John Allen hits the nail on the head in his introduction to this post on Abbe Pierre:
I’m convinced that there’s a strong correlation between someone’s implied ecclesiology and their overall attitude toward the Catholic church. More often than not, when people complain about “the church” — no matter what their ideological or theological slant, whether they’re inside the church or outside — what they mean is the hierarchy. Sometimes it’s actually just a handful of members of the hierarchy whom they find especially irritating.
This sort of “purple ecclesiology,” seeing the church almost exclusively in terms of the bishops, is a prescription for grumpiness.
The happiest Catholics I know, on the other hand, have a much broader concept of “church,” whether they’re conscious of it or not. For them, “the church” is a vast universe of individuals, movements, parishes, schools, journals, international networks, and all manner of other slices of life, engaged in a dizzying variety of activities, from contemplative prayer to feeding the hungry, to striving to translate the gospel into art, politics, finance, medicine, and other realms of secular culture. For those who see the church this way — again, whatever their political or theological positions — the bishops play an important role, but command relatively little of their energy and imagination. For every aspect of “the church” that they find frustrating or disappointing, such Catholics can usually reel off dozens of other things they find encouraging.
He is surely right, even in the case of those of us for whom bishops occupy rather more energy and imagination!
And speaking of bishops, here is a “Letter from South Africa” from Archbishop Mark Coleridge about the new mass. Keep up the good work, Your Grace!