As Catholics, we enjoy the security of having a central authority that teaches and protects the fullness of the faith as taught by Jesus and the Apostles. Those who have removed themselves from the Church over the centuries have found the issue of Church authority to be a major stumbling block. Lacking official leadership, non-Catholic Christian assemblies experience constant fragmentation, accompanied by contradictions and denials of each other’s teachings. We know, however, that God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), and that the unchanging truth of His message requires a central authority to guard and protect it.
Our country has a written constitution, yet there are people placed in governing positions to interpret and preserve it. Without this, there would be chaos. In all areas of our lives we encounter and submit to authority. That’s why when it comes to the most important aspect of all, the salvation of our soul, the same principle is applied. In John 14:18 Jesus tells us that He will not leave us orphans. To this end He established a visible Church and put someone in charge to make sure His teaching was protected and taught without change or error (Matt.16:17-19).
St Paul tells us that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), and the guidance given by Jesus in Matt. 18:15-17 indicates that the Church is the final authority. Jesus promised to be with His Church always, and that the Holy Spirit would guide it (John 16:13-14). That’s why, in spite of the scandals and sometimes questionable human actions occasioned throughout history, the Catholic Church continues to endure after nearly 2000 years. It was established on the authority of God, not man. Exercising this authority, the Church responds to false witnesses and heretical teaching by defining doctrines that are faithful to the Apostolic word and fully supported by the writings of the early Church fathers.
A central authority is required to protect the enduring truth of Jesus’ message, the truth that sets you free (John 8:31-32). You are truly free when you submit to the God established authority of the Catholic Church.