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September 01, 2005

Ch. XXIII. Q. 130. What is the Catholicity of the Church?

THE CATHOLICITY of the Church is (a.) its universal mission: (b.) its universal adaptability: (c.) the completeness of its teaching: (d.) the fact that her membership includes all baptized persons (Gen. XXII. 18: XXVI. 4: XXVIII. 14: Psa. II. 8: XXII. 17: LXXII. 8, 17: Isa. II. 2: XXVII. 6: XLIII. 5-7: XLIX. 6: S. Matt. XIII 47: XXVIII. 19, 20: S.Luke XXIV. 47: Acts I. 8: Rom. X. 18: Rev. VII. 9). Palmer on the Church, I. vii: Pearson on the Creed, IX. 610- 620: Forbes' N. Creed, 279,280: Schouppe, El. Th. Dog., III. 249-257: Hammond's Christian Church, ch. XXI, XXII: Mason's Faith of the Gosp., VIII. 4-7: Churton's Foundation of Doc., 80-85: Maclear's Introd. to the Creeds, 229-233.

2. The Church possesses universal mission, for she has been commanded to make disciples of all nations, and to baptize all who accept her teaching. No other body has received this charge, so that her mission is also exclusive, and she cannot recognize the work of any other organization as a sufficient substitute for her own. Her field is the world, and no one has the promise of finding Christ beyond her pale. Hammond, pp. 246-350: Pearson, 616-618.

3. The Church is adapted in its constitution, Sacraments and teaching to meet the necessities of all sorts and conditions of men; so that no one need fail to find in her whatever he needs of truth and grace. When she has failed to reach and elevate men, it has been because the proper moral conditions have been wanting—not because of any imperfections in her nature or equipment. Pearson, 617.

4. The Holy Ghost was given to the Church to guide her into all truth (S. John XVI. 13), and every doctrine which is necessary to be believed for salvation has been committed to her for proclamation, transmission and defence. Furthermore, the guidance of the Holy Ghost enables the Church to assimilate, in due time, every true result of scientific research, and to see that such results are but new unfoldings of a totality of truth of which her Faith is the nexus and interpretive principle. Pearson, 616.

5. Baptism, when administered with the proper matter and form, admits its subjects into the Catholic Church. All Christians on earth, including schismatics, are members of that Church by reason of their Baptism and are subject to her spiritual jurisdiction whether they recognize the fact or not. In a true sense, therefore, the terms Christian and Catholic apply universally to the same persons. All Christians are Catholics, and the Church is Catholic because all Christians belong to her. Not even death can of itself (cf, Q. 127. 2 c) exclude the baptized from her membership, for the Church extends to the departed and into Paradise; being called, for that reason, by the triple name of "the Church Militant, the Church Expectant and the Church Triumphant" (Heb. XII. 1, 22, 23). Forbes' N. Creed, 269-271.

6. The note of Catholicity is defined erroneously in two ways: (a.) as signifying that the Church actually reaches all mankind. The fact is otherwise. Yet the Church was as truly Catholic on the day of Pentecost as she has been at any time in her history. She is Catholic by nature—not by success: (b.) as signifying that she is liberal and tolerant of diversity of doctrine; whereas she is bound to maintain the totality of revealed truth, and she cannot acquiesce in any variation from it without obscuring her Catholicity.

Posted by Trevor at September 1, 2005 03:08 PM


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