"You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
- The very name of the Church is Catholic, that is, universal. Even its critics admit that it is catholic. It has existed in all ages since the time of Christ, and teaches all peoples of every nation the same faith.
It was St. Ignatius (50-107 A.D.) appointed Bishop of Antioch by Saint Peter, who first used the Greek word Katholicos, meaning "universal," when referring to the Church founded by Christ; this he did in order to distinguish the True Church, already being preached throughout the world, from heretical churches that had arisen.
In the fourth century certain sectarians protested against the True Church, yet still called themselves Christians. And so Catholics began to call themselves "Catholic." In that same century St. Augustine said: "All heretics wish to call themselves Catholics; yet if you ask any of them to direct you to a Catholic church, he will not direct you to his own!"
Wherever we go, whether in Europe, America, Africa, Asia, or Australia, we shall find the Catholic Church established. Everywhere it teaches the same doctrines taught in the United States; everywhere it is ruled by the same Head recognized in the United States: the Pope.
When we say the Church is Catholic or universal, we understand that wherever it exists it must have the mark of unity. Otherwise it would not be the same body, but many separate bodies. Some heretical churches have branches in different countries, but they are really different bodies, because they change doctrines under different conditions.
- The Church everywhere teaches all the doctrines that Christ commanded His Apostles to teach.
In the Catholic Church is fulfilled the prophecy of Malachy: "From the rising of the sun to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation; for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. 1:11).
- The True Church must be so organized that it can admit all men into its communion. This the Catholic Church does. Christ founded the Church for all men, not only for a selected few, He died for all men, and wishes the fruits of His death to do good to all men. At present only the Catholic Church is to be found all over the world, ministering to all races and peoples, to all classes of the population, poor or rich, wise or ignorant, saint or sinner. The Catholic Church is the only Church for Everyman.
Most denominations are national; all are localized. For example: in Germany the Kaiser used to be the head of the Lutheran Church; in Russia the Czar used to be head of the Russian Church. The Queen of England is head of the Anglican Church.
Why is the Catholic Church apostolic?
- Pope Pius XII, our present Pope, is the direct successor of St. Peter.
He is the lawful successor of the Pope who preceded him; and thus each Pope lawfully succeeded the one before him, until we reach St. Peter, the first Pope, chosen by Christ Himself.
- All the sees founded by the Apostles perished or were interrupted, except the See of Peter alone. Where Peter is, there is the True Church founded by Our Lord.
Those denominations that broke away from the Church thus lost their connection with the Apostles. They were all begun by individuals who could never have had any authority from either Christ or the Apostles. Most of them came some 1500 years too late.
- Non-Catholic denominations claim that they did not begin new churches, but merely "reformed" the old one. In answer we ask, Did the True Church exist at the time of the founding of these new churches, or not?
If it did not, then Christ's promise to be with His Church always had failed; His Church had died, and no human reform could possibly have resurrected it. If it did exist, then those who invented new doctrines were not reforming it, but founding new churches.
- In the same way, the Church derives all its holy orders, doctrines, and mission from the Apostles. It is "built upon the foundation of the Apostles," of which Christ is the corner-stone (Eph. 2:20). It holds intact the doctrine and traditions of the Apostles, to whom Christ gave authority to teach.
St. Paul says: "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema!" (Gal. 1:8). A church which at any time denies an apostolic doctrine, discards the sacrament of Holy Orders, or breaks away from obedience to the Pope, ceases to be apostolic. It becomes a dead branch broken off from the parent vine which is Christ Himself: "I am the vine: you are the branches" (John 15:5).