I was talking to a friend about the current scandals rocking the Catholic Church. He made the off-the-cuff comment that we could be witnessing the end of the Catholic Church. Another friend of mine was there (who’s PhD was on Catholic ecclesiology), disagreed, and claimed that the Catholic Church had been through worse and would weather this storm just fine.
At this point I was with my second friend. The scandals just don’t seem to be even in the right scale to bring about the collapse of the whole institution.
Friend the first then recounted his experience of the end of the cold war. He remembers thinking that, even though there were signs of trial, global communism could weather the storm. Then one night, protesters were standing on the Berlin wall with pickaxes. Sure, he said, we can see with hindsight that there were cracks. The fall seems not just unsurprising now, but practically inevitable. But then it didn’t feel like that. If there were a sudden set of revelations that snowballed, the Catholic Church could collapse in weeks, and we’d all be sitting around in 5 years time rehearsing the many many obvious reasons for its collapse.
I think he’s right. I still don’t think it is likely. But if the Berlin Wall taught us anything, its that the end comes quickly.