Catholic Church

Founded by Christ, propagated by His apostles, from Jerusalem through Asia Minor to Rome as its permanent world center, from which it spread throughout the world according to the mandate of its Divine Founder:

Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28).

It is a Divinely-constituted society consisting of members from every race and nation, all holding one faith, all using the same sacraments as means of holiness and salvation, and all governed benignly by the successor of Saint Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the pope as he is familiarly called, dwelling in Rome, assisted by the college of cardinals as his senate who help to administer the affairs of the Church as heads of various congregations or commissions, and exercising his jurisdiction through the hierarchy, the bishops of over 1,200 dioceses, and over 320 vicars and prefects Apostolic, as Peter did through the Apostles.

Catholic belief is formulated in the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, by general councils, and by the pope when teaching ex cathedra. It is founded not only on what the Apostles left in writing in the New Testament, but on all that comes down from them through tradition. Since the Bible is the word of God, it is not left to the private judgment of everyone to interpret, but is entrusted to the Head of the Church who, when there is need of defining any article of belief, acts only after mature study and deliberation, aided by the advice of the bishops and theologians, whether in or out of councils, and with the special guidance of the Holy Ghost, protected from error in interpreting the revelation of God as the inspired writers were when recording it.

Of great importance in the organization of the Church are: the training of the priests, their zeal in preaching and in the administration of the sacraments, and their devotion to their congregations; the religious communities of men and women, devoted to the work of foreign and parochial missions, education, and to all the works of mercy; the confraternities, sodalities, and benevolent societies of the laity who actively assist the priests and the religious communities in their various spheres.