When people say that something «drives them away» from the Churchor «puts them off» of it, I want to say: if you don't believe in the salvation of the soul, then why are you in the Church in the first place? And if you really do believe, what in the world could possibly alienate you from the Church?
I come across this quite often on the web, when people have read something bad about the Church. Anything the Church says or does can cause a deluge of critical commentaries: from traffic accidents to political commentaries of individual priests. Whenever any stupid article appears, people on social media start posting about how those things «drives them away from the Church».
It seems strange to me. Personally I can only be «driven away» from something that is not important to me. If something can put me off of this thing, then I never really needed it. A cafe, for example, can drive me away with a wilted salad. It won't make much of a difference in my life to go somewhere else for lunch or bring food from home.
Football matches repel me with expensive tickets and exuberant fans. Yes, somehow I'm not drawn to football. At the opera, it repels me... I don't even know what with. I'm not interested in opera.
However, the very nature of the Church's teaching is such that if it is true, then we need the Church more than anything else in the world. And if it is not, then we do not need the Church at all. Actually, this is not even the Church that teaches us that. It is Jesus Christ himself.
We meet Him in the Gospels — they are essentially memoirs written by His disciples. Jesus says amazing things, so that even His opponents admit — «never has a man spoken like this Man». (John 7:46)
Jesus says that He has been with the Father before the world was. That He is the Truth — not just someone who speaks the truth, but the Truth itself. That it is He who will come to judge all nations on the Last Day. That those who believe Him will find eternal life. That whoever saw Him saw His Father. He not only talked, He worked miracles. He healed the sick and fed the hungry.
Some believed in Him — others refused, and declared His words deceptive and untruthful. He was arrested, falsely accused of trying to seize the royal power, and put to a terrible death on the Cross.
But on the third day he rose again and came to the disciples, whom he instructed to preach the message of eternal salvation to all people. He spoke to them and bid them go into the world «And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned» (Mar.16:15,16)
He also said, «I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it» (Matthew 16:18)
These are His words as they came to us through time. Like the people two thousand years ago, we now can respond to them with faith and see light — or reject them and remain in the darkness.
Christians are those who believe Him, who accept His promise of eternal life. We come for it to the Church that He founded, and take part in the Sacraments that He established. So if you really believe in Christ, nothing can drive you away from Him, and from His Church.