I was reading the thread about the Catholic Church, and I am a bit confused as to how some of the Eastern churchs are now in union with the West. Dont get me wrong, as it is something that I and many dream for, but having grown up with many Orthodox friends who used to make fun of me for my "devotion to a mere man (Pope) and actually thinking he was infallible), I question how we can be all Catholic. I completely understand that if a tradition in the East was as how it was past down from the Apostles and kept, as with St Peter at Antioch, then that is OK. But with other Eastern faiths that left in schism, then after Vatican II were all of a sudden “in communion” seems to defy what I was taught in my catechism and what the teachings are regarding the Four Marks of the Church, especially where it states that we are ONE as we are united in faith and worship, and references the Nicene Creed, which the Eastern churchs deny. The four marks, which we all know, and which I had to shorten:
Marks of the True Church
We know that Our Lord established a Church before He ascended into Heaven. He made St Peter the head of that Church. But does that Church still exist? There are so many Churches that call themselves Christian … are they all the true Church? Is only one of them? Which one?
**Most true Christians accept as the basis of their faith those truths set forth in the Nicene Creed. It is in that Creed that we learn the true marks (or indicia) of the True Church of Christ. **
The True Church is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC. Only the Roman Catholic Church can validly claim all four marks. It is the Roman Catholic Church which has always been and continues to be that Church which Jesus Himself established almost 2000 years ago.
The Catholic Church is ONE
There is only one Christian Church, united in faith, in worship and in in succession from the Apostles themselves. For the Church is the Body of Christ Himself, and so is whole and one as Christ’s Body is whole and one. Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church promulgated by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, states that:
“The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Saviour, 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, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”
Of course, it is a sad fact that in the course of its history, rifts have arisen in the Church, sometimes leading whole groups of the faithful to separate from the Church. This is a scandal, unpleasing to God. Our Lord wishes that “all may be one” and it is the duty of all Christians to strive towards and pray earnestly for that day when all Christians will be united in the Lord. This does not, however, mean that a proliferation of denominations means the Catholic Church is not one. In fact, all those separated from the Catholic Church remain part of her, in a mysterious way. **All those who receive Christian baptism belong to the Catholic Church!----HOW Can that be???
The Catholic Church is HOLY
Lumen Gentium states further that:
"The Church … is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as “alone holy”, loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God."The Catholic Church is CATHOLIC
“Catholic” in this sense is the “small-c” “catholic”, which means “universal”. The Church can be found in St Peter’s Basilica, in a suburban parish church, in a group of faithful in the Amazon Jungle. But being one in faith and communion with the Church in Rome makes this Church a universal collection of those “particular Churches”. Particular Churches fall to the care of Bishops, the pastors of the faithful and successors of the Apostles. Their communion with each other and with the Bishop of Rome makes the Catholic Church truly universal.
The Catholic Church is APOSTOLIC
The Catholic Church validly claims succession from the Apostles themselves. All bishops of the Catholic Church are ordained by bishops who themselves were ordained by bishops who themselves were ordained … and so on … who themselves were ordained by the Apostles. Other Churches, no longer in communion with the Church of Rome, have also maintained Apostolic Succession. The Orthodox Churches, certain of the bishops of the Anglican Communion and the bishops of the Society of St Pius X.