THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT683 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit."1 "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into
our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!"'2 This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in
touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles
faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church
communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us
in the Son.
Baptism gives us the grace of new birth in God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit.
For those who bear God's Spirit are led to the Word, that is, to the Son, and the Son presents
them to the Father, and the Father confers incorruptibility on them. And it is impossible to see
God's Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the
knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of God's Son is obtained through the
684 Through his grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the
new life, which is to "know the Father and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ."4 But the Spirit is
the last of the persons of the Holy Trinity to be revealed. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian,
explains this progression in terms of the pedagogy of divine "condescension":
The Old Testament proclaimed the Father clearly, but the Son more obscurely. The New
Testament revealed the Son and gave us a glimpse of the divinity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit
dwells among us and grants us a clearer vision of himself. It was not prudent, when the divinity
of the Father had not yet been confessed, to proclaim the Son openly and, when the divinity of
the Son was not yet admitted, to add the Holy Spirit as an extra burden, to speak somewhat
daringly. . . . By advancing and progressing "from glory to glory," the light of the Trinity will
shine in ever more brilliant rays.5
685 To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy
Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: "with the Father and the Son he is worshipped and
glorified."6 For this reason, the divine mystery of the Holy Spirit was already treated in the context of
Trinitarian "theology." Here, however, we have to do with the Holy Spirit only in the divine "economy."
686 The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the
plan for our salvation. But in these "end times," ushered in by the Son's redeeming Incarnation, the
Spirit is revealed and given, recognized and welcomed as a person. Now can this divine plan,
accomplished in Christ, the firstborn and head of the new creation, be embodied in mankind by the
outpouring of the Spirit: as the Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the
resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
1 1 Cor 12:3.
2 Gal 4:6.
3 St. Irenaeus, Dem. ap. 7: SCh 62,41-42.
4 Jn 17:3.
5 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio theol.,5,26 (= Oratio 31,26):PG 36,161-163.
6 Nicene Creed; see above, par. 465.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT"687 "No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."7 Now God's Spirit, who
reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of
himself. The Spirit who "has spoken through the prophets" makes us hear the Father's Word, but we
do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us
and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who "unveils" Christ to us "will not speak
on his own."8 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why "the world cannot receive [him],
because it neither sees him nor knows him," while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because
he dwells with them.9
688 The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where
we know the Holy Spirit:
- in the Scriptures he inspired;
- in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
- in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists;
- in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into
communion with Christ;
- in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
- in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
- in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
- in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.
I. THE JOINT MISSION OF THE SON AND THE SPIRIT689 The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God.10
Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life
of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial,
and indivisible, the Church's faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his
Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but
inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit
who reveals him.
690 Jesus is Christ, "anointed," because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the
Incarnation on derives from this fullness.11 When Christ is finally glorified,12 he can in turn send the
Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory,13
that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him.14 From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in
the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to
unite them to Christ and make them live in him:
The notion of anointing suggests . . . that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit.
Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor
sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate,
so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by
contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession
of the Son's Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming
from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith.15
II. THE NAME, TITLES, AND SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRITThe proper name of the Holy Spirit
691 "Holy Spirit" is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the
Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new
The term "Spirit" translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath,
air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the
transcendent newness of him who is personally God's breath, the divine Spirit.17 On the other
hand, "Spirit" and "Holy" are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining
the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person
of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms "spirit" and
Titles of the Holy Spirit
692 When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the "Paraclete,"
literally, "he who is called to one's side," ad-vocatus.18 "Paraclete" is commonly translated by
"consoler," and Jesus is the first consoler.19 The Lord also called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth."20
693 Besides the proper name of "Holy Spirit," which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles
and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,21 the Spirit of adoption,22
the Spirit of Christ,23 the Spirit of the Lord,24 and the Spirit of God25 - and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of
Symbols of the Holy Spirit
694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the
invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the
gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into
the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also
"made to drink of one Spirit."27 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ
crucified28 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.29
695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,30 to the point of
becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of
Confirmation, called "chrismation" in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in
relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew
"messiah") means the one "anointed" by God's Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in
the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.31 But Jesus is God's Anointed in a unique way: the
humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as
"Christ."32 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him
the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.33 The
Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.34
Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.35 Now, fully established as "Christ" in his
humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until "the saints" constitute
- in their union with the humanity of the Son of God - that perfect man "to the measure of the stature
of the fullness of Christ":36 "the whole Christ," in St. Augustine's expression.
696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes
the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who "arose like
fire" and whose "word burned like a torch," brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount
Carmel.37 This event was a "figure" of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John
the Baptist, who goes "before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah," proclaims Christ as the one
who "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."38 Jesus will say of the Spirit: "I came to cast
fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!"39 In the form of tongues "as of fire," the
Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself40 The spiritual
tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit's
actions.41 "Do not quench the Spirit."42
697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the
theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving
God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory - with Moses on Mount Sinai,43 at the tent of
meeting,44 and during the wandering in the desert,45 and with Solomon at the dedication of the
Temple.46 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and
"overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.47 On the mountain of
Transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James
and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'"48
Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal
him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.49
698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. "The Father has set his seal" on Christ and also seals
us in him.50 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the
sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used
in some theological traditions to express the indelible "character" imprinted by these three
699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them.51 In his name the
apostles will do the same.52 Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles' imposition of hands that the
Holy Spirit is given.53 The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the "fundamental
elements" of its teaching.54 The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy
Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.
700 The finger. "It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons."55 If God's law was written on
tablets of stone "by the finger of God," then the "letter from Christ" entrusted to the care of the
apostles, is written "with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human
hearts."56 The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the "finger of the Father's right
701 The dove. At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah
returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable.58 When
Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down
upon him and remains with him.59 The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the
baptized. In certain churches, the Eucharist is reserved in a metal receptacle in the form of a dove
(columbarium) suspended above the altar. Christian iconography traditionally uses a dove to suggest
III. GOD'S SPIRIT AND WORD IN THE TIME OF THE PROMISES702 From the beginning until "the fullness of time,"60 the joint mission of the Father's Word and Spirit
remains hidden, but it is at work. God's Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah. Neither is fully
revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation. So,
for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, "who
has spoken through the prophets," wants to tell us about Christ.61
By "prophets" the faith of the Church here understands all whom the Holy Spirit inspired in living
proclamation and the composition of the sacred books, both of the Old and the New Testaments.
Jewish tradition distinguishes first the Law (the five first books or Pentateuch), then the Prophets (our
historical and prophetic books) and finally the Writings (especially the wisdom literature, in particular
703 The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature:63
It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for he is God, consubstantial
with the Father and the Son. . . . Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he
preserves creation in the Father through the Son.64
704 "God fashioned man with his own hands [that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit] and impressed his
own form on the flesh he had fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the
The Spirit of the promise
705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is
deprived "of the glory of God,"66 of his "likeness." The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the
economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that "image"67 and
restore it in the Father's "likeness" by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is "the giver of life."
706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the
power of the Holy Spirit.68 In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This
progeny will be Christ himself,69 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the
children of God who are scattered abroad."70 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving
his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit . . . [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we
acquire possession of it."71
In Theophanies and the Law
707 Theophanies (manifestations of God) light up the way of the promise, from the patriarchs to
Moses and from Joshua to the visions that inaugurated the missions of the great prophets. Christian
tradition has always recognized that God's Word allowed himself to be seen and heard in these
theophanies, in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed him and concealed him in its shadow.
708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.72 God gave the Law as a
"pedagogue" to lead his people towards Christ.73 But the Law's powerlessness to save man deprived of
the divine "likeness," along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,74 enkindles a desire for
the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.
In the Kingdom and the Exile
709 The Law, the sign of God's promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and
institutions of that people to whom Abraham's faith gave birth. "If you will obey my voice and keep my
covenant, . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."75 But after David, Israel gave
in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of
the promise made to David,76 would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor
according to the Spirit.
710 The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently
the failure of the promises, which is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning
of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this
purification.77 In God's plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of
the poor that returns from the Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.
Expectation of the Messiah and his Spirit
711 "Behold, I am doing a new thing."78 Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the
expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in
the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the "consolation of Israel" and "the
redemption of Jerusalem."79
We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to
those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.
712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the "Book of Emmanuel" ("Isaiah
said this when he saw his glory,"80 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.81
713 The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all in the "Servant songs."82 These songs proclaim
the meaning of Jesus' Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many:
not as an outsider, but by embracing our "form as slave."83 Taking our death upon himself, he can
communicate to us his own Spirit of life.
714 This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following
passage from Isaiah:84
The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good tidings to the afflicted;
he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor.
715 The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God
speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of "love and
fidelity."85 St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost.86 According to these
promises, at the "end time" the Lord's Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in
them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first
creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.
716 The People of the "poor"87 - those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God's mysterious
plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah - are in the end the great achievement of
the Holy Spirit's hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ's coming. It is
this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these
poor, the Spirit is making ready "a people prepared for the Lord."88
IV. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST IN THE FULLNESS OF TIMEJohn, precursor, prophet, and baptist
717 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."89 John was "filled with the Holy Spirit
even from his mother's womb"90 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the
Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.91
718 John is "Elijah [who] must come."92 The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the
forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of "[making]
ready a people prepared for the Lord."93
719 John the Baptist is "more than a prophet."94 In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through
the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah.95 He proclaims the imminence of
the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming.96 As the Spirit of truth will
also do, John "came to bear witness to the light."97 In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion
the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels.98 "He on whom you see the
Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne
witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God."99
720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of "the divine likeness,"
prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John's baptism was for repentance; baptism in
water and the Spirit will be a new birth.100
"Rejoice, you who are full of grace"
721 Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the
Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had
prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men.
In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to
Mary.101 Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the "Seat of Wisdom."
In her, the "wonders of God" that the Spirit was to fulfill in Christ and the Church began to be
722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the
whole fullness of deity dwells bodily"102 should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace,
conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the
inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the
"Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice."103 It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the
Church, which Mary in her canticle104 lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her
the eternal Son.
723 In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father's loving goodness. Through the Holy Spirit, the
Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit's power and her faith, her virginity
became uniquely fruitful.105
724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is
the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in
the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes
725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love,107
into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi,
Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.
726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve ("mother of the
living"), the mother of the "whole Christ."108 As such, she was present with the Twelve, who "with one
accord devoted themselves to prayer,"109 at the dawn of the "end time" which the Spirit was to
inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.
727 The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that
the Son is the one anointed by the Father's Spirit since his Incarnation - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Everything in the second chapter of the Creed is to be read in this light. Christ's whole work is in fact a
joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here, we shall mention only what has to do with Jesus'
promise of the Holy Spirit and the gift of him by the glorified Lord.
728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and
Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as
when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.110 He also alludes to the Spirit
in speaking to Nicodemus,111 to the Samaritan woman,112 and to those who take part in the feast of
Tabernacles.113 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer114 and with the
witness they will have to bear.115
729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy
Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers.116 The Spirit of
truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer; he will be sent by the
Father in Jesus' name; and Jesus will send him from the Father's side, since he comes from the Father.
The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us for ever; he will remain with us. The
Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy
Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin,
righteousness, and judgment.
730 At last Jesus' hour arrives:117 he commends his spirit into the Father's hands118 at the very moment
when by his death he conquers death, so that, "raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,"119 he
might immediately give the Holy Spirit by "breathing" on his disciples.120 From this hour onward, the
mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: "As the Father has sent me, even
so I send you."121
V. THE SPIRIT AND THE CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYSPentecost
731 On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ's Passover is
fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person:
of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.122
732 On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has
been open to those who believe in him: in the humility of the flesh and in faith, they already share in
the communion of the Holy Trinity. By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world
to enter into the "last days," the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet
We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true
faith: we adore the indivisible Trinity, who has saved us.123
The Holy Spirit - God's gift
733 "God is Love"124 and love is his first gift, containing all others. "God's love has been poured into our
hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."125
734 Because we are dead or at least wounded through sin, the first effect of the gift of love is the
forgiveness of our sins. The communion of the Holy Spirit126 in the Church restores to the baptized the
divine likeness lost through sin.
735 He, then, gives us the "pledge" or "first fruits" of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity,
which is to love as "God [has] loved us."127 This love (the "charity" of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new
life in Christ, made possible because we have received "power" from the Holy Spirit.128
736 By this power of the Spirit, God's children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true
vine will make us bear "the fruit of the Spirit: . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."129 "We live by the Spirit"; the more we renounce ourselves, the
more we "walk by the Spirit."130
Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and
adopted as children, given confidence to call God "Father" and to share in Christ's grace, called
children of light and given a share in eternal glory.131
The Holy Spirit and the Church
737 The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body
of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share
in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with
his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word
to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present
the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into
communion with God, that they may "bear much fruit."132
738 Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its
sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness,
make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity (the topic of the next
All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense
blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father's and
his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and
undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us, . . . and makes all appear
as one in him. For just as the power of Christ's sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into
one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all,
leads all into spiritual unity.133
739 Because the Holy Spirit is the anointing of Christ, it is Christ who, as the head of the Body, pours
out the Spirit among his members to nourish, heal, and organize them in their mutual functions, to give
them life, send them to bear witness, and associate them to his self-offering to the Father and to his
intercession for the whole world. Through the Church's sacraments, Christ communicates his Holy and
sanctifying Spirit to the members of his Body. (This will be the topic of Part Two of the Catechism.)
740 These "mighty works of God," offered to believers in the sacraments of the Church, bear their fruit
in the new life in Christ, according to the Spirit. (This will be the topic of Part Three.)
741 "The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit
himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words."134 The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God's works, is the
master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)
IN BRIEF742 "Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!"'
743 From the beginning to the end of time, whenever God sends his Son, he always sends his Spirit:
their mission is conjoined and inseparable.
744 In the fullness of time the Holy Spirit completes in Mary all the preparations for Christ's coming
among the People of God. By the action of the Holy Spirit in her, the Father gives the world Emmanuel
"God-with-us" (Mt 1:23).
745 The Son of God was consecrated as Christ (Messiah) by the anointing of the Holy Spirit at his
Incarnation (cf. Ps 2:6-7).
746 By his Death and his Resurrection, Jesus is constituted in glory as Lord and Christ (cf. Acts 2:36).
From his fullness, he poured out the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the Church.
747 The Holy Spirit, whom Christ the head pours out on his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies
the Church. She is the sacrament of the Holy Trinity's communion with men.
6 Nicene Creed; see above, par. 465.
7 1 Cor 2:11.
8 Jn 16:13.
9 Jn 14:17.
10 Cf. Gal 4:6.
11 Cf. Jn 3:34.
12 Jn 7:39.
13 Cf. Jn 17:22.
14 Cf. Jn 16:14.
15 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De Spiritu Sancto, 16:PG 45,1321A-B.
16 Cf. Mt 28:19.
17 Jn 3:5-8.
18 Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7.
19 Cf. 1 Jn 2:1.
20 Jn 16:13.
21 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.
22 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.
23 Rom 8:9.
24 2 Cor 3:17.
25 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.
26 1 Pet 4:14.
27 1 Cor 12:13.
28 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.
29 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.
30 Cf. 1 Jn 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.
31 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.
32 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.
33 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.
34 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.
35 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.
36 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.
37 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39.
38 Lk 1:17; 3:16.
39 Lk 12:49.
40 Acts 2:3-4.
41 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr.
K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577
42 1 Thess 5:1.
43 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.
44 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.
45 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2.
46 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.
47 Lk 1:35.
48 Lk 9:34-35.
49 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27.
50 Jn 6:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:3.
51 Cf. Mk 6:5; 8:23; 10:16.
52 Cf. Mk 16:18; Acts 5:12; 14:3.
53 Cf. Acts 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6.
54 Cf. Heb 6:2.
55 Lk 11:20.
56 Ex 31:18; 2 Cor 3:3.
57 LH, Easter Season after Ascension, Hymn at Vespers: digitus paternae dexterae.
58 Cf. Gen 8:8-12.
59 Cf. Mt 3:16 and parallels.
60 Gal 4:4.
61 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14; Jn 5:39,46.
62 Cf. Lk 24:44.
63 Cf. Pss 33:6; 104:30; Gen 1:2; 2:7; Eccl 3:20-21; Ezek 37:10.
64 Byzantine liturgy, Sundays of the second mode, Troparion of Morning Prayer.
65 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 11:SCh 62,48-49.
66 Rom 3:23.
67 Cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7.
68 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.
69 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.
70 Cf. Jn 11:52.
71 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.
72 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.
73 Gal 3:24.
74 Cf. Rom 3:20.
75 Ex 19:5-6; Cf. 1 Pet 2:9.
76 Cf. 2 Sam 7; Ps 89; Lk 1:32-33.
77 Cf. Lk 24:26.
78 Isa 43:19.
79 Cf. Zeph 2:3; Lk 2:25,38.
80 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.
81 Isa 11:1-2.
82 Cf. Isa 42:1-9; cf. Mt 12:18-21; Jn 1:32-34; then cf. Isa 49:1-6; cf. Mt 3:17; Lk 2:32; finally cf. Isa 50:4-
10 and Isa 52:13-53:12.
83 Phil 2:7.
84 Isa 61:1-2; cf. Lk 4:18-19.
85 Cf. Ezek 11:19; 36:25-28; 37:1-14; Jer 31:31-34; and cf. Joel 3:1-5.
86 Cf. Acts 2:17-21.
87 Cf. Zeph 2:3; Pss 22:27; 34:3; Isa 49:13; 61:1; etc.
88 Lk 1:17.
89 Jn 1:6.
90 Lk 1:15, 41.
91 Cf. Lk 1:68.
92 Mt 17:10-13; cf. Lk 1:78.
93 Lk 1:17.
94 Lk 7:26.
95 Cf. Mt 11:13-14.
96 Jn 1:23; cf. Isa 40:1-3.
97 Jn 1:7; cf. Jn 15:26; 5:35.
98 Cf. 1 Pet 1:10-12.
99 Jn 1:33-36.
100 Cf. Jn 3:5.
101 Cf. Prov 8:1-9:6; Sir 24.
102 Col 2:9.
103 Cf. Zeph 3:14; Zech 2:14.
104 Cf. Lk 1:46-55.
105 Cf. Lk 1:26-38; Rom 4:18-21; Gal 4:26-28.
106 Cf. Lk 1:15-19; Mt 2:11.
107 Cf. Lk 2:14.
108 Cf. Jn 19:25-27.
109 Acts 1:14.
110 Cf. Jn 6:27,51,62-63.
111 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.
112 Cf. Jn 4:10,14,23-24.
113 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.
114 Cf. Lk 11:13.
115 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.
116 Cf. Jn 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17:26.
117 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.
118 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.
119 Rom 6:4.
120 Cf. Jn 20:22.
121 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.
122 Cf. Acts 2:33-36.
123 Byzantine liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion, repeated after communion.
124 1 Jn 4:8,1.
125 Rom 5:5.
126 2 Cor 13:14.
127 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.
128 Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13.
129 Gal 5:22-23.
130 Gal 5:25; cf. Mt 16:24-26.
131 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 15,36:PG 32,132.
132 Jn 15:8,16.
133 St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Jo. ev., 11,11:PG 74,561.
134 Rom 8:26.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"748 "Christ is the light of humanity; and it is, accordingly, the heart-felt desire of this sacred Council,
being gathered together in the Holy Spirit, that, by proclaiming his Gospel to every creature, it may
bring to all men that light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church."135 These words open the
Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. By choosing this starting point, the
Council demonstrates that the article of faith about the Church depends entirely on the articles
concerning Christ Jesus. The Church has no other light than Christ's; according to a favorite image of
the Church Fathers, the Church is like the moon, all its light reflected from the sun.
749 The article concerning the Church also depends entirely on the article about the Holy Spirit, which
immediately precedes it. "Indeed, having shown that the Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness,
we now confess that it is he who has endowed the Church with holiness."136 The Church is, in a phrase
used by the Fathers, the place "where the Spirit flourishes."137
750 To believe that the Church is "holy" and "catholic," and that she is "one" and "apostolic" (as the
Nicene Creed adds), is inseparable from belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the
Apostles' Creed we profess "one Holy Church" (Credo . . . Ecclesiam), and not to believe in the Church,
so as not to confuse God with his works and to attribute clearly to God's goodness all the gifts he has
bestowed on his Church.138
135 LG 1; cf. Mk 16:15.
136 Roman Catechism I,10,1.
137 St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 35: SCh 11,118.
138 Roman Catechism I,10,22.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"Paragraph 1. The Church in God's Plan
I. NAMES AND IMAGES OF THE CHURCH751 The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to "call out of") means a convocation
or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose.139 Ekklesia is
used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above
all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his
holy people.140 By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as
heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth.
The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are
derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."
752 In Christian usage, the word "church" designates the liturgical assembly,141 but also the local
community142 or the whole universal community of believers.143 These three meanings are inseparable.
"The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is
made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the
Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.
Symbols of the Church
753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of
the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a
profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because
Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.144 Around this center are
grouped images taken "from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of
building or from family life and marriage."145
754 "The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is
also the flock of which God himself foretold that he would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even
though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ himself, the Good
Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep.146
755 "The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows
whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been
brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by
the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that
is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.147
756 "Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone
which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church
is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names
to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the
dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places
of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the
liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this
holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew,
prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.148
757 "The Church, further, which is called 'that Jerusalem which is above' and 'our mother', is described
as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ 'loved and for whom he delivered
himself up that he might sanctify her.' It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance,
and whom he constantly 'nourishes and cherishes.'"149
II. THE CHURCH'S ORIGIN, FOUNDATION AND MISSION758 We begin our investigation of the Church's mystery by meditating on her origin in the Holy Trinity's
plan and her progressive realization in history.
A plan born in the Father's heart
759 "The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom
and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life,"150
to which he calls all men in his Son. "The Father . . . determined to call together in a holy Church those
who should believe in Christ."151 This "family of God" is gradually formed and takes shape during the
stages of human history, in keeping with the Father's plan. In fact, "already present in figure at the
beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of
Israel and the old Advance. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the
outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time."152
The Church- foreshadowed from the world's beginning
760 Christians of the first centuries said, "The world was created for the sake of the Church."153 God
created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the
"convocation" of men in Christ, and this "convocation" is the Church. The Church is the goal of all
things,154 and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions
and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give
Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men,
and it is called "the Church."155
The Church - prepared for in the Old Covenant
761 The gathering together of the People of God began at the moment when sin destroyed the
communion of men with God, and that of men among themselves. The gathering together of the
Church is, as it were, God's reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This reunification is achieved
secretly in the heart of all peoples: "In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is
acceptable" to God.156
762 The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when he calls
Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people.157 Its immediate preparation
begins with Israel's election as the People of God. By this election, Israel is to be the sign of the future
gathering of All nations.158 But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant and behaving like a
prostitute. They announce a new and eternal covenant. "Christ instituted this New Covenant."159
The Church - instituted by Christ Jesus
763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its
accomplishment was the reason for his being sent.160 "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by
preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the
scriptures."161 To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church
"is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."162
764 "This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ."163
To welcome Jesus' word is to welcome "the Kingdom itself."164 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom
are the "little flock" of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he
is.165 They form Jesus' true family.166 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new
"way of acting" and a prayer of their own.167
765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully
achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head.168 Representing the
twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.169 The Twelve and the
other disciples share in Christ's mission and his power, but also in his lot.170 By all his actions, Christ
prepares and builds his Church.
766 The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the
institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are
symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."171 "For it
was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the
'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'"172 As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so
the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.173
The Church - revealed by the Holy Spirit
767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit
was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the
Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through
preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature
is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176
768 So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit "bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and
charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her."177 "Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of
her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the
mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is
on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."178
The Church - perfected in glory
769 "The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,"179 at the time of Christ's
glorious return. Until that day, "the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world's
persecutions and God's consolations."180 Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord,
and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will "be united in glory with her king."181 The
Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will "all
the just from the time of Adam, 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,' . . . be gathered
together in the universal Church in the Father's presence."182
III. THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH770 The Church is in history, but at the same time she transcends it. It is only "with the eyes of faith"183
that one can see her in her visible reality and at the same time in her spiritual reality as bearer of divine
The Church - both visible and spiritual
771 "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the
community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth
and grace to all men."184 The Church is at the same time:
- a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
- the visible society and the spiritual community;
- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches."185
These dimensions together constitute "one complex reality which comes together from a human and a
The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities,
zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so
constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible
to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the
object of our quest.187
O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and
celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both
object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of
Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven's
beauty has adorned her.188
The Church - mystery of men's union with God
772 It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God's plan: "to
unite all things in him."189 St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church "a great mystery."
Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.190
Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: "Christ in you, the hope of glory."191
773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the "love [that] never ends," is the purpose
which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.192 "[The
Church's] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members. And holiness is measured
according to the 'great mystery' in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the
Bridegroom."193 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church's mystery as "the bride
without spot or wrinkle."194 This is why the "Marian" dimension of the Church precedes the
The universal Sacrament of Salvation
774 The Greek word mysterion was translated into Latin by two terms: mysterium and sacramentum.
In later usage the term sacramentum emphasizes the visible sign of the hidden reality of salvation
which was indicated by the term mysterium. In this sense, Christ himself is the mystery of salvation:
"For there is no other mystery of God, except Christ."196 The saving work of his holy and sanctifying
humanity is the sacrament of salvation, which is revealed and active in the Church's sacraments (which
the Eastern Churches also call "the holy mysteries"). The seven sacraments are the signs and
instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which
is his Body. The Church, then, both contains and communicates the invisible grace she signifies. It is in
this analogical sense, that the Church is called a "sacrament."
775 "The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament - a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God
and of unity among all men."197 The Church's first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of
men with God. Because men's communion with one another is rooted in that union with God, the
Church is also the sacrament of the unity of the human race. In her, this unity is already begun, since
she gathers men "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues";198 at the same time, the
Church is the "sign and instrument" of the full realization of the unity yet to come.
776 As sacrament, the Church is Christ's instrument. "She is taken up by him also as the instrument for
the salvation of all," "the universal sacrament of salvation," by which Christ is "at once manifesting and
actualizing the mystery of God's love for men."199 The Church "is the visible plan of God's love for
humanity," because God desires "that the whole human race may become one People of God, form
one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit."200
IN BRIEF777 The word "Church" means "convocation." It designates the assembly of those whom God's Word
"convokes," i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the
Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.
778 The Church is both the means and the goal of God's plan: prefigured in creation, prepared for in
the Old Covenant, founded by the words and actions of Jesus Christ, fulfilled by his redeeming cross
and his Resurrection, the Church has been manifested as the mystery of salvation by the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit. She will be perfected in the glory of heaven as the assembly of all the redeemed of the
earth (cf. Rev 14:4).
779 The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She
is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can
780 The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the
communion of God and men.
139 Cf. Acts 19:39.
140 Cf. Ex 19.
141 Cf. 1 Cor 11:18; 14:19,28,34,35.
142 Cf. 1 Cor 1:2; 16:1.
143 Cf. 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6.
144 Cf. Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; LG 9.
145 LG 6.
146 LG 6; cf. Jn 10:1-10; Isa 40:11; Ezek 34:11-31; Jn 10:11; 1 Pet 5:4; Jn 10:11-16.
147 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.
148 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Mt 21:42 and parallels; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7; Ps 118:22; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 3:15;
Eph 2:19-22; Rev 21:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 21:1-2.
149 LG 6; Cf. Gal 4:26; Rev 12:17; 19:7; 21:2,9; 22:17; Eph 5:25-26,29.
150 LG 2.
151 LG 2.
152 LG 2.
153 Pastor Hermae, Vision 2,4,1:PG 2,899; cf. Aristides, Apol. 16,6; St. Justin, Apol. 2,7:PG 6,456;
Tertullian, Apol. 31,3; 32,1:PL 1,508-509.
154 Cf. St. Epiphanius, Panarion 1,1,5:PG 41,181C.
155 Clement of Alex., Pæd. 1,6,27:PG 8,281.
156 Acts 10:35; cf. LG 9; 13; 16.
157 Cf. Gen 12:2; 15:5-6.
158 Cf. Ex 19:5-6; Deut 7:6; Isa 2:2-5; Mic 4:1-4.
159 LG 9; cf. Hos 1; Isa 1:2-4; Jer 2; 31:31-34; Isa 55:3.
160 Cf. LG 3; AG 3.
161 LG 5.
162 LG 3.
163 LG 5.
164 LG 5.
165 Lk 12:32; cf. Mt 10:16; 26:31; Jn 10:1-21.
166 Cf. Mt 12:49.
167 Cf. Mt 5-6.
168 Cf. Mk 3:14-15.
169 Cf. Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; Rev 21:12-14.
170 Cf. Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1-2; Mt 10:25; Jn 15:20.
171 LG 3; cf. Jn 19:34.
172 SC 5.
173 Cf. St. Ambrose, In Luc. 2,85-89:PL 15,1666-1668.
174 LG 4; cf. Jn 17:4.
175 AG 4.
176 Cf. Mt 28:19-20; AG 2; 5-6.
177 LG 4.
178 LG 5.
179 LG 48.
180 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei, 18,51:PL 41,614; cf. LG 8.
181 LG 5; Cf. 6; 2 Cor 5:6.
182 LG 2.
183 Roman Catechism I,10,20.
184 LG 8 § 1.
185 LG 8.
186 LG 8.
187 SC 2; cf. Heb 13:14.
188 St. Bernard of Clairvaux, In Cant. Sermo 27:14:PL 183:920D.
189 Eph 1:10.
190 Eph 5:32; 3:9-11; 5:25-27.
191 Col 1:27.
192 1 Cor 13:8; cf. LG 48.
193 John Paul II, MD 27.
194 Eph 5:27.
195 Cf. John Paul II, MD 27.
196 St. Augustine, Ep. 187,11,34:PL 33,846.
197 LG 1.
198 Rev 7:9.
199 LG 9 § 2,48 § 2; GS 45 § 1.
200 Paul VI, June 22, 1973; AG 7 § 2; cf. LG 17.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"
I. THE CHURCH - PEOPLE OF GOD781 "At all times and in every race, anyone who fears God and does what is right has been acceptable
to him. He has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond
or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve
him in holiness. He therefore chose the Israelite race to be his own people and established a covenant
with it. He gradually instructed this people. . . . All these things, however, happened as a preparation
for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ . . . the New
Covenant in his blood; he called together a race made up of Jews and Gentiles which would be one, not
according to the flesh, but in the Spirit."201
Characteristics of the People of God
782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious,
ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:
- It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for
himself from those who previously were not a people: "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy
- One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being "born anew," a birth "of
water and the Spirit,"203 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.
- This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing,
the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is "the messianic people."
- "The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the
Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple."
- "Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us."204 This is the "new" law of the Holy
- Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.206 This people is "a most sure seed of unity,
hope, and salvation for the whole human race."
- Its destiny, finally, "is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which
must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time."207
A priestly, prophetic, and royal people
783 Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest,
prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the
responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them.208
784 On entering the People of God through faith and Baptism, one receives a share in this people's
unique, priestly vocation: "Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, has made this new
people 'a kingdom of priests to God, his Father.' The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the
Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood."209
785 "The holy People of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office," above all in the supernatural
sense of faith that belongs to the whole People, lay and clergy, when it "unfailingly adheres to this faith
. . . once for all delivered to the saints,"210 and when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ's
witness in the midst of this world.
786 Finally, the People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing
all men to himself through his death and Resurrection.211 Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made
himself the servant of all, for he came "not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom
for many."212 For the Christian, "to reign is to serve him," particularly when serving "the poor and the
suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder."213 The People
of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.
The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy
Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all
spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in
Christ's priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to
God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the
spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart?214
II. THE CHURCH - BODY OF CHRISTThe Church is communion with Jesus
787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the
Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.215 Jesus spoke of a still
more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: "Abide in me, and I in you.
. . . I am the vine, you are the branches."216 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion
between his own body and ours: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in
788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He
promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.218 As a result communion
with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: "By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically
constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation."219
789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and
his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the
Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each
other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of
790 Believers who respond to God's word and become members of Christ's Body, become intimately
united with him: "In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who,
through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and
glorification."220 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ's death and Resurrection,
and the Eucharist, by which "really sharing in the body of the Lord, . . . we are taken up into
communion with him and with one another."221
791 The body's unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: "In the building up of Christ's
Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to
his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the
Church."222 The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: "From
this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one
member is honored, all the members together rejoice."223 Finally, the unity of the Mystical Body
triumphs over all human divisions: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you
are all one in Christ Jesus."224
"Christ is the Head of this Body"
792 Christ "is the head of the body, the Church."225 He is the principle of creation and redemption.
Raised to the Father's glory, "in everything he [is] preeminent,"226 especially in the Church, through
whom he extends his reign over all things.
793 Christ unites us with his Passover: all his members must strive to resemble him, "until Christ be
formed" in them.227 "For this reason we . . . are taken up into the mysteries of his life, . . . associated
with his sufferings as the body with its head, suffering with him, that with him we may be glorified."228
794 Christ provides for our growth: to make us grow toward him, our head,229 he provides in his Body,
the Church, the gifts and assistance by which we help one another along the way of salvation.
795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one
with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself.
Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have
become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole
man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and
members" mean? Christ and the Church.230
Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to
Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.232
A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense
of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and
we shouldn't complicate the matter."233
The Church is the Bride of Christ
796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of
the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and
bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and
announced by John the Baptist.234 The Lord referred to himself as the "bridegroom."235 The Apostle
speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride "betrothed" to
Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.236 The Church is the spotless bride of the
spotless Lamb.237 "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her."238
He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own
This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or
members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis)
and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? "The two will become one
flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church."240 And the Lord
himself says in the Gospel: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."241 They are, in fact, two
different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . as head, he calls himself the
bridegroom, as body, he calls himself "bride."242
III. THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT797 "What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the
Church."243 "To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts
of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is
in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members."244 The Holy
Spirit makes the Church "the temple of the living God":245
Indeed, it is to the Church herself that the "Gift of God" has been entrusted. . . . In it is in her
that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit, the pledge of
incorruptibility, the strengthening of our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God. . . . For
where the Church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and
798 The Holy Spirit is "the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body."247
He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity:248 by God's Word "which is able to build
you up";249 by Baptism, through which he forms Christ's Body;250 by the sacraments, which give growth
and healing to Christ's members; by "the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his
gifts";251 by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special
graces (called "charisms"), by which he makes the faithful "fit and ready to undertake various tasks and
offices for the renewal and building up of the Church."252
799 Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly
or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the
needs of the world.
800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members
of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of
the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full
conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true
measure of all charisms.253
801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from
being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. "Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the
Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,"254 so that all the diverse and complementary
charisms work together "for the common good."255
IN BRIEF802 Christ Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of
his own" (Titus 2:14).
803 "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (1 Pet 2:9).
804 One enters into the People of God by faith and Baptism. "All men are called to belong to the new
People of God" (LG 13), so that, in Christ, "men may form one family and one People of God" (AG 1).
805 The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the
Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his
806 In the unity of this Body, there is a diversity of members and functions. All members are linked to
one another, especially to those who are suffering, to the poor and persecuted.
807 The Church is this Body of which Christ is the head: she lives from him, in him, and for him; he lives
with her and in her.
808 The Church is the Bride of Christ: he loved her and handed himself over for her. He has purified her
by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God's children.
809 The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the soul, as it were, of the Mystical Body,
the source of its life, of its unity in diversity, and of the riches of its gifts and charisms.
810 "Hence the universal Church is seen to be 'a people brought into unity from the unity of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit'" (LG 4 citing St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat 23: PL 4, 553).
201 LG 9; cf. Acts 10:35; 1 Cor 11:25.
202 1 Pet 2:9.
203 Jn 3:3-5.
204 Cf. Jn 13:34
205 Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25.
206 Cf. Mt 5:13-16.
207 LG 9 § 2.
208 Cf. John Paul II, RH 18-21.
209 LG 10; cf. Heb 5:1-5; Rev 1:6.
210 LG 12; cf. Jude 3.
211 Cf. Jn 12:32.
212 Mt 20:28.
213 LG 8; cf. 36.
214 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4,1:PL 54,149.
215 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.
216 Jn 15:4-5.
217 Jn 6:56.
218 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.
219 LG 7.
220 LG 7.
221 LG 7; cf. Rom 6:4-5; 1 Cor 12:13.
222 LG 7 § 3.
223 LG 7 § 3; cf. 1 Cor 12:26.
224 Gal 3:27-28.
225 Col 1:18.
226 Col 1:18.
227 Gal 4:19.
228 LG 7 § 4; cf. Phil 3:21; Rom 8:17.
229 Cf. Col 2:19; Eph 4:11-16.
230 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 21,8:PL 35,1568.
231 Pope St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, præf.,14:PL 75,525A.
232 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,48,2.
233 Acts of the Trial of Joan of Arc.
234 Jn 3:29.
235 Mk 2:19.
236 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
237 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4; 5:27.
238 Eph 5:25-26.
239 Cf. Eph 5:29.
240 Eph 5:31-32.
241 Mt 19:6.
242 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4:PL 36,948-949.
243 St. Augustine, Sermo 267,4:PL 38,1231D.
244 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis:DS 3808.
245 2 Cor 6:16; cf. 1 Cor 3:16-17; Eph 2:21.
246 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,24,1:PG 7/1,966.
247 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis:DS 3808.
248 Cf. Eph 4:16.
249 Acts 20:32.
250 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.
251 LG 7 § 2.
252 LG 12 § 2; cf. AA 3.
253 Cf. 1 Cor 13.
254 LG 12; cf. 30; 1 Thess 5:12,19-21; John Paul II, Christifideles Laici,24.
255 1 Cor 12:7.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"
811 "This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and
apostolic."256 These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other,257 indicate essential
features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who,
through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to
realize each of these qualities.
812 Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But
their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican
Council noted, the "Church herself, with her marvelous propagation, eminent holiness, and
inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and
perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission."258
I. THE CHURCH IS ONE"The sacred mystery of the Church's unity" (UR 2)
813 The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the
unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit."259 The Church is
one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God
by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body."260 The Church is one because of
her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire
Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so
intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity."261 Unity is of the essence of the
What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe,
and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become
mother, and I should like to call her "Church."262
814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both
the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of
God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church's members, there
are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. "Holding a rightful place in the communion of
the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions."263 The great richness of
such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences
constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity
of the Spirit in the bond of peace."264
815 What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect
harmony."265 But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:
- profession of one faith received from the Apostles;
-common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;
- apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of
816 "The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's
pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church,
constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic
Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."267
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic
Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of
salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that
we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish
on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in
any way to the People of God."268
Wounds to unity
817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which
the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious
dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic
Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."269 The ruptures that wound the
unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is
virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul
of all believers.271
818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into
these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of
Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have
been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called
Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible
confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity,
with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these
Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of
grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ
and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276
820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the
Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the
end of time."277 Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and
work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself
prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his
disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in
us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me."278 The desire to recover the unity of all
Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.279
821 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:
- a permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the drivingforce
of the movement toward unity;280
- conversion of heart as the faithful "try to live holier lives according to the Gospel";281 for it is the
unfaithfulness of the members to Christ's gift which causes divisions;
- prayer in common, because "change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer
for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and
merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism;"'282
- fraternal knowledge of each other;283
- ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;284
- dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and
- collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind.286 "Human service" is the
822 Concern for achieving unity "involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike."287 But we must
realize "that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only
Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts." That is why we place all our hope "in the prayer
of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit."288
II. THE CHURCH IS HOLY823 "The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of
God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as 'alone holy,' loved the Church as his Bride, giving
himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the
gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God."289 The Church, then, is "the holy People of God,"290 and her
members are called "saints."291
824 United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes
sanctifying. "All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of
men in Christ and the glorification of God."292 It is in the Church that "the fullness of the means of
salvation"293 has been deposited. It is in her that "by the grace of God we acquire holiness."294
825 "The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect."295 In her
members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: "Strengthened by so many and such great
means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are
called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect."296
826 Charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it "governs, shapes, and perfects all the
means of sanctification."297
If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it
must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was
the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to
function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed
their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE
OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE - IT'S ETERNAL! 298
827 "Christ, 'holy, innocent, and undefiled,' knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of
the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of
purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."299 All members of the Church,
including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.300 In everyone, the weeds of sin will
still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.301 Hence the Church gathers
sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but still on the way to holiness:
The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no
other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move
away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity.
This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free
her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.302
828 By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue
and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her
and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.303 "The
saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's
history."304 Indeed, "holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and
829 "But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she
exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so
they turn their eyes to Mary":306 in her, the Church is already the "all-holy."
III. THE CHURCH IS CATHOLICWhat does "catholic" mean?
830 The word "catholic" means "universal," in the sense of "according to the totality" or "in keeping
with the whole." The Church is catholic in a double sense:
First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. "Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the
Catholic Church."307 In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that
she receives from him "the fullness of the means of salvation"308 which he has willed: correct and
complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The
Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost309 and will always be so until
the day of the Parousia.
831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole
of the human race:310
All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining
one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the
design of God's will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has
decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one. . . .
The character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself
whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity
and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.311
Each particular Church is "catholic"
832 "The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful,
which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the
New Testament. . . . In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of
Christ, and the mystery of the Lord's Supper is celebrated. . . . In these communities, though they may
often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and
influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted."312
833 The phrase "particular Church," which is first of all the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community
of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic
succession.313 These particular Churches "are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is
in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists."314
834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of
Rome "which presides in charity."315 "For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole
Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord."316 Indeed, "from the incarnate
Word's descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is
here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior's promise, the gates
of hell have never prevailed against her."317
835 "Let us be very careful not to conceive of the universal Church as the simple sum, or . . . the more
or less anomalous federation of essentially different particular churches. In the mind of the Lord the
Church is universal by vocation and mission, but when she put down her roots in a variety of cultural,
social, and human terrains, she takes on different external expressions and appearances in each part of
the world."318 The rich variety of ecclesiastical disciplines, liturgical rites, and theological and spiritual
heritages proper to the local churches "unified in a common effort, shows all the more resplendently
the catholicity of the undivided Church."319
Who belongs to the Catholic Church?
836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways,
belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called
by God's grace to salvation."320
837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ,
accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who -
by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and
communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the
Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not
however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body'
not 'in heart.'"321
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name
of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or
communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly
baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the
Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would
permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324
The Church and non-Christians
839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325
The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the
Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first
to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a
response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the
covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of
their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ",328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329
840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God
tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits
the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God;
the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the
latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.
841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who
acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the
faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last
842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of
the human race:
All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God
created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God.
His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the
elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331
843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the
God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be
saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for
the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332
844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image
of God in them:
Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have
exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else,
living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333
845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of
humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its
unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the
Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another
image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.334
"Outside the Church there is no salvation"
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Reformulated
positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which
is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on
earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is
present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of
faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which
men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing
that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either
to enter it or to remain in it.336
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but
who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do
his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal
848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are
ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has
the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338
Mission - a requirement of the Church's catholicity
849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal
sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is
demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men":339 "Go therefore
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always,
until the close of the age."340
850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the
eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according
to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit."341 The
ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the
Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.342
851 Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both
the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on."343
Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth";344 that is, God
wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth.
Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the
Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them
the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the
Church's mission."345 It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues
and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the
Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty
and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious
by his resurrection."346 So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."347
853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the "discrepancy existing between the
message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted."348
Only by taking the "way of penance and renewal," the "narrow way of the cross," can the People of
God extend Christ's reign.349 For "just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and
oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of
salvation to men."350
854 By her very mission, "the Church . . . travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same
earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal
by Christ and transformation into the family of God."351 Missionary endeavor requires patience. It
begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,352
continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are "a sign of God's presence in the
world,"353 and leads to the foundation of local churches.354 It must involve a process of inculturation if
the Gospel is to take flesh in each people's culture.355 There will be times of defeat. "With regard to
individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them
and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic."356
855 The Church's mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity.357 Indeed, "divisions among
Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those
of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her.
Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all
856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.359
Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and
grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God."360 They
proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up
the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from
error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."361
IV. THE CHURCH IS APOSTOLIC857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
- she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles,"362 the witnesses chosen and sent on
mission by Christ himself;363
- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 the "good
deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365
- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their
successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of
Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":366
You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son. . . .367
The Apostles' mission
858 Jesus is the Father's Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he "called to him those whom he
desired; . . . . And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent
out to preach."368 From then on, they would also be his "emissaries" (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ
continues his own mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."369 The apostles' ministry is
the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: "he who receives you receives me."370
859 Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As "the Son can do nothing of his
own accord," but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can
do nothing apart from him,371 from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the
power to carry it out. Christ's apostles knew that they were called by God as "ministers of a new
covenant," "servants of God," "ambassadors for Christ," "servants of Christ and stewards of the
mysteries of God."372
860 In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen
witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also
has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by
Jesus to them "will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source
of all life for the Church. Therefore, . . . the apostles took care to appoint successors."373
The bishops - successors of the apostles
861 "In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles]
consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing
and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy
Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and
then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry."374
862 "Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be
transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles
received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the
sacred order of bishops."375 Hence the Church teaches that "the bishops have by divine institution
taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is
listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ."376
863 The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the
other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the
whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian
vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every
activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth."377
864 "Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate"; thus the fruitfulness of
apostolate for ordained ministers as well as for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with
Christ.378 In keeping with their vocations, the demands of the times and the various gifts of the Holy
Spirit, the apostolate assumes the most varied forms. But charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all,
is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate."379
865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity,
because it is in her that "the Kingdom of heaven," the "Reign of God,"380 already exists and will be
fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in
the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he
has redeemed and made "holy and blameless before him in love,"381 will be gathered together as the
one People of God, the "Bride of the Lamb,"382 "the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven
from God, having the glory of God."383 For "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them
the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."384
IN BRIEF866 The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms
only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5), at whose
fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.
867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to
make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one
made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.
868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers
the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She
encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature" (AG 2).
869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev
21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her
through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of
870 "The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,
. . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in
communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its
visible confines"(LG 8).
256 LG 8.
257 Cf. DS 2888.
258 Vatican Council I, De Filius 3:DS 3013.
259 UR 2 § 5.
260 GS 78 § 3.
261 UR 2 § 2.
262 St. Clement Of Alexandria, Pæd. 1,6,42:PG 8,300.
263 LG 13 § 2.
264 Eph 4:3.
265 Col 3:14.
266 Cf. UR 2; LG 14; CIC, can. 205.
267 LG 8 § 2.
268 UR 3 § 5.
269 UR 3 § 1.
270 Cf. CIC, can. 751.
271 Origen, Hom. in Ezech. 9,1:PG 13,732.
272 UR 3 § 1.
273 LG 8 § 2.
274 UR 3 § 2; cf. LG 15.
275 Cf. UR 3.
276 Cf. LG 8.
277 UR 4 § 3.
278 Jn 17:21; cf. Heb 7:25.
279 Cf. UR 1.
280 Cf. UR 6.
281 UR 7 § 3.
282 UR 8 § 1.
283 Cf. UR 9.
284 Cf. UR 10.
285 Cf. UR 4; 9; 11.
286 Cf. UR 12.
287 UR 5.
288 UR 24 § 2.
289 LG 39; Cf. Eph 5:25-26.
290 LG 12.
291 Acts 9:13; 1 Cor 6:1; 16:1.
292 SC 10.
293 UR 3 § 5.
294 LG 48.
295 LG 48 § 3.
296 LG 11 § 3.
297 LG 42.
298 St. Thérèse Of Lisieux, Autobiography of a Saint, tr. Ronald Knox (London: Harvill, 1958) 235.
299 LG 8 § 3; Cf. UR 3; 6; Heb 2:17; 726; 2 Cor 5:21.
300 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.
301 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.
302 Paul VI, CPG § 19.
303 Cf. LG 40; 48-51.
304 John Paul II, CL 16,3.
305 CL 17, 3.
306 LG 65; cf. Eph 5:26-27.
307 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,311.
308 UR 3; AG 6; Eph 1:22-23.
309 Cf. AG 4.
310 Cf. Mt 28:19.
311 LG 13 §§ 1-2; cf. Jn 11:52.
312 LG 26.
313 Cf. CD 11; CIC, cann. 368-369; CCEO, cann. 171,1; 178; 311,1; 312.
314 LG 23.
315 St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Ad Rom. 1,1:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,192; cf. LG 13.
316 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,3,2:PG 7/1,849; Cf. Vatican Council I:DS 3057.
317 St. Maximus the Confessor, Opuscula theo.:PG 91:137-140.
318 Paul VI, EN 62.
319 LG 23.
320 LG 13.
321 LG 14.
322 LG 15.
323 UR 3.
324 Paul VI, Discourse, December 14, 1975; cf. UR 13-18.
325 LG 16.
326 Cf. NA 4.
327 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.
328 Rom 9:4-5.
329 Rom 11:29.
330 LG 16; cf. NA 3.
331 NA 1.
332 LG 16; cf. NA 2; EN 53.
333 LG 16; cf. Rom 1:21, 25.
334 St. Augustine, Serm. 96,7,9:PL 38,588; St. Ambrose, De virg. 18 118:PL 16,297B; cf. already 1 Pet
335 Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21:PL 3,1169; De unit.:PL 4,509-536.
336 LG 14; cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5.
337 LG 16; cf. DS 3866-3872.
338 AG 7; cf. Heb 11:6; 1 Cor 9:16.
339 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.
340 Mt 28:19-20.
341 AG 2.
342 Cf. John Paul II, RMiss 23.
343 2 Cor 5:14; cf. AA 6; RMiss 11.
344 1 Tim 2:4.
345 John Paul II, RMiss 21.
346 AG 5.
347 Tertullian, Apol. 50,13:PL 1,603.
348 GS 43 § 6.
349 LG 8 § 3; 15; AG 1 § 3; cf. RMiss 12-20.
350 LG 8 § 3.
351 GS 40 § 2.
352 Cf. RMiss 42 47.
353 AG 15 § 1.
354 Cf. RMiss 48-49.
355 Cf. RMiss 52-54.
356 AG 6 § 2.
357 Cf. RMiss 50.
358 UR 4 § 8.
359 Cf. RMiss 55.
360 AG 9.
361 AG 9.
362 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.
363 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.
364 Cf. Acts 2:42.
365 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.
366 AG 5.
367 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.
368 Mk 3:13-14.
369 Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18.
370 Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.
371 Jn 5:19, 30; cf. Jn 15:5.
372 2 Cor 3:6; 6:4; 5:20; 1 Cor 4:1.
373 LG 20; cf. Mt 28:20.
374 LG 20; cf. Acts 20:28; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42,44:PG 1,291-300.
375 LG 20 § 2.
376 LG 20 § 2.
377 AA 2.
378 AA 4; cf. Jn 15:5.
379 AA 3.
380 Rev 19:6.
381 Eph 1:4.
382 Rev 21:9.
383 Rev 21:10-11.
384 Rev 21:14.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"
871 "The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through
Baptism, have been constituted as the people of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers
in Christ's priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner, they are called to exercise the
mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition
proper to each one."385
872 "In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with
regard to dignity and the activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in
accord with each one's own condition and function."386
873 The very differences which the Lord has willed to put between the members of his body serve its
unity and mission. For "in the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles
and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in his name
and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ;
they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole
People of God."387 Finally, "from both groups [hierarchy and laity] there exist Christian faithful who are
consecrated to God in their own special manner and serve the salvific mission of the Church through
the profession of the evangelical counsels."388
I. THE HIERARCHICAL CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCHWhy the ecclesial ministry?
874 Christ is himself the source of ministry in the Church. He instituted the Church. He gave her
authority and mission, orientation and goal:
In order to shepherd the People of God and to increase its numbers without cease, Christ the
Lord set up in his Church a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body. The
holders of office, who are invested with a sacred power, are, in fact, dedicated to promoting
the interests of their brethren, so that all who belong to the People of God . . . may attain to
875 "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear
without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?"390 No one - no individual and no
community - can proclaim the Gospel to himself: "Faith comes from what is heard."391 No one can give
himself the mandate and the mission to proclaim the Gospel. The one sent by the Lord does not speak
and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ's authority; not as a member of the community,
but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and
offered. This fact presupposes ministers of grace, authorized and empowered by Christ. From him,
bishops and priests receive the mission and faculty ("the sacred power") to act in persona Christi
Capitis; deacons receive the strength to serve the people of God in the diaconia of liturgy, word and
charity, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate. The ministry in which Christ's emissaries
do and give by God's grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a "sacrament"
by the Church's tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.
876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely
dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly "slaves of Christ,"392 in the
image of him who freely took "the form of a slave" for us.393 Because the word and grace of which they
are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely
become the slaves of all.394
877 Likewise, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a collegial
character. In fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as "the seeds
of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy."395 Chosen together, they were also sent
out together, and their fraternal unity would be at the service of the fraternal communion of all the
faithful: they would reflect and witness to the communion of the divine persons.396 For this reason
every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of
Rome, the successor of St. Peter and head of the college. So also priests exercise their ministry from
within the presbyterium of the diocese, under the direction of their bishop.
878 Finally, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a personal character.
Although Christ's ministers act in communion with one another, they also always act in a personal way.
Each one is called personally: "You, follow me"397 in order to be a personal witness within the common
mission, to bear personal responsibility before him who gives the mission, acting "in his person" and
for other persons: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . ."; "I
absolve you . . . ."
879 Sacramental ministry in the Church, then, is a service exercised in the name of Christ. It has a
personal character and a collegial form. This is evidenced by the bonds between the episcopal college
and its head, the successor of St. Peter, and in the relationship between the bishop's pastoral
responsibility for his particular church and the common solicitude of the episcopal college for the
The episcopal college and its head, the Pope
880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, "he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent
assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them."398 Just as "by the Lord's
institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion
the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with
and united to one another."399
881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the
keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.400 "The office of binding and loosing
which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head."401 This
pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church's very foundation and is
continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.
882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and
foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful."402 "For the
Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full,
supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise
883 "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's
successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church;
but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."404
884 "The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an
ecumenical council."405 But "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least
recognized as such by Peter's successor."406
885 "This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and
universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled
under one head."407
886 "The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular
Churches."408 As such, they "exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God
assigned to them,"409 assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each
bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches.410 The bishops exercise this care first "by ruling well
their own Churches as portions of the universal Church," and so contributing "to the welfare of the
whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches."411 They
extend it especially to the poor,412 to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are
working throughout the world.
887 Neighboring particular Churches who share the same culture form ecclesiastical provinces or larger
groupings called patriarchates or regions.413 The bishops of these groupings can meet in synods or
provincial councils. "In a like fashion, the episcopal conferences at the present time are in a position to
contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegiate spirit."414
* The teaching office
888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task "to preach the Gospel of God to all
men," in keeping with the Lord's command.415 They are "heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to
Christ; they are authentic teachers" of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ."416
889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is
the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the
People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this
890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by
God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and
defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error.
Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the
truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of
infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office,
when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he
proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to
the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise
the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its
supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the
teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility
extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the
successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when,
without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they
propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of
Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with
religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.
The sanctifying office
893 The bishop is "the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood,"423 especially in the Eucharist
which he offers personally or whose offering he assures through the priests, his co-workers. The
Eucharist is the center of the life of the particular Church. The bishop and priests sanctify the Church by
their prayer and work, by their ministry of the word and of the sacraments. They sanctify her by their
example, "not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock."424 Thus,
"together with the flock entrusted to them, they may attain to eternal life."425
The governing office
894 "The bishops, as vicars and legates of Christ, govern the particular Churches assigned to them by
their counsels, exhortations, and example, but over and above that also by the authority and sacred
power" which indeed they ought to exercise so as to edify, in the spirit of service which is that of their
895 "The power which they exercise personally in the name of Christ, is proper, ordinary, and
immediate, although its exercise is ultimately controlled by the supreme authority of the Church."427
But the bishops should not be thought of as vicars of the Pope. His ordinary and immediate authority
over the whole Church does not annul, but on the contrary confirms and defends that of the bishops.
Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the
896 The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and "form" of the bishop's pastoral office. Conscious of
his own weaknesses, "the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He
should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children. . . .
The faithful . . . should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus
Christ is to the Father":428
Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the
apostles; respect the deacons as you do God's law. Let no one do anything concerning the
Church in separation from the bishop.429
II. THE LAY FAITHFUL897 "The term 'laity' is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those
who belong to a religious state approved by the Church. That is, the faithful, who by Baptism are
incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular
way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission
of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World."430
The vocation of lay people
898 "By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging
in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. . . . It pertains to them in a special way
so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may
always be effected and grow according to Christ and maybe to the glory of the Creator and
899 The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or
inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of
Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church:
Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle
of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not
only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the
faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in
communion with him. They are the Church.432
900 Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their
Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to
work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the
earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and
know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the
apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it.433
The participation of lay people in Christ's priestly office
901 "Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously
called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works,
prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if
they are accomplished in the Spirit - indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born - all these
become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist
these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping
everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering
worship by the holiness of their lives."434
902 In a very special way, parents share in the office of sanctifying "by leading a conjugal life in the
Christian spirit and by seeing to the Christian education of their children."435
903 Lay people who possess the required qualities can be admitted permanently to the ministries of
lector and acolyte.436 When the necessity of the Church warrants it and when ministers are lacking, lay
persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply for certain of their offices, namely, to
exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer Baptism, and to
distribute Holy Communion in accord with the prescriptions of law."437
Participation in Christ's prophetic office
904 "Christ . . . fulfills this prophetic office, not only by the hierarchy . . . but also by the laity. He
accordingly both establishes them as witnesses and provides them with the sense of the faith [sensus
fidei] and the grace of the word"438
To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer.439
905 Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, "that is, the proclamation of Christ
by word and the testimony of life." For lay people, "this evangelization . . . acquires a specific property
and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world."440
This witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on
the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the
906 Lay people who are capable and trained may also collaborate in catechetical formation, in teaching
the sacred sciences, and in use of the communications media.442
907 "In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people]
have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters
which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the
other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their
pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons."443
Participation in Christ's kingly office
908 By his obedience unto death,444 Christ communicated to his disciples the gift of royal freedom, so
that they might "by the self-abnegation of a holy life, overcome the reign of sin in themselves":445
That man is rightly called a king who makes his own body an obedient subject and, by governing
himself with suitable rigor, refuses to let his passions breed rebellion in his soul, for he
exercises a kind of royal power over himself. And because he knows how to rule his own person
as king, so too does he sit as its judge. He will not let himself be imprisoned by sin, or thrown
headlong into wickedness.446
909 "Moreover, by uniting their forces let the laity so remedy the institutions and conditions of the
world when the latter are an inducement to sin, that these may be conformed to the norms of justice,
favoring rather than hindering the practice of virtue. By so doing they will impregnate culture and
human works with a moral value."447
910 "The laity can also feel called, or be in fact called, to cooperate with their pastors in the service of
the ecclesial community, for the sake of its growth and life. This can be done through the exercise of
different kinds of ministries according to the grace and charisms which the Lord has been pleased to
bestow on them."448
911 In the Church, "lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this power
[of governance] in accord with the norm of law."449 And so the Church provides for their presence at
particular councils, diocesan synods, pastoral councils; the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish,
collaboration in finance committees, and participation in ecclesiastical tribunals, etc.450
912 The faithful should "distinguish carefully between the rights and the duties which they have as
belonging to the Church and those which fall to them as members of the human society. They will
strive to unite the two harmoniously, remembering that in every temporal affair they are to be guided
by a Christian conscience, since no human activity, even of the temporal order, can be withdrawn from
913 "Thus, every person, through these gifts given to him, is at once the witness and the living
instrument of the mission of the Church itself 'according to the measure of Christ's bestowal."'452
III. THE CONSECRATED LIFE914 "The state of life which is constituted by the profession of the evangelical counsels, while not
entering into the hierarchical structure of the Church, belongs undeniably to her life and holiness."453
Evangelical counsels, consecrated life
915 Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of
charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated
life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience.
It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that
characterizes the life consecrated to God.454
916 The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a "more intimate" consecration,
rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God.455 In the consecrated life, Christ's faithful, moved by
the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all
and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the
Church the glory of the world to come.456
One great tree, with many branches
917 "From the God-given seed of the counsels a wonderful and wide-spreading tree has grown up in
the field of the Lord, branching out into various forms of the religious life lived in solitude or in
community. Different religious families have come into existence in which spiritual resources are
multiplied for the progress in holiness of their members and for the good of the entire Body of
918 From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ
with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practicing the evangelical counsels. They led
lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
became hermits or founded religious families. These the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly
accepted and approved.458
919 Bishops will always strive to discern new gifts of consecrated life granted to the Church by the Holy
Spirit; the approval of new forms of consecrated life is reserved to the Apostolic See.459
The eremitic life
920 Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the
praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of
solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."460
921 They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal
intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the
Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular
call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.
Consecrated virgins and widows
922 From apostolic times Christian virgins461 and widows,462 called by the Lord to cling only to him with
greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church's approval to live in the
respective status of virginity or perpetual chastity "for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven."463
923 "Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God
by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the
Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church."464 By this solemn rite (Consecratio
virginum), the virgin is "constituted . . . a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church's love for
Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come."465
924 "As with other forms of consecrated life," the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the
world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the
state of life and spiritual gifts given to her.466 Consecrated virgins can form themselves into
associations to observe their commitment more faithfully.467
925 Religious life was born in the East during the first centuries of Christianity. Lived within institutes
canonically erected by the Church, it is distinguished from other forms of consecrated life by its
liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and
witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.468
926 Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a
gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the
Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior's bride. Religious life in its
various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time.
927 All religious, whether exempt or not, take their place among the collaborators of the diocesan
bishop in his pastoral duty.469 From the outset of the work of evangelization, the missionary "planting"
and expansion of the Church require the presence of the religious life in all its forms.470 "History
witnesses to the outstanding service rendered by religious families in the propagation of the faith and
in the formation of new Churches: from the ancient monastic institutions to the medieval orders, all
the way to the more recent congregations."471
928 "A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the
world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from
929 By a "life perfectly and entirely consecrated to [such] sanctification," the members of these
institutes share in the Church's task of evangelization, "in the world and from within the world," where
their presence acts as "leaven in the world."473 "Their witness of a Christian life" aims "to order
temporal things according to God and inform the world with the power of the gospel." They commit
themselves to the evangelical counsels by sacred bonds and observe among themselves the
communion and fellowship appropriate to their "particular secular way of life."474
Societies of apostolic life
930 Alongside the different forms of consecrated life are "societies of apostolic life whose members
without religious vows pursue the particular apostolic purpose of their society, and lead a life as
brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of
charity through the observance of the constitutions. Among these there are societies in which the
members embrace the evangelical counsels" according to their constitutions.475
Consecration and mission: proclaiming the King who is coming
931 Already dedicated to him through Baptism, the person who surrenders himself to the God he loves
above all else thereby consecrates himself more intimately to God's service and to the good of the
Church. By this state of life consecrated to God, the Church manifests Christ and shows us how the
Holy Spirit acts so wonderfully in her. And so the first mission of those who profess the evangelical
counsels is to live out their consecration. Moreover, "since members of institutes of consecrated life
dedicate themselves through their consecration to the service of the Church they are obliged in a
special manner to engage in missionary work, in accord with the character of the institute."476
932 In the Church, which is like the sacrament- the sign and instrument - of God's own life, the
consecrated life is seen as a special sign of the mystery of redemption. To follow and imitate Christ
more nearly and to manifest more clearly his self- emptying is to be more deeply present to one's
contemporaries, in the heart of Christ. For those who are on this "narrower" path encourage their
brethren by their example, and bear striking witness "that the world cannot be transfigured and
offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes."477
933 Whether their witness is public, as in the religious state, or less public, or even secret, Christ's
coming remains for all those consecrated both the origin and rising sun of their life:
For the People of God has here no lasting city, . . . [and this state] reveals more clearly to all
believers the heavenly goods which are already present in this age, witnessing to the new and
eternal life which we have acquired through the redemptive work of Christ and preluding our
future resurrection and the glory of the heavenly kingdom.478
IN BRIEF934 "Among the Christian faithful by divine institution there exist in the Church sacred ministers, who
are also called clerics in law, and other Christian faithful who are also called laity." In both groups there
are those Christian faithful who, professing the evangelical counsels, are consecrated to God and so
serve the Church's saving mission (cf. CIC, can. 207 § 1, 2).
935 To proclaim the faith and to plant his reign, Christ sends his apostles and their successors. He gives
them a share in his own mission. From him they receive the power to act in his person.
936 The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church
to him. The bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is "head of the college of bishops, the
Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth" (CIC, can. 331).
937 The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care
of souls" (CD 2).
938 The Bishops, established by the Holy Spirit, succeed the apostles. They are "the visible source and
foundation of unity in their own particular Churches" (LG 23).
939 Helped by the priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of
authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their
Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and
under the Pope.
940 "The characteristic of the lay state being a life led in the midst of the world and of secular affairs,
lay people are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a
leaven in the world" (AA 2 § 2).
941 Lay people share in Christ's priesthood: ever more united with him, they exhibit the grace of
Baptism and Confirmation in all dimensions of their personal family, social and ecclesial lives, and so
fulfill the call to holiness addressed to all the baptized.
942 By virtue of their prophetic mission, lay people "are called . . . to be witnesses to Christ in all
circumstances and at the very heart of the community of mankind" (GS 43 § 4).
943 By virtue of their kingly mission, lay people have the power to uproot the rule of sin within
themselves and in the world, by their self-denial and holiness of life (cf. LG 36).
944 The life consecrated to God is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of
poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church.
945 Already destined for him through Baptism, the person who surrenders himself to the God he loves
above all else thereby consecrates himself more intimately to God's service and to the good of the
385 CIC, Can. 204 para 1; Cf. LG 31.
386 CIC, Can. 208; Cf. LG 32.
387 AA 2.
388 CIC, Can. 207 § 2.
389 LG 18.
390 Rom 10:14:15.
391 Rom 10:17.
392 Cf. Rom 1:1.
393 Phil 2:7.
394 Cf. 1 Cor 9:19.
395 AG 5.
396 Cf. Jn 17:21-23.
397 Jn 21:22; Cf. Mt 4:19-21; Jn 1:4.
398 LG 19; cf. Lk 6:13; Jn 21:15-17.
399 LG 22; cf. CIC, can. 330.
400 Cf. Mt 16:18-19; Jn 21:15-17.
401 LG 22 § 2.
402 LG 23.
403 LG 22; cf. CD 2,9.
404 LG 22; cf. CIC, can 336.
405 CIC, can. 337 § 1.
406 LG 22.
407 LG 22.
408 LG 23.
409 LG 23.
410 Cf. CD 3.
411 LG 23.
412 Cf. Gal 2:10.
413 Cf. Apostolic Constitutions 34.
414 LG 23 § 3.
415 PO 4; cf. Mk 16:15.
416 LG 25.
417 LG 12; cf. DV 10.
418 LG 25; cf. Vatican Council I:DS 3074.
419 DV 10 § 2.
420 LG 25 § 2.
421 Cf. LG 25.
422 LG 25.
423 LG 26.
424 1 Pet 5:3.
425 LG 26 § 3.
426 LG 27; cf. Lk 22:26-27.
427 LG 27.
428 LG 27 § 2.
429 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,1:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,309.
430 LG 31.
431 LG 31 § 2.
432 Pius XII, Discourse, February 20, 1946:AAS 38 (1946) 149; quoted by John Paul II, CL 9.
433 Cf. LG 33.
434 LG 34; cf. LG 10, 1 Pet 2:5.
435 CIC, can. 835 § 4.
436 Cf. CIC, can. 230 § 1.
437 CIC, can. 230 § 3.
438 LG 35.
439 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh. III,71,4 ad 3.
440 LG 35 § 1, § 2.
441 AA 6 § 3; cf. AG 15.
442 Cf. CIC, cann. 229; 774; 776; 780; 823 § 1.
443 CIC, can. 212 § 3.
444 Cf. Phil 2:8-9.
445 LG 36.
446 St. Ambrose, Psal. 118:14:30:PL 15:1476.
447 LG 36 § 3.
448 Paul VI, EN 73.
449 CIC, can. 129 § 2.
450 Cf. CIC, cann. 443 § 4; 463 §§ 1 and 2; 492 § 1; 511; 517 § 2; 536; 1421 § 2.
451 LG 36 § 4.
452 LG 33 § 2; cf. Eph 4:7.
453 LG 44 § 4.
454 Cf. LG 42-43; PC 1.
455 Cf. PC 5.
456 Cf. CIC, can. 573.
457 LG 43.
458 PC 1.
459 Cf. CIC, can. 605.
460 CIC, can. 603 § 1.
461 Cf. 1 Cor 7:34-36.
462 Cf. John Paul II, Vita consecrata 7. 463 Mt 19:12
464 CIC, can. 604 § 1.
465 Ordo Consecrationis Virginum, Praenotanda 1.
466 Cf. CIC, can. 604 § 1; OCV Praenotanda 2.
467 Cf. CIC, can. 604 § 2.
468 Cf. CIC, cann. 607; 573; UR 15.
469 Cf. CD 33-35; CIC, can. 591.
470 Cf. AG 18; 40.
471 John Paul II, RMiss 69.
472 CIC, can. 710.
473 Pius XII, Provida Mater; cf. PC 11.
474 Cf. CIC, can. 713 § 2.
475 Cf. CIC, can. 731 §§ 1 and 2.
476 CIC, can. 783; cf. RM 69.
477 LG 31 § 2.
478 LG 44 § 3.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"
946 After confessing "the holy catholic Church," the Apostles' Creed adds "the communion of saints."
In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: "What is the Church if not the
assembly of all the saints?"479 The communion of saints is the Church.
947 "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others. . . . We
must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important
member is Christ, since he is the head. . . . Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the
members, through the sacraments."480 "As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the
goods she has received necessarily become a common fund."481
948 The term "communion of saints" therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy
things (sancta)" and "among holy persons (sancti)."
Sancta sanctis! ("God's holy gifts for God's holy people") is proclaimed by the celebrant in most
Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion.
The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ's holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion
of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.
I. COMMUNION IN SPIRITUAL GOODS949 In the primitive community of Jerusalem, the disciples "devoted themselves to the apostles'
teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers."482
Communion in the faith. The faith of the faithful is the faith of the Church, received from the apostles.
Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared.
950 Communion of the sacraments. "The fruit of all the sacraments belongs to all the faithful. All the
sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and
above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church. The communion of saints must be
understood as the communion of the sacraments. . . . The name 'communion' can be applied to all of
them, for they unite us to God. . . . But this name is better suited to the Eucharist than to any other,
because it is primarily the Eucharist that brings this communion about."483
951 Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit "distributes special
graces among the faithful of every rank" for the building up of the Church.484 Now, "to each is given the
manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."485
952 "They had everything in common."486 "Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good
possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help
of the needy . . . and of their neighbors in want."487 A Christian is a steward of the Lord's goods.488
953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us
dies to himself."489 "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice
together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."490 "Charity does not insist on
its own way."491 In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of
saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this
II. THE COMMUNION OF THE CHURCH OF HEAVEN AND EARTH954 The three states of the Church. "When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death
will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are
pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating
'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is"':492
All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards
God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are
of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.493
955 "So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no
way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is
reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods."494
956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix
the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as
they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and
men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."495
Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more
effectively than during my life.496
I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.497
957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of
those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of
the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow
pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as
from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself"498:
We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and
rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be
their companions and fellow disciples!499
958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of
Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has
honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome
thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for
them."500 Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession
for us effective.
959 In the one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most
Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the
deepest vocation of the Church."501
IN BRIEF960 The Church is a "communion of saints": this expression refers first to the "holy things" (sancta),
above all the Eucharist, by which "the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both
represented and brought about" (LG 3).
961 The term "communion of saints" refers also to the communion of "holy persons" (sancti) in Christ
who "died for all," so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.
962 "We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the
dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we
believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our
prayers" (Paul VI, CPG § 30).
479 Nicetas, Expl. Symb., 10:PL 52:871B.
480 St. Thomas Aquinas, Symb., 10.
481 Roman Catechism I, 10,24.
482 Acts 2:42.
483 Roman Catechism I, 10,24.
484 LG 12 § 2.
485 1 Cor 12:7.
486 Acts 4:32.
487 Roman Catechism I, 10,27.
488 Cf. Lk 16:1, 3.
489 Rom 14:7.
490 1 Cor 12:26-27.
491 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.
492 LG 49; cf. Mt 25:31; 1 Cor 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1305.
493 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.
494 LG 49.
495 LG 49; cf. 1 Tim 2:5.
496 St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.
497 St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102.
498 LG 50; cf. Eph 4:1-6.
499 Martyrium Polycarpi, 17:Apostolic Fathers II/3,396.
500 LG 50; cf. 2 Macc 12:45.
501 LG 51; cf. Heb 3:6.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"Paragraph 6. Mary - Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church
963 Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now
to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. "The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored
as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer. . . . She is 'clearly the mother of the members of
Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who
are members of its head."502 "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church."503
I. MARY'S MOTHERHOOD WITH REGARD TO THE CHURCHWholly united with her Son . . .
964 Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This
union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's
virginal conception up to his death";504 it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:
Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her
union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring
with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her
mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be
given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words:
"Woman, behold your son."505
965 After her Son's Ascension, Mary "aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers."506 In her
association with the apostles and several women, "we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift
of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation."507
. . . also in her Assumption
966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her
earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as
Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and
conqueror of sin and death."508 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her
Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother
of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your
prayers, will deliver our souls from death.509
. . . she is our Mother in the order of grace
967 By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every
prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a
"preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization"
(typus)510 of the Church.
968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way
she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring
supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace."511
969 "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which
she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until
the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by
her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed
Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."512
970 "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of
Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth
from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and
draws all its power from it."513 "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and
Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the
faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the
unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation
which is but a sharing in this one source."514
* II. DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to
Christian worship."515 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the
most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose
protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs
essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the
Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."516 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God
and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the
III. MARY - ESCHATOLOGICAL ICON OF THE CHURCH972 After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to
conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on
her own "pilgrimage of faith," and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There,
"in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity," "in the communion of all the saints,"518 the
Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.
In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in
heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come.
Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope
and comfort to the pilgrim People of God.519
IN BRIEF973 By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was
already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is
Savior and head of the Mystical Body.
974 The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up
body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection,
anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.
975 "We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven
to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ" (Paul VI, CPG § 15).
502 LG 53; cf. St. Augustine, De virg. 6:PL 40,399.
503 Paul VI, Discourse, November 21, 1964.
504 LG 57.
505 LG 58; cf. Jn 19:26-27.
506 LG 69.
507 LG 59.
508 LG 59; cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950):DS 3903; cf. Rev 19:16.
509 Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion, Feast of the Dormition, August 15th.
510 LG 53; 63.
511 LG 61.
512 LG 62.
513 LG 60.
514 LG 62.
515 Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56.
516 LG 66.
517 Cf. Paul VI, MC 42; SC 103.
518 LG 69.
519 LG 68; Cf. 2 Pet 3 10.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS"976 The Apostle's Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit,
but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to
his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: "Receive the
Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are
(Part Two of the catechism will deal explicitly with the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, the
sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Here it will suffice to
suggest some basic facts briefly.)
* I. ONE BAPTISM FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS977 Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism: "Go into all the world and preach the
gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved."521 Baptism is the first and
chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose
for our justification, so that "we too might walk in newness of life."522
978 "When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the
forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing
left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any
penalty to suffer in order to expiate them. . . . Yet the grace of Baptism delivers no one from all the
weakness of nature. On the contrary, we must still combat the movements of concupiscence that
never cease leading us into evil "523
979 In this battle against our inclination towards evil, who could be brave and watchful enough to
escape every wound of sin? "If the Church has the power to forgive sins, then Baptism cannot be her
only means of using the keys of the Kingdom of heaven received from Jesus Christ. The Church must be
able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their
980 It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the
Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers "a laborious kind of baptism." This
sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as
Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.525
II. THE POWER OF THE KEYS981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles "so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should
be preached in his name to all nations."526 The apostles and their successors carry out this "ministry of
reconciliation," not only by announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling
them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism,
and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from
[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be
forgiven through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead
through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.528
982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however
wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.529
Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to
anyone who turns away from sin.530
983 Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the
risen Christ's gift to his Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through the ministry of the
apostles and their successors:
The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power: that his lowly servants accomplish
in his name all that he did when he was on earth.531
Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels .
. . . God above confirms what priests do here below.532
Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or
eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift.533
IN BRIEF984 The Creed links "the forgiveness of sins" with its profession of faith in the Holy Spirit, for the risen
Christ entrusted to the apostles the power to forgive sins when he gave them the Holy Spirit.
985 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died
and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit.
986 By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it
through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance.
987 "In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus
Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us
the grace of justification" (Roman Catechism, I, 11, 6).
520 Jn 20:22-23.
521 Mk 16:15-16.
522 Rom 6:4; Cf. 4:25.
523 Roman Catechism I, 11,3.
524 Roman Catechism I, 11,4.
525 Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1672; Cf. St. Gregory Of Nazianzus, Oratio 39,17:PG 36,356.
526 Lk 24:47.
527 2 Cor 5:18.
528 St. Augustine, Sermo 214,11:PL 38,1071-1072.
529 Roman Catechism I, 11, 5.
530 Cf. Mt 18:21-22.
531 Cf. St. Ambrose, De poenit. I, 15:PL 16,490.
532 John Chrysostom, De sac. 3, 5:PG 48,643.
533 St. Augustine, Sermo 213, 8:PL 38,1064.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY"988 The Christian Creed - the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action - culminates in the proclamation of the
resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting.
989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for
ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on
the last day.534 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus
from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.535
990 The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.536 The "resurrection of the
flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on
after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again.537
991 Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its
beginnings. "The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live."538
How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no
resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our
preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.539
I. CHRIST'S RESURRECTION AND OURSThe progressive revelation of the Resurrection
992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily
resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the
whole man, soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his
covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the
resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:
The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died
for his laws.540 One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that
God gives of being raised again by him.541
993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord's contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it
firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know
neither the scriptures nor the power of God?"542 Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who "is
not God of the dead, but of the living."543
994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: "I am the Resurrection
and the life."544 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him,
who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.545 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and
pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,546 announcing thereby his own Resurrection,
though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah,"547 the sign
of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.548
995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection," to "[have eaten and drunk] with
him after he rose from the dead."549 Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of
resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.
996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and
opposition.550 "On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the
resurrection of the body."551 It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues
in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to
How do the dead rise?
997 What is "rising"? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and
the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty
power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through
the power of Jesus' Resurrection.
998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, "those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and
those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."552
999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself";553 but he
did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they
now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual
But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You
foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the
body which is to be, but a bare kernel. . . . What is sown is perishable, what is raised is
imperishable. . . . The dead will be raised imperishable. . . . For this perishable nature must put
on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.555
1000 This "how" exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our
participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies:
Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no
longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other
heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but
possess the hope of resurrection.556
1001 When? Definitively "at the last day," "at the end of the world."557 Indeed, the resurrection of the
dead is closely associated with Christ's Parousia:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel's
call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.558
Risen with Christ
1002 Christ will raise us up "on the last day"; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already
risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in
the death and Resurrection of Christ:
And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith
in the working of God, who raised him from the dead . . . . If then you have been raised with
Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.559
1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen
Christ, but this life remains "hidden with Christ in God."560 The Father has already "raised us up with
him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."561 Nourished with his body in the
Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we "also will appear
with him in glory."562
1004 In expectation of that day, the believer's body and soul already participate in the dignity of
belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but
also the body of every other person, especially the suffering:
The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will
also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . .
You are not your own; . . . . So glorify God in your body.563
II. DYING IN CHRIST JESUS1005 To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must "be away from the body and at home with
the Lord."564 In that "departure" which is death the soul is separated from the body.565 It will be
reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead.566
1006 "It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt."567 In a sense bodily
death is natural, but for faith it is in fact "the wages of sin."568 For those who die in Christ's grace it is a
participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection.569
1007 Death is the end of earthly life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change,
grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life. That aspect of
death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a
limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment:
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, . . . before the dust returns to the earth
as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.570
1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the
affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's
sin.571 Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore
contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.572 "Bodily
death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man
left to be conquered.573
1009 Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part
of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete
and free submission to his Father's will.574 The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death
into a blessing.575
* The meaning of Christian death
1010 Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is
gain."576 "The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him.577 What is essentially
new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ"
sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this
"dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:
It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I
seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth. . . .
Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man.578
1011 In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like
St. Paul's: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ. "579 He can transform his own death into an act of
obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ:580
My earthly desire has been crucified; . . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and
says within me: Come to the Father.581
I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die.582
I am not dying; I am entering life.583
1012 The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church:584
Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling
lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.585
1013 Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers
him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny.
When "the single course of our earthly life" is completed,586 we shall not return to other earthly lives:
"It is appointed for men to die once."587 There is no "reincarnation" after death.
1014 The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the ancient litany of
the saints, for instance, she has us pray: "From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord";588
to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us "at the hour of our death" in the Hail Mary; and to entrust
ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.
Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day
is out. Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience. . . . Then why
not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren't fit to face death today,
it's very unlikely you will be tomorrow. . . .589
Praised are you, my Lord, for our sister bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe on those who will die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who will be found
in your most holy will,
for the second death will not harm them.590
IN BRIEF1015 "The flesh is the hinge of salvation" (Tertullian, De res. 8, 2:PL 2, 852). We believe in God who is
creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the
resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.
1016 By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible
life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. Just as Christ is risen and lives for ever, so all of
us will rise at the last day.
1017 "We believe in the true resurrection of this flesh that we now possess" (Council of Lyons II: DS
854). We sow a corruptible body in the tomb, but he raises up an incorruptible body, a "spiritual body"
(cf. 1 Cor 15:42-44).
1018 As a consequence of original sin, man must suffer "bodily death, from which man would have
been immune had he not sinned" (GS § 18).
1019 Jesus, the Son of God, freely suffered death for us in complete and free submission to the will of
God, his Father. By his death he has conquered death, and so opened the possibility of salvation to all
534 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.
535 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.
536 Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6.
537 Rom 8:11.
538 Tertullian, De res. 1,1:PL 2,841.
539 1 Cor 15:12-14.
540 2 Macc 7:9.
541 2 Macc 7:14; cf. 7:29; Dan 12:1-13.
542 Mk 12:24; cf. Jn 11:24; Acts 23:6.
543 Mk 12:27.
544 Jn 11:25.
545 Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54.
546 Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11.
547 Mt 12:39.
548 Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22.
549 Acts 1:22; 10:41; cf. 4:33.
550 Cf. Acts 17:32; 1 Cor 15:12-13.
551 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 88,5:PL 37,1134.
552 Jn 5:29; cf. Dan 12:2.
553 Lk 24:39.
554 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 801; Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:44.
555 1 Cor 15:35-37,42,52,53.
556 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,18,4-5:PG 7/1,1028-1029.
557 Jn 6: 39-40,44,54; 11:24; LG 48 § 3.
558 1 Thess 4:16.
559 Col 2:12; 3:1.
560 Col 3:3; cf. Phil 3:20.
561 Eph 2:6.
562 Col 3:4.
563 1 Cor 6:13-15,19-20.
564 2 Cor 5:8.
565 Cf. Phil 1:23.
566 Cf. Paul VI, CPG § 28.
567 GS 18.
568 Rom 6:23; cf. Gen 2:17.
569 Cf. Rom 6:3-9; Phil 3:10-11.
570 Eccl 12:1,7.
571 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.
572 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.
573 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.
574 Cf. Mk 14:33-34; Heb 5:7-8.
575 Cf. Rom 5:19-21.
576 Phil 1:21.
577 2 Tim 2:11.
578 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom.,6,1-2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,217-220.
579 Phil 1:23.
580 Cf. Lk 23:46.
581 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom.,6,1-2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,223-224.
582 St. Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 1.
583 St. Therese of Lisieux, The Last Conversations.
584 Cf. 1 Thess 4:13-14.
585 Roman Missal, Preface of Christian Death I.
586 LG 48 § 3.
587 Heb 9:27.
588 Roman Missal, Litany of the Saints.
589 The Imitation of Christ,1,23,1.
590 St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I BELIEVE IN LIFE EVERLASTING"1020 The Christian who unites his own death to that of Jesus views it as a step towards him and an
entrance into everlasting life. When the Church for the last time speaks Christ's words of pardon and
absolution over the dying Christian, seals him for the last time with a strengthening anointing, and
gives him Christ in viaticum as nourishment for the journey, she speaks with gentle assurance:
Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you.
Go forth, faithful Christian!
May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the angels and saints. . . .
May you return to [your Creator]
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life. . . .
May you see your Redeemer face to face. 591
I. THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace
manifested in Christ.592 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final
encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded
immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus
and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a
final destiny of the soul--a destiny which can be different for some and for others.593
1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in
a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaventhrough
a purification594 or immediately,595 -- or immediate and everlasting damnation.596
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.597
II. HEAVEN1023 Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ.
They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face:598
By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general
disposition of God, the souls of all the saints . . . and other faithful who died after receiving
Christ's holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, . . . or, if
they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,
. . .) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment - and this
since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven - have been, are and will be
in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of
the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and
do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation
of any creature.599
1024 This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with
the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called "heaven." Heaven is the ultimate end and
fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.
1025 To live in heaven is "to be with Christ." The elect live "in Christ,"600 but they retain, or rather find,
their true identity, their own name.601
For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.602
1026 By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has "opened" heaven to us. The life of the blessed
consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He
makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to
his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.
1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all
understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine
of the kingdom, the Father's house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: "no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him."603
1028 Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his
mystery to man's immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this
contemplation of God in his heavenly glory "the beatific vision":
How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with
sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God, . . . to delight in the
joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God's friends.604
1029 In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God's will in relation to other men
and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him "they shall reign for ever and ever."605
III. THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of
their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness
necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely
different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on
Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to
certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying
fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be
pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that
certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred
Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered
from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered
prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain
the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of
penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why
would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not
hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611
IV. HELL1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we
sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in
death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life
abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious
needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting
and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free
choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."
1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of
their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly
proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the
furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into
the eternal fire!"616
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death
the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments
of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone
man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a
call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal
destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate
is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate
is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618
Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch
constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to
enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the
wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness
where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619
1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is
necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her
faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to
Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.622
V. THE LAST JUDGMENT1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust,"623 will precede the Last
Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and
come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to
the resurrection of judgment."624 Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . .
Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the
left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."625
1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be
laid bare.626 The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has
done or failed to do during his earthly life:
All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not
keep silence.". . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . "I placed my poor little ones on
earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth
my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my
members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little
ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to
bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore
you have found nothing in my presence."627
1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the
hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will
pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of
creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his
Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice
triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than
1041 The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them "the
acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation."629 It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the
justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the "blessed hope" of the Lord's return, when he will come
"to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed."630
*VI. THE HOPE OF THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the
righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:
The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time
of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself,
which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly
re-established in Christ.631
1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world,
"new heavens and a new earth."632 It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a
single head "all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth."633
1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.634 "He will
wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor
crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."635
1045 For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which
God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been "in the nature of sacrament."636
Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, "the holy city" of God,
"the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."637 She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that
destroy or wound the earthly community.638 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an
inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual
1046 For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope
because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. . . . We know that the
whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but
we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as
sons, the redemption of our bodies.639
1047 The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, "so that the world itself, restored
to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just," sharing their
glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.640
1048 "We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man, nor the way in
which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and
we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in
which happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men."641
1049 "Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should
spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the
age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly
from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God,
insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society."642
1050 "When we have spread on earth the fruits of our nature and our enterprise . . . according to the
command of the Lord and in his Spirit, we will find them once again, cleansed this time from the stain
of sin, illuminated and transfigured, when Christ presents to his Father an eternal and universal
kingdom."643 God will then be "all in all" in eternal life:644
True and subsistent life consists in this: the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit,
pouring out his heavenly gifts on all things without exception. Thanks to his mercy, we too, men
that we are, have received the inalienable promise of eternal life.645
IN BRIEF1051 Every man receives his eternal recompense in his immortal soul from the moment of his death in
a particular judgment by Christ, the judge of the living and the dead.
1052 "We believe that the souls of all who die in Christ's grace . . . are the People of God beyond death.
On the day of resurrection, death will be definitively conquered, when these souls will be reunited with
their bodies" (Paul VI, CPG § 28).
1053 "We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise forms the
Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is and where they are also, to
various degrees, associated with the holy angels in the divine governance exercised by Christ in glory,
by interceding for us and helping our weakness by their fraternal concern" (Paul VI, CPG § 29).
1054 Those who die in God's grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of
their eternal salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to
enter the joy of God.
1055 By virtue of the "communion of saints," the Church commends the dead to God's mercy and
offers her prayers, especially the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, on their behalf.
1056 Following the example of Christ, the Church warns the faithful of the "sad and lamentable reality
of eternal death" (GCD 69), also called "hell."
1057 Hell's principal punishment consists of eternal separation from God in whom alone man can have
the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: "Lord, let me never be parted from you." If it is true
that no one can save himself, it is also true that God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4), and that
for him "all things are possible" (Mt 19:26).
1059 "The holy Roman Church firmly believes and confesses that on the Day of Judgment all men will
appear in their own bodies before Christ's tribunal to render an account of their own deeds" (Council
of Lyons II :DS 859; cf. DS 1549).
1060 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with
Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will
then be "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.
1061 The Creed, like the last book of the Bible,644 ends with the Hebrew word amen. This word
frequently concludes prayers in the New Testament. The Church likewise ends her prayers with
1062 In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word "believe." This root expresses solidity,
trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why "Amen" may express both God's
faithfulness towards us and our trust in him.
1063 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find the expression "God of truth" (literally "God of the
Amen"), that is, the God who is faithful to his promises: "He who blesses himself in the land shall bless
himself by the God of truth [amen]."645 Our Lord often used the word "Amen," sometimes repeated,646
to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching, his authority founded on God's truth.
1064 Thus the Creed's final "Amen" repeats and confirms its first words: "I believe." To believe is to say
"Amen" to God's words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is
the "Amen" of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian's everyday life will then be the
"Amen" to the "I believe" of our baptismal profession of faith:
May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything
you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day.647
1065 Jesus Christ himself is the "Amen."648 He is the definitive "Amen" of the Father's love for us. He
takes up and completes our "Amen" to the Father: "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.
That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God":649
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
God, for ever and ever.
591 OCF, Prayer of Commendation.
592 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.
593 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.
594 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304- 1306; Council of
Trent (1563):DS 1820.
595 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334):DS 990.
596 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1002.
597 St. John of the Cross, Dichos 64.
598 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.
599 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000; cf. LG 49.
600 Phil 1:23; cf. Jn 14:3; 1 Thess 4:17.
601 Cf. Rev 2:17.
602 St. Ambrose, In Luc.,10,121:PL 15 1834A.
603 1 Cor 2:9.
604 St. Cyprian, Ep. 58,10,1:CSEL 3/2,665.
605 Rev 22:5; cf. Mt 25:21,23.
606 Cf. Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820; (1547):1580; see also
Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000.
607 Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7.
608 St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4,39:PL 77,396; cf. Mt 12:31.
609 2 Macc 12:46.
610 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 856.
611 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41,5:PG 61,361; cf. Job 1:5.
612 1 Jn 3:14-15.
613 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
614 Cf. Mt 5:22,29; 10:28; 13:42,50; Mk 9:43-48.
615 Mt 13:41-42.
616 Mt 25:41.
617 Cf. DS 76; 409; 411; 801; 858; 1002; 1351; 1575; Paul VI, CPG § 12.
618 Mt 7:13-14.
619 LG 48 § 3; Mt 22:13; cf. Heb 9:27; Mt 25:13,26,30,31-46.
620 Cf. Council of Orange II (529):DS 397; Council of Trent (1547):1567.
621 2 Pet 3:9.
622 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 88.
623 Acts 24:15.
624 Jn 5:28-29.
625 Mt 25:31,32,46.
626 Cf. Jn 12:49.
627 St. Augustine, Sermo 18, 4:PL 38,130-131; cf. Ps 50:3.
628 Cf. Song 8:6.
629 2 Cor 6:2.
630 Titus 2:13; 2 Thess 1:10.
631 LG 48; Cf. Acts 3:21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13.
632 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1.
633 Eph 1:10.
634 Cf. Rev 21:5.
635 Rev 21:4.
636 Cf. LG 1.
637 Rev 21:2,9.
638 Cf. Rev 21:27.
639 Rom 8:19-23.
640 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 5,32,1:PG 7/2,210.
641 GS 39 § 1.
642 GS 39 § 2.
643 GS 39 § 3.
644 1 Cor 5:28.
645 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 18,29:PG 33,1049.
646 Cf. Rev 22:21.
647 Isa 65:16.
648 Cf. Mt 6:2,5,16; Jn 5:19.
649 St. Augustine, Sermo 58,11,13:PL 38,399.
650 Rev 3:14.
651 2 Cor 1:20.