Signs For Our Times – Part III: Catholicity of the Church

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/04/17 at 1:00 AM

The third  mark or sign of the true Church is CATHOLICITY.  “Catholic” written with a small “c” is a legitimate word, but it is rarely used except in reference to the Catholic Church.  The word itself means universal.  In modern times, universality is a much-coveted trait.  Credit card companies boast that their cards can be used anywhere in the world.  Cell phone companies tell you, that with their phones, you can reach anyone in the world.  The same boast is made for travelers checks.  Universality is then seen as a very positive attribute.

The idea of universality applies to the Catholic Church in different ways.  The Catholic Church is universal or catholic because its founder, Jesus Christ, is universal in that, because He is God, He is everywhere.  There is nowhere in the world you can go where He is not.  Every other religious founder was subject to the limitations of space, place and time.  Christ is everywhere at once, and where Christ is, there is also the Catholic Church.

That the Church be a world-church was a direct command of its divine founder who told His apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations.  This she has done.  There is no place in the world where the term Catholic Church is not known.

The Catholic Church is catholic or universal in that it embraces all races and nationalities without favoring any of them.  All true Catholics the world over believe in the same doctrines and moral code because the Catholic Church does not have denominations or sects.  Practicing Catholics anywhere in the world would recognize the faith of a Catholic from another continent.  All Catholics consider themselves under the religious jurisdiction of the Pope and the local bishop.  Because of this, any particular parish is also a part of the universal church, rather than an independent entity.

Other churches cannot claim universality or catholicity because they do not have a missionary spirit from their beginning.  Buddhism makes no effort to win converts.  (Buddhism is not really a religion because it espouses no Deity.  It is really a philosophy that promotes a certain life-style or way of thinking about life.)  Protestantism is almost five hundred years old, but gave missionary activity no thought until the eighteen hundreds.  The vast majority of Protestant denominations are not large enough to support missionary activity.  Early Islam made converts by the sword.

Thus, only the Catholic Church has consistently, from its founding, set out to spread the good news of salvation to all people and places, thereby making it the only Church that has followed the mandate of the Founder.


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