Only one Church

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

IN HIS homily last October 28 during the Mass celebrating the feast of St. Jude Thaddeus, Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon made clear the Catholic teaching that Christ founded only one Church and any other claimants, like the Iglesia ni Cristo and other numerous religious congregations, should show that they were founded by Jesus.  Christ founded His Church on the Apostles and from there on down through the centuries.

Only the Catholic Church can claim an apostolic link. Many others were established centuries after the Catholic Church was established by Christ with His apostles so that without this direct succession any claim can never be sustained by reason and written documents. Foremost of these writers are St. Paul, St. Peter and many other saints down the ages refer to the Catholic Church as the only one founded by Christ.

There is a Catholic teaching which says, “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” which means “outside the Church, there is no salvation”. The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church explained this as “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His Body.” Salvation comes only within the Catholic Church.

Indeed, where else can salvation come but from Christ and the Church He founded? Since Christ founded only one Church, which Church is that? Anybody can claim they were the ones chosen because they adopted the name church of Christ but on what grounds?

Ironically, almost all those churches that claim to be founded by Christ use the Bible as their source of authority. The question that I always ask is, “Where did they get the Bible?” Since they claim that the Bible is inerrant and therefore is the sole source of faith, how did they get that Holy Book? Who among their flock wrote the Bible and when?

Bishop Buzon mentioned the recently elevated Cardinal into the ranks of the Saints of the Catholic Church – John Henry Newman. He was not a Catholic, but he was a great thinker and writer, in fact in one column I cited his words about the value of prayers.

He studied the various religious sects and came to the inevitable conclusion: only the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Christ. If indeed, the Bible cannot err, then it comes to reason that the Catholic is the true Church and no other no matter what they claim. Christ founded His Church on Peter to whom he said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” Who among the churches can trace their unbroken line to St. Peter?

The Bacolod Bishop further quoted the Bible which says, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (the Church).” The Catholic Church has undergone tremendous trials, from schisms to rebellion by the clergy even to physical abuse by temporal power but Satan has not prevailed.

Of course, those who disagreed with the teachings of the Catholic Church can argue ad infinitum that they are “the church of Christ” but they cannot show any link to St. Peter and through him to Jesus. Simple logic but so many are deceived. It is like claiming patrimony but cannot pass a DNA test.

Bishop Buzon also announced that next year is the year of ecumenism. This is a mechanism of dialogue with the other churches. It is not a “surrender” or abandonment of the doctrine of faith “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus”, as some of my friends claim, rather it is reaching out to a dialogue among Christians of goodwill. In fact, what we know of ecumenism is that the Church extended a hand of peace with non-Christians like the Muslims, the Buddhists and even the atheists. It is like the Church opening its arms or its gates for those who would embrace her teaching.

History, ancient and modern times show many intellectuals and simple folks have entered the Church and became its faithful apostles for others. There are also who sneer and attack the Church unceasingly. But these are not new for the Church that undergoes the “crucifixion” even as I write.

Church history, however, proved in innumerable situations that Christ prevailed. It is said that the blood of the martyrs nurtures the Church. Both Filipino saints, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod are martyrs.

Church history show people who offered their lives for the Catholic Church because of their faith in her.