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"Faithful to the Magisterium of the Church"  

To safeguard the real substance of faith in Jesus Christ and to prevent the individual from being entirely left on his own, the Magisterium of the Church was established by Christ.

The Magisterium captures the very heart and essence of the Church, which is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus faithfully.  The Church takes the teachings of Christ and the doctrines taught by the Apostles, hands them down faithfully with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and calls upon all to place their faith in these teachings.  The New Testament attests to this in the formation of the apostolic college. The community of Apostles, when it taught as a unified body under Peter, testified to the truth of Christ, and they spoke authoritatively of Him.  It was to the Apostles that the authoritative teachings of the kingdom were given in their fullness, and they were the closest eyewitnesses to Jesus.  By the end of the Apostolic era, it was the monarchical bishops appointed under the authority of the Apostles as their successors who were the final arbiters of faith and doctrine.

The limits of the Magisterium of the Church were gradually worked out at the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, and in the controversies with the Gallicans, Episcopalians and Conciliarists. The Magisterium exists to protect the authentic teachings of Christ until the end of time. The Magisterium proclaims the teachings of Christ infallibly, irreformably and without error when:

  1. It teaches universally and without dissent.

  2. When the failure to teach these doctrines would be considered negligent.

  3. When the teachings concern a grave issue necessary for faith or morality.

  4. When they are taught authoritatively.

In the extraordinary Magisterium, the Roman Pontiff and ecumenical councils, whose decisions are confirmed by the Pope, are able to proclaim certain matters of faith and morals necessary for salvation to be infallibly true. Such teachings must be proclaimed authoritatively and solemnly by either an ecumenical council or the Roman Pontiff and be consistently and universally held by the Church. They must be teachings that have never been tolerant of dissent.

The Doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium does not mean that everything that is taught by the Church is proclaimed infallibly, but that its proclamation of Jesus Christ is faithful to Him and to what He taught. Through its authoritative teachings, the Magisterium truly leads to Christ, holiness and salvation, since the fullness of holiness and the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be found in the Catholic Church because of the guidance which the Holy Spirit gives the Magisterium.

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The Catholic Encyclopedia


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