The Holy Catholic Church
from the Baltimore Catechism
Ninth Article of the Apostles Creed
"I Believe in . . . . the Holy Catholic Church . . . "
What is the Church?
The Church is the Congregation of all
Baptized Persons 'United' in the same True Faith, the same
Sacrifice, and the same Sacraments,
under the Authority of the Sovereign Pontiff and the Bishops in communion with him.
Since Baptism, according to the Ruling of
Christ, is the 'Gateway' to the Church, a Person becomes a
Member of the Church on receiving this
Sacrament. To remain a real Member of the Church after
Baptism a Person must Profess the One
(1) True Faith and must not withdraw from the
Unity of the Body of the Church
in Schism or Heresy or be
Excommunicated by Legitimate Authority because of
Serious Sins. Even Schismatics,
Heretics, and those Excommunicated, are Subjects of the
Church and are obliged by its Laws unless exempted by the
Sacred Scripture refers to the Church
as the Body of Christ, as a Sheepfold,
as the Kingdom of God, and as the Kingdom of
Who founded the Church?
Jesus Christ founded the Church.
Christ completed the founding of His Church
just before His Ascension, when He
commissioned the Apostles to make Disciples of all Nations. Earlier in His Public Ministry
He had instituted the Sacraments,
chosen the Twelve (12) Apostles, instructed them by Word and Example, and conferred
on them the Power of Teaching,
Ruling, and Sanctifying.
The Gospels show that Christ
founded the Church in the form of a Visible, Hierarchical Society, that is, one
made up of Subjects and Superiors who rightfully rule Subjects. The Roman Pontiff and the Bishops under him are the Ruling
Hierarchy of the Church. The Church
is also a Monarchical Society in which the Pope rules with Full Power, that is, with Jurisdiction over the entire
Church. Peter was the First
Head of the Church founded by Christ.
After Pentecost Sunday the Apostles began to carry out their mission, which
through them and their Successors continues and will continue until the End of Time.
Why did Jesus Christ found the Church?
Jesus Christ founded the Church to bring
all Men to Eternal Salvation.
The Church instituted by Christ is
the only way to Eternal Salvation. Christ
gave the Church the 'Means' whereby Man can be
Sanctified and Saved.
How is the Church enabled to lead Men to Salvation?
The Church is 'Enabled' to lead Men to Salvation
by the Indwelling of the Holy Ghost,
Who gives it Life.
Although the Work of Salvation is the result of the 'Operation' of all
Three (3) Persons of the
Blessed Trinity, it is especially the result of the
Redemption by Christ, and because this
Work is one of Divine Love, it is
attributed to the Holy Ghost,
Who is the Soul of the
Church, of which Christ is the
When was the Dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Church first Visibly Manifested?
The Dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the
Church was First Visibly-Manifested on
Pentecost Sunday, when He came down upon the
Apostles in the form of Tongues-of-Fire.
The word "Pentecost" means Fiftieth
and is applied to the Fiftieth Day after
Our Lord's Resurrection.
The Apostles were sent by Christ to Preach
His Doctrines to all Men.
How long will the Holy Ghost Dwell in the Church?
The Holy Ghost will Dwell in the
Church until the End of Time.
Christ 'Foretold' that the Holy Ghost
would Dwell in the Church until the
End of Time.
Who sent the Holy Ghost to Dwell in the Church?
God the Father and God the Son sent the
Holy Ghost to Dwell in the
It is a matter of Faith that the Holy Ghost
Proceeds from the Father and the
Son and is sent by Both to
Dwell in the Church.
What does the Indwelling of the Holy Ghost enable the Church to do?
The Indwelling of the Holy Ghost enables the
Church to Teach, to
Sanctify, and to Rule the
Faithful in the name of Christ.
The Church must Teach,
because otherwise Men would not know the Truths of
Divine Revelation taught by Christ.
The Church must Sanctify,
that is, bring Grace to the World through the
Sacraments, because otherwise Men could not be Saved.
The Church must Rule because
it was established by Our Savior as a
'Society', which is inconceivable without Authority.
What is meant by Teaching, Sanctifying, and Ruling in the name of Christ?
By Teaching, Sanctifying, and
Ruling in the name of Christ is
meant that the Church always does the Will
of its Divine Founder, Who remains
forever its Invisible Head.
The Will of the Founder of the
Church is expressed in the Commission He
gave to His Apostles to Teach all
Nations, to Baptize them, and to have them Observe all the Things
He had Commanded. This Commission, as well as the guarantee
that Christ would be with His Church until
the End of Time, is related in the Gospel.
To whom did Christ give the Power to Teach, to Sanctify, and to Rule the Members of His Church?
Christ gave the Power to
Teach, to Sanctify, and to
Rule the Members of His Church to the Apostles, the
First Bishops of the Church.
That Christ gave His Apostles the
Power to Teach, to
Rule, and to Sanctify is evident from the
Gospels, the Inspired Account of
Our Lord's Life written by Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke,
and John. Christ gave the Apostles the
Power to Bind and
Loose, to Baptize, to Forgive
Sin, and to offer the Sacrifice of
The Power to Teach and to Rule is
the Power of Jurisdiction; the Power to
Sanctify is the Power of Orders. The
Power to Sanctify sometimes requires Jurisdiction, as in the
Sacrament of Penance.
Did Christ intend that this Power should be exercised by the Apostles alone?
No, Christ intended that this Power should be
exercised also by their Successors, the Bishops of the Church.
Christ founded the Church to last
until the End of Time. The Apostles lived for a short time only.
Christ must, then, have intended that the Apostles provide Duly Authorized Successors to carry on the
Work of Teaching, Sanctifying, and
The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Saint Paul contain references to the work
done by the Successors of the Apostles.
Did Christ give Special Power in His Church to any one of the Apostles?
Christ gave Special Power in
His Church to Saint Peter by making him the Head of the Apostles, and the
Chief Teacher and Ruler of the entire
The Power of the Keys was promised to Saint Peter and was
actually conferred on him.
Saint Peter was recognized by the early Christians, from the beginning,
as Head of the Church.
Did Christ intend that the Special Power of Chief Teacher and Ruler of the entire Church should be exercised by Saint Peter alone?
Christ did not intend that the Special Power
of Chief Teacher and Ruler of the entire
Church should be exercised by Saint Peter alone, but intended that
this Power should be passed-down to his Successor, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, who is
the Vicar of Christ on Earth and the Visible Head of the
A Successor to Saint Peter, the First Bishop of Rome, was
required as Chief Teacher and Ruler
for the same reason that Successors were required for the other Apostles. From the very beginning it was acknowledged by the
Church that the Successor of Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome was
at the same time the Head of the entire Church. This Successor of Saint
Peter is called the Pope.
The Bishops of the Church are the Successors of the Apostles because they have
received their Power of Orders by valid
Consecration through an unbroken Line-of-Successors of the Apostles, and have received their
Power of Jurisdiction through their Union with the Pope, the Successor of
The Pope is now elected by the College of Cardinals.
Who assists the Bishops in the care of Souls?
The Priests, especially Parish Priests, assist the Bishops in the care of Souls.
Although all Priests assist the Bishop of a Diocese in the care of Souls, Parish
Priests especially are given the definite care of a section of a Diocese, which is called a Parish and is of Ecclesiastical
Who are the Laity of the Church?
The Laity of the Church are all its Members who do not belong to the Clerical or
to the Religious State.
The Clerical State includes all Priests and all Aspirants to the Priesthood who have received Tonsure, which is the initiation
into the Ecclesiastical State. Students of Minor and Major Seminaries are Aspirants to the Priesthood.
The Religious State includes Men and Women who embrace a Community Life and make the Vows of
Poverty, Chastity, and
Obedience. Those who are preparing to embrace the Religious State are called Aspirants, Postulants, or Novices.
Religious and Clerics enjoy special Canonical Privileges and have many more Obligations than Lay People have.
Among the Laity are Secular Persons who have embraced the State of Celibacy or Virginity, or the Matrimonial State.
How can the Laity help the Church in her Care of Souls?
The Laity can help the Church in her
Care of Souls by leading lives that will reflect Credit on the
Church, and by co-operating with their Bishops and Priests, especially through Catholic Action.
The Lay People can assist in a special way by Prayer.
Catholic Action is the Participation of the Laity in the Apostolate of the Hierarchy of the
Church. There can be no Catholic Action without an Episcopal Commission.
The Marks and Attributes of the Church
Which is the One True Church established by Christ?
The One (1) True Church established by
Christ is the Catholic Church.
Many Churches which claim to be 'Christian' have broken away from the One (1)
True Church established by Jesus Christ.
These Churches were founded by Men who had no Authority from God to found
Christ intended that there should be only One
(1) True Christian Church, for
He always spoke of His Church as
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
(1) True Church established by
Christ because it alone has the Marks of the
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 Willed that the True Church
should have these Marks, which would distinguish it from all False Religions.
What are the Chief Marks of the Church?
The Chief Marks of the Church are
Four (4): It is One (1), Holy,
Catholic or Universal, and
Sacred Scripture teaches that the One (1)
True Church of Christ must have these Marks.
The Marks of the Church are themselves an
indication that God guides the Church.
Why is the Catholic Church One?
The Catholic Church is One (1) 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 (1) and the same Visible Head,
Our Divine Savior Prayed explicitly that His
Church might be One (1), and
He made it One (1); thus Men can recognize it as the
Only the Catholic Church possesses this Mark
of Unity. Various sects, having only fragments of Christianity, are divided in
Doctrine and Practice and recognize no Authority but their own Judgment, which can easily lead them into
There are many Religious Sects which claim to be Christian, but are separated from the
Unity of Christ by their
Rejection of the Authority invested by Him in the Roman Pontiff,
the Successor to Saint Peter.
Catholics accept all the Doctrines of Faith and
Morals which were taught by Our Lord and the Apostles and
are Proposed by the Church for Belief and Practice. A Person who deliberately
Denies even One (1) of the
Doctrines of the Church cannot be
a Catholic. The Church is One (1)
Catholics take part in the same Sacrifice of the
Mass and accept the same Sacraments, although the
same Language and the same Ceremonies are not used by all in the Offering of
Mass and in the Administration of the Sacraments. Everywhere the
Essential Parts of the Ceremonies are the same and substantially the same words are used in offering
Mass. Hence the Church is
One in Worship. What
Christ determined, the Church
cannot change. Since Christ, however, did not determine many
Points-of-Worship in non-essential matters, the
Church has the Authority to do so.
Catholics are subject to their respective Bishops who rule them. They must recognize the Supreme Authority of the Pope in matters
of Religion. A Person who Deliberately Refuses to accept the Legitimate and Supreme
Authority of the Pope and the Bishops in matters of Religion cannot be a Catholic.
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.
Holiness is a Mark of the
Church according to the Will of Christ, as is evident from
the Prayer of Christ for
Even some of the Enemies of the Church
recognize the Holiness of the Doctrines
which the Church Teaches. The efforts of others to prove that the
Church is not Holy show that they acknowledge
Holiness as a Mark of Truth.
The lives of the Saints, of the Martyrs,
and of Good Catholics prove how effective are the means of Grace with which the
Church is endowed. Moreover, God
has always favored the Catholic Church with
Bad Catholics do not disprove the Holiness
of the Church since they do not use the means of
Grace at their disposal. Christ foretold that there would be
Good and Bad Members of
His Church as we read in the Parables of the 'Fishes in the Net' and the
'Cockle among the Wheat'.
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
Catholicity is a Mark of the
Church because Christ commissioned
His Apostles to go forth and make 'Disciples of all Nations', and to
Teach all that He had
Commanded. Christ further promised to be with them
All Days, even to the End of Time.
The Church today Teaches the same
Doctrine it received from Christ.
It has existed uninterruptedly since the day it was established, down to the present time. The
Church exists in a more flourishing condition in some Nations than in others. It is always trying to
Preach the Gospel to all Races and in all Places and sends its
Missioners to the most remote places on earth.
Christian Sects began later and for the most part exist in only some sections of the world. In trying to accommodate themselves to the
changing conditions of the time, they have made changes in the Doctrines of Christ
without any Divine Authorization.
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.
The True Church is Apostolic because it is the
Church Christ founded upon the Apostles, and especially upon Peter whom
He called the Rock on which the Church would be
built. The Supreme Power of Saint Peter in the
Church has been passed down through the unbroken Line of his Successors in the See of Rome.
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 (4)
All other Churches lack essential Unity. They recognize no Authority in
Religious Matters vested in an individual who is the Vicar of Christ. In the
Worship of God many Christian Sects
are guided more by Sentiment and Personal Conviction than by the Objective Truths
given to the World by Our Lord.
The Founders of Christian Sects were not Saints and generally were
not Holy or Edifying Men.
The Sects have not given Saints to the World. Their Truths are but Fragments
of the Doctrines of the Catholic Church. The
Holiness of their Members is due to the means that the Sects have salvaged from
Catholic Worship. Moreover, these Sects cannot point to Miracles
wrought in their favor.
Not one of the Christian Sects is Universal or Catholic;
that is, not one has Universality such as that of the
Not one of the Christian Sects can trace its Origin to the Apostles.
The Greek Orthodox or Schismatic Church began in the Ninth Century with its
Rejection of the Authority of the Pope. From it have come various National Churches,
subject in some degree to Civil Authority. The Protestant Churches began in the Sixteenth
Century when their Founders, Rejecting certain
Doctrines of Faith, broke away from Catholic
Unity. Many Protestant Denominations are offshoots of the Earliest Sects. The
Lutherans were founded by Martin Luther, the Presbyterians by John Knox, and the Methodists by
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.
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.
Christ Himself gave this Authority
to Saint Peter and the other Apostles when He bestowed the
Power of Binding and
Loosing, of Teaching and
Baptizing. He implicitly guaranteed the same
Power to the Successors of the Apostles when He promised
to be with them All Days, even to the Consummation
of the World.
Outside the Church there generally is no real recognition of
Authority in Spiritual Matters and this
Disregard for Spiritual Authority has lessened the
Respect for Civil and Domestic Authority.
The Church has Authority over
Temporal Matters which are closely connected with Spiritual Matters, as the
Administration of Church Property.
The Pope, as the Supreme Head of the Church, cannot rightly be made a subject of
any Temporal Power on Earth. The present position of the Pope, as Head of the Vatican City, shows to the World
that he and his household are not the subjects of other Temporal Powers. When we speak of the Temporal Power of the Pope,
we do not mean thereby merely to classify him with Earthly Rulers. The Pope's Temporal Power is a means-to-an-end, guaranteeing
that Freedom of Word and Action which he must rightfully enjoy as the Supreme Spiritual Ruler
of the Church.
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.
Infallibility, especially Papal Infallibility,
is a Doctrine often Misunderstood
and Derided by those outside the Church.
The term "Infallibility" is often Distorted
to mean Impeccability, that is, Freedom from all Sin. The
Church has never held that the Pope cannot Sin.
It is unthinkable that an Institution established by
God for the Salvation of Souls
could lead Men into Error and turn them away from
God. If the Church could and did
Err in matters of Faith or Morals,
it would not be a True Teacher; it would
Fail in its Ministry of Sanctification and would not lead Men to
Salvation but would be responsible for their
A Doctrine of Faith or Morals is a
Truth revealed by God dealing with
what we must Believe or what we must do in order to be
The Church cannot change its defined
Teachings on Faith and
Morals though it may restate them more Clearly and more Completely.
We know that the Church is Infallible
in matters of Faith or Morals because
Christ promised that He would be
with the Apostles and their Successors in their Work of Teaching until the
End of Time. It would be impossible for
Christ to be with the Official Teachers of the
Church and permit them to teach Error.
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.
The Holy Father must intend to use his Supreme, Apostolic
Authority when he Teaches Infallibly.
The Pope can Teach without speaking
Infallibly; - for example, he does this in his Encyclical Letters.
Catholics must accept such Teachings, not on
Faith, but in Obedience to
the Authority of the Pope and in respect for his
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.
This Indefectibility of the Church
is in Conformity with the Will of Christ,
Who promised to be with His Church until the
End of Time.
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
The Principle, "It makes no difference what religion a person practices so long as he leads a
good life", is Deceptive because it attaches the same importance
to the Teaching and Practice of a False Religion as it does to the
Teaching and Practice of the
One (1), True Religion revealed by
Christ and taught by His Church. No
one can be Saved without Sanctifying Grace,
and the Catholic Church alone is the Divinely
Established Means by which Grace is brought to the World and the
Full Fruits of Our Lord's Redemption
are applied to Men.
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 those who through their
own Grave Fault do not know that the Catholic Church
is the True Church or, knowing it, Refuse to join
it, cannot be Saved.
"Outside the Church there is no Salvation" does not mean that everyone who is
not a Catholic will be Condemned.
It does mean that no one can be Saved unless he belongs in some manner to the
Catholic Church, either Actually or
In Desire, for the means of Grace are
not given without some Relation to the Divine Institution established by
Can they be saved who remain outside the Catholic Church because they do not know it is the true Church?
They who remain outside the Catholic Church through no
Grave Fault of their own, and do not know it is the True Church,
can be Saved by making use of the Graces
which God gives them.
Those who are outside the Church through no
Fault of their own are not Culpable in the Sight of
God because of their Invincible Ignorance.
Persons who make use of the Graces God gives them, even though they are not
Members of the True Church, actually have the desire to become Members inasmuch as they
wish to use all the means ordained by God for their
We should Pray and try to persuade others to investigate the
Teachings of the Catholic Church because
Charity obliges us to do all we can to lead others to Salvation.
We should also Pray for Catholic Missioners
and help them in their work of bringing the Faith to those outside the
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.