This is why the Catholic Church will never die…from todays first reading, Gamaliel is addressing the Sanhedrin and telling them to leave the apostles alone…”So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” This echos what Jesus told Peter in the scene at Caesarea Philippi when he proclaimed our first pope and declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
It is bits like these that always refresh me about the veracity of Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church in particular. I spend a good deal of time correcting misconceptions about what the Church is. People say the Catholic Church persecuted Jews, the Catholic Church oppressed women, the Inquisition this, the Conquistadores that. But you know what? Disneyland and Disneyworld both have gay pride weekends. Does this mean that Disney supports gay activities? No. Disneyland and Disneyworld are public parks that accept admission from whoever has money. They don’t have a dress code, so people can make up shirts emblazoned with “Disneyland 2009 Gay Pride Weekend”. So does Disney deserve the reputation because they “allow” this to happen? No, they don’t. Just like when I go to a concert, I go to hear the group or groups, not necessarily to hear what they believe politically. So when they parade a big fake cardboard check to some foundation in the name of the sponsor, it doesn’t mean that I support that, necessarily.
Same thing with the Church. Yes, people committed atrocities in the name of the Catholic Church. That makes them wrong, not the Church.
So people say that because there were evil men who governed the Church at times that the Church lost its way. But the Church could never lose its way, because Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. And, as Gamaliel shows us, if it wasn’t of God, it would fade away. But it is of God, and it’s getting stronger and stronger.