Flowing from discussion in another thread, it would be good to examine Pope Pius XII’s excellent teaching on who makes up the Body of Christ. I stopped short of reprinting the ending tenets, so that we can digest slowly what the Pontiff says in the early sections.
- If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ – which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church] – we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression “the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ” - an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers.
- Again, as in nature, a body is not formed by any haphazard grouping of members but must be constituted of organs, that is of members, that have not the same function and are arranged in due order; so for this reason above all the Church is called a body, that it is constituted by the coalescence of structurally united parts, and that it has a variety of members reciprocally dependent. It is thus the Apostle describes the Church when he writes: “As in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
- As Bellarmine notes with acumen and accuracy, this appellation of the Body of Christ is not to be explained solely by the fact that Christ must be called the Head of His Mystical Body, but also by the fact that He so sustains the Church, and so in a certain sense lives in the Church, that she is, as it were, another Christ. The Doctor of the Gentiles, in his letter to the Corinthians, affirms this when, without further qualification, he calls the Church “Christ,” following no doubt the example of his Master who called out to him from on high when he was attacking the Church: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”