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Catholic Church around the world
Question from rebecca anna on 8/21/2002:

Hello, I have a question about the Catholic Church through out the world. We are all connected to the Pope and the teaching of the Chruch which dates back to the year 33. That makes us universal. No other religious organization can claim that right? So, we are all in union with each other making up the body of Christ. So then, how has the Church survived over the last 2000 years and continues to strive in keeping with Tradition and Scripture, that Christ himself established??

I find this facinating! Thank you for answering my question!

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 8/22/2002:

You have touched upon a key to understanding how and why the Church has not merely endured. She has prospered and grown in strength over 2,000 years. While the Church has carried forward to preach the Gospel, over the same two millennia literally countless institutions, kingdoms, empires, and ideologies have collapsed, withered, and died. A few notable examples include the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the empire of Napoleon, the Third Reich, and the Soviet Union, all of which proclaimed both the imminent demise of the Church and their perpetual triumph. All are gone, but the Church remains.

As you ask, how was this possible? The answer is in understanding that the Church is more than a mere temporal or human institution. The Church is Mystery – “one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element” [Lumen Gentium, 8]. As the document of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, explains: “The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.” [No. 7.]

We cannot understand the Church without grasping the two realities. Seeing these realities, of course, requires more than looking at the many different communities, dioceses, and institutions. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes what we need: “The Church is in history, but at the same time she transcends it. It is only “with the eyes of faith” that one can see her in her visible reality and at the same time in her spiritual reality as bearer of divine life.” [No. 770.]

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