What We Believe

What is the Church?

A community of faith

The Church is the community of believers in Jesus Christ, united with the Pope. Christ did not leave his earliest followers – the apostles and other disciples – alone. He sent his Holy Spirit to be with us until the end of time, when he will come again. United “in the power of the Holy Spirit”, we are members of the Church and continually inspired by the same Spirit to “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News” (Mark 16,15) of the salvation brought by Jesus Christ.

We become members of this great body through baptism. Thanks to the power of baptism, which, freeing us from sin and making us children of God, bestows upon us the Holy Spirit, we are united with the entire Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in a powerful way even on this side of the grave. In fact, the Church is sometimes called the Mystical Body of Christ, to signify its intimate connection with Christ with whom it remains one, under the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ said to St Peter, “You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16,18). Through the laying-on of hands, the successors of St Peter (the Pope) and of the other apostles (the Bishops) receive the divine mandate to act as pastors on behalf of Christ’s faithful. That succession has never been broken.

The Church grew, under the influence of the same Holy Spirit. In the early days the Church consisted of small pockets of believers dotted around the eastern Mediterranean. But as time went on, it became easier for Christians to become established.

It is tempting to think that the Church is for ‘holy’ people – bishops, priests, nuns. This is not the case. The whole point of Christ’s coming was to save us all for eternal life in heaven. We need people to be active in the Church so that the whole body of believers will be united under Christ, the head. That mission is for everyone. After all, Christ commanded his apostles (and therefore he instructed the Church too), to “Go out to all the nations … baptising in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have told you” while knowing that he is with us always, “until the end of time” (Matthew 28,19-20).

The Church offers the sacraments as one of the chief means to help us on the way. Another gift is the Bible (also called the Sacred Scriptures).

But none of this will make any sense unless we admit to ourselves that we need Christ. And if we need Christ, then we need his Church, since the two cannot be separated.