Jesus said "I am the way the Truth and the life. How then can the Church which is the body of Christ (Rom 12:4, 1Cor 12:12, Eph 1:22 -23, 5:23, Col 1:18) be a path of error and corruption?
St. Paul teaches that the Church, the community of believers in Christ, is the body of Christ, and that Christ is the head of the Body. Under the image of head and body he vividly depicts the inner spiritual connection between Christ and His Church restored by faith, charity and grace. Ephesians 1, 22—“He hath subjected all things under His feet and hath made Him head over all the Church which is His body.” Col. 1, 18—“and He (Christ) is the head of the body, the Church.” 1 Cor. 12, 27—“Now you are the body of Christ and members of member.” (Cf. Rom. 12, 4 et seq.; Col 2, 19; Eph 4, 15 et seq.; 5, 23). This clear teaching of Sacred Scripture lives on in Tradition. Psuedo-Clement (2nd century) “It is not unknown to you that I believe that the living Church is the body of Christ.” St. Augustine answers the question: What is the Church? “The body of Christ. Add to this the Head, Christ, and it becomes a man: the head and the body, a man” (Sermon 45, 5).
The CHURCH which Jesus established on Peter is so important to Him, That our Lord went to extent of dying for HIS CHURCH, and by doing so, HE Glorified His Church:
". . . . as Christ also loved the CHURCH, and delivered himself up for it.
So then what does the Holy Bible say with regards to all the other religious organisations circulating, claiming to be the true Church of Christ?
HEBREW 6:1 FORBIDS LAYING AGAIN the foundation of coming back to Christ. Jesus established his CHURCH on Peter. So we can safely say that other foundations outside the Catholic Church are nothing more than religious organizations OUTSIDE the Mystical body of Christ, and are therefore foreign to the Creation of Jesus. These movements are condemned by the very bible they promote.
The prophets of the Old Covenant foretold the institution, in the time of the Messias, of a new Kingdom of God, which was no longer to be limited to the people of Israel, but which should encompass all peoples.
Isaias 2, 2-4 “And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go, and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judges the Gentiles, and rebuke many people…”
Micheas 4, 1-3 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared in the top of mountains, and high above the hills: and people shall flow to it. And many nations shall come in haste, and say: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob: and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth out of Sion, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem. And he shall judge many people and rebuke strong nations afar off…
Jesus did establish a new religious community. “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.” ( Matthew 16, 18). Here Jesus clearly expressed His intention of instituting a new religious community, which will be dissociated from the Synagogue. Thus, He assembled His disciples, (Matthew 4, 18 ) and chose from them twelve, “that they should be with Him and that He might send them to preach, and He gave them power to heal sickness and to cast out devils.( Mark 3, 14) In view of their task He called them Apostles, (Luke 6, 13) that is, ambassadors, agents = one sent. In long personal contact He instructed them for the preaching office, (Mark 4, 34 et Matthew 13, 52) and transferred to them a whole series of powers—the power of binding and loosing, ( Matthew 18, 17) that is, the legislative, juridical and punitive power; the power of consummating the Holy Eucharist, (Luke 22, 19) the power of forgiving sins, ( John 20, 23) and the power of baptising (Matthew 28, 19). He sent them forth into all the world with the mandate to preach His Gospel and to baptise (Mark 16, 15). Before He returned to the Father He handed His mission over to the Apostles: “As the Father hath sent me so I send you” ( John 20, 21). He appointed the Apostle Peter to be the head of the Apostles and the supreme guide of His Church (John 21, 15-17). The supranational character of the constitution which Christ established, and His developed teaching on faith and morals, which far excels that of the Old Testament, necessarily led to the secession of the primitive Christian communities from the Synagogue.
According to the teaching of St. Peter, Christ Himself is the “cornerstone,” on which the spiritual temple, which the faithful conjointly form, is built, “the foundation which has been built,” (Ephesians 2, 20) and on which the messengers of the Faith must continue to build in their missionary work (I Corinthians 3, 11) . Christ is the head of the Church (Colossians 1, 18). The Church is His property, which He has acquired with His own blood; ( Acts 20, 28) His bride, whom He has loved, and for whom He has given Himself, in order to sanctify her, and to make Himself glorious ( Ephesians 5, 25-27). True to Christ’s commission, the Apostles preached to Jews and Pagans and established Christian communities. These were bound to one another by the confession of the same faith, and by the celebration of the same liturgy under the direction of the Apostles.
The Fathers see in the Church and in her institutions generally the work of Christ. St. Clement of Rome traces the whole order of the Church back to the Apostles, from the Apostles to Christ, from Christ to God. In regard to Matthew 16, 18, St. Cyprian speaks of the building of the Church by Christ, and designates the Church as the “Church of Christ” and the “Bride of Christ” (De unit. eccl. 4 and 6 ).
And so it is clear from scripture that Christ established a Church (Ephesians 5:25), however it was not only the first generation of people to hear the gospel about whom Christ cared. The Lord is every bit as concerned about the second, tenth, and ten thousandth generation as he was the first. This is why he did not let the charism of infallibility die with the apostles. Those apostles, who were the first priests and bishops (Romans 15:15, Acts 1:20) of the Catholic Church , chose men and laid hands on them, ordaining them to be their successors as deacons, presbyters, and bishops. The succession continued. St. Paul commanded St. Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, to choose successors. "What you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well." (2 Timothy 2:2) To St. Titus, Bishop of Crete, the Apostle charges: "For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town" (Titus 1:5).
During the lives of the apostles, the ordained bishops and priests shared in the governance of the Catholic Church. For many years, St. Peter and the Twelve remained at the Mother Church, Jerusalem, while St. Paul exercised his authority in transit. When the first grave heresy arose, that of the Judaizers, St. Paul came to meet with the apostles in Jerusalem. It was not, however, the apostles alone who made the decision. Paul brought with him St. Barnabas, who is called an apostle but is not of the same rank as the Twelve and Paul. In Jerusalem they met with "the apostles and priests" (Acts 15:2). After grueling hours of unrecorded discussion regarding whether physical circumcision was necessary for salvation, St. Peter decided the matter.
And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, who knoweth the hearts, gave testimony, giving unto them the Holy Ghost as well as to us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why tempt you God to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, in like manner as they also. And the multitude held their peace;...(Acts 15:7-12a).
St. James the Righteous, who had before sympathized with the Jews, spoke, granting assent of will to the decision of St. Peter and the council. The decision was codified in a letter and written in the name of "the apostles and ancients," and stated that its ruling was the decision of the Holy Ghost.
Writing by their hands: The apostles and ancients, brethren, to the brethren of the Gentiles that are at Antioch, and in Syria and Cilicia, greeting ....For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay no further burden upon you than these necessary things: That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which things keeping yourselves, you shall do well. Fare ye well (Acts 15:23,28,29).
Since the line of succession was intended to continue, so was the charism of infallibility. That is why He has guaranteed to preserve His Catholic Church from teaching error. Since the bishops of the Catholic Church enjoy a direct traceable succession from Christ and the apostles, when they speak together on matters of faith and morals, they cannot err. Also, since our Divine Lord appointed St. Peter to be His Vicar and the visible head of the Church on earth, his successors, the Bishops of Rome, enjoy the same authority.
When promising the apostles the Holy Ghost Our Lord affirms: "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever" (Jn. 14:16). Elsewhere, our Lord promised:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt. 28:20).
Or Isaias foretold:
This is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My spirit that is in thee, and my words that I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, with the Lord, from henceforth and for ever (Is. 59:21).
Because the Holy Ghost is the soul of the Catholic Church to guide its true leaders in truth, we can have the confidence of St. Paul writing to St. Timothy:
But if I tarry long [i.e., if I am late in arriving to see you Ed.], that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15).
This Church was led by sinful and weak men, who were given charisms which enabled them to rise above their imperfections and shepherd the flock of Christ, so that God might be glorified "in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever." (Ephesians 3:21) This Church has continued through the ages. She has produced both saints and sinners, but she remains forever "the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth." (1Timothy 3:15).
In Contrast to the Old Testament community Jahweh, Jesus established a new religious community. The prophets of the Old Covenant foretold this. This New Kingdom of God, which was no longer to be limited to the people of Israel, but which would encompass all peoples (Is 2:2, Mich 4:17). Jesus makes his intentions of establishing a Church quite clear in his words to St. Peter saying (Matt 16:18) : "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church."
It is to this Church that He assembled His disciples (Mt 1:18) and chose from them twelve, "that they should be with him and that he might send them to preach, and He gave them power to heal sickness and to cast out devils" (Mk. 3:14). In view of their task He called them Apostles (Luke 6:13) that is, ambassadors, agents, plenipotentiaries. In Long personal contact He instructed them for the preaching powers - the power of binding and loosing (Mt 18:17), that is, the Eucharist (Luke 22:19), the power of forgiving sins (John 20:23) and the power of baptizing (Mt 28:19). He sent them forth into the entire world with the mandate to preach His Gospel and to baptize (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15). Before He returned to the Father He handed over His mission to the Apostles: "As the Father hath sent me so I send you" (John 20:21). He appointed the Apostle Peter to be the head of the Apostles and the supreme guide of His Church (Mt 16:18, John 21:15). The supranational character of the constitution which Christ established, and His developed teaching of faith and morals, which far exceeds that of the Old Testament, necessarily led to secession of the primitive Christian communities from the Synagogue.
The Catholic Church is the messenger of salvation to the world. She is the Covenant Family and Kingdom of prophecy. She has suffered fiery persecution from all manner of people, from pagans to heretics to misguided separated brethren to Nazis to communists. Yet, she remains forever the Sacrament of Salvation for mankind, "an unshakeable kingdom," against whom the "gates of the netherworld shall not prevail (Matt 16:18).
Note : The Word CATHOLIC comes from the Greek term "KATHOLIKOS" meaning Universal, (a Term used by religious writers since the 2ND Century). The Church is Catholic because Christ commanded that His name shall be proclaimed to all, thus this Church became Universal (Like its name). A "Roman Catholic" refers to one who is baptized and holds the Faith of the Catholic Church, whose Apostolic See is at Rome, where Sts. Peter and Paul taught and were martyred.
The earliest recorded figure who called the Church catholic was St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 50-107), using the Greek word katholicos [universal] in order to point out the universality of the Church founded by Christ as opposed to the Judaism and the false sects of the heretics. It is found for the first time in his letter written ca. 110 addressed to the people of Smyrna: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus may be there is the Universal Church."
There is another interesting reference found in St. Irenaeus (ca. 130-202), Bishop of Lyons in France: "The Catholic Church, having received the apostolic teaching and faith..." (Adversus Haereses I.x.2). Furthermore, St. Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-ca. 340) in his Historia Ecclesiastica, written in the fourth century, writes: "But the brightness of the Catholic Church proceeded to increase in greatness" (Book 4).
Finally, discussing agreement in the use of the term "catholic" in De Vera Religione, St. Augustine (354-430) notes that "whether they wish to or not, heretics have to call the Catholic Church catholic." The term was common by the fourth century, St. Augustine using it 240 times in his writings.