Listers, the following list is Part II of the Baltimore Catechism’s Lesson Eleventh: On the Church. The Baltimore Catechism was the premiere catechism in Catholic education from 1885 to the 1960s, and it teachings the faith in the most natural method of education – question and answer. Lesson Eleventh: On the Church Part I speaks to questions on religion and the Church before Christ, while Part II speaks to the structure of the one true Church of Christ after He established her.1
On the Church
Q. 495. Who is the invisible Head of the Church?
A. Jesus Christ is the invisible Head of the Church.
Q. 496. Who is the visible Head of the Church?
A. Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the visible Head of the Church.
Q. 497. What does “vicar” mean?
A. Vicar is a name used in the Church to designate a person who acts in the name and authority of another. Thus a Vicar Apostolic is one who acts in the name of the Pope, and a Vicar General is one who acts in the name of the bishop.
Q. 498. Could any one be Pope without being Bishop of Rome?
A. One could not be Pope without being Bishop of Rome, and whoever is elected Pope must give up his title to any other diocese and take the title of Bishop of Rome.
Q. 499. Why is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the visible Head of the Church?
A. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible Head of the Church because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the Apostles and the visible Head of the Church.
Q. 500. Why are Catholics called “Roman”?
A. Catholics are called Roman to show that they are in union with the true Church founded by Christ and governed by the Apostles under the direction of St. Peter, by divine appointment the Chief of the Apostles, who founded the Church of Rome and was its first bishop.
Q. 501. By what name is a bishop’s diocese sometimes called?
A. A bishop’s diocese is sometimes called his see. The diocese of Rome, on account of its authority and dignity, is called the Holy See, and its bishop is called the Holy Father or Pope. Pope means father.
Q. 502. What do we call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church and of all its bishops?
A. We call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church, and of all its bishops, the Primacy of St. Peter or of the Pope. Primacy means holding first place.
Q. 503. How is it shown that St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church?
A. It is shown that St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church: 1.(1) From the words of Holy Scripture, which tell how Christ appointed Peter Chief of the Apostles and head of the Church. 2.(2) From the history of the Church, which shows that Peter and his successors have always acted and have always been recognized as the head of the Church.
Q. 504. How do we know that the rights and privileges bestowed on St. Peter were given also to his successors — the Popes?
A. We know that the rights and privileges bestowed on St. Peter were given also to his successors, the Popes, because the promises made to St. Peter by Our Lord were to be fulfilled in the Church till the end of time, and as Peter was not to live till the end of time, they are fulfilled in his successors.
Q. 505. Did St. Peter establish any Church before he came to Rome?
A. Before he came to Rome, St. Peter established a Church at Antioch and ruled over it for several years.
Q. 506. Who are the successors of the other Apostles?
A. The successors of the other Apostles are the Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church.
Q. 507. How do we know that the bishops of the Church are the successors of the Apostles?
A. We know that the bishops of the Church are the successors of the Apostles because they continue the work of the Apostles and give proof of the same authority. They have always exercised the rights and powers that belonged to the Apostles in making laws for the Church, in consecrating bishops and ordaining priests.
Q. 508. Why did Christ found the Church?
A. Christ founded the Church to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all men.
Q. 509. Are all bound to belong to the Church?
A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved.
Q. 510. Is it ever possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?
A. It is possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, provided that person:
Has been validly baptized; Firmly believes the religion he professes and practices to be the true religion, and Dies without the guilt of mortal sin on his soul.
Q. 511. Why do we say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?
A. We say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, because the necessary conditions are not often found, especially that of dying in a state of grace without making use of the Sacrament of Penance.
Q. 512. How are such persons said to belong to the Church?
A. Such persons are said to belong to the “soul of the church”; that is, they are really members of the Church without knowing it. Those who share in its Sacraments and worship are said to belong to the body or visible part of the Church.
Q. 513. Why must the true Church be visible?
A. The true Church must be visible because its founder, Jesus Christ, commanded us under pain of condemnation to hear the Church; and He could not in justice command us to hear a Church that could not be seen and known.
Q. 514. What excuses do some give for not becoming members of the true Church?
A. The excuses some give for not becoming members of the true church are:
They do not wish to leave the religion in which they were born.
There are too many poor and ignorant people in the Catholic Church.
One religion is as good as another if we try to serve God in it, and be upright and honest in our lives.
Q. 515. How do you answer such excuses?
A. To say that we should remain in a false religion because we were born in it is as untrue as to say we should not heal our bodily diseases because we were born with them.
To say there are too many poor and ignorant in the Catholic Church is to declare that it is Christ’s Church; for He always taught the poor and ignorant and instructed His Church to continue the work.
To say that one religion is as good as another is to assert that Christ labored uselessly and taught falsely; for He came to abolish the old religion and found the new in which alone we can be saved as He Himself declared.
Q. 516. Why can there be only one true religion?
A. There can be only one true religion, because a thing cannot be false and true at the same time, and, therefore, all religions that contradict the teaching of the true Church must teach falsehood. If all religions in which men seek to serve God are equally good and true, why did Christ disturb the Jewish religion and the Apostles condemn heretics?