THE CREDO OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD

Proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on June 30, 1968

 

We believe in one only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of

things visible such as this world in which our transient life passes, of

things invisible such as the pure spirits which are also called

angels,[3] and creator in each man of his spiritual and immortal soul.

We believe that this only God is absolutely one in His infinitely holy

essence as also in all His perfections, in His omnipotence, His infinite

knowledge, His providence, His will and His love. He is He who is, as He

revealed to Moses,[4] and He is love, as the apostle John teaches us:[5] so

that these two names, being and love, express ineffably the same divine

reality of Him who has wished to make Himself known to us, and who,

"dwelling in light inaccessible"[6] is in Himself above every name, above

every thing and above every created intellect. God alone can give us

right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing Himself as Father,

Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to

share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal

light. The mutual bonds which eternally constitute the Three Persons, who

are each one and the same divine being, are the blessed inmost life of

God thrice holy, infinitely beyond all that we can conceive in human

measure.[7] We give thanks, however, to the divine goodness that very

many believers can testify with us before men to the unity of God, even

though they know not the mystery of the most holy Trinity.

We believe then in the Father who eternally begets the Son, in the Son,

the Word of God, who is eternally begotten; in the Holy Spirit, the

uncreated Person who proceeds from the Father and the Son as their

eternal love. Thus in the Three Divine Persons, coaeternae sibi et

coaequales,[8] the life and beatitude of God perfectly one superabound

and are consummated in the supreme excellence and glory proper to

uncreated being, and always "there should be venerated unity in the

Trinity and Trinity in the unity."[9]

We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. He is the

Eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, and one in substance

with the Father, homoousios to Patri,[10] and through Him all things were

made. He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy

Spirit, and was made man: equal therefore to the Father according to His

divinity, and inferior to the Father according to His humanity;[11] and

Himself one, not by some impossible confusion of His natures, but by the

unity of His person.[12]

He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He proclaimed and established

the Kingdom of God and made us know in Himself the Father. He gave us His

new commandment to love one another as He loved us. He taught us the way

of the beatitudes of the Gospel: poverty in spirit, meekness, suffering

borne with patience, thirst after justice, mercy, purity of heart, will

for peace, persecution suffered for justice sake. Under Pontius Pilate He

suffered --the Lamb of God bearing on Himself the sins of the world, and

He died for us on the cross, saving us by His redeeming blood. He was

buried, and, of His own power, rose on the third day, raising us by His

resurrection to that sharing in the divine life which is the life of

grace. He ascended to heaven, and He will come again, this time in glory,

to judge the living and the dead: each according to his merits--those who

have responded to the love and piety of God going to eternal life, those

who have refused them to the end going to the fire that is not

extinguished.

And His Kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is Lord, and Giver of life, who is

adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son. He spoke to us

by the prophets; He was sent by Christ after His resurrection and His

ascension to the Father; He illuminates, vivifies, protects and guides

the Church; He purifies the Church's members if they do not shun His

grace. His action, which penetrates to the inmost of the soul, enables

man to respond to the call of Jesus: Be perfect as your Heavenly Father

is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

We believe that Mary is the Mother, who remained ever a Virgin, of the

Incarnate Word, our God and Savior Jesus Christ,[13] and that by reason

of this singular election, she was, in consideration of the merits of her

Son, redeemed in a more eminent manner,[14] preserved from all stain of

original sin[15] and filled with the gift of grace more than all other

creatures.[16]

Joined by a close and indissoluble bond to the Mysteries of the

Incarnation and Redemption,[17] the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculate, was

at the end of her earthly life raised body and soul to heavenly glory[18]

and likened to her risen Son in anticipation of the future lot of all

the just; and we believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve,

Mother of the Church,[19] continues in heaven her maternal role with

regard to Christ's members, cooperating with the birth and growth of

divine life in the souls of the redeemed.[20]

We believe that in Adam all have sinned, which means that the original

offense committed by him caused human nature, common to all men, to fall

to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense, and which

is not the state in which it was at first in our first

parents--established as they were in holiness and justice, and in which

man knew neither evil nor death. It is human nature so fallen stripped of

the grace that clothed it, injured in its own natural powers and

subjected to the dominion of death, that is transmitted to all men, and

it is in this sense that every man is born in sin. We therefore hold,

with the Council of Trent, that original sin, is transmitted with human

nature, "not by imitation, but by propagation" and that it is thus

"proper to everyone."[21]

We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of the cross

redeemed us from original sin and all the personal sins committed by each

one of us, so that, in accordance with the word of the apostle, "where

sin abounded grace did more abound."[22]

We believe in one Baptism instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ for the

remission of sins. Baptism should be administered even to little children

who have not yet been able to be guilty of any personal sin, in order

that, though born deprived of supernatural grace, they may be reborn "of

water and the Holy Spirit" to the divine life in Christ Jesus.[23]

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church built by Jesus

Christ on that rock which is Peter. She is the Mystical Body of Christ;

at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs,

and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God

here below, and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and

the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the

sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and

which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory.[24] In

the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the

sacraments emanating from His plenitude.[25] By these she makes her

members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of

Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and

movement.[26] She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom,

because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living

by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves

from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the

radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for

these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through

the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Heiress of the divine promises and daughter of Abraham according to the

Spirit, through that Israel whose scriptures she lovingly guards, and

whose patriarchs and prophets she venerates; founded upon the apostles

and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their

powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion

with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of

guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed

in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus. We

believe all that is contained in the word of God written or handed down,

and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by

a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium.[27] We

believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he

teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful,[28] and

which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him

the supreme magisterium.[29]

We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He

prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship and the bond of hierarchical

communion. In the bosom of this Church, the rich variety of liturgical

rites and the legitimate diversity of theological and spiritual heritages

and special disciplines, far from injuring her unity, make it more

manifest.[30]

Recognizing also the existence, outside the organism of the Church of

Christ of numerous elements of truth and sanctification which belong to

her as her own and tend to Catholic unity,[31] and believing in the

action of the Holy Spirit who stirs up in the heart of the disciples of

Christ love of this unity,[32] we entertain the hope that the Christians

who are not yet in the full communion of the one only Church will one day

be reunited in one flock with one only shepherd.

We believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ,

who is the sole mediator and way of salvation, renders Himself present

for us in His body which is the Church.[33] But the divine design of

salvation embraces all men, and those who without fault on their part do

not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and

under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized

through the promptings of their conscience, they, in a number known only

to God, can obtain salvation.[34]

We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the

person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of

Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His

Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present

on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the

Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which

were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine

consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ

enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious

presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as

before, is a true, real and substantial presence.[35]

Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into

His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood

of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties

of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change

is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every

theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery

must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the

reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased

to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and

blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the

sacramental species of bread and wine,[36] as the Lord willed it, in

order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of

His Mystical Body.[37]

The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is

not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many

places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains

present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the

tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very

sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the

Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is

made present before us.

We confess that the Kingdom of God begun here below in the Church of

Christ is not of this world whose form is passing, and that its proper

growth cannot be confounded with the progress of civilization, of science

or of human technology, but that it consists in an ever more profound

knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, an ever stronger hope in

eternal blessings, an ever more ardent response to the love of God, and

an ever more generous bestowal of grace and holiness among men. But it is

this same love which induces the Church to concern herself constantly

about the true temporal welfare of men. Without ceasing to recall to her

children that they have not here a lasting dwelling, she also urges them

to contribute, each according to his vocation and his means, to the

welfare of their earthly city, to promote justice, peace and brotherhood

among men, to give their aid freely to their brothers, especially to the

poorest and most unfortunate. The deep solicitude of the Church, the

Spouse of Christ, for the needs of men, for their joys and hopes, their

griefs and efforts, is therefore nothing other than her great desire to

be present to them, in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ

and to gather them all in Him, their only Savior. This solicitude can

never mean that the Church conform herself to the things of this world,

or that she lessen the ardor of her expectation of her Lord and of the

eternal Kingdom.

We believe in the life eternal. We believe that the souls of all those

who die in the grace of Christ--whether they must still be purified in

purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their bodies Jesus takes

them to paradise as He did for the Good Thief--are the People of God in

the eternity beyond death, which will be finally conquered on the day of

the Resurrection when these souls will be reunited with their bodies.

We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in

paradise forms the Church of Heaven, where in eternal beatitude they see

Cod as He is,[38] and where they also, in different degrees, are

associated with the holy angels in the divine rule exercised by Christ in

glory, interceding for us and helping our weakness by their brotherly

care.[39]

We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are

pilgrims on earth, the dead who are attaining their purification, and the

blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that

in this communion the merciful love of God and His saints is ever

listening to our prayers, as Jesus told us: Ask and you will receive.[40]

Thus it is with faith and in hope that we look forward to the

resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Blessed be God Thrice Holy. Amen.


Footnotes

1. Cf. 1 Tim. 6:20.

2. Cf. Lk. 22:32.

3. Cf Dz.-Sch. 3002.

4. Cf E~.3:14.

5. Cf I Jn. 4:8.

6. Cf I Tim. 6:16.

7. Cf Dz.-Sch. 804.

8. Cf Dz.-Sch. 75.

9. Cf. ibid.

10. Cf Dz.-Sch. 150.

11. Cf Dz.-Sch.76.

12. Cf Ibid.

13. Cf Dz.-Sch. 251-252.

14. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53.

15. Cf Dz.-Sch. 2803.

16. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53.

17. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61.

18. Cf Dz.-Sch. 3903.

19. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61, 63; Cf Paul Vl, Alloc. for the Closing

of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council: AAS LVI [1964] 1016;

Cf. Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, Introd.

20. Cf Lumen Gentium, 62; cf Paul Vl, Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, p 1,

n. 1.

21. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1513.

22 Cf Rom. 5:20.

23. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1514.

24. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 5.

25. Cf Lumen Gentium, 7, 11.

26. Cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5, 6; cf Lumen Gentium, 7, 12, 50.

27. Cf Dz.-Sch.3011.

28 Cf Dz.-Sch. 3074.

29. Cf Lumen Gentium, 25.

30. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 23; cf Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2, 3, 5, 6.

31. Cf Lumen Gentium, 8.

32. Cf Lumen Gentium, 15.

33. Cf Lumen Gentium, 14.

34. Cf Lumen Gentium, 16.

35. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1651.

36. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1642,1651-1654; Paul Vl, Enc. Mysterium Fidei.

37. Cf S.Th.,111,73,3.

38. Cf I Jn. 3:2; Dz.-Sch. 1000.

39. Cf Lumen Gentium, 49.

40. Cf Lk. 10:9-10;Jn. 16:24.

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