Chapter 3. Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature • 25
the reception of Baptism, the formation of a community of believers,
gathering for the Eucharist, and generosity to the poor.
The Apostles chose men to be bishops to succeed them and handed
on to them “what they received from Jesus’ teaching and example and
what they learned from the Holy Spirit” (CCC, no. 83). The pope and
bishops in union with him are successors of the Apostles and inherit the
responsibility of authoritative teaching from them. We call this teach-
ing office the
. “The task of giving an authentic interpreta-
tion of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of
Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church
alone” (CCC, no. 85, citing DV, no. 10).
All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed
truth. “The whole body of the faithful cannot err . . . in matters of belief.
This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith
) on the part of the whole people, when, ‘from the bishops
to the last of the faithful,’ they manifest a universal consent in mat-
ters of faith and morals” (CCC, no. 92, citing Second Vatican Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
; LG], no. 12).
Another way of understanding this truth is the principle that the Holy
Spirit, dwelling in the Church, draws the whole body of the faithful to
believe what truly belongs to the faith. “By this appreciation of the faith,
aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided
by the sacred teaching authority (
), and obeying it, receives
not the mere word of men, but truly the word of God (cf. 1 Thes 2:13),
the faith once for all delivered to the saints (cf. Jude 3)” (LG, no. 12).
Tradition is the living transmission of the message of the Gospel in
the Church. The oral preaching of the Apostles and the written message
of salvation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Bible) are conserved
and handed on as the Deposit of Faith through the Apostolic Succession
in the Church. Both the living Tradition and the written Scriptures have
their common source in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This is
particularly important to understand and believe when one is faced with
the postmodern attitude that Tradition cannot be trusted, and that what
the Church teaches as Tradition is really just a reflection of particular
judgments and biases. Knowing that what Tradition teaches has its ulti-