Private and public

Like Jesus, the church which is his Body has both a private life and a public life. The church lives quietly when her members understand their faith, practice it together by worshiping God and working to transform the world according to God’s designs, while they wait to meet the Lord at death and when he returns in glory. Since those who live in Christ also live in the world, the church is a partner with others in the public life of every society in which she is free to be herself.

The church never fits perfectly into any society, anymore than Jesus fit perfectly into his own. Her teaching often challenges what is evil even as it points the way to what is good. Some Catholics want the church to conform to society perfectly; other Catholics want the church to withdraw from society in order to preserve her integrity. She does neither. The church does what Jesus did: publicly preach the truth about God and our relationship to him; invite everyone to follow him in his church; and enter into the public discussions that establish the common good in every society. Like the public life of Jesus, the public life of the church is often contentious. Some not only reject her teaching, they resent it. Others not only reject her teachers, they would isolate them or find ways to punish them.