The Church is the mystical body of Christ, established by God on earth to gather humanity to divine life in heaven. God desires all the faithful to be a single family, united to him and to one another in one ‘mystical body’. This assembly is the Church, the body of Christ, which God has established as the “instrument for the salvation of all” (Lumen Gentium 9§2, ccc. 776).
Jesus Christ established a group of followers under twelve leaders he called ‘Apostles’, the first bishops of his Church. He gave one of them, Simon Peter, overall authority. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:18-19)
Jesus gave his disciples his teaching to pass on to all peoples. This teaching, found in Scripture and Tradition, is interpreted by the Church with the authority of Christ (1 Tim 3:14-15). Jesus also established the sacraments to supersede the rituals of the Old Testament, enabling his saving power to be ministered through the Church, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19).
Mistakes about the Church include: an invisible ‘church’, which is the denial that Jesus founded any visible institution; a church without a Pope, which is the denial of the true hierarchical structure of the Church with bishops united to, and under the authority of, the Pope, the successor of Peter.