The word “catholic” is a qualifying identification that is squarely premised on a reality—the profession and advocacy of the articles of faith contained in the Apostles’ Creed. It is certainly not a simple “brand”, definitely not a mere claim.
A catholic follows a way of life that stipulates what is to be believed (faith) and what is to be done (morals). And the Catholic faith and morals are founded on a tripod: Sacred Scriptures. Apostolic Tradition. Church Magisterium.
Sacred Scriptures contain the written word of God. Apostolic Tradition has the teaching and practice handed down by the apostles. Church Magisterium forwards the official doctrine of the Catholic Church drawn from the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition.
On the more practical side, when a preacher claims to be Catholic, it is enough to ask him the three following rather simple questions: One, does he believe that the consecrated Host is the Body and Blood of Christ? Two, does he believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of God? Three, does he make the sign of the cross?
The moment the preacher answers “no” to any of the above three questions, then he can be anybody or anything but a Catholic, much less a Catholic preacher.
A Catholic, the more so a Catholic preacher is not at liberty to choose what to believe and what to disbelieve in the totality of Catholic faith and morals. He may not simply teach what pleases him, and merely keeps quiet on what displeases him. He may neither invent his teaching according to his personal preference and convenience.
This is the plague of the so called “Christian Preachers”: Each one of them comes out with a sect different from all others because each one teaches his or her own personal doctrine. Thus, each sect has its own name or title.
6 September 1999