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Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

What does it mean to say that the Catholic Church is visible and has marks?

Question:

I was reading a piece on Catholic apologetics, and it said that the Catholic Church was a visible church with marks. Can you explain what is meant by this?

Answer:

The typical Protestant conception of the Church is that it is invisible. Though individuals may group together for fellowship and Bible study, their churches are really like clubs in a city. The real church, say Protestants, is the broad and unseen group of the saved.

The Catholic Church, in contrast, teaches that the Church is a visible organization. Being a visible organization, it can be identified–it has marks. The marks are that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic–“one” in that it is a unified organization, “holy” in that it is an organization divinely established, “catholic” in that it is to embrace all of mankind, and “apostolic” in that a line of succession has been kept with the authority Christ passed to Peter and the apostles.

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