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214

Part One

Paragraph 3. The Church Is One, Holy, Catholic,

and Apostolic

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 es-

sential 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 manifesta-

tions are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First

Vatican Council noted, the “Church herself, with her marvellous

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.

T

he

C

hurch

I

s

O

ne

“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 Church:

What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the

universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit,

256

LG

8.

257 Cf. DS 2888.

258 Vatican Council I,

Dei Filius

3: DS 3013.

259

UR

2 § 5.

260

GS

78 § 3.

261

UR

2 § 2.

750

832, 865

156, 770

172

766

797