The Holy Catholic Church

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

Christ established His Church to continue His salvific work and to apply the graces He gained from His Passion and Death to all people through all generations until the end of time.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.”  (CCC 787) Like any organization there are members and there are officers. Likewise, there is one head whose role is not only to lead but to be a source of unity for the organization.  Without an overall head unity would not be possible.  The members are all baptized persons, the officers are the bishops and priests, and the head is the Pope.  By definition the Church is the New People of God, composed of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice and the same sacraments, under the successor of Peter, the Pope and the bishops in union with Him.  The Old People of God were the Israelites whom God took care of in the Old Testament because the Savior would come from them, the New People of God would now be the members of the Catholic Church.

The basis for the establishment of the Church in Scripture is in the Gospel of St. Matthew.  “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  (Matthew 16:18-19) The act of loosing and binding in the Old Testament means to forbid and permit by an indisputable authority.  Christ in this passage designates Peter as the first Pope to lead His Church with the assurance that it will last until the end of the world, “and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”  Sure enough, no other institution or organization in the world has survived in the last 2,000 years except the Catholic Church.   The Roman Empire, the many Chinese empires, the Spanish and English empires have all collapsed but the Church is still around, because it is not of human origin.

The Church is likened to a parent holding company that has many subsidiaries.  In the Church there are numerous different religious and secular denominations.  An example of a parent holding company in the Philippines is the Ayala Group of Companies.  Ayala operates different companies to be able to run different businesses, such as Honda, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Ayala Malls, Ayala Land, etc.  The Catholic Church has different religious organizations such as the Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, etc. as well as secular organizations such as Couples for Christ, Charismatics, Opus Dei, etc.  The Church is metaphorically compared to the Ark of Noah, that has many different animals confined in one Ark.

If you are to ask “Is the Catholic Church the one Church established by Christ? The answer is yes, because it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  These are the four marks of the true Church of Christ (as the Catholic Church would call them). The Catholic Church is One because it professes the same faith, have the same sacrifice (Holy Mass) and celebrate the same sacraments, and are united under one and the same visible head, the Pope.  It is holy because she is founded by Jesus Christ who is all-holy; because she teaches the holy doctrines of her Founder; and because she provides the means of leading a holy life.  The Church is catholic or universal because it is for all men and women through all generations and is present in all the nations of the world.  And lastly it is apostolic because she was founded by Christ through the Apostles and will always be governed by their lawful successors.

For 1,500 years after the death of Christ, there was only one Church. Protestantism came in on the 16th Century through Martin Luther, and gave birth to 30,000 different Christian denominations as of the present, all claiming to be the true Church founded by Christ.  This data alone will tell you which one is the true Church of Christ because there can only be one Bride of Christ.  As Dr. Peter Kreeft would say, “Christ is not a polygamist.”