God in spite of our own failures. All of these graces are irreplaceable and are lost by leaving the Church.
The need of the hour is not for us to walk away or to stay and be passive. The Church is in need of reform, spiritual and administrative. But time and again in the past God has reformed the Church when the hour seemed darkest. That is the meaning of the the stories of Francis of Assisi, Charles Borromeo, Teresa of Avila and Joan of Arc, among many other saints.
The Church needs our prayers and our participation. And we need our Catholic faith, now more than ever.
Bishop Robert Barron’s full commentary is in his book, “Letter to a Suffering Church,” available at http://www. Sufferingchurchbook.com