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The Profession of Faith

215

everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin be-

come mother, and I should like to call her “Church.”

262

814

From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by

a great

diversity

which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts

and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of

the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gath-

ered together. Among the Church’s members, there are different

gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. “Holding a rightful place

in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches

that retain their own traditions.”

263

The great richness of such

diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity. Yet sin and the

burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity.

And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to “maintain the unity

of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

264

815

What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity “binds

everything together in perfect harmony.”

265

But the unity of the

pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:

— profession of one faith received from the Apostles

—common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;

— apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders,

maintaining the fraternal concord of God’s family.

266

816

“The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after

his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning

him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church,

constituted and organized as a society in the present world, sub-

sists in (

subsistit in

) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the

successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”

267

The Second Vatican Council’s

Decree on Ecumenism

explains:

“For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is

the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the

means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic

college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that

our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in

order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which

all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way

to the People of God.”

268

262 St. Clement of Alexandria,

Paed.

1, 6, 42: PG 8, 300.

263

LG

13 § 2.

264

Eph

4:3.

265

Col

3:14.

266 Cf.

UR

2;

LG

14; CIC, can. 205.

267

LG

8 § 2.

268

UR

3 § 5.

791, 873

1202

832

1827

830, 837

173

830