The Teaching Authority of the Church
Many scoff at the Church’s precepts and rules, and can’t fathom how our relationship with the Church could affect our relationship with Christ.
Let us remember that the high priests of Israel, due to their office, could inquire of the Lord. And recall Caiaphas’ prophecy about Jesus’ mission, which John 11 states was not said of his own accord, but in virtue of his being high priest that year.1
Our Lord upheld the legitimacy of the teaching office when He said in Matthew 23, “the scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you,” 2 though He quickly warned not to follow their bad example.
Jesus commissioned His apostles to be the leaders of His Church. He told them, “As the Father sent me, so I send you,”3 and “He who hears you hears me and he who rejects you rejects me.”4
The popes and bishops of the Catholic Church succeed the apostles in their teaching office,5 and it is they who, over the centuries, have passed on the Faith to us through creeds, Church councils, even Scripture itself.
We are called to accept the Church’s teachings with joy,6 knowing that the Church is a good mother who desires our eternal happiness—and, after all, who could reject his own mother?
1 – Jn. 11:50
2 – Mt. 23:2
3 – Jn. 20:21
4 – Lk. 10:16
5 – See The Catechism of the Catholic Church 77, 861-2.
6 – cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 25