Your reply is well written and certainly more clear, so I will endeavor to do the same in brevity and simply ask you to pray for me in your charity.
Certainly with any human institution, we could say that an overhaul in tangibles signals a change in essential direction. This is true of business, governments and practically any other organization that comes to mind. However, the Church is not like any other human institution as you have elucidated. You clearly state agree that human actions cannot disrupt the overall essential nature of the Church. What is most essential of the Church's function? As we all know it is the salvation of souls. When we are speaking of the Church's indefectibility we are speaking of the unfailing nature of this Her most essential function. Therefore, yes, there has been tampering updates, changes and modernisation, but in this has the Church lost her essential function? Far be it from possible!
But that's the most glaring point. There is a massive apostasy accompanying all of these changes. And the reforms mentioned above, as well as the very principles that characterize them, are the biggest factors contributing to Catholics losing the Faith. They contribute to unimaginable sacrilege and profanation of the sacraments. And I am not just talking about liturgical abuses; I am talking about the very laws of this institution that are intrinsically destructive to the sanctity of these sacraments.
Catholics have lost their trust in their "unchanging" Church on an unimaginable scale because it is being replaced by something that is in a constant state of flux. If that isn't the conciliar institution's failure to save souls (rather, it seems to be damning them), I don't know what is.
Who is the uninterrupted guardian of the Faith if the "institution itself' has been corrupted? I speak of another of the Church's essential characteristics -- where is the Church then visible? Where can hear with my own ears the apostolic truth if not from the lips of the occupants of the See of Peter? What has become of visibility if I can no longer see with my own eyes and trust the "institution" in Her teaching? A failure in the See's teaching office would signal a failure not only in the Church's most essential function, it would signal a failure in all of the four marks as well. For if the visible "institution" of the Church is teaching error with the Supreme Pontiff's consent, then this apparatus is no longer one with its own history, holy in the actions of Her saints, catholic or apostolic in Her origin.
My point above wasn't confined to the sex abuse scandal. Priests can DO bad things -- and very often do. The Pope can DO bad things (e.g., Assisi, outreach to heretics, etc.). Bishops can DO bad things (e.g., punishing traditionally minded priests, etc), but the Church cannot fail in what she teaches or commands to the point of not being able to save souls. For Our Lord has said, "All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not."
Well, this response very subtly changes the discussion into a deductive conclusion in favor of the conciliar church's claim to be the same Church established by Our Lord, Jesus Christ, by essentially arguing: 'What else is there?' This deduction, which merely shifts the burden of proof, goes something like this: though the conciliar institution doesn't bear out the marks of the Church, it must be the Church because if it is not then what else is? This doesn't actually answer the charge made against the conciliar institution; it merely seeks to exploit unpalatable responses to the opposition's deduction. But I will respond to it simply because it is the most common reason used today to go along with what Catholics should know is not the true Church.
This deductive conclusion, whereby Catholics accept as the Church what doesn't even conduct itself like the Church foretold in the Old Testament, taught by Christ, and explicated by the Church, is predicated upon a false understanding of the visibility of the Church.
First, this understanding places too much emphasis on the individual leaders of the Church and not its head, Which is Christ Himself, and identifies as the true Church that Church which merely claims to be the true Church, but which doesn't actually bear out that reality by proving its claims.
Second, it attributes any failure to the mere human element of the Church and overlooks the fact that these institutions themselves are protected from error; hence, they cannot in any way be legitimate, much less apart of that Church founded by Christ and built by His Apostles.
Thirdly, it supposes that the Church's visibility is a mere tangible visibility, which manifests itself only to the five senses. Though those tangible manifestations are, as it were, metaphysical accidents of the Church's visibility (and which are accidents that many Christian sects claim as their own), they nevertheless do not constitute the substantial visibility as taught by the Church Herself.
The Church's visibility consists of two elements: formal and material. Formal visibility "implies that in all ages the true Church of Christ will be easily recognizable for that which it is, viz. as the Divine society of the Son of God, the means of salvation offered by God to men; that it possesses certain attributes which so evidently postulate a Divine origin that all who see it must know it comes from God. ... Formal visibility is secured by those attributes which are usually termed the 'notes' of the Church — her Unity, Sanctity, Catholicity, and Apostolicity." ... "The material visibility of the Church involves no more than that it must ever be a public, not a private profession; a society manifest to the world, not a body whose members are bound by some secret tie" (Catholic Encyclopedia, The Church). This crisis greatly attacks the clarity of these marks, but the acknowledgment that the Novus Ordo in no way represents Christ's Church does not compromise either of these two elements. The magisterium of the true Catholic Church, although seemingly eclipsed by Modernist teachings that come from Rome, nevertheless still teaches what it has always taught; the notes of unity, sanctity, universality, and apostolicity still distinguish this body of believers; and the body of the faithful continue to profess those teachings, regardless of who or where they are.
Just to drive this point home in order to show what visibility is not: Most Churches say they are the true Church. That a leader sits on a throne in Rome, that the bishops carry croziers in public, or that the churches have crucifixes and thuribles does not make their claims to be the true Church valid. Sure, it makes them visible and conspicuous, but not identifiable with the visible and conspicuous body of believers characterized by the ever-public profession of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith which distinguishes the Catholic faithful of whatever rite. After all, anti-Pope Anacletus II
reigned from the See of Peter in Rome for about 4 years, and was followed by the majority of Catholics, until he was finally deposed. Many went to the grave believing he was the pope. The fact the Head of the Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ, allowed this does not mean that the Church was not visible.
God is the invisible head of the Church. Leaders come and go, but the Church is still here even when popes, cardinals, and archbishops apostatize, excommunicate themselves, or otherwise automatically separate themselves from the the unity of the body before any decree has been issued by the Church
. Where was the visible leadership during the Arian crisis? during the Western Schism? during the exile of popes? during the over 200 papal interregnums that have punctuated the history of the papacy? Catholic prophecy indicates that there is going to be nothing but a small remnant left at the end of time, perhaps as small as there was at the beginning of the Church at Pentecost. But the Church is still here. Popes and cardinals may apostatize, bishops may turn on the faithful, and priests may preach heresy, but the visible Church--which subsists in all ages, teaches all nations, and maintains all truth--is still here. The outlook may get very bleak, but the elements of visibility still characterize and distinguish those spots of light that shine through the dark eclipse of Modernism that strive to attain, as St. Pius X warned, a universal apostasy.
As St. Nicholas of Flue Prophesied:
The Church will be punished because the majority of her members, high and low, will become so perverted. The Church will sink deeper and deeper until she will at last seem to be extinguished, and the succession of Peter and the other Apostles to have expired. But, after this, she will be victoriously exalted in the sight of all doubters.
Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly, an noteworthy theologian who lived at the time of Vatican I, wrote after Vatican I that it would not contradict the teachings of the Church were God to leave the Church without a pope for (at least) 39 years – e.g., during the entire span of the Great Western Schism (1378-1417). Here is what he writes:
“We may here stop to inquire what is to be said of the position, at that time, of the three claimants, and their rights with regard to the Papacy. In the first place, there was all through, from the death of Gregory XI in 1378, a pope – with the exception, of course, of the intervals between deaths and elections to fill up the vacancies thereby created. There was, I say, at every given time a pope, really invested with the dignity of the Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church, whatever opinions might exist among many as to his genuineness; not that an interregnum covering the whole period would have been impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ, for this is by no means manifest, but that, as a matter of fact, there was not such an interregnum.”
Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society – Theological Essays, 1882.
In fact, on page 287 of the same book, Fr. O'Reilly continues with what could be likened to a prophetic warning:
“The great schism of the West suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical [absurd]. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be. Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfill His promises… We may also trust that He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself by His promises. We may look forward with cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the trouble and misfortunes that have befallen in the past. But we, or our successors in the future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree."
Fr. O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society – Theological Essays, p. 287.
Though enemies from within or without assail Her, She is still here.
But it can in no way be accepted that the Holy Ghost's power has legitimately and authoritatively bound that which tends, or is conducive to, the loss of faith, impiety, or indifference. The Holy Ghost gives the Church only what is perfect, holy, and good, not that which is lacking, imperfect, or "less good." This is what was promised to us in the Old Testament, by Christ Himself, and by His Church.