Summary of Doctrine on the Church

"I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, A.D. 325, 381).

The Catholic Church is a single, unified, visible society, instituted by Jesus Christ in order to carry on His saving mission after His Ascension into heaven. Thus, the Church is endowed by Our Lord with everything necessary to accomplish this mission. First, Jesus gave the Church the authority to teach in his name, thus guaranteeing the truth of Her teaching. Second, he gave Her, in the Mass and the Sacraments, the means to sanctify men and draw them closer to God. Third, he gave Her the authority to rule and govern all men in those matters which pertain to salvation.

These powers were given by Jesus not to all the members of the Church individually, but rather to certain men, the Apostles, whom He chose especially to rule His Church. The apostles were united under the supreme authority of Simon Peter, whom Jesus chose to be the visible head of the Church on earth. The Apostles and their successors, the bishops, united under Peter and his successors, the Popes, have exercised this authority continuously since the time of Christ.

The Church is called Catholic because it is spread throughout the world, from end to end of the earth; also because it teaches universally and completely all the doctrines which man should know concerning things visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it subjects to right worship all mankind, rulers and ruled, lettered and unlettered; further because it treats and heals universally every sort of sin committed by soul and body, and it possesses in itself every conceivable virtue, whether in deeds, words or in spiritual gifts of every kind (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. XVIII, 23).

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