Jan 27, 2011

Catholic Unity

Pillar Focus Apostle’s Creed “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church” 

At mass, we profess that our church is one (We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church). Unity of liturgy, doctrine, and authority is a hallmark of Catholicism. Other religions are unified in belief and practice, but Catholicism is unique in that unity is personified in one single person, the pope, who ensures that the same seven sacraments are celebrated correctly all over the world, that the same set of doctrines are taught everywhere and that every member, religious, lay or clergy, accept the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome (p19).

Who gave the pope this incredible responsibility? It helps to consider the following passage from the Gospel of Matthew:
And I tell you, you are Peter [Rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:18-19).
Christ was establishing a living, continuing authority to teach, govern, and sanctify in his name. The pope is the head of this authority [St. Peter being the first of many], but the bishops who are in communion with him are also a part. This apostolic authority determined the canon of the Bible (the books that were included in it), and will preserve the teachings of Christ in all their fullness, and uncorrupted from error, until the end of time (p14).

Catechism references
Catechism: 552, 553, 765, 816, 862