The Body of Christ is holy and sinful
Pray Tell recently published an article titled Eucharistic Non-Coherence. While I didn’t think it was a great article overall, this point is worth considering:
"80% of altar breads used in the United States are now manufactured by one single company — whose wheat is supplied by one of the largest agribusiness corporations in the country, a corporation that has been cited for numerous environmental and labor violations. Is the Church itself, then, not living a deep eucharistic non-coherence every time we celebrate the Eucharist?"
In the interconnected capitalistic economy we have, I don't know how you would entirely avoid cooperation in evil when purchasing bread for communion. But I think the point is still meaningful. Not as a "gotcha!" But as an invitation to deeper reflection on our (that is, all the baptized, the Church's) overwhelming inability to be coherent with the Eucharist, with Jesus.
The very bread that becomes the Eucharistic is tainted with violence and injustice. Somehow, mysteriously, the Body of Christ is both holy and sinful.
Church Life Journal recently re-shared an article—Confronting a Sinful Church—that addressed precisely this point. How do we conceptualize the idea that the Church is both holy and sinful without falling into the gnostic "spiritual church vs. earthly church" trap?
The language of the Church as a sacrament is important here.
Sacraments are both physical and spiritual. God's grace is given in material signs and symbols. But the physical can be corrupted. Bread can mold and wine can be poisoned. To get rid of all potential for corruption would be to discard the material signs and undermine the entire sacrament.
You can’t separate the physical and spiritual realities that are mysteriously presented to us as Eucharist. Likewise, you can't abstract a spiritual "real church" from the flesh and blood baptized people who are the Church, even if those baptized people are abusers, liars, predators, and narcissists.
All of this struck me as meaningful and true. But it didn't really give me any immediate comfort. If I were offered Eucharist that had molded, the fact that it's really the Body of Christ wouldn’t change my desire to avoid it. And right now, my heart is pretty heavy with how much mold I see growing in the Church.