One author announced that he was leaving Rome and found his decision both attacked by those who wondered how could you and happily accepted by those who think good riddance. But most of us outside of Rome see the conflict between its very public failings and its claims though Rome does not.
Outside of Rome, the Church is not viewed as all that visible. It surely exists in time and has marks that are identifiable but this always lives within the tension of what you do not see -- the hearts of true believers, the saints of old who lived and died in the Lord, and those not yet to come. So the truth is that most serious Christians outside of Rome yearn for a more visible Church -- yet not necessarily one that is identifiable with an earthly institution. We think that Rome is not all that much different. We think that Rome thinks that they are the fullest option among choices and we understand that these choices are not all equal or of the same worth or value. Naturally, we tend to think of our own church body as the best among the many choices. Lutherans, at least of the Missouri stripe, think that ours as close to perfection as is possible this side of glory. Naturally, we understand that others may also think this about their own tradition but we know deep down inside that they are still wrong and we are still right.
So it is confusing to us when we discuss ecclesiology, especially with Rome. Because Rome does not think like this at all. Even with all the scandals and shortcomings of the present pontiff, Rome does not see itself as the best of the choices or the most legitimate or authentic of the options. Rome is not afraid to say that it is, as an institution, the only legitimate Church. Not the best of choices or the best option but the only choice and the only option.
While we might think of the Church as an institution on a scale of better or worse, rightly or wrongly ordered, or having a history and a past that contributes to its authenticity, Rome does not see such a scale or order churches in comparison to one another in this way. In fact, it does not matter a whit to Rome if it is ordered more rightly and fully than others. Rome's claims go to the heart and core of its identity as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by the Lord, ordered through Peter, and given life by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is not simply that other "churches" are not simply inferior or deficient in some way but that they are essentially false -- politely called separated brethren but not necessarily believing that they are brethren -- separated or not. Now this would offend Protestants except for the fact that Rome has softened the blow by using terms that are essentially deceptive. Rome may call those outside of Rome Christian but that does not mean all that much to Rome. Rome is not giving up anything but simply using semantics to disguise what those outside of Rome would find consummately arrogant and presumptive. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus was fond of saying that Rome allowed him to be the Catholic he always was, indeed, his place within other churches made it untenable to be that Catholic. Neuhaus did not repudiate his past as a Lutheran but saw Rome as the ultimate destination for him and for all Lutherans. Perhaps he was being gentle but Rome certainly claims much more than the best option or the most authentic choice. Rome does not even acknowledge other churches but insists it alone is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
Lutherans, among others, find this definition of church too visible, so visible that THE Church is coterminous with the borders of institutional Rome -- which is, after all, Rome's historic claim. While this Lutheran, in fact, often complains that the Church is not visible enough in Lutheran ecclesiology, the Church in Roman ecclesiology is entirely too visible and this Lutheran finds this just as uncomfortable. In college it was a typical joke to claim that the Missouri Synod could not make the claim that it was the true visible church on earth (like Rome) but if we weren't we were at least the true visible sect on earth. Rome would laugh and heartily agree for outside of Rome there is no church -- only cults and sects in which one might occasionally find the felicitous consistency of a believer or two.