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Glen B. wrote:

Hi guys,

  • Do you still maintain that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church?

Glen

  { Do you still maintain that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church? }

Eric replied:

Hi Glen,

Vatican II wrote (Lumen Gentium 8),

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as the pillar and mainstay of the truth. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity.

The Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth. It's not a matter of either-or. We have everything and everyone else has nothing, though they share in varying degrees in that truth. Nor is it a matter of everyone outside our Church will be condemned.

Nevertheless, we do believe:

  • that we are the Church that Jesus Christ founded and
  • the one we believe Jesus desires all Christians to be united to.

Eric

John replied:

Hi Glen,

I'd like to add to my colleague Eric's answer.

Just because the fullness of the Christian faith subsists within the Catholic Church, it is no guarantee that individual Catholics, be they laity or clergy, are holier than others. In fact:

  • Catholics who know their faith and don't avail themselves of it, and
  • clergy who know the faith and don't teach it

will be held to a higher standard on judgment day.

As it relates to other Christians: our sister Churches of the East who are in schism and the Protestant ecclesial communities are actually part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, whether they know it or are willing to acknowledge it. Their union is imperfect to varying degrees. There is only one Baptism and through it, we enter the one Church, even if that union with the Catholic Church is imperfect.

That said, imperfect communion is not the same as perfect union. Jesus, in His High Priestly prayer, prayed that we would all be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-21). This unity Christ prayed for cannot be reduced to simple agreement on certain basic doctrines, while agreeing to disagree on others. It is not enough for Christians to be satisfied with the status quo, whereby we each walk our own personal or denominational convictions. We are called to seek truth and unity as we seek Christ Himself.

In this regard, Catholics and non-Catholic Christians have distinct but equally weighty responsibilities.

  • Catholics like Christ, who seeks the one lost sheep, have a grave responsibility to share the fullness of the faith with their separated brothers in Christ.

  • Likewise, non-Catholics have responsibility to seek and be open to the truth. They should be open and prepared to go wherever God's leads them.

If and when both parties begin to fulfill these responsibilities, the Holy Spirit will indeed heal the wounds of disunity inflicted on the Body of Christ by imperfect men.

Finally, all Christians would be wise to keep the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians to heart:

"with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, . . ."

(Ephesians 4:1-3, 13)

Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio

Mary Ann replied:

Glen,

We don't maintain it; we know it.

It is the only Church founded by Christ on the Apostles, with Christ's promise of protection and guidance.

The Church has existed since 33 A.D., without interruption, to the present day.

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi Glen,

I just wanted to add a reference note to Mary Ann's pithy answer.

If any visitor to our web site is interested in what the very first Christians:

  • thought
  • taught, and
  • died for

I highly recommend:

Mike

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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