What should be done when an eminent member of the Church does something that scandalises us? The Creed tells us that the Church is not an optional matter in our life, namely we say: “we believe the Church, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic”. Paradoxically, however, she can become an obstacle to our faith and growth instead of helping us mature.

Scandal can become a learning curve for us. The outcome depends on our response. Generally, with or without a scandal, we are called to believe the Church when the Church speaks in the name of Jesus. A sin is a sin. A grave sin is a grave sin! This is true. Nobody will ever question this aspect. St Paul himself teaches us that God puts his grace in vessels of clay to help us focus on His Grace and not on the clay vessel. In this sense our Act of Faith in the Church, the manner in which we believe the Church and in what the Church says, has to rely on the Holy Spirit and not on the flesh*.


The Act of Faith has two components: fides qua creditur (the attitude of faith, our manner when making an Act of Faith) and fides quae creditur (the object we believe in).  In other words, in the Act of Faith we have: the subject of the Act (me, the manner and means I use to make the Act of Faith: the manner can be human or divine) and the object of the Act (the contents I believe in).

The Church, seen as the object of our Act of Faith, is not God, but she bears the fullness of God and is meant to lead us to God. This is God’s will. She is part of our Creed. She is Jesus’ Sacrament, she is the Sacrament of Salvation offered by Jesus to us to communicate Divine Life to us.

As a consequence, when we face the Church we don’t have only one manner of making our Act of Faith but four: 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b (see table). Three are wrong and don’t lead to God and His Salvation.

The object of the Act of Faith:

i.e. looking at the Church we focus on:

1- The Clay Vessel

2- The Grace of God

The man-ner we use to

make our act of faith

a-Leaning on the “Flesh”*

I look no further than at the sins of my brothers and sisters, members of the Church: what gets splashed back in my face is: sins.

I am focusing on the Grace of God in the Church, but I am still using my own limited understanding of these sins. I do not access the grace of God properly.

b-Leaning on the “Spirit”

I am making a proper act of faith but I am still focusing on human beings and I am leaning on them. I am living in false hope.

I am focusing on the grace of God in the Church and I am doing it with faith and am therefore entering into her more deeply, seeing the Saints and the Doctors and going even deeper to her heart: Mary the perfect realisation of it. I am using Her Faith in order to reach the Grace of God and to dwell in it.

We need to learn to discern the one and only correct manner in which to believe (2b, in white) and learn to make the Act of Faith properly in order to succeed in receiving the Grace of God and to grow spiritually.

We are supposed to grow in the Church, like going from one Mansion in the Church to the next, always going deeper until we reach the deepest Mansion, the burning Heart of the Church. The Church in fact is also a path, a way to reach the fullness of Jesus himself. We are tempted to stop at each mansion and stay there thinking that this is it, while the Holy Spirit God, in fact, is constantly challenging us to grow.

At each stage we face obstacles and hurdles, temptations and deceit. They are indirectly a call from God to sharpen our Act of Faith in order to reach the deepest part of the Church.

* “Leaning on the Flesh”: our act of faith leans on human motives, using human means, human ways, human thoughts, human goals.

For greater development see here.