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Non-Catholics Section: The Catholic Church

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Non-Catholics Section:

The Catholic Church

Sources: Various

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What Does the Term 'Catholic' Mean?

Are Catholics Christian?

Is the Catholic Church the Only True Church?

Is the Catholic Church Open to All?

Is it Necessary to Belong to the Catholic Church For Salvation?

Can the Catholic Church Ever Fail?

Do You Deny That the Catholic Church is the 'Mystical Body of Christ'?

Do You Deny That the Catholic Church Acts as 'Christ's Representative'? 

Why is the Church Called Holy Despite Her Sinful Members?

Also See...

Church History

Church Teachings

Pope / Papacy

Authority / Obedience

Visible Church / Hierarchy

Truth / Doctrine

Question

Comments

What Does the Term 'Catholic' Mean?

Consider:

* The term "Catholic" is translated from the Greek "Katholikos" meaning "universal".

* The Church began to be called 'Catholic' even before the last apostle died.

* Just as Christ's followers were originally called Nazoreans (see Acts 24:5), and later Christians (see Acts 11:26), members of the true Church of Christ would soon be called "Catholics". In fact, the first known written use of the term "Catholic Church" has been considered to be that of St. Ignatius of Antioch, around 110 A.D. It should be noted that St. Ignatius was a hearer of the Apostle St. John, and was the third bishop of Antioch [remember that it was also in Antioch that the disciples had first been called Christians (see Acts 11:26)].

* The term "Catholic" was employed to distinguish members of Christ's true Church from members of heretical sects (which had arrogated to themselves the name "Christian"). As is clear from Scripture, many heresies were threatening the Church even from its earliest days.


Closing Quotations...

"When we are called Catholics, it is by this name that our people are kept apart from any heretical name." (St. Pacian of Barcelona) 

"[I]t is a fact that the Church is called Catholic because it truly embraces the whole of that truth" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 408 A.D.) 

"But whether they will or not, even heretics and schismatics when talking, not among themselves but with outsiders, call the Catholic Church nothing else but the Catholic Church. For otherwise they would not be understood unless they distinguished the church by that nature which she bears throughout the whole world." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.) 

Are Catholics Christian?

Consider:

* All Catholics are Christians, but not all who call themselves 'Christian' are Catholic.

* All the earliest followers of Christ were either members of the Catholic Church or were heretics (or schismatics). There was (and is) no other option.

* Catholics are the "original Christians." In fact, "If you wanted to be Christian back in 100 A.D., Catholicism was the only option. All others professing Christ were heretics." In fact, the very earliest Christians were not called Christian until later. They were originally called "Nazoreans" (see Acts 24:5) and later "Christian" (see Acts 11:26) and finally "Catholic" (meaning "universal"). These Nazoreans and Christians and Catholics were all members of the same Church (ultimately called the Catholic Church). 

* Before the Protestant Rebellion of the 16th century, Christian was synonymous with Catholic (excluding the 'Orthodox' who broke away from the Catholic Church several hundred years previously yet call themselves Christian). This is simply a fact of history.

* Up until a few decades ago, even Protestants were wont to call themselves "Protestant" rather than Christian. Now, however, they seem to prefer to claim the title 'Christian', even while rejecting the only Church Christ founded - the Catholic Church.

* Like it or not, all who claim the name 'Christian' may ultimately be traced back to the Catholic Church [e.g. to a group or an individual who broke away from her (or one that had previously broken away from her)]. Such "break away" groups arrogate to themselves the name 'Christian', yet they reject the one and only church Christ founded - the Catholic Church. 

* At best, non-Catholics who call themselves 'Christian' have a 'partial Christianity'. And, in truth, this may be likened to "having no Christianity", since one must accept all Christ's teachings to be truly Christian. As Pope Leo XIII has said:

"For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others. Faith, as the Church teaches, is 'that supernatural virtue by which, through the help of God and through the assistance of His grace, we believe what he has revealed to be true, not on account of the intrinsic truth perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, the Revealer, who can neither deceive nor be deceived' (Conc. Vat., Sess. iii., cap. 3). If then it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine Faith: for what the Apostle St. James judges to be the effect of a moral delinquency, the same is to be said of an erroneous opinion in the matter of faith. 'Whosoever shall offend in one point, is become guilty of all' (Ep. James ii., 10)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

And, as St. Athanasius has said, 

"The very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the apostles and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded, and if anyone departs from this, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church)


In Closing...

"Christian is my name, and Catholic my surname. The one designates me, while the other makes me specific... When we are called Catholics it is by this appellation that our people are kept apart from any heretical name." (St. Pacian of Barcelona, c. 383 A.D.)

"And, if I finally must explain the word 'Catholic' and translate it from the Greek into the Roman idiom, Catholic means 'one everywhere' or, as the more learned think, 'obedience to all the commandments of God.'" (St. Pacian of Barcelona, 4th century A.D.)

Is the Catholic Church the Only True Church?

Consider:

* The Catholic Church is the only church founded by Jesus Christ. All other so-called 'churches' were founded by men.

* Only the Catholic Church has existed since Christ.

* The Catholic Church alone is fully biblical.

* The Catholic Church alone teaches all the doctrines handed down by Christ and the Apostles (and doesn't "invent" its own doctrine).

* The Catholic Church alone is called Christ's body in Scripture (cf. Col. 1:18, 1:24).

* The four marks of the Church are her Unity, Holiness (Sanctity), Catholicity, and Apostolicity. "These four essential characteristics, proper to the Catholic Church alone, visibly manifest to the world that she is the true Church of Christ." (Catholic Dictionary)

* The Catholic Church alone has the authority to instruct men and administer the Sacraments.

* The Catholic Church alone determined which books belong to the Bible and preserved it by hand for hundreds and hundreds of years before the printing press was invented.

* The Catholic Church stands nearly alone in her opposition to various evils (e.g. divorce, contraception, homosexual acts, etc.).

* Christ loves the Catholic Church (Eph. 5:25) and she alone may be called 'Christ's spouse' (cf. Song 6:9, Eph. 5:22-32).

* The Catholic Church alone validly and lawfully confects the Holy Eucharist.

* The Catholic Church alone has the visible center of unity as established by Christ. She can trace her uninterrupted papal succession directly back to St. Peter.

* The Catholic Church alone is gifted with infallibility.

* The Catholic Church alone is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tm. 3:15).

* The Catholic Church alone has the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 16:19).

* The Catholic Church alone has Christ's promise that she will withstand the gates of hell (Mt. 16:18).

* Confused because Scripture speaks of 'churches'? You should know that these refer to the different components of the Catholic Church (e.g. the Catholic Church in a particular region). The term 'church' may be properly used to refer to various parts of the Catholic Church (e.g. National Churches, Local Churches, Church authorities, Church Suffering / Militant / Triumphant, etc.) and to buildings set aside for Catholic worship. Despite being called churches, they are not independent churches, but refer to certain parts of the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, many are confused as non-Catholics misapply the term 'church' to their denominations or sects, which are not truly churches [According to an August 2000 document approved by Pope John Paul II, "the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense" (emphasis added)]. Sadly, even some Catholic prelates and lay Catholics use the term 'church' to refer to such denominations; not as one true and proper, but (perhaps) in a spirit of placation. Remember that Jesus said, "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:18-19) Jesus only founded ONE Church, the Catholic Church.

Note: Click here for 'Must I Be Catholic To Be Saved?'


In Closing...

"Our holy religion is not invented by human reason but mercifully revealed by God to men." (Pope Pius IX)

"[The Catholic Church]: She is the entrance to life; all the others are thieves and robbers." (St. Irenaeus of Lyons)

"The essential beauty and comeliness of the Church ought greatly to influence the minds of those who consider it." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"But she [the Church] is Divine and has herself come down from heaven; so she does not guess, or think, or hope - she knows." (Benson)

"[T]he Church is the safe and sure guide to conscience, for to her safe-keeping alone there has been confided the doctrines and the promise of the assistance of Christ" (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922 A.D.)

"Just as God's creature, the sun, is one and the same the world over, so also does the Church's preaching shine everywhere to enlighten all men who want to come to the knowledge of truth." (St. Irenaeus of Lyons)

"Inquire not simply where the Lord's house is, for the sects of the profane also make an attempt to call their own dens the houses of the Lord; nor inquire merely where the 'church' is, but where the Catholic Church is. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Body, the mother of all, which is the Spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church)

"The Church, 'by reason of her wonderful propagation, her distinguished sanctity and inexhaustible fecundity in good, her Catholic unity, and her unshaken stability, is herself a great and perpetual motive of credibility, and an unassailable testimony to her own Divine mission.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893 A.D.)

"Herein is the strength of the Catholic Church; herein she differs from all Protestant mockeries of her. She professes to be built on facts, not opinions; on objective truths, not on variable sentiments; on immemorial testimony, not on private judgment; on convictions or perceptions, not on conclusions. Not else but she can make this profession." (Cardinal Newman) 

"The true Church is also to be recognized from her origin, which can be traced back under the law of grace to the Apostles; for her doctrine is the truth not recently given, nor now first heard of, but delivered of old by the Apostles, and disseminated throughout the entire world. Hence no one can doubt that the impious opinions which heresy invents, opposed as they are to the doctrines taught by the Church from the days of the Apostles to the present time, are very different from the faith of the true Church." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Now, it cannot be difficult to find out which is the true religion, if only it be sought with an earnest and unbiased mind; for proofs are abundant and striking. We have, for example, the fulfillment of prophecies, miracles in great numbers, the rapid spread of the faith in the midst of enemies and in face of overwhelming obstacles, the witness of the martyrs, and the like. From all these it is evident that the only true religion is the one established by Jesus Christ Himself, and which He committed to His Church to protect and to propagate." (Pope Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei", 1885 A.D.)

"He has said to her [the Church], 'Go and teach all nations...I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.' These words explain the intentions of Jesus Christ. The Divine Master wants His Church to be in the world the instrument for the salvation of souls. This is so much His desire that to the Church alone, to the exclusion of all other organizations, He has entrusted the care of guiding souls to their final supernatural beatitude. It is certainly His will that His Church should fulfill in the world the office of an organism necessary for the salvation of the world." (Fahey)

"Now, if we look at what was done, Jesus Christ did not arrange and organize such a Church as would embrace several communities similar in kind, but distinct, and not bound together by those bonds that make the Church indivisible and unique after that manner clearly in which we profess in the symbol of faith, 'l believe in one Church.' ... Now, Jesus Christ when He was speaking of such a mystical edifice, spoke only of one Church which He called His own: 'I will build my Church' [Matt. 16:18]. Whatever other church is under consideration than this one, since it was not founded by Jesus Christ, cannot be the true Church of Christ" (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1897 A.D.) 

"For nothing more glorious, nothing nobler, nothing surely more honorable can be imagined than to belong to the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, in which we become members of one Body as venerable as it is unique; are guided by one supreme Head; are filled with one divine Spirit; are nourished during our earthly exile by one doctrine and one heavenly Bread, until at last we enter into the one, unending blessedness of heaven. But lest we be deceived by the angel of darkness who transforms himself into an angel of light, let this be the supreme law of our love: to love the Spouse of Christ as Christ willed her to be, and as He purchased her with His blood.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"But the mission of Christ is to save that which had perished: that is to say, not some nations or peoples, but the whole human race, without distinction of time or place. 'The Son of Man came that the world might be saved by Him' (John iii., 17). 'For there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved' (Acts iv., 12). The Church, therefore, is bound to communicate without stint to all men, and to transmit through all ages, the salvation effected by Jesus Christ, and the blessings flowing therefrom. Wherefore, by the will of its Founder, it is necessary that this Church should be one in all lands and at all times. To justify the existence of more than one Church it would be necessary to go outside this world, and to create a new and unheard-of race of men." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"The third mark of the Church is that she is Catholic; that is, universal. And justly is she called Catholic, because, as St. Augustine says, she is diffused by the splendor of one faith from the rising to the setting sun. Unlike states of human institutions of the sects of heretics, she is not confined to any one country or class of men, but embraces within the amplitude of her love all mankind, whether barbarians or Scythians, slaves or freeman, men or male... Moreover to this Church, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets belong all the faithful who have existed from Adam to the present day, or who shall exist, in the profession of the true faith, to the end of time... She is also called universal, because all who desire eternal salvation must cling to and embrace her, like those who entered the ark to escape perishing in the flood. This (note of catholicity), therefore, is to be taught as a most reliable criterion, by which to distinguish the true from a false Church." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Is the Catholic Church Open to All?

Consider:

* Not only is the Catholic Church open to all persons, she "actively seeks their entrance into her saving portals." Further, she loves all persons, regardless of their intelligence, wealth, ethnicity, and whether or not they are great sinners. Remember that the Catholic Church is "a church of sinners, for sinners, so that they may do something about their sinfulness."

* Although sinful members still do belong to the Church, they are likened to "dead members".

"He who is a member of the Catholic Church and does not put her teaching into practice is a dead member, and hence will not be saved; for towards the salvation of an adult not only Baptism and faith are required, but, furthermore, works in keeping with faith." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"Although the Catholic faith uniformly and truly teaches that the good and the bad belong to the Church, yet the same faith declares that the condition of both is very different: the wicked are contained in the Church, as the chaff is mingled with the grain on the threshing floor, or as dead member sometimes remain attached to a living body." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"As she now is, the Church is the multitude, without distinction between good and bad; but afterwards - that is, after the resurrection - the good alone will compose the Church, and their number will be for ever fixed." (Liturgical Year)


Closing Quotations...

"[T]he Catholic Church is a stranger to no people on earth, much less hostile to any. With a mother's anxiety, she embraces all peoples in impartial charity. She seeks no earthly advantage but employs what powers she possesses to attract the souls of all men to seek what is eternal." (Pope Pius XII, "Ad Apostolorum Principis", 1958 A.D.)

"[The Church] makes no difference between her children...members of all.. nations are equal in the eyes of the Apostolic See." (Pope Benedict XV)

"Unlike republics of human institution, or the conventicles of heretics, [the Catholic Church] is not circumscribed within the limits of any one kingdom, nor confided to the members of any one society of men; but embraces within the amplitude of her love all mankind... She is also called universal, because all who desire eternal salvation must cling to and embrace her, like those who entered the ark to escape perishing in the flood." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"How much they are to be pitied, O Church! Who do not know thee! And yet, if they are seeking God with all their heart, they will, one day, know thee." (Dom Gueranger) 

Is it Necessary to Belong to the Catholic Church For Salvation?

Consider:

* It flows from the fact that the Catholic Church was established by Christ - God incarnate - and from the fact that she is the only true Church, one must belong to this Church for salvation. She alone teaches the true Christian faith and she alone lawfully dispenses all the life-giving Sacraments.

* Click here for 'Must I Be Catholic To Be Saved?'


Closing Quotations...

"All who wish to reach salvation outside the [Catholic] Church are mistaken as to the way and are engaged in a futile effort." (Pope Leo XIII)

"Anyone who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has not part or lot in the divine mystery." (Pope St. Leo I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 445 A.D.)

"The [Catholic] Church is like the ark of Noah, outside of which nobody can be saved." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[E]nsure that the faithful are deeply and thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Catholic faith is necessary for attaining salvation." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Nostis et Nobiscum", 1849 A.D.)

"Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith; for unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire he will undoubtedly be lost forever." (Athanasian Creed)

"We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"He who will not willingly and humbly enter the gate of the [Catholic] Church will certainly be damned and enter the gate of Hell whether he wants to or not." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"The holy universal [Catholic] Church proclaims that God cannot truly be worshiped save within herself and asserts that all they who are without her pale shall never be saved." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

"The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and perpetual; whoever go apart (from it) wander away from the will and prescription of Christ the Lord and, leaving the way of salvation, digress to destruction." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1897 A.D.) 

"Indeed, as long as you remain outside the Church and severed from the fabric of unity and bond of charity, you would be punished with everlasting chastisement, even if you were burned alive for Christ's sake." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that no person baptized outside the Catholic Church can become a participant of eternal life if, before the end of this life, he has not returned and has been incorporated in the Catholic Church." (St. Fulgence of Ruspe, 6th century A.D.)

"It is known that all men of Noah's time perished, except those who merited to be in the Ark, which was a figure of the Church. Likewise, they cannot now be saved who will have turned away from the Apostolic Faith and the Catholic Church." (St. Gaudentius)

"Whosoever shall have separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how praiseworthy such a person may fancy his life has been, yet for that one crime of having cut himself off from the unity of Christ he shall not have eternal life, but the wrath of God shall abide with him for ever." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.) 

"Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: outside this house, that is, outside the Church, no one is saved. For if anyone go outside, he is guilty of his own death." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"There is but one plain known road: when you wander from this, you are lost. You must be altogether within the House of God, within the walls of salvation, to be sound and safe from injury. If you wander and walk abroad ever so little, if you carelessly thrust hand or foot out of the Ship, you shall be thrust forth: the door is shut, the ocean roars, you are undone." (St. Edmund Campion)

"According to the words of Saint Augustine, who takes up an image dear to the ancient Fathers, the ship of the Church must not fear, because it is guided by Christ and by His Vicar. 'Although the ship is tossed about, it is still a ship. It alone carries the disciples and receives Christ. Yes, it is tossed on the sea, but, outside it, one would immediately perish.' Only in the Church is salvation. 'Outside it one perishes.'" (Pope John Paul I, 1978)

"[W]e have to be conscious of and absorb this fundamental and revealed truth, contained in the phrase consecrated by tradition: 'There is no salvation outside the Church'. From her alone there flows surely and fully the life-giving force destined in Christ and in His Spirit to renew the whole of humanity, and therefore directing every human being to become a part of the Mystical Body of Christ." (Pope John Paul II, 1981)

"Anyone who is outside this Church, which received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, is walking a path not to heaven but to hell. He is not approaching the home of eternal life; rather, he is hastening to the torment of eternal death. And this is the case not only if he remains a pagan without Baptism, but even if, after having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he continue as a heretic." (St. Fulgence of Ruspe, 6th century A.D.)

"We must mention and condemn again that most pernicious error, which has been imbibed by certain Catholics, who are of the opinion that those people who live in error and have not the true faith, and are separated from the Catholic unity, may obtain life everlasting. Now this opinion is contrary to Catholic Faith, as is evident from the plain words of Our Lord (Mt. 18:17; Mk. 16:16; Lk. 10:16) as also from the words of St. Paul (e.g. Acts 20:28-30) and of St. Peter (2 Pt. 2:1). To entertain opinions contrary to this Catholic Faith is to be an impious wretch." (Bl. Pope Pius IX)

"A man cannot have salvation, except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church he can have everything except salvation. He can have honor, he can have Sacraments, he can sing alleluia, he can answer amen, he can possess the gospel, he can have and preach faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; but never except in the Catholic Church will he be able to find salvation." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 418 A.D.)

"This holy Council first of all turns its attention to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself on scripture and tradition, it teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it." (Second Vatican Council)

"Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles (Sgs. 6:8) proclaims: 'One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,' and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11:3). In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph. 4:5). There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed." (Pope Boniface VIII, "Unam Sanctam", 1302 A.D.)

Can the Catholic Church Ever Fail?

Consider:

* In consideration of Christ's promises, the Church can never fail:

Mt. 16:17-19 (emphasis added): Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Mt. 28:18-20 (emphasis added): Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Jn. 14:15-18 (emphasis added): If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

* In proof of Christ's promise, one only has to look back at history. The Catholic Church has managed to survive for 2,000 years despite great persecution, threats from heresy, sinful members/scandal, perilous military advances, ravaging enemies, etc. Entire civilizations have come and gone, yet she remains unchanged in her doctrinal teaching. This could only have happened with God's help.

* The Catholic Church - and she alone - will exist until the end of time. Try as they might, no one will ever be able to bring it down. It is the work of Christ - God incarnate - and it is impossible for His promises to fail.


Closing Quotations...

"Dynasties, empires, forms of government, have succeeded each other, and only one institution has stood unchanged - the Church." (Gueranger)

"The true religion has shown forth with greater splendor the more it has been oppressed." (Pope St. Symmachus, c. 506 A.D.)

"There is nothing more certain than our faith, nothing safer, nothing more holy, nothing that rests on firmer principles." (Pope Pius IX)

"The Church can never be brought down. Indeed it grows under persecution, and those who attack it are destroyed." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted, she is triumphant; when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right; when she is deserted by her supporters, she holds the field." (St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church)

"In vain will the Princes of the earth seek, in their conceited calculations, to destroy the Church: God, who has founded her, will make her triumph. Empires shall pass away, and their persecutions: the Church will survive them all, knowing neither wrinkle or decay." (Dom Gueranger)

"If she is merely human, why do not the laws of all other human societies appear to affect her too? Why is it that she alone shows no incline towards dissolution and decay? Why has not she too split up into the component parts of which she is welded? How is it that she has preserved a unity of which all earthly unities are but shadows?" (Benson) 

"The Church is holy, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church, fighting as she does against all heresies. She can fight, but she cannot be beaten. All heresies are expelled from her, like the useless lopping pruned from a vine. She remains fixed in her root, in her vine, in her love. The gates of hell shall not conquer her." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 395 A.D.)

"But since the Church is such by divine will and constitution, such it must uniformly remain to the end of time. If it did not, then it would not have been founded as perpetual, and the end set before it would have been limited to some certain place and to some certain period of time; both of which are contrary to the truth." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.

"Other societies depend for their very existence upon a congenial human envelopment; she [the Church] flourishes in the most uncongenial. Other societies have their day and pass down to dissolution and corruption; she alone knows no corruption. Other dynasties rise and fall; [She] remains unmoved. Other causes wax and wane with the worldly influence which they can command; she is usually the most effective when her earthly interest is at the lowest ebb" (Benson)

"As for what concerns the exterior and temporal prosperity of the Church, it is evident that she has to cope with most malicious and powerful adversaries. Too often has she suffered at their hands the abolition of her rights, the diminution and oppression of her liberties, scorn and affronts to her authority, and every conceivable outrage. And if in their wickedness her enemies have not accomplished all the injury they had resolved upon and striven to do, they nevertheless seem to go on unchecked. But, despite them the Church, amidst all these conflicts, will always stand out and increase in greatness and glory. Nor can human reason rightly understand why evil, apparently so dominant, should yet be so restricted as regards its results; whilst the Church, driven into straits, comes forth glorious and triumphant." (Pope Leo XIII, "Octobri Mense", 1891 A.D.)

"[M]en should realize that all attempts to overthrow the 'House of God' are in vain. For this is the Church founded on Peter, 'Rock,' not merely in name but in truth. Against this 'the gates of hell will not prevail', 'for it is founded on a rock.' There has never been an enemy of the Christian religion who was not simultaneously at wicked war with the See of Peter, since while this See remained strong the survival of the Christian religion was assured. As St. Irenaeus proclaims openly to all, 'by the order and succession of the Roman pontiffs the tradition from the Apostles in the Church and the proclamation of the truth has come down to us. And this is the fullest demonstration that it is the one and the same life-giving faith which has been preserved in the Church until now since the time of the Apostles and has been handed on in truth.'" (Pope Pius VII, "Diu Satis", 1800 A.D.)

"Believe me, O man, there is no power like the power of the Church. Cease thy battling, lest thou lose thy strength; wage not war with heaven. When it is with man thou warrest, thou mayst win or lose; but when thy fighting is against the Church, it is impossible though shouldst conquer, for God is above all in strength... If though will not believe [Christ's] word, believe facts. How many tyrants have sought to crush the Church? They had their gridirons and fiery furnaces, and wild beasts, and swords - and all failed. Where are those enemies now? Buried and forgotten. And the Church? Brighter than the sun. All they had is now past, but her riches are immortal. If the Christians conquered when they were but few in number, canst thou hope to vanquish them, now that the whole earth is filled with the holy religion? 'Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.' Wonder not at it; for the Church is dearer unto God than the very heavens. He took flesh not from heaven, but from his Church on earth; and heaven is for the Church, not the Church for heaven." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Nothing human is lasting; but the Church's ceaseless duration will excite the spleen of incredulity and baffle all its calculations. Persecutions, heresies, schisms, apostasies, and scandals - all will strive to work her ruin; but she will survive them all. The descendants of her bitterest foes will call her mother. Thrones and dynasties, nations, and even whole races, will be carried away by the tide of time, she alone will subsist throughout the ages, stretching out her arms to receive all men, teaching ever the same truths, repeating, even to the last day, the same symbol of faith, and ever faithful to the instructions given her by [Christ]" (Gueranger)

"As these ages sped, the Church of God, though afflicted by many a disaster and social upheaval, torn by many a heresy and schism, anguished by the treason of her followers and by the disloyalty of her sons, nevertheless, trusting in the promises of her Founder, while human institutions of varying origin that surrounded her fell in ruins, not only stood safe and unharmed, but also in every age glowed with brighter beauty in noble lives of holiness and devotion, while in many Christians she made the fire of charity burn with growing heat. Moreover, thanks to her missionaries and martyrs she brought into her Fold fresh nations, among whom the pristine glory of virginity renews its bloom and the rank of priest and Bishop keeps its vigor. In fine, so deeply has she imbued all peoples with her spirit of charity and justice, that the very men who treat her with indifference or hostility, cannot refrain from borrowing her way of speaking and acting." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930 A.D.)

Do You Deny That the Catholic Church is the 'Mystical Body of Christ'?

Consider:

* How can one deny the truth of the 'Mystical Body of Christ' in light of Scripture's many references to it? For example, consider...

"For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." (Rom. 12:4-5)

"As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:12-13)

"Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it." (Cor. 12:27)

"And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way." (Eph. 1:22-23)

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:22-32)

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church." (Col. 1:15-18)

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church" (Col. 1:24)


Closing Quotations...

"He said [to Saul], 'I am Jesus whom thou persecutest' (Acts ix, 5), clearly signifying that when persecutions are stirred up against the Church, the Divine Head of the Church is Himself attacked and troubled. Rightly, therefore, does Christ, still suffering in His mystical body, desire to have us partakers of His expiation, and this is also demanded by our intimate union with Him, for since we are 'the body of Christ and members of member' (1 Corinthians xii, 27), whatever the head suffers, all the members must suffer with it (Cf. 1 Corinthians xii, 26)." (Pope Pius XI, "Miserentissimus Redemptor", 1928 A.D.)

"The Church is not something dead: it is the body of Christ endowed with supernatural life. As Christ, the Head and Exemplar, is not wholly in His visible human nature, which Photinians and Nestorians assert, nor wholly in the invisible divine nature, as the Monophysites hold, but is one, from and in both natures, visible and invisible; so the mystical body of Christ is the true Church, only because its visible parts draw life and power from the supernatural gifts and other things whence spring their very nature and essence." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"For since the Mystical Body of Christ, like His physical body, is one (1 Cor. 12:12), compacted and fitly joined together (Eph. 4:16), it were foolish to say that the Mystical Body is composed of disjointed and scattered members. Whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member thereof, neither is he in communion with Christ its Head. Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors." (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos")

"Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. 'For in one spirit' says the Apostle, 'were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.' As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican (Mt. 18:17). It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ - which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church - we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression 'the Mystical Body of Christ' - an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred Scriptures. 'Christ,' says the Apostle, 'is the Head of the Body of the Church.' If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken unity, according to those words of Paul: 'Though many we are one body in Christ.' But it is not enough that the Body of the Church should be an unbroken unity; it must also be something definite and perceptible to the senses as Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: 'the Church is visible because she is a body. Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely 'pneumatological' as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.) 

"Furthermore, the Son of God decreed that the Church should be His mystical body, with which He should be united as the Head, after the manner of the human body which He assumed, to which the natural head is physiologically united. As He took to Himself a mortal body, which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man's redemption, so also He has one mystical body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and of eternal salvation. God 'hath made Him (Christ) head over all the Church, which is His body' (Eph. i., 22-23). Scattered and separated members cannot possibly cohere with the head so as to make one body. But St. Paul says: 'All members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ' (I Cor. xii., 12). Wherefore this mystical body, he declares, is 'compacted and fitly jointed together. The head, Christ: from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly jointed together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part' (Eph. iv., 15-16). And so dispersed members, separated one from the other, cannot be united with one and the same head." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"For it is she alone who even demands in the spiritual sphere a complete and entire abnegation of self. From every other Christian body comes the cry, Save your soul, assert your individuality, follow your conscience, form your opinions; while she, and she alone, demands from her children the sacrifice of their intellect, the submitting of their judgment, the informing of their conscience by hers, and the obedience of their will to her lightest command. For she, and she alone, is conscious of possessing that Divinity, in complete submission to which lies the salvation of Humanity. For she, as the coherent and organic mystical Body of Christ, calls upon those who look to her to become, not merely her children, but her very members; not to obey her as soldiers obey a leader of citizens a government, but as the hands and eyes and feet obey a brain. Once, therefore, I understand this, I understand too how it is that by being lost in her I save myself; that I lose only that which hinders my activity, not that which fosters it. For when is my hand most itself? When separated form the body, by paralysis or amputation? Or when, in vital union with the brain, with every fiber alert and every nerve alive, it obeys in every gesture and receives in every sensation a life infinitely vaster and higher than any which it might, temporarily, enjoy its independence. It is true that its capacity for pain is the greater when it is so united, and that it would cease to suffer if once its separation were accomplished; yet, simultaneously, it would lose all that for which God made it and, saving itself, would be lost indeed." (Benson)

Do You Deny That the Catholic Church Acts as 'Christ's Representative'?

Consider:

* How can you deny that the Church acts as Christ's representative when Scripture is clear that the Church has authority to act for Christ? For example, consider these passages (emphasis added)...

"When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter said in reply, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus said to him in reply, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'" (Mt. 16:13-19)

"If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:17)

"To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light (for all) what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. (Eph. 3:8-10)

Further, we know that... 

* The Apostles were given authority (see Mt. 10:1)

* The Apostles were given the authority to bind and loose (see Mt. 18:18)

* The Apostles were sent by Christ to make disciples / baptize / teach (see Mt. 28:19-20)

* Those sent act for Christ and those who reject them reject Christ (see Lk. 10:16)

* They who receive those whom Christ sent receive Christ (see Jn. 13:20)

* The Apostles were given the power to forgive sin (see Jn. 20:22-23)

* Peter is to tend to Christ's sheep (see Jn. 21:15-17)

* The Apostles hand down decisions of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 15:28)

* Those who resist authority bring judgment on themselves (see Rom. 13:2)


Closing Quotations...

"... the church of the living God [is] the pillar and foundation of truth." (1 Tm. 3:15)

"[The Church] alone has been given by God the mandate and the right to teach with authority" (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922 A.D.)

"[T]he Catholic Church...alone has been committed the charge of handing down to all ages the benefits purchased for us by Jesus Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888 A.D.)

"He has said to her [the Church], 'Go and teach all nations... I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.' These words explain the intentions of Jesus Christ. The Divine Master wants His Church to be in the world the instrument for the salvation of souls. This is so much His desire that to the Church alone, to the exclusion of all other organizations, He has entrusted the care of guiding souls to their final supernatural beatitude. It is certainly His will that His Church should fulfill in the world the office of an organism necessary for the salvation of the world." (Fahey)

"Christ our Lord instituted His Church as a perfect society, external of its nature and perceptible to the senses, which should carry on in the future the work of the salvation of the human race, under the leadership of one head, with an authority teaching by word of mouth, and by the ministry of the sacraments, the founts of heavenly grace; for which reason He attested by comparison the similarity of the Church to a kingdom, to a house, to a sheepfold, and to a flock. This Church, after being so wonderfully instituted, could not, on the removal by death of its Founder and of the Apostles who were the pioneers in propagating it, be entirely extinguished and cease to be, for to it was given the commandment to lead all men, without distinction of time or place, to eternal salvation: 'Going therefore, teach ye all nations.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

Why is the Church Called Holy Despite Her Sinful Members?

Consider:

* As the Catechism of the Council of Trent states:

"It should not be deemed a matter of surprise that the Church, although numbering among her children many sinners, is called holy. For as those who profess any art, even though they depart from its rules, are still called artists, so in like manner the faithful, although offending in many things and violating the engagements to which they had pledged themselves, are still called holy, because they have been made the people of God and have consecrated themselves to Christ by faith and Baptism. Hence, St. Paul calls the Corinthians sanctified and holy, although it is certain that among them there were some whom he severely rebuked as carnal, and also charged with grosser crimes. The Church is also to be called holy because she is united to her holy Head, as His body; that is, to Christ the Lord, the fountain of all holiness, from whom flow the graces of the Holy Spirit and the riches of the divine bounty... Moreover, the Church alone has the legitimate worship of sacrifice [the Mass], and the salutary use of the Sacraments, which are the efficacious instruments of divine grace, used by God to produce true holiness. Hence, to possess true holiness, we must belong to this Church. The Church, therefore, it is clear, is holy, and holy because she is the body of Christ, by whom she is sanctified, and in whose blood she is washed."

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