To read the article with full references and footnotes please click the link to download the pdf. Why I’m a Catholic
An exhaustive, scholarly, and literary examination, to prove that the Catholic Church is the One and Only true Church on Earth as established by our Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is clear that my answer to the question, “Why I’m a Catholic?” ought to shape itself in line with what I believe to be the religious standpoint of my enquirer. I cannot very well make a case until I know exactly what I can take for granted, nor can I start to make an expression of views until I know how far into the past my evidence needs to go. This is in point of fact the main stumbling block which occurs to one who sets about to prepare, in a few pages of an article, my reasons for the faith that is in me. Fortunately, however, at this moment in time, I am under no restrictions by the limitations assigned by an editor for this article [being the editor]. Hopefully I’m not addressing an audience of irreligious persons or sceptics, and assume most readers to be Christians, besides, being given to understand what is common to all faiths within Christian revelation — briefly to explain the reasons why I preferred to adhere to the faith to which I belong.”
Taking for granted, for a moment, the certitude of revelation, I suppose that the person or people who does admit to the existence of the Christian faith, and its considerable importance, will, of course, admit that the profession of it, as instructed and defined by Jesus Christ, is not a trivial matter of selection. It therefore stands to reason that religion, once it had been defined by the Greatest Legislator of all, is, as stated by Him, an inflexible moral imperative. As a consequence, it is not a choice for Christian believers of revelation to adopt just any form of religion that they may choose, to use the words of a well-known Unitarian writer, ‘to make their own formula of belief or conviction, or to make none.’
Christian revelation shows the truth to us that Jesus Christ taught only one religion, and that He made the belief and practice of it a divine law. By virtue of the extraordinary authority which He had both in heaven and upon earth, He bestowed upon His Apostles, whom He specifically summoned and singled out from among the many disciples that accompanied Him, with the divine vocation that He Himself had received from His Heavenly Father, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He commanded them to go and preach His Gospel to every person the world over, to teach them “to obey everything that I have commanded you.” In fact, He made the belief in His Gospel, as preached by His Apostles, a mandatory prerequisite for salvation, unequivocally stating that, “… the one who does not believe will be condemned.” The doctrines, as a consequence, of this one religion, taught to us by Christ through His Apostles, are the articles of our faith, its doctrines, to the exclusion of everything else, which have the power to bind our will.
Moreover, as Christ taught but only One religion, He also established but One Church: “… you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church … ”. He consistently speaks of “His Church,” never of “His Churches”; and the distinct styles used by Him and His Apostles to identify the Church, incontrovertibly convey the impression of the selfsame oneness. It is a “community,” a “kingdom,” a “fellowship,” and so forth, not invisible, but visible, establish with the intention of carrying out His own visible mission among all humankind to the period leading up to Judgement Day. To this Church He entrusted the sacred trusteeship of His religion, and pledged that in teaching His Gospel it should be guided by the Holy Ghost; and that “… the gates of Hades will not prevail against it”, because it should have His own divine assistance, remembering that “I am with you always, to the end of the age”. These words were addressed to the Apostles not solely as individuals; for, as such, they were not to live “always, to the end of the age”; but to the extent that they, with their legitimately ordained inheritors, assemble one righteous fellowship instituted by Christ to keep alive upon earth His own divine mission. And because of this His own constant intervention, He could declare to His Church: “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” “If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.” The Church, therefore, is a part of His body, His mouthpiece, His proxy. As a consequence, we are not free to adopt any other religion we may wish, but are obligated become members of His religion only, to this one Church, of which He laid the foundations, and no other, we have to belong, its a prerequisite for our salvation. The Church is “the body of Christ.” Any person then, who is not a member of this Church is therefore not in union with Christ, our Supreme Commander in Chief, our head.
Therefore, to the subject matter put forward as the title of this paper, “Why I’m a Catholic?” my answer is palpably clear and beyond question: I’m a Catholic, not because my parents had me baptised four days after I was born, but because at Seminary I was able to make an exhaustive investigation of the character and distinction “the inherent characteristics” of the religious institution founded by Christ, which convinces me, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Jesus Christ on earth.
People may pontificate that the Church has historically been corrupt, iniquitous and at times even black hearted. To them I would reply that all of society, governments and individuals can be labelled as such, all have made terrible errors, been part of frightful atrocities throughout history. We, if we are honest, have on occasions ignored to voice of the Holy Spirit within us, and therefore have gone against the will of God. Nevertheless the Catholic Church is still the Church established by Jesus Christ, run by people who do not always allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and some who do not even believe in God, who make errors, are naive, pernicious and sometimes evil-minded and with ulterior motives, self-seeking and with a heart of stone. Faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. If you could show me one Catholic teaching that sacred Scripture rejects, or if you could show me from history that Jesus Christ did not “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. If you can prove to me that this Church was not constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsisting in the Catholic Church, and governed by the successors of Saint Peter, then I would leave the Church.
There can be no doubt that if Jesus Christ obliges all men to “hear the Church” which He established, and, consequently, to obey her, and to be subject to her, He must have given all men the means to understand her with certainty. He must have impressed upon her certain prominent characteristics, by which she would be clearly recognised as the divinely authorised teacher of men, to lead them in the way of truth and toward salvation. His perfect justice required it; otherwise He would have given a command, without making its fulfilment possible. We therefore admit, that He obliged us to listen to His Church and as a consequence we are duty-bound to also concede that he gave His Church these distinctive notes or marks by which she may be recognised.
Be that as it may, what are these significant signs, marks or attributes by which all ages have unerringly recognised the true Church of Christ? They are familiar. Ergo, the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creed, which are so mysteriously sacred to all Christians “for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture”, explicitly affirm the existence of these marks. The marks of the Church are four — μία, ἁγία, καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία —Unity, Holiness, Catholicity, and Apostolicity” for we believe in “One (one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and one Father), Holy (for a special purpose by and for God), Catholic (General, universal, καθολικός – according to the whole), and Apostolic Church (the Church’s foundation and beliefs are rooted and continuing in the living Tradition of the Apostles of Jesus in that they have preserved the original teaching of the apostles, have apostolic succession deriving its authority through a direct line of laying on of hands from the apostles who received their authority directly from Jesus Christ.” These four marks, therefore, when found together, affirm the oneness of the body, the church, what Christians have in common, what they have communion in, the Apostle Paul says: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” The Church which all ages have recognised as the true Church of Jesus Christ — is the Church in which our progenitors believed.
Today, all of these marks are found nowhere else intact except within the Catholic Church. Therefore, I’m compelled to conclude that the Catholic Church was, is and always will be the only true Church representing Christ on earth today. Logically therefore, even if the hierarchy where to fall into heresy, it will nevertheless still be the true Church as established by Jesus Christ.
A mere glance at the profession of faith of the Catholic Church, at her catechisms, or theological treatises, at her books of instruction as they are published in various countries, will suffice to show that her members “preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” And that they have “one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;” “They are,” as Tertullian so aptly expressed of the primitive Christians, “each what all are and all what each is.” Catholics, far apart in time and place, though separated by conflicting interests, tendencies, or national intolerances, are all harmoniously united in one religion, and comprise one great people, one Church, one kingdom, affirming the same credo, and acknowledging one principal authority, namely, the authority of the Roman Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.
This twofold unity of faith and government is an essential property of the true Church of Christ. And, indeed, if the members of Christ’s mystical body were not animated by the same faith, how could they be said to be “members of member,” or, as we may read in the revised version, “individually parts of it?” How could their oneness be compared to that which exists between the Eternal Father and His Divine Son, and be a proof to the world of the divinity of Jesus Christ? And if the Church is not one as a government, how could it then be said to be a kingdom? A kingdom necessarily conveys the ideas of a society which is united, and this implies one sovereign authority. It is a fact, also, that our Lord prescribed that His Church should have one universal pastor. It was to Peter alone that He addressed these words: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” That Peter is “the rock” is not only evident from the context and the common interpretation of the Fathers, but is also admitted by the most learned protestant commentators of those of other christian religions. Thus The Rev. Samuel T. Bloomfield testifies that this is the interpretation of “almost every modern (Protestant) expositor of any note. “I cannot better explain the relation of Christ and Peter, as foundations of the Church, than in the words of St. Leo (A.D. 440): “As my Father has manifested My divinity to thee,” he says, paraphrasing Christ’s address to Peter, “I make known to thee thy excellences: for thou art Peter, that is, as I am the inviolable Rock, who maketh both one, I, the foundation, other than which no one can lay; nevertheless, thou also art a rock, because thou art strengthened by my power, so that those things which belong to me by nature are common to thee with me by participation. And Christ fulfilled His promise, for, as St. John relates in the twenty-first chapter of his Gospel, our Saviour, after His resurrection, addressing the same Apostle, committed to him the care of His Church. “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” St. Ambrose (A.D. 370) declares that Christ appointed Peter to feed the lambs and the sheep, “in order that He, who was the more perfect, might hold the government.” St. Jerome (A.D. 385) assigns the reason why our Lord constituted a head for His Church. “One is chosen amongst the twelve, that a head being established, the occasion of schism may be removed”; and St. Optatus (A.D. 368), addressing the Donatists, says that the Episcopal chair in the city of Rome was bestowed first upon Peter, “head of the Apostles, whence he was called Cephas,” and that “in communion with that chair unity was to be preserved by all.” The Catholic Church safeguards this communion with the chair of Peter, the See of Rome, and this is the reason why it is commonly called “The Roman Catholic Church.”
Again, within the Catholic Church, I find that holiness which must characterise the true Church of Christ. By her doctrine and the administration of the sacraments the true Church of Christ is to carry on the work of Christ, and so attain the conclusion for which she was founded — the sanctification of its members — and this is precisely what the Catholic Church does.
As an example, allow me to cite her doctrine concerning the sacraments, and it will become self evident how, through her ministry, she sanctifies every instant and state of life. She teaches that we are born in a state of sin, and, therefore, that before we can live the life of grace, we must be purified from our guilt — we must receive a spiritual birth. And this she gives us by means of the Sacrament of Baptism. After being spiritually born our life of grace is but weak. We are, indeed, Christians, but we have to become strong and perfect Christians; and we are made so, she teaches us, by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation from her. Furthermore, as in temporal life, so also in the spiritual, we stand in need of nourishment—our souls must be frequently fed with “the bread of life”; and this she confers to us through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which again, as we know from her divine teaching, is the true body and blood of Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine. But to be perfect is not human. We are liable to fall into sin and lose thereby the state of grace. We stand in need, therefore, of some healing remedy for sin. This essential curative she provides for us through the Sacrament of Penance, in which, the absolution from the priest’s, given to the church by the authority of Christ and delegated to him, combine with repentance, confession, and restitution, the sins which were committed after baptism are forgiven. The Church knows that at the time of our death we will be in significant spiritual need. Enfeebled by ill health, we are not as able to hold out against the assaults from the enemies of our salvation. The distinctive succour which we need then she conveys to us through the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, the anointing of the sick mentioned by St. James. In religion, to sanctify ourselves we are in need of spiritual counsellors and advisers — from men who have been conferred with the distinction as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”; and these are endowed, together with the faculties and graces necessary for them, through the agency of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. And, lastly, she sanctifies the state of holy matrimony through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which she considers as the emblem of the sacred union which exists between Christ and His Church. This Sacrament, which she teaches us, has been instituted to give those persons joined in holy matrimony the graces required for the fruition of their obligations and for the religious instruction of their sons and daughters.
Assisted by the Holy Ghost, who gives effectiveness to her priesthood, the Catholic Church is always welcoming new members into her fold, and impressing upon them the principle of miraculous life, and by enactments of devotion she instils and enriches that life for all. And if some of her children are not actually saints, it is only because they do not live fully in accordance with their faith. In fact, in every age and in every land, she has been and is the generative mother of saints, and thousands of her sons and daughters cast aside all worldly honours and comforts, in order to consecrate all that they have, and all that they are, to the service of God and for mankind, always ready to lay down their lives for them. Witness those heroic men who vowed to attend the lepers such as Father Saint Damien De Veuster SS.CC., and bear the awful consequences of their self-devotion; witness those who earnestly vowed to remain in slavery themselves, if they could not first liberate the other slaves from captivity; witness those many priests and sisters of charity who lay down their lives in every widespread disease. In a word, with an activity and zeal for souls, which even her enemies are forced to admit, the Catholic Church leaves nothing undone for the conversion of transgressors, for the education of the unschooled, for the relief of the impoverished of Christ. Her many missions throughout the world, her schools of every grade for the rich and poor, her books of devotion in every language, her hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and charitable institutions of every kind, are so many proofs of her untiring devotion in discharging her divine mission to bring all to Jesus Christ.
The authentic and legitimate Church of Christ has always been and must always be “Catholic” in accordance with the words of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the holy Catholic Church.” Hence we find the term Catholic used by the Fathers as a distinguishing sign of the true Church. St. Ignatius (A.D. 107), writing to the Church of Smyrna, remarks: “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church…” This catholicity of the true Church, instituted by Christ, is threefold — catholicity of extension, “teaching all of mankind”; catholicity of doctrine, “to observe all that I have commanded you”; catholicity of the fullness of time, “I am with you always, until the end of the age..” Catholicity, then, implies a multitude of members spread throughout the whole world, in all ages, and professing the same doc- trines. Now this is exactly what I find in the Church to which I belong. Her members far outnumber all the other Christian denominations taken together. According to the Pew Research Center there are over 1.1 billion Catholics as of 2010. These are disperse throughout the world, there is now no civilised or uncivilised country on the planet where the Catholic Church is not, to tell the truth, entrenched and carrying out the work of our Saviour Jesus Christ. “… the Church is Catholic, that is, universal; and justly is she called Catholic, because,” says St. Augustine, “she is diffused by the splendour of one faith from the rising to the setting sun. Unlike republics of human institution, or the conventicles of heretics, she is not circumscribed within the limits of any one kingdom, nor confined to the members of any one society of men, but embraces within the amplitude of her love, all mankind, whether barbarians or Scythians, slaves or freemen, male or female.” Today Catholics can repeat what Tertullian (A.D. 199) said of the Catholics of his time, “… We are but of yesterday, and we have filled every place among you — cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market-places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum — we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.” And what is more important, the Church so disseminate embosoms the same faith, has the same constitution, the same sacraments, the same form of government the world over. She is as Catholic as she is one. Let us therefore return to the initial question, “Why am I a Catholic?” I might well answer in the words of St. Augustine: “Many things detain me in the bosom of the Catholic Church… The name itself of the “Catholic Church” keeps me, a name which, in the midst of so many heresies, this Church alone has, not without cause, so held possession of that, while all heretics would fain have themselves called Catholics, yet, to the query of any stranger ‘where is the meeting of the Catholic Church held?’ No heretic would not dare to point out his own basilica or house.”
By “Apostolic Church” is meant the Church which Christ established by means of His Apostles, whom, as the Gospels tell us, He selected, instructed, ordained, and commissioned to perpetuate among men to the end of time His divine mission. The Church, then, to be Apostolic, must be the Church established by the Apostles, that is, it must have an Apostolic origin, it must teach the same doctrine which the Apostles taught, and her ministers must derive their authority from those same Apostles.
That the Catholic Church has an Apostolic origin is a fact which cannot be questioned. Dr. Nathaniel Lardner, a Protestant writer, speaking of the foundation of the Church of Rome by St. Peter, assures us that “… this is the general, uncontradicted, disinterested testimony of ancient writers in the several parts of the world,” and he adds, “it is not for our honour, nor for our interests, either as Christians or Protestants, to deny the truths of events, ascertained by early and well attested tradition.” The Protestant theologian and historian Philip Schaff stated “It is the universal testimony of tradition that Peter laboured last in Rome, and there suffered martyrdom under Nero”. And the English theologian, historian, and mathematician Mr. William Whiston, yet another Protestant, speaking on the same subject, expresses himself in a still stronger way. “This is so clear,” he says, “in Christian antiquity, that it is a shame for a Protestant to confess that it has ever been denied by Protestants). It will suffice, then, to cite a few testimonies from the early doctors of the Church. Thus St. Cyprian calls the Roman See the “See of Peter”. St. Jerome calls Pope Damasus “the Successor of the Fisherman,” and his chair “the chair of Peter”. And St. Augustine calls Linus, the Roman Bishop, The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were: Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius…”
A careful examination, moreover, of the doctrines of the Catholic Church will prove clearly to any unprejudiced mind, that she teaches whole and entire the very same doctrines that were taught by the Apostles. I discovered this to be accepted by Protestants also, at least as far as it concerns those points, which they call “fundamental” or “the original elements of the Gospel system.” What they try in vain to prove is, that the Catholic Church, together with those doctrines, has taught many errors, that she has added many new points of doctrine to the original deposit of faith. I have diligently examined each and every one of these points, and the result of this study has been to convince me the more, that the so-called additions are not new articles of faith, but only authoritative declarations of the teaching Church that the doctrines in question “had been revealed to the Apostles, and had come down to us either by Scripture or Tradition.
The last stipulation prescribed for the Apostolic Church is an Apostolic ministry, namely, ministers who’s authority are traceable from the Apostles, and are in communion with the core of unity within which Christ lay His foundation, and from which they derive their mission. The necessity of this communion with the centre of unity is evident from the few remarks already made on the unity of the Church. In confirmation of this, it will be enough to quote here two of the many authorities I have examined on this subject. St. Optatus (4th century) Bishop of Milevis, in Numidia speaking of “We must examine who sat first in the chair, and where … You cannot deny that you know that in the city of Rome upon Peter first the chair of the bishop was conferred, in which sat the head of all the Apostles, Peter, whence also he was called Cephas, in which one chair unity should be preserved by all, lest the other Apostles should each stand up for his own chair, so that now he should be a schismatic and a sinner who should against this one chair set up another.” Again and again he lays it down that there is but one true Church of Christ, that she is not merely local, but is scattered |viii all over the world, her chief rulers bound together by formal bonds and proofs of union, each with his fellow, and above all with the Bishop of Rome, Peter’s successor. And that great saint and doctor of the Church, St Jerome, thus addresses the Bishop of Rome, Pope Damasus: “My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! Matthew 16:18 This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. Exodus 12:22 This is the Ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. Genesis 7:23 But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord. Consequently I here follow the Egyptian confessors who share your faith, and anchor my frail craft under the shadow of their great argosies. I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters”.
It is an historical fact, which no scholar has ever denied, that the priests and bishops of the Catholic Church can trace their lineage back to an Apostolic origin. This is clearly demonstrated by following the succession of pontiffs from St. Peter (Shimon son of Jonah) A.D. 33-† c. 64 to Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) 2005-2013., in the Apostolic See of Rome, with which centre of unity no other priesthood but that of the Catholic Church is in communion. I may add, also, that those denominations which lay any claim to having apostolic orders, as, for instance, the Church of England (C of E), and its daughter, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA), base their claim on the fact of having received these orders from bishops that had been validly in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, are considered valid yet irregular by the See of Rome. Again, therefore, with St. Augustine, I answer that I am a Catholic because “[T]here are many other things which most properly can keep me in [the Catholic Church’s] bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep, up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic’, when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house”.
Again, however, if I consider the explicit will and intention of Christ in laying the foundations of His Church on earth, I discover that she shall continue to the end of time, unaltered in her inner and outer fundamental principles or charter, and endowed with all the unchanged endowments, symbols, formation &c., with which she was endowed by her Holy founding Father. For the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ, “to save souls.” She must endure, consequently, for as long as there are souls to save. She is built on a rock, and “the gates of hell shall never prevail against her.” As a result it is not possible for her to ever become tainted and altered in her dogma and creed, in her sacraments, or in her government. The instant that she should fail in any of these, that moment the gates of hell would achieve mastery against her. To postulate that at any time the Church of Christ had foundered is to controvert Christ’s promise to His Church, “I am with you always, until the end of the age”. “There are those who say: She, that was the Church of all nations, is already no more; she has perished. This say they who are not in her. The impudent assertion!” If, therefore, the Church cannot fail or become corrupt, there can be no reason for any reformation in her faith, her sacraments, or government. Every attempt at such reformation is an explicit denial of her indefectibility.
But if the true Church of Christ was to last the same “all days,” even to the end of the world, then it has always been in existence, from the days of the Apostles to our own. It existed, therefore, when Luther and Calvin and Henry VIII raised the gonfalon of sedition and rebellion against the Catholic Church, in which they were baptised and educated; it existed when each established a separate and independent Church of their own. And if it existed, it could be no other than the Roman Catholic Church. For it is a fact that, at the time, there existed no other Church distinct from her, and recognised by the Reformers as the true Church of Christ.
It is evident, therefore, that the “Reformers,” or rather revolutionists and consequently those who have followed in their footsteps, have no divine authority to preach, to administer the sacraments, and to govern Christ’s mystical body. They certainly did not receive it from the Catholic Church, from which they were separated, and by which they were condemned, Luther was a priest, but never a bishop. Calvin was a simple cleric, and never received the order of priesthood. Henry VIII., “the spiritual head” of the Church of England, was a layman. By whom, then, Were they sent? Reformation implies an improvement, to ameliorate, to rectify, to correct or to rehabilitate. Are Luther, Calvin and Henry VIII, then stating that they knew better than our Lord Jesus Christ. That our Lord got it wrong the first time round and needed to be corrected. To me it simply demonstrates sheer impertinence.
Furthermore “how can they preach unless they be sent?” They had not received an extraordinary mission from God or Jesus Christ? Despite that, where was their authority, where is their legitimacy? No account of these has ever come to light. And it seems plain enough, at least, that they all could not have been sent by the same God to preach contradictory doctrines and vilify each other. Henry VIII wrote against Luther, Luther against Calvin, and Calvin against both.
As this subject is of vital importance, I will consider my position as stated above from another point of view, briefly touching on a point of doctrine characteristic of the Catholic Church.
My reason for remaining in the Catholic Faith is drawn from the fact that the Catholic Church, that is to say, the Church in communion with the Successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, is the true Church of Christ. This I have briefly shown beyond doubt, by displaying that she is endowed with all the signs, which are required, to conform with the plans of Christ, mark His Church, and identify it from each and every other institution. I now add, that since I am under an obligation to be a Christian so as to be saved, and as the only choices are either Catholicism or Protestantism, if I were not a Christian Catholic, I should then be a Christian Protestant. Now is it proved that Christian Protestants constitute the Church of Christ? This should be one faith and one government; The Anglican communion consists of forty provinces throughout the world, its members should be united as one member and constitute “one fellowship, one nation, one Church.” I have searched for this unity among the Protestants, albeit unsuccessfully. Each member of the Anglican Communion is autonomous, in other words they have the freedom to govern themselves and control their own affairs. This does not constitute one body. They do not amount to one church, but many separate churches. They do not have “one faith or creed”, but many creeds. This is no surprise, for no unity of faith can be found where the only tangible truth of this unity is denied, and where as an alternative, a concept replaces it, and as a consequence causes only dissent. This false concept is their rule of faith. As long as they are told that every individual has the right and duty to interpret Scriptures for themselves, that personal interpretation of the Bible will settle all religious controversies, then the religious divisions will be maintained, not only among different denominations, but also among the members of the selfsame denominations. If George Washington and his collaborators in promulgating the seven articles of the Constitution of the United States had said, “Let us individually read this Constitution by ourselves, explain it for himself, and follow out and practice their own interpretation of it,” it would most certainly not be “known and read by all men” as one united nation. Instead, there would have been a thousand different political factions and insignificant governments. How did the founders of this state safeguard against this peril? They delineated the national frame of government in the Constitution, and at the same time established a supreme tribunal, and an authoritative power, which would interpret its meaning ultimately and definitively, by whose decision everyone, from the President to the mendicant, are bound to abide, without exception.
A true rule of faith is the living and infallible authority of the Church of Christ. This, and no other, is the supreme tribunal, and the supreme judge in matters of faith. This is the source and safeguard of unity. I have already illustrated that Christ, our Lord, established within His Church authority to whose teachings the faithful must submit. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find that Christ gave to His Apostles a mission to write, who then established the Church, we find it explicitly stated in the last verses of St. Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus committed the mission of teaching all nations to His Church. We also know that He made obedience to this teaching a condition for salvation, assuring us that he who hears the Church hears Him. Because He is always within His teaching Church, and the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete, abides within the Church forever. How could Christ make obedience to this teaching authority a condition for salvation, and declare that in hearing the Church, I would hear Him; that the gates of hell would never prevail against it; that the Spirit of truth is the Spirit of His Church, if that Church had no divine authority to teach, or were fallible in teaching?
Those who deny the authority and error-free teaching of the Church, if unchanging, must give up all divine faith. “I should not believe the Gospel,” St. Augustine tells us “unless moved thereto by the authority of the Church.” The Bible, without this living and error-free authority, would as a direct consequence, leave men in a state of uncertainty. For before anyone can believe any article of faith, using the Bible as sole authority of the word of God, they must first be perfectly sure that the book, in which they find that article, is the word of God, and not the word of man; just as before, one may accept any statement as an article of the Constitution of the United States, but first we must be secure in our belief that the Constitution spoken of is really the Constitution of the United States. How are Protestants able to find a solution to that question? How can they, without the authority of the Catholic Church, be infallibly certain that the Bible is the word of God? That their edited version of the Bible, as they have it, containing the books, chapters, and verses, are a work of inspiration? This evidence cannot be found within the Bible itself, and even if it were, the question would still remain, how do you know that this postulation is itself authentic? How do you know that this assertion is from God? They may believe that book to be the Word of God, because they think so, or because they surmise that the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to them at that moment, or because this is the opinion of learned men they consider honest, or even because their own religious movement is telling them so. But are they sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are correct? All those learned men are prone to error; they acknowledge this themselves; their own religious movement or Church professes that they are not infallible, and consequently are prone to error.
Moreover, fallible authority is human authority. Will they believe, based on human fallible authority that the Bible is the word of God? They may, if they choose to do so, yet if they are being logical, and believe whatever is contained within the Bible based on the same authority — in other words, let them give up divine faith. “Prove to me” says Rousseau, “that I am bound to obey authority in religion; and, to-morrow, I become a Catholic.” That this authority is completely essential is obvious by the fact that without it the unity of the Church of Christ cannot endure; without it the Church of Christ is purely a human institution; without it in religion we are lost in doubt. This divine and infallible authority I find in the Catholic Church, and nowhere outside of it; for the different denominations that have sprung after the “Reformation” positively reject it.
These, then, are just some of the reasons as to “why I am a Catholic” and remain in the Church to which I belong, because, to use St. Augustine’s words, “This is the Holy Church, the One Church, the True Church, the Catholic Church, which fights against all errors. She may be attacked, but cannot be overcome. All errors have gone far from her, yet, she remains unsevered from her own source, in her own vine, in her own charity. The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.”