What is the Catholic Church?

Mission Lab

The Catholic Church is the community of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, the same sacraments, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome, and the bishops in communion with him.

In the Old Testament, God made Israel the first People of God. He made Israel a sacred community, dearer to Him than all other nations. They were to be the bearers of God’s blessings to the world and His instruments to reunite a torn and divided mankind. To help them faithfully endure their trials, He reminded them that He was caring for them as a loving Father.

God remained faithful to them even when they sinned. He brought them out of Egypt and fed them in the desert. He said that He would always care for them as His special possession, and He asked them to accept His love and be His adopted children. After the Children of Israel had wandered in the desert for forty years, God led them into the land originally promised to Abraham.

Although Israel as a whole failed in its devotion to God, a few people remained faithful. They were the remnant of the once great Israel, and they depended on God alone. Through them, He would keep His promise to send the world a Savior Who would draw all men into the family of God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God born of Mary, was a descendant of the great Israelite king, David. With the scattered fragments of Israel, Jesus established a new kingdom, the Church, intended for all peoples. He brought peace to His people and freed them from the bondage of sin and the sadness due to sin. He is our Savior.

Our Lord Jesus formed His followers, the community of believers, into one body to proclaim the Gospel to all men. He called this body the Church, which is the Catholic Church. This was to be the new People of God.

At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), this concept of the Catholic Church was qualified to include, but not fully, all who are baptized and profess their faith in Jesus Christ. Their possession of truth and holiness, elements belonging by right to the Catholic Church, is the principle which propels them to unite ever more fully with that Church founded by Christ Himself.

God has chosen the new People of God to be His own and has bestowed the special graces of His providence on them.