Why do so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have such a difficult time accepting the authority of the Church? Unfortunately, even those belonging to the Church sometimes question her authority. We must ask ourselves, who established the Church, and what would be the purpose of this very visible governing body of believers? I believe much of the hostility towards the Church would disappear if we as individuals would take the time to find out for ourselves exactly what the Church teaches and why. (Reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church is imperative for understanding the truth of Catholicism)
The Church was not established by man, but by Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who gave the “keys of the kingdom” to Peter to govern his Church. Peter was chosen to be the master of the palace, which is the Church on earth (Matthew 16:18-19; Isaiah 22:20-22). Jesus wanted Peter to understand the position of power and authority being entrusted to him; the power and authority of Christ himself to lead the people. By his three-fold command to “feed his sheep”, I believe Jesus made himself perfectly clear who would be in charge (John 21:15-19 NAB). While Peter alone was given the role of chief shepherd, Jesus gave to all of the apostles the power to forgive sins. Jesus breathed on them and said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23 NAB). This is the sacrament of reconciliation, given to the Church by Christ himself, that we might repent of our sins, and receive the grace to grow in holiness. The Church herself is a sacrament, because through her we receive all the graces of God that we need to persevere and remain true to our faith.
Upon the “rock” that is Peter and the Apostles, Jesus undeniably established a visible, accessible, organized Church, well equipped to shepherd his flock.
This Church was established so that believers everywhere could be assured of the authenticity of the faith being passed down to them. Jesus promised us that his Church would prevail against the powers of darkness and would not be destroyed (Matthew 16:18 NAB). In considering the number of heresies alone the Church has fought against and won over the last two thousand years, one can’t help but wonder: By what power has this Church prevailed?
Concerning matters of faith and morals, it is this Church alone that refuses to bend to the ever bending culture around us. This Church teaches truth, not relativism. This Church will not bow to political correctness or abandon her stand against abortion, contraception, euthanasia, or any other societal norm not in conformity with the Word of God. The Church proclaims Christ crucified not cultural conformity.
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of the mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2 NAB).
He gave us this Church that we might know how to behave, because she is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15 NAB).
If we still question the authority of the Church after thoroughly researching the who, what, and why of the Church, we should also question our own motives for doing so. Are we really seeking truth or are we just refusing to hear it?