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Catholic Dictionary




In general a quality of something by which it can be identified. Applied to the Church, it is one of her attributes by which the true Church of Christ can be recognized. These are commonly understood to be the Church's unity, in doctrine and practice by being united in the same faith and sacraments; holiness in possessing the means of sanctification and producing saints; catholicism or universality, in diffusion throughout the world and acceptance of the whole teaching of Christ; and apostolicity in professing the same faith as that of the Apostles and having an episcopate, under the Pope, which derives in historical succession from the original Twelve Apostles under Peter.