Built to Last: A Retreat Guide on St. Peter and the Papacy

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The various Christian denominations have a lot in common, but unfortunately, we also have our differences. One major difference between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians has to do with our understanding of how Jesus wants his Church to be structured. Is the Church just a spiritual association of people who believe in Jesus? Or is it an actual, visible society, meant from the very beginning to have a hierarchical structure, with legitimate authority and common forms of worship?

As Catholics, we believe that Jesus actually gave the Church just such a visible nature. We believe that he desires to continue working in the world through this visible society, which has been referred to throughout its history as the People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, and the universal sacrament of salvation. And if that’s how God has chosen to interact with the world, he must have his reasons. A visible Church, with common forms of worship and a human structure through which the Holy Spirit continues Christ’s work on earth must have some benefits for us who are members of that Church.

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