The Marks and Attributes of the Church

Lesson 12 from the Baltimore Cathechism

« prev : next »

152. Which is the one true Church established by Christ?

The one true Church established by Christ is the Catholic Church.

And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

153. How do we know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ?

We know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ because it alone has the marks of the true Church.

Holy Father, keep in thy name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we also are. (John 17:11)

154. What do we mean by the marks of the Church?

By the marks of the Church we mean certain clear signs by which all men can recognize it as the true Church founded by Jesus Christ.

155. What are the chief marks of the Church?

The chief marks of the Church are four: It is one, holy, catholic or universal, and apostolic.

156. Why is the Catholic Church one?

The Catholic Church is one because all its members, according to the will of Christ, profess the same faith, have the same sacrifice and sacraments, and are united under one and the same visible head, the Pope.

Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread. (I Corinthians 10:17)

157. Why is the Catholic Church holy?

The Catholic Church is holy because it was founded by Jesus Christ, who is all-holy, and because it teaches, according to the will of Christ, holy doctrines, and provides the means of leading a holy life, thereby giving holy members to every age.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:17-20)

158. Why is the Catholic Church catholic or universal?

The Catholic Church is catholic or universal because, destined to last for all time, it never fails to fulfill the divine commandment to teach all nations all the truths revealed by God.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a witness to all nations. (Matthew 24:14)

159. Why is the Catholic Church apostolic?

The Catholic Church is apostolic because it was founded by Christ on the apostles and, according to His divine will, has always been governed by their lawful successors.

And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

160. How do we know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ?

We know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ because no other church has these four marks.

161. What are the chief attributes of the Catholic Church?

The chief attributes of the Catholic Church are authority, infallibility, and indefectibility. They are called attributes because they are qualities perfecting the nature of the Church.

162. What is meant by the authority of the Catholic Church?

By the authority of the Catholic Church is meant that the Pope and the bishops, as the lawful successors of the apostles, have power from Christ Himself to teach, to sanctify, and to govern the faithful in spiritual matters.

On behalf of Christ, therefore, we are acting as ambassadors, God, as it were, appealing through us. (II Corinthians 5:20)

163. What is meant by the infallibility of the Catholic Church?

By the infallibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith or morals.

But the Advocate, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you. (John 14:26)

164. When does the Church teach infallibly?

The Church teaches infallibly when it defines, through the Pope alone, as the teacher of all Christians, or through the Pope and the bishops, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by all the faithful.

165. What is meant by the indefectibility of the Catholic Church?

By the indefectibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, as Christ founded it, will last until the end of time.

And, behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matthew 28:20)

166. Are all obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved?

All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6)

167. What do we mean when we say, "Outside the Church there is no salvation?"

When we say, "Outside the Church there is no salvation," we mean that Christ made the Catholic Church a necessary means of salvation and commanded all to enter it, so that a person must be connected with the Church in some way to be saved.

168. How can persons who are not members of the Catholic Church be saved?

Persons who are not members of the Catholic Church can be saved if, through no fault of their own, they do not know that the Catholic Church is the true Church, but they love God and try to do His will, for in this way they are connected with the Church by desire.

169. Why is the Catholic Church called the Mystical Body of Christ?

The Catholic Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ because its members are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head, thus resembling the members and head of the living human body.

Again, he is the head of his body, the Church. (Colossians 1:18)

169a. What conditions are necessary in order that a person be a member of the Mystical Body in the full sense?

In order that a person be a member of the Mystical Body in the full sense, it is necessary that he be baptized, that he profess the Catholic faith, and that he neither separate himself from the Mystical Body nor be excluded by lawful authority.

And if he refuses to hear them, appeal to the Church, but if he refuses to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. (Matthew 18:17)

169b. How does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body?

A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by open and deliberate heresy, apostasy or schism.

169c. How does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by heresy?

A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by heresy when he openly rejects or doubts some doctrine proposed by the Catholic Church as a truth of divine-Catholic faith, though still professing himself a Christian.

169d. When does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by apostasy?

A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by apostasy when he openly rejects the entire Christian faith.

169e. When does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by schism?

A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by schism when he openly refuses obedience to the lawful authorities of the Church, particularly to the Pope.

169f. When is a baptized person separated from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by lawful authority?

A baptized person is separated from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by lawful authority when he incurs one of the more severe forms of excommunication.

« prev : next »