The Catholic Church is an institution for Salvation since (1) it is a community of the faithful with our Savior Jesus Christ as its Head, and (2) it has been given the mission of communicating the Good News of Salvation to all mankind.
1. The Catholic Church is an institution of Salvation because it is a community of the faithful with our Savior Jesus Christ as its Head.
The Church is a fellowship of life, charity and truth. Through Jesus Christ, we have become members of the family of God, the People of God. We are intimately united to Christ and to one another in a union which our Lord compared to the sublime union of the Blessed Trinity: “That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).
We are one with Christ and with one another in the union of the Mystical Body of Christ here on earth. So close is this union that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
We should have special love for our fellow members in the Mystical Body of Christ, because in loving the members of His Body we are loving Christ. We must treat all men as we would treat Christ Himself since Christ died for them.
2. The Catholic Church is an institution of Salvation since it has been given the mission of communicating the Good News of Salvation to all mankind.
The Church is also a structured institution. There are two kinds of authority in the Church: the ordinary authority which every society has to organize and direct its own affairs, and the special authority given by Jesus Christ to teach and act in His name. The Church exercises her ordinary authority by enacting laws to regulate her internal affairs, to promote the good of all, and to fulfill the purposes of the Church. The Church exercises the special authority that is given by Jesus through her teaching, worship, and all service done in the name of Jesus. His person and power are present in her when she acts under this authority.
The Pope and the bishops exercise authority for the Church. Priests and laity also share in the exercise of the Church’s authority in different degrees.
The Church speaks the Good News of our Salvation in the world through her teaching and preaching, through her life and worship, through her Bible and the writings of her saints, and sometimes through the words of a single Christian expressing his hopes. The mission of the Church is to bring this message of Salvation to all men.