Four Marks of the Church

It is my prayer that we join with Pope Francis when he said that “our Churches should be able to work together…”

I find it to be a great sadness that there is so much animosity among various Christian Churches. Even within those who lay claim to the term “Catholic,” there is so much pride and condemnation. It is in this understanding that we echo Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel of John: “that they (Christians) may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

It is okay, fine and dandy to discuss the issues that separate us! We should be encouraging dialog, especially regarding the issues that divide us.

No, as many have observed, I don’t agree with everything that is coming out of Rome these days. When issues of general concern are aired in the public forum, we should find it imperative that the truth of orthopraxy be presented as counter-point. With that stated, I do pray for the Bishop of Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, and all who are who are embracing the trend to inculcate worldly wisdom into our ancient deposit of faith.

There are important issues in our day that go way beyond our denominational or jurisdictional differences. I was roundly chastised a while back on one particular forum, not for the content of my message, but solely on the grounds that my Church is NOT Roman Catholic.

Historically speaking there has always been more than one, authentic Catholic Church, and St. Peter was not the only apostle or to pass along apostolic succession. Additionally, the Eastern Churches did not cease to be Catholic as a result of the “Great Schism.” No, they simply continued operating and practicing their rite of the Catholic Church as they had for centuries.

The same is true for Churches who trace their apostolic heritage back through the Church of Utrecht Holland or the Anglican communion for that matter  — just because we are no longer in communion with Rome, due to political machinations, not dogmatic theological issues, does not mean that we cease being Catholic.

The Catholic Church in America, along with the International Catholic Confederation proudly lays claim to the four ancient marks of Catholicism: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. We are one in Christ through our common baptism, with all professing Christians. We are Holy, in that we teach and strive to uphold God’s ideals, presented in holy scripture, tradition, and teachings of the historic church of the first millennium. We are Catholic in that we adhere to Catholic fundamentals (deposit of faith) including the Sacraments, liturgy, and doctrine. Finally, we are Apostolic, maintaining valid apostolic succession back to the Apostles, and ultimately to Jesus, from whom our authority flows.

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