It would be a sign of very little maturity if, in view of the defects and miseries in any of those who belong to the Church (no matter how high they may be placed by virtue of their function), anyone should feel his faith in the Church and in Christ lessened. The Church is not governed by Peter, nor by John, nor by Paul; she is governed by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord has promised that he will remain at her side always, to the close of the age.

Listen to what Saint Thomas Aquinas says, elaborating on this point. He is speaking about receiving the sacraments, which are the cause and sign of sanctifying grace: He who approaches the sacraments receives the sacrament concerned from the minister of the Church not as such-and-such an individual, but precisely as a minister of the Church. Hence so long as the Church suffers him to remain in his ministry, one receiving a sacrament from him does not share in his sin, but shares in the life of the Church who publicly recognises him as minister. When the Lord permits human weakness to appear, our reaction ought to be the same as if we were to see our mother ill or treated with disdain: to love her all the more, to bestow on her a greater manifestation of affection, both external and internal.

If we love the Church, there will never arise in us a morbid interest in airing, as the faults of the Mother, the weaknesses of some of her children. The Church, the spouse of Christ, does not have to intone any mea culpa. But we do: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. The only true mea culpa is a personal one, not the one which attacks the Church, pointing out and exaggerating the human defects which, in this holy mother, result from the presence in her of men whose actions can go far astray, but which can never destroy — nor even touch — that which we call the original and constitutive holiness of the Church.

God our Lord has indeed compared the Church to the threshing floor where the straw is piled together with the wheat from which will come bread for the table and bread for the altar; he has compared the Church to a dragnet ex omni genere piscium congreganti, which catches both good and bad fish, the bad ones of which are later thrown away.

This point in another language