One of the common objections of my adult son raises about going to Church is that all the sin and hypocrisy in the Church is intolerable to him. Any advice on what to say about this?
Well, of course, this is one of the objections that Jesus had to face from the Pharisees: This man welcomes sinners and eats with them (Luke 15:2). It’s a remarkable thing, Jesus is found among sinners, even hypocrites. He is not found in the perfect places of our imagined “church.” He is not simply found in the places or company considered desirable, he is found where he is found: among sinners. Indeed, one image for the Church is Christ, crucified between two thieves!
As for hypocrisy, we do well to wonder if any human being on this planet, save for the most heroic saint, is utterly free from this ubiquitous human problem. Surely your son cannot consider himself wholly free from it can he?
In terms of mission, the Church is a hospital for sinners, and that means sinners will be found there. But so will medicine of the sacraments, the wisdom of Scripture, healing, and encouragement, admonishment, too. And yes, sinners…even some in critical condition. We know our sin. That is why we have confessionals in every parish. Pray God, we always have room for one more sinner.
As for those who seek for Christ apart from the Church, i.e. apart from his Body: no can do. Christ is found with his body, the Church. He associates with sinners and holds them close. He incorporates them into his body through baptism and seeks them when they stray.
Tell your son that Jesus loves sinners and is not too proud to be in their company and call them his brethren. Join us!
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."