Jesus spoke of the Pharisee and the tax collector in his parable on pride and judgment, and humility and Mercy, found in Luke 18:9-14, in today's gospel. Everyone can agree that at one time or another we have filled the shoes of both Pharisee and tax collector, proud and pious peacock, and humbled and sinful mess.
Today's Scripture readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030913.cfm
But what can be said when the institutional Church plays Pharisee to the tax collector, or when society goes Pharisaical on the human errors of the Church?
Sacramental confession is the fool proof method God implemented through His Apostles to forgive the sins of every repentant tax collector among us. It is fool proof in that all we have to do is show up, be sincere, and our sins will be forgiven. It is fool proof because within Holy Mother Church resides many an ecclesiastic fool (both ordained and hired) who keeps tax collectors in constant memory of their past failings by rejecting and restricting their participation in Church ministry. And this, for the most part, has nothing to do with moral or legal restrictions, but is solely based on personal spitefulness and revenge!
Who were the Pharisees? http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11789b.htm
Likewise, the world loves to go Pharisaical on the Church when one of Holy Mother Church's disciples, particularly and apostle, takes a fall, especially a sexual one! Satan loves to steal the dignity of the apostle! And woe to the apostle who shames the Church. Yet God knows no unforgivable sin, even if the tax collector has a priestly collar around his neck. Funny, but the world tends to go Pharisaical on the sins which most resemble their own!
Who were the tax collectors? http://www.crivoice.org/tax.html
In the end, whether individual or ecclesial or societal, the pride and peacock piety of the Pharisee only leads to a fall. And then the Pharisee only winds up in the same long line as the humbled and messy tax collectors. It is best to remember our proclivity to falling so that we may both protect ourselves, as best we can, from falling again, and, of infinitely more importance, compassionately lead other tax collectors to the healing Mercy of Jesus--the Divine Physician who came to heal the sick.
In other words, all of us!