Do you know why the Church is Catholic, Apostolic and Roman? Pope Francis explains it to you – Part 1


Did you know that the Catholic Church is constituted by 24 different rites? The Roman Catholic Church is the best known, because it depends legally on the Pope and is distributed throughout the world. But there are 23 oriental rites , which depend on their patriarchs (or eparchs, or metropolitans, or archbishops) for their liturgical and territorial order, but who dogmatically obey Pope Francis, who guides them all in charity.

Do you find it confusing? I tell you how I found out: in Argentina there is a strong Syrian-Lebanese immigration. The Syrians and Lebanese joined our country and are currently as Argentine as mate and Pope Francisco. But when they first started arriving, at the beginning of the 20th century, that integration was not so fast. So much was the migration that the Maronite Church decided to found an eparchy (a territorial division similar to a diocese) for the Syrians and Lebanese living in Argentina. One day, going to mass in Mendoza, where a sister of mine lives, she took me to the parish of San Juan Marón, of the Maronita rite, I was fascinated with the liturgy!

And then the doubt arose, why Catholic and apostolic? What do you mean each of these notes? The video that Rome Reports brings us today helps us to refresh it in a simple way, from the mouth of the Pope himself, who explains it in a simple and concrete way. I would like to add some details to what Pope Francis expressed.


Because it is universal. In Greek καθολικός (katólikos) it means “universal”, that is, it is in the whole world. Before the Ascension, Our Lord told the disciples: ” Go, then, and make all the peoples my disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to fulfill all that I I sent them. And I am with you until the end of the world » (Mt, 28, 19-20). The mandate of the Lord was understood from the rejection of the Jews and the dispersion of the apostles and disciples by the world known at that time: the entire Roman Empire. Thus, Peter and Paul take the faith to Rome, St. James the Greater to Spain, St. Bartholomew to the East; and so, each one was fulfilling the mandate of Our Lord. When Saint John died, near the end of the first century, it can be said that the Church was already Catholic, that is, “universal” for the world known at that time. Saint Ignatius of Antioch says so in his letter to the Smyrnaeans, where he says, about the year 110: ” Where the bishop is the community, as well as where Jesus Christ is the Catholic Church.” This also tells us that the Church is united as the mystical body of Christ at its head.

Apostolic and Roman

This note has two characteristics: as Pope Francis indicates it is missionary, because from the apostles it received the mandate of Our Lord to teach the whole world. But it is also apostolic because it is founded on the succession of the apostles, that is, on those whom the Lord sent (that is to say, apostle: “envoy”) who are the bishops, who teach, sanctify and direct the Church that has been confident The “private”, that is to say territorial, churches are fully Catholic because of their communion with the Church of Rome, which, as Saint Ignatius of Antioch says, presides over “others” in charity.

From the ministry of Peter the bishop of Rome took the primacy over the other bishops. What does the primacy mean? That the other bishops have to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome, whom he eventually began to call “Pope.” Jesus, after the triple denial of Peter, confirmed his ministry by saying three times “feed my flock,” to affirm him in his mission.

What is this “primacy” of Peter and his successors? The Catechism of the Church tells us: « The Roman Pontiff, head of the episcopal college, enjoys this infallibility by virtue of his ministry when, as Pastor and Supreme Teacher of all the faithful who confirm in the faith his brothers, he proclaims for a final act doctrine in matters of faith and morals » (CCC 891). There is so much confusion regarding the papal infallibility that it is good to pause a little to examine what it consists of, and refer to the constitution “Pastor Aeternus” that defines it:

«The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine of faith or customs as to be held by all the Church, owns, by the divine assistance that was promised in the blessed Peter, that infallibility of which the divine Redeemer wanted to enjoy his Church in the definition of the doctrine of faith and customs. Therefore, these definitions of the Roman Pontiff are in themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable ».