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Chapter 11. The Four Marks of the Church • 129

to those bodies of Christians who have a valid episcopal leadership or

hierarchy, while the phrase

ecclesial communities

refers to those bodies

of Christians that do not have an apostolic hierarchy.)


The Church has her origin in the Holy Trinity, and that is the source of

her holiness. In his plan for the salvation of humanity, God the Father

willed the existence of the Church. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, estab-

lished a community of disciples and died on the Cross for the forgiveness

of sins. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, works within the

Church to keep her members faithful to the Gospel. The Church is holy

in her Founder, in her saints, and in her means of salvation.

Through Baptism and Confirmation, Catholics have become a

people consecrated by the Holy Spirit to the praise of God through Jesus

Christ. Christians grow in holiness by working to live in conformity to

the Gospel of Jesus and thus to become more like him, especially in the

totality of his love for others shown by his sacrifice of himself on the

Cross. But Christians also remain subject to temptation and sin, thus

needing God’s mercy and forgiveness. In teaching his disciples how to

pray, Jesus included the following petition to the Father: “Forgive us our

trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In the following parts of this catechism, the Sacraments, the Ten

Commandments, the virtue of charity, and prayer will be presented as

sources of holiness for the Church.


The word


means “universal.” The Catholic Church has lived

and continues to live in a diversity of cultures and languages because she

is led by the Spirit of Christ to bring the Gospel to all peoples. She has

known how to accept what is true and good in all cultures and, at the

same time, to infuse the truth and goodness of her tradition and life into

them. The process of inculturation includes this dynamic.