What is the Magisterium needed for?

Do we need the Magisterium or its teachings for salvation? Does a dispute between two people that must be taken to the Magisterium to be settled have any affect on our salvation? I know that Christ established its teaching authority, but what role does that teaching authority have in our salvation, if any?

P.S. You could probably answer all three questions with one answer because they’re all pretty much the same question.

The Magisterium is not established to resolve disputes between men; it is established to determine the direction of the Church related to supernatural things, like the Creed, the Morals, the Law, the Liturgy.

The Magisterium is necessary, because by ourselves we are not able to find the right way. God may correct our bona fide errors, and give a person salvation regardless of errors, but God wants the Magisterium to be the solid base (rock) for the Catholic Church, and through that for the whole world.

Yes. For instance, denying the dogma of the Trinity is a soteriological “deal breaker” but it is not clearly given in scripture alone.


The Magisterium is said to be one of the three legs that support the Catholic Faith and Church, The above link is to a youtube power point that may help explain

Who makes up the magisterium? Is it a group of bishops/cardinals/theologians?

The Holy Father and all of the Bishops.

In communion with him.

Forgive me. I was working under the assumption that if a Bishop is not in communion with the Holy Father, then that person is a not a valid Bishop of the Catholic Church even though he may have Holy Orders that are valid.

While the magisterium was not established to resolve disputes, this actually IS one of it’s many functions. The magisterium is comprised of the Pope and all of the Bishops in communion with him. As such, then a bishop resolves a matter/dispute in his diocese, it is the magisterium that is acting. When agroup of bishops come together to resolve issues/disputes, it is the magisterium acting…When the Holy Father, after much discussion, debate, prayer and council issues a teaching, it is the magisterium acting.
So in all these things, from realively small, local issues, all the way up to universal teachings of teh Church, it is the magisterium in action.

The Magisterium is necessary, because by ourselves we are not able to find the right way. God may correct our bona fide errors, and give a person salvation regardless of errors, but God wants the Magisterium to be the solid base (rock) for the Catholic Church, and through that for the whole world.

Largely this is correct. In Mt 18:15-18 Christ tells us to take problems to The Church and to Listen to The Church for she has the authority to “Bind and Loose”. One need only look at the protestant world to see the confusion that can result from not having a unified authority.

Another factor that I don’t think is mentioned enough is the magisterium’s function as the respository and disseminator of teachings. 2000 years worth of writings and catechisms and canon law and opinions and bulls and encyclicals and on and on and on and in many languages…It is a HUGE blessing to us to have this office.



The Magisterium is composed of the Pope and the College of Cardinals.

I don’t think this is entirely accurate. The EO has valid Bishops who are not in communion with the pope and are therefore not members of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Someone correct me here if I’m wrong, but with valid apostolic succession, the EO bishops are valid bishops.


No, the Cardinals have nothing to do with it.

Really, the term “Magisterium” means “the Church’s authority to teach.” It does not have “members”; you cannot be “a part of the Magisterium.” Magisterium is an authority that the Church possesses and executes. To ask “who makes up the Magisterium?” makes as much sense as “who makes up the Church’s teaching authority?” It’s a clash of terminology.

Thank you for pointing this out!

We have to be careful here. Some people stretch the meaning of communion in a way that Canon Law does not do.

Let’s use two simple examples and please don’t jump all over me. I’m a religious. I am bound by obedience to think and say only what the Church allows me to think and say. Now that I’ve said that, let’s go with those examples.

Bishop A:

Disregards what the Holy Father said about implementing the EF in his diocese. Despite this, he remains in communion with the pope, because this is not a schismatic act that breaks with the primacy. A schismatic act can only be one defined as such by either Canon Law or by the pope himself. The pope has not defined this as a schismatic act. In other words, this bishop is not excommunicated. He’s non compliant. He remains part of the Magisterium.

Bishop B:

Ordains other bishops without papal permission. The pope declares it a schismatic act. This bishop is excommunicated. Despire Bishop B’s good intention, he has broken communion with the pope. He is no longer part of the Magisterium until he is reinstated and is given a canonical place in the Church. Only a pope can give a bishop a canonical place.

Bishop C:

A validly ordained bishop who is not Catholic is not in communion with the pope. This bishop is not part of the Magisterium.

The Orthodox bishops are valid and licit, but they are not part of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church because they are not in full communion. They are outside of the Cathoic Church, even though they are in sacramental communion with the Church.

Valid: They are ordained by valid bishops and have sucession that can be traced to Christ himself, Apostolic Succesion.

Licit: Their ordination is legal, because the Catholic Church does not have the authority to prohibit it, nor does she have the authority and power to restrict their ministry. They are not bound by the laws that govern our bishops.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

You described it better than did, but we are saying the same thing.

This gets kind of awkward to explain.

You are correct. The Magisterium is not a team or a committee. It is the teaching authority of the Church, sometimes called the teaching office.

However, because the bishops are ordained to teach and govern, they participate in that office. They participate to such an extent, that a teaching becomes an infallible one if they agree on it. We’re speaking here of bishops in full communion with Peter. In such a case, the Holy Father does not need to make an Ex Cathedra statement. Because they (all the bishops and the Holy Father) are teaching as one voice.

The explanation is longer and more complicated, but that’s the Cliff edition. :smiley:


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

you cannot be "a part of the Magisterium.
CCC 880 - 892 addresses the College of Bishops and The Magisterium and clearly declares the membership of the Bishops within the College and with the Pope “…they exercise the Supreme Magisterium above all in an Ecumenical Council” CCC 891.

Earthly authority is not self-generated as it must have human origins and in this case The College of Bishops and The Pope, and once authority is expressed as a statement, those who participated are forever part of that statement, and as such part and parcel to the Magisterium. The Magisterium thus exists within it’s earthly members - not in the cloud - who exercise it use, and thus are part of the Magisterium. And, as members are deceased, the Magisterium continues as replacement members and added, thus further highlighting that the Magisterium requires “human parts” to be the force intended.

and, getting back to the OP’s question: Pilate asked somehat the same question whne he asked “What is Truth”?

The Magisterium is necessary to answer that question. It is, or should be, obvious by now, 2000 or so years later, that questions over the centuries have popped up. Those ecclesial communities which reject a central, consistent authority to answer questions are a prime example of why there is a need for a Magisterium. We now, depending on how one counts, have something between 20,000 and 35,000 separate “churches”, all of which have come upon questions and have no Magisterium; and once they come upon the question, instead of finding the truth, or Truth, they splinter further (and often, further from the truth).

While the substance of the answers to the questions over the centuries comes from Scripture and Tradition, it should be painfully clear that without a Magisterium, a central teaching authority which has the authority to answer questions with finality, groups will wander down blind alleys constantly. The substance of the answer lies in Scripture and Tradition; but the answer is not clear from those sources; if it were, we would not have all of the other “churches” providing their own answers…

This is well stated. I would add to this that the Magisterium is born from Christ’s own command that we see in today’s Gospel to go out and teach all men. He brings it up again when he speaks to Peter when he tells him to strengthen his brothers. Again we hear Christ say that he who hears you hears me. Christ’s reason for giving the Magisterial authority to the Apostles is most clear in his prayer in the Garden, “That they may be one as you and I are one.”

In scritpures, we see Christ instituting a Magisterium and we hear him say why it’s needed.

In essence, through the Magisterium the Holy Spirit will fill in the blanks when something is not clear through the scriptures and sacred tradition or when it is not addressed.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I’ve heard many great answers, thank you!

But, what has been boggling my mind is this question:

Is the Magisterium necessary for salvation?

If you could, please answer these ones:

How does the Magisterium contribute to our salvation


What are the disadvantages for those ecclesial communities that don’t have the Truth of the Catholic Faith, if any?

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