Is the Catholic Church the "One True Church"?

At first glance, the issue of whether or not Catholicism constitutes the “one true Church” seems fairly straightforward.  Jesus told Peter that “on this rock I will build my church,” and He prayed during His Passion that all of His followers would be one.  Catholicism can be traced back through 2,000 years of historical continuity, whereas most other Christian communities cannot.

 “Is the Catholic Church the one true Church?” Many Catholics would readily answer "yes." Or did Vatican II move the Church away from that answer?

A more careful answer might be, "Yes, properly understood.”  Father Sakowski, whose area of academic expertise is ecclesiology (or the study of the Church), will take a look at this issue from an entirely different angle, going much more in depth on the question of what we mean when we say "The Catholic Church" :

  • Down through the centuries, saints and theologians have used the terms “catholic” and “universal” to mean a variety of different things, such as “extending to all places,” “extending to all times,” and  “holding to correct doctrine.”  How do these meanings and others come together to form a more complete picture of what the Catholic Church truly is?
  • Vatican II also taught that the one true church “subsists in the Catholic Church.”  In that case, what does the word subsists really signify?
  • In light of these understandings, what do we really mean when we call the Catholic Church the one Church founded by Jesus Christ?