The Catholic Church is comprised of a community of believers across the globe. Even our name “catholic” means universal.
Our core beliefs are summed up in our Creed, as a sign of our unity with Christ and his church.
We are the original Christian church, founded by Jesus himself who said to Peter, “And you are Peter (which means “rock”) and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Every pope since then has belonged to an unbroken line of successors since Peter, the first pope (which comes from the Latin papa meaning “father”).
From the period of the early church until today, it is believed that when Jesus said at the Last Supper, “Take this and eat – this is my body; take this and drink – this is my blood,” he was giving us the gift of his real presence in the form of bread and wine. We call this the Eucharist, a word derived from the Greek meaning thanksgiving. The Eucharist, however, is more than an act of thanksgiving, it is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross made present at every Mass celebrated throughout the world, to which we unite ourselves as an acceptable offering and act of worship to Almighty God.
Furthermore, we believe that a multitude of holy men and women who have gone before us still pray for us and aid us. We call them saints, and many of our churches (parishes) are named after them. The first and most important saint of all is Mary, mother of Our Lord, who is honored as the mother of God and mother of the church.
Since the beginning of Christianity, the Catholic Church is responsible for defining the canon of Scripture – the books we find in our Bible today. The final list of books that were to be included in the Bible were determined by the pope and Catholic bishops at special councils and synods held during the 4th century.
As a sign of Christ’s love for all in the world, the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization, providing a significant portion of the social service needs in the United States and throughout the world. There are also nearly 250 Catholic universities and colleges in the United States alone, and we also operate the nation’s largest non-public school system.
The Catholic Church is comprised of more than a billion people from every continent who have professed faith in Jesus Christ for more than two millenia. We are the Body of Christ, we are the Catholic Church!