Much confusion reigns today over the identity of Our Lord’s true Church here on earth, and the variety of names by which it can be called. Easily most of the present confusion comes from the Church’s biggest problem of today, which is the diabolical Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). Let us attempt to disentangle some of the confusion.
“Church” derives from the Old English “cirice,” deriving in turn from the Greek word “kuriakon,” meaning “of the Lord.” Thus “Doma kuriakon” meant “house of the Lord,” and from naming the building, “church” came to mean also the people that were regularly to be found in the building.
“Catholic” Church names many a building, but principally the worldwide group of people (“katholos” in Greek means “universal”) who share one Faith, one set of Sacraments and one Hierarchy, all three having been established by the Incarnate God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his life on earth two thousand years ago. But from this original group of believers as instituted by Our Lord, other groups have regularly broken away, while still claiming to be Christ’s true Church. How then am I to know which is his true Church?
“Christ’s Church”has four Marks, as they are called. 1 One – above all by oneness of Faith Our Lord meant to unite his Church and not to found many churches (cf. Jn. XVII, 21–23: “That they may be one”). 2 Holy – Our Lord founded his Church to bring men to the All-Holy God and his holy Heaven (cf. Mt. V, 48: “Be you perfect”). 3 Catholic – Our Lord founded his Church for all men of all lands and all ages (cf. Mt. XXVIII, 19: “Going, teach ye all nations”). 4 Apostolic – Our Lord founded his Church as a monarchy, to be ruled by the Apostle Peter and his successors (cf. Mt. XVI, 18: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock (in Greek “petran”) I will found my Church”). Wherever these four Marks are, there is Christ’s true Church. Where they are lacking, there is not Christ’s Church.
“Conciliar Church”means the God-centred Catholic Church as fallen and still falling under the sway of the man-centred Second Vatican Council. Conciliarism (the distilled error of Vatican II) bears the same relation to the true Church of Christ as the rot of a rotten apple bears to the apple which it is rotting. Just as rot occupies the apple, depends on the apple, cannot exist without the apple, yet is quite different from the apple (as uneatable is different from eatable), so man-centred Conciliarism so occupies Christ’s Church that little of the Church is not more or less rotten, yet Conciliarism is so different from Catholicism that one can truly say that the Conciliar Church is not the Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church is visible. Isn’t the Conciliar Church also visible?
“Visible Church” means all the buildings, officials and people of the Church that we can see with our eyes. But to say that the Catholic Church is visible, therefore the visible Church is the Catholic Church, is as foolish as to say that all lions are animals so all animals are lions. That part alone of the visible Church is Catholic which is one, holy, universal and apostolic. The rest is various sorts of rot.
“Official Church”means the Church as led by, and following, its visible officials. Since these today are largely Conciliar, so the “official Church” is largely Conciliar and not Catholic, according to the four Marks. Similarly “Mainstream Church” means today’s official Church as opposed to the “Traditionalist” remnant. However, let nobody say there is nothing one, holy, universal or apostolic left in the mainstream Church, any more than everything in the “Traditionalist” remnant shows forth the four Marks. Wheat and chaff are always mixed in Christ’s Church (cf. Mt. XIII, 24–30).