Creed of the People of God, Part 6 Print E-mail
Knowing Your Faith
Knowing Your Faith column

Dr. John P. Joy

Continuing our series on St. Pope Paul VI's Creed of the People of God, we come next to the profession of faith concerning the Church.

This Creed is based on the Nicene Creed we say at Mass, but it goes into greater detail about what Catholics are required to believe in order to be "practicing Catholics" and (more importantly) in order to have that faith without which we cannot be saved.

In the Nicene Creed, our profession of faith concerning the Church is summarized in the single line, "I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church." The Creed of Paul VI expands upon each of these four notes or marks of the Church. It begins: "We believe in one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, built by Jesus Christ on that rock which is Peter."

I. The Church is Catholic

"She is the Mystical Body of Christ; at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs, and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God here below, and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory."

II. The Church  is Holy

"In the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the sacraments emanating from His plenitude. By these she makes her members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and movement.

"She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit."

III. The Church is Apostolic

"Heiress of the divine promises and daughter of Abraham according to the Spirit, through that Israel whose Scriptures she lovingly guards, and whose patriarchs and prophets she venerates; founded upon the apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining, and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus.

"We believe all that is contained in the word of God written or handed down, and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium. We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful, and which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium."

IV. The Church is One

"We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship, and the bond of hierarchical communion. In the bosom of this Church, the rich variety of liturgical rites and the legitimate diversity of theological and spiritual heritages and special disciplines, far from injuring her unity, make it more manifest.

"Recognizing also the existence, outside the organism of the Church of Christ, of numerous elements of truth and sanctification which belong to her as her own and tend to Catholic unity, and believing in the action of the Holy Spirit who stirs up in the heart of the disciples of Christ love of this unity, we entertain the hope that the Christians who are not yet in the full communion of the one only Church will one day be reunited in one flock with one only shepherd."


Dr. John P. Joy, STL, is marriage and family coordinator for the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, Diocese of Madison.