What Catholics Believe
The Catholic Church exists to bring all people to God and God to all people. We are followers of Jesus Christ, who lived 2000 years ago and taught his disciples to live lives of radical love of God and neighbor.
We believe that every human being is made in the image of God and is called to union with him forever in heaven. We believe in the tragic existence of sin which separates us from God, and in the power of God’s mercy which restores us to him.
We believe that Jesus was more than a great moral teacher—we believe in that in Him, God himself was born among us. By taking upon Himself our human nature, he was able to make a perfect offering on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sins. He did this by willingly laying down his life on the cross, but, unable to be conquered by death, he rose again three days later.
The night before he died he shared a ritual meal with his followers. Taking bread and wine, he said, “Eat, this is My Body—Drink, this is My Blood—Do this in memory of me.” Ever since, Catholics have celebrated the Mass in obedience to this command of Jesus. We believe that when we receive Holy Communion, although what we consume looks, feels, and tastes like bread and wine, it is, in some mysterious and miraculous way, the real Body and Blood of Jesus.
We call those who have lived lives pleasing to God and are already with God in heaven “saints.” As the one who was closer to Jesus than anyone on earth, we hold Mary, his mother, in the highest honor among them. We believe that death does not separate us from fellowship with the saints. Just as we ask those with us on earth for their prayers, we ask the saints in heaven for their prayers as well.
We believe that God protects, guides, and unites the Catholic Church through the pope. Jesus said to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). In these words, Jesus made a weak and sinful man the foundation of his Church. And yet, in spite of this, he guaranteed that the Church would never go astray from leading the way to heaven. We believe that this role, given to Peter, has continued on earth after his death. Since Peter died as the bishop of Rome, it is the bishop of Rome who continues in this role we now call “the pope.”
As Catholics, we believe that we have been given both a great privilege and a great responsibility. Our standards are high, but this is on account of the greatness of God’s calling. At the same time, we acknowledge our own need for God’s mercy and the necessity of extending that mercy to others. We desire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all, fulfilling the mission he gave us when he said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19).