What is the Magisterium of the Church?

A friend of mine finds it difficult to accept the notion of the Magisterium in Church. How would you explain it to her?

Jesus established the Magisterium – the teaching office of the Church – when he commissioned the Apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20, emphasis added). Did he intend this teaching to end upon the death of the Apostles? No – he went on to say, “and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (ibid.). The Apostles understood this and, therefore, entrusted their teaching authority to their successors. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (85-87) explains:

The task of giving an authentic interpretation 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. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.

Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me,” the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

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