The Ninth Article of the Creed
The Church in General
1 Q. What does the Ninth article: The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, teach us?
A. The Ninth Article of the Creed teaches us that Jesus Christ founded a visible society on earth called the Catholic Church, and that all those who belong to this Church are in communion with one another.
2 Q. Why immediately after the article that treats of the Holy Ghost is mention made of the Catholic Church?
A. Immediately after the article that treats of the Holy Ghost mention is made of the Catholic Church to indicate that the Church’s holiness comes from the Holy Ghost, who is the Author of all holiness.
3 Q. What does the word Church mean?
A. The word Church means a calling forth or assembly of many.
4 Q. Who has convoked or called us into the Church of Jesus Christ?
A. We have been called into the Church of Jesus Christ by a special grace of God, to the end, that by the light of faith and the observance of the divine law, we may render Him the worship due to Him, and attain eternal life.
5 Q. Where are the members of the Church to be found?
A. The members of the Church are found partly in heaven, forming the Church Triumphant; partly in purgatory, forming the Church Suffering; partly on earth, forming the Church Militant.
6 Q. Do these various parts of the Church constitute one sole Church?
A. Yes, these various parts of the Church constitute one sole Church and one sole body for they have the same Head, Jesus Christ, the same Spirit animating and uniting them, and the same end, eternal happiness, which some already enjoy and the rest hope for.
7 Q. To which part of the Church does this Ninth Article principally refer?
A. This Ninth Article of the Creed principally refers to the Church Militant, which is the Church we actually belong to.
The Church in Particular
8 Q. What is the Catholic Church?
A. The Catholic Church is the Union or Congregation of all the baptised who, still living on earth, profess the same Faith and the same Law of Jesus Christ, participate in the same Sacraments, and obey their lawful Pastors, particularly the Roman Pontiff.
9 Q. State distinctly what is necessary to be a member of the Church?
A. To be a member of the Church it is necessary to be baptised, to believe and profess the teaching of Jesus Christ, to participate in the same Sacraments, and to acknowledge the Pope and the other lawful pastors of the Church.
10 Q. Who are the lawful pastors of the Church?
A. The lawful pastors of the Church are the Roman Pontiff, that is, the Pope, who is Supreme Pastor, and the Bishops. Other priests, also, and especially Parish Priests, have a share in the pastoral office, subject to the Bishop and the Pope.
11 Q. Why do you say that the Roman Pontiff is supreme Pastor of the Church?
A. Because Jesus Christ said to St. Peter, the first Pope: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in Heaven.” And again: “Feed My lambs, feed My sheep.”
12 Q. The many societies of persons who are baptised but who do not acknowledge the Roman Pontiff as their Head do not, then, belong to the Church of Jesus Christ?
A. No, those who do not acknowledge the Roman Pontiff as their Head do not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ.
13 Q. How can the Church of Jesus Christ be distinguished from the numerous societies or sects founded by men, and calling themselves Christian?
A. From the numerous societies or sects founded by men and calling themselves Christian, the Church of Jesus Christ is easily distinguished by four marks: She is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
14 Q. Why is the Church called One?
A. The true Church is called One, because her children of all ages and places are united together in the same faith, in the same worship, in the same law; and in participation of the same Sacraments, under the same visible Head, the Roman Pontiff.
15 Q. Can there not be several Churches?
A. No, there cannot be more than one Church; for as there is but one God, one Faith and one Baptism, there is and can be but one true Church.
16 Q. But are not the faithful of a whole Nation or Diocese also called a Church?
A. The faithful of a whole Nation or Diocese are also called a Church, but they ever remain mere parts of the Universal Church and form but one Church with her.
17 Q. Why is the true Church called Holy?
A. The true church is called Holy because holy is her Invisible Head, Jesus Christ; holy are many of her members; holy are her faith, her laws, her Sacraments; and outside of her there is not and cannot be true holiness.
18 Q. Why is the Church called Catholic?
A. The true Church is called Catholic, or Universal, because she embraces the faithful of all times, of all places, of all ages and conditions; and all peoples are called to belong to her.
19 Q. Why is the Church also called Apostolic?
A. The true Church is also called Apostolic because she goes back without a break to the Apostles; because she believes and teaches all that the Apostles believed and taught; and because she is guided and governed by their lawful successors.
20 Q. And why is the true Church called Roman?
A. The true Church is called Roman, because the four marks of Unity, Sanctity, Catholicity and Apostolicity are found in that Church alone which acknowledges as Head the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter.
21 Q. What is the constitution of the Church of Jesus Christ?
A. The Church of Jesus Christ has been constituted as a true and perfect Society; and in her we can distinguish a soul and a body.
22 Q. In what does the Soul of the Church consist?
A. The Soul of the Church consists in her internal and spiritual endowments, that is, faith, hope, charity, the gifts of grace and of the Holy Ghost, together with all the heavenly treasures which are hers through the merits of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and of the Saints.
23 Q. In what does the Body of the Church consist?
A. The Body of the Church consists in her external and visible aspect, that is, in the association of her members, in her worship, in her teaching-power and in her external rule and government.
24 Q. To be saved, is it enough to be any sort of member of the Catholic Church?
A. No, to be saved it is not enough to be any sort of member of the Catholic Church; it is necessary to be a living member.
25 Q. Who are the living members of the Church?
A. The living members of the Church are the just, and the just alone, that is, those who are actually in the grace of God.
26 Q. And who are the dead members?
A. The dead members of the Church are the faithful in mortal sin.
27 Q. Can one be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church?
A. No, no one can be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church, just as no one could be saved from the flood outside the Ark of Noah, which was a figure of the Church.
28 Q. How, then, were the Patriarchs of old, the Prophets, and the other just men of the Old Testament, saved?
A. The just of the Old Testament were saved in virtue of the faith they had in Christ to come, by means of which they spiritually belonged to the Church.
29 Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?
A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation
30 Q. Suppose that a man is a member of the Catholic Church, but does not put her teaching into practice, will he be saved?
A. He who is a member of the Catholic Church and does not put her teaching into practice is a dead member, and hence will not be saved; for towards the salvation of an adult not only Baptism and faith are required, but, furthermore, works in keeping with faith.
31 Q. Are we obliged to believe all the truths the Church teaches us?
A. Yes, we are obliged to believe all the truths the Church teaches us, and Jesus Christ declares that he who does not believe is already condemned.
32 Q. Are we also obliged to do all that the Church commands?
A. Yes, we are obliged to do all that the Church commands, for Jesus Christ has said to the Pastors of the Church: “He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me.”
33 Q. Can the Church err in what she proposes for our belief?
A. No, the Church cannot err in what she proposes for our belief, since according to the promise of Jesus Christ she is unfailingly assisted by the Holy Ghost.
34 Q. Is the Catholic Church infallible, then?
A. Yes, the Catholic Church is infallible, and hence those who reject her definitions lose the faith and become heretics.
35 Q. Can the Catholic Church be destroyed or perish?
A. No; the Catholic Church may be persecuted, but she can never be destroyed or perish. She will last till the end of the world, because Jesus Christ, as He promised, will be with her till the end of time.
36 Q. Why is the Catholic Church so persecuted?
A. The Catholic Church is so persecuted because even her Divine Founder, Jesus Christ, was thus persecuted, and because she reproves vice, combats the passions, and condemns all acts of injustice and all error.
37 Q. Has a Catholic any other duties towards the Church?
A. Every Catholic ought to have a boundless love for the Church, ought to consider himself infinitely honoured and happy in belonging to her, and ought to labour for her glory and advancement by every means in his power.
The Church Teaching and the Church Taught
38 Q. Is there any distinction between the members of the Church?
A. There is a very notable distinction between the members of the Church; for there are some who rule and some who obey; some who teach and some who are taught.
39 Q. What do you call that part of the Church which teaches?
A. That part of the Church which teaches is called the Teaching Church.
40 Q. What do you call that part of the Church which is taught?
A. That part of the Church which is taught is called the Learning Church, or the Church Taught.
41 Q. Who has set up this distinction in the Church?
A. Jesus Christ Himself has established this distinction in the Church.
42 Q. Are the Church Teaching and the Church Taught, then, two churches?
A. The Church Teaching and the Church Taught are two distinct parts of one and the same Church, just as in the human body the head is distinct from the other members, and yet forms but one body with them.
43 Q. Of whom is the Teaching Church composed?
A. The Teaching Church is composed of all the Bishops, with the Roman Pontiff at their head, be they dispersed throughout the world or assembled together in Council.
44 Q. And the Church Taught, of whom is it composed?
A. The Church Taught is composed of all the faithful.
45 Q. Who, then, are they who possess the teaching power in the Church?
A. The teaching power in the Church is possessed by the Pope and the Bishops, and, dependent on them, by the other sacred ministers.
46 Q. Are we obliged to hear the Teaching Church?
A. Yes, without doubt we are obliged under pain of eternal damnation to hear the Teaching Church; for Jesus Christ has said to the Pastors of His Church, in the persons of the Apostles: “He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me.”
47 Q. Besides her teaching power has the Church any other power?
A. Yes, besides her teaching power the Church has in particular the power of administering sacred things, of making laws and of exacting the observance of them.
48 Q. Does the power possessed by the members of the Hierarchy come from the people?
A. The power possessed by the Hierarchy does not come from the people, and it would be heresy to say it did: it comes solely from God.
49 Q. To whom does the exercise of this power belong?
A. The exercise of this power belongs solely to the Hierarchy, that is, to the Pope and to the Bishops subordinate to him.
The Pope and the Bishops
50 Q. Who is the Pope?
A. The Pope, who is also called the Sovereign Pontiff, or the Roman Pontiff, is the Successor of St. Peter in the See of Rome, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, and the visible Head of the Church.
51 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Successor of St. Peter?
A. The Roman Pontiff is the Successor of St. Peter because St. Peter united in his own person the dignity of Bishop of Rome and that of Head of the Church; by divine disposition he established his Seat at Rome, and there died; hence, whosoever is elected Bishop of Rome is also heir to all his authority.
52 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Vicar of Jesus Christ?
A. The Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Jesus Christ because He represents Him on earth and acts in His stead in the government of the Church.
53 Q. Why is the Roman Pontiff the Visible Head of the Church?
A. The Roman Pontiff is the Visible Head of the Church because he visibly governs her with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, who is her invisible Head.
54 Q. What, then, is the dignity of the Pope?
A. The dignity of the Pope is the greatest of all dignities on earth, and gives him supreme and immediate power over all and each of the Pastors and of the faithful.
55 Q. Can the Pope err when teaching the Church?
A. The Pope cannot err, that is, he is infallible, in definitions regarding faith and morals.
56 Q. How is it that the Pope is infallible?
A. The Pope is infallible because of the promise of Jesus Christ, and of the unfailing assistance of the Holy Ghost.
57 Q. When is the Pope infallible?
A. The Pope is infallible when, as Pastor and Teacher of all Christians and in virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by all the Church.
58 Q. What sin would a man commit who should refuse to accept the solemn definitions of the Pope?
A. He who refuses to accept the solemn definitions of the Pope, or who even doubts them, sins against faith; and should he remain obstinate in this unbelief, he would no longer be a Catholic, but a heretic.
59 Q. Why has God granted to the Pope the gift of infallibility?
A. God has granted the Pope the gift of infallibility in order that we all may be sure and certain of the truths which the Church teaches.
60 Q. When was it defined that the Pope is infallible?
A. That the Pope is infallible was defined by the Church in the [First] Vatican Council; and should anyone presume to contradict this definition he would be a heretic and excommunicated.
61 Q. In defining that the Pope is infallible, has the Church put forward a new truth of faith?
A. No, in defining that the Pope is infallible the Church has not put forward a new truth of faith; but to oppose new errors she has simply defined that the infallibility of the Pope, already contained in Sacred Scripture and in Tradition, is a truth revealed by God, and therefore to be believed as a dogma or article of faith.
62 Q. How should every Catholic act towards the Pope?
A. Every Catholic must acknowledge the Pope as Father, Pastor, and Universal Teacher, and be united with him in mind and heart.
63 Q. After the Pope, who are they who by Divine appointment are to be most venerated in the Church?
A. After the Pope, those who by Divine appointment are to be most venerated in the Church are the Bishops.
64 Q. Who are the Bishops?
A. The Bishops are the pastors of the faithful; placed by the Holy Ghost to rule the Church of God in the Sees entrusted to them, in dependence on the Roman Pontiff
65 Q. What is a Bishop in his own diocese?
A. A Bishop in his own diocese is the lawful Pastor, the Father, the Teacher, the Superior of all the faithful, ecclesiastic and lay belonging to his diocese.
66 Q. Why is the Bishop called the lawful Pastor?
A. The Bishop is called the lawful Pastor because the jurisdiction, or the power which he has to govern the faithful of his diocese, is conferred upon him according to the laws and regulations of the Church.
67 Q. To whom do the Pope and the Bishops succeed?
A. The Pope is the successor of St. Peter. the Prince of the Apostles; and the Bishops are the Successors of the Apostles, in all that regards the ordinary government of the Church.
68 Q. Must the faithful be in union with their Bishop?
A. Yes, all the faithful, ecclesiastic and lay, should be united heart and soul with their Bishop, who is in favour and communion with the Apostolic See.
69 Q. How should the faithful act towards their own Bishop?
A. Each one of the faithful, both ecclesiastic and lay, should revere, love and honour his own Bishop and render him obedience in all that regards the care of souls and the spiritual government of the diocese.
70 Q. By whom is the Bishop assisted in the care of souls?
A. The Bishop is assisted in the care of souls by priests, and especially by Parish Priests.
71 Q. Who is the Parish Priest?
A. The Parish Priest is a priest deputed to preside over and direct with due dependence on his Bishop a portion of the diocese called a parish.
72 Q. What are the duties of the faithful towards their Parish Priest?
A. The faithful should be united with their Parish Priest, listen to him with docility, and show him respect and submission in all that regards the care of the parish.
The Communion of Saints
1 Q. What are we taught by these words of the Ninth Article: The Communion of Saints?
A. In the words The Communion of Saints, the Ninth Article of the Creed teaches us that the Church’s spiritual goods, both internal and external, are common to all her members because of the intimate union that exists between them.
2 Q. Which are the internal goods that are common in the Church?
A. The internal goods that are common in the Church are: the graces received through the Sacraments; faith, hope and charity; the infinite merits of Jesus Christ; the superabundant merits of the Blessed Virgin and of the Saints; and the fruit of all the good works done in the same Church.
3 Q. Which are the external goods that are common in the Church?
A. The external goods that are common in the Church are: the Sacraments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, public prayers, religious functions, and all the other outward practices that unite the faithful.
4 Q. Do all the children of the Church share in this communion of goods?
A. All Christians who are in the grace of God share in the communion of internal goods, while those who are in mortal sin do not participate in these goods.
5 Q. Why do not those who are in mortal sin participate in these goods?
A. Because that which unites the faithful with God, and with Jesus Christ as His living members, rendering them capable of performing meritorious works for life eternal, is the grace of God which is the supernatural life of the soul; and hence as those who are in mortal sin are without the grace of God, they are excluded from perfect communion in spiritual goods, nor can they accomplish works meritorious towards life eternal.
6 Q. Do Christians then, who are in mortal sin derive no advantage from the internal and spiritual goods of the Church?
A. Christians who are in mortal sin still continue to derive some advantage from the internal and spiritual goods of the Church, inasmuch as they still preserve the Christian character which is indelible, and the virtue of faith which is the basis of justification. They are aided, too, by the prayers and good works of the faithful towards obtaining the grace of conversion to God.
7 Q. Can those in mortal sin participate in the external goods of the Church?
A. Those in mortal sin can participate in the external goods of the Church, unless indeed they are cut off from the Church by excommunication.
8 Q. Why are the members of this Communion, taken together, called saints?
A. The members of this Communion are called saints because all are called to sanctity and have been sanctified by baptism, and because many of them have really attained perfect sanctity.
9 Q. Does the Communion of Saints extend also to heaven and purgatory?
A. Yes, the Communion of Saints also extends to heaven and purgatory, because charity unites the three Churches — the Triumphant, the Suffering and the Militant; the Saints pray to God both for us and for the souls in purgatory; while we on our part give honour and glory to the Saints, and are able to relieve the suffering souls in purgatory by applying on their behalf indulgences and other good works.
Those Outside the Communion of Saints
10 Q. Who are they who do not belong to the Communion of Saints?
A. Those who are damned do not belong to the Communion of Saints in the other life; and in this life those who belong neither to the body nor to the soul of the Church, that is, those who are in mortal sin, and who are outside the true Church.
11 Q. Who are they who are outside the true Church?
A. Outside the true Church are: Infidels, Jews, heretics, apostates, schismatics, and the excommunicated.
12 Q. Who are infidels?
A. Infidels are those who have not been baptised and do not believe in Jesus Christ, because they either believe in and worship false gods as idolaters do, or though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ, nor as to come; for instance, Mohammedans and the like.
13 Q. Who are the Jews?
A. The Jews are those who profess the Law of Moses; have not received baptism; and do not believe in Jesus Christ.
14 Q. Who are heretics?
A. Heretics are those of the baptised who obstinately refuse to believe some truth revealed by God and taught as an article of faith by the Catholic Church; for example, the Arians, the Nestorians and the various sects of Protestants.
15 Q. Who are apostates?
A. Apostates are those who abjure, or by some external act, deny the Catholic faith which they previously professed.
16 Q. Who are schismatics?
A. Schismatics are those Christians who, while not explicitly denying any dogma, yet voluntarily separate themselves from the Church of Jesus Christ, that is, from their lawful pastors.
17 Q. Who are the excommunicated?
A. The excommunicated are those who, because of grievous transgressions, are struck with excommunication by the Pope or their Bishop, and consequently are cut off as unworthy from the body of the Church, which, however, hopes for and desires their conversion.
18 Q. Should excommunication be dreaded?
A. Excommunication should be greatly dreaded, because it is the severest and most terrible punishment the Church can inflict upon her rebellious and obstinate children.
19 Q. Of what goods are the excommunicated deprived?
A. The excommunicated are deprived of public prayers, of the Sacraments, of indulgences and of Christian burial.
20 Q. Can we in any way help the excommunicated?
A. We can in some way help the excommunicated and all others who are outside the true Church, by salutary advice, by prayers and good works, begging God in His mercy to grant them the grace of being converted to the faith and of entering into the Communion of Saints.