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

Full 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?


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.

One Comment

  • Joan Seymour says:

    Interesting that this reply begins with a description of what protestant churches believe. Since when does the Catholic Church define itself over against Protestant churches? Apart from that, a very unhelpful answer. I’d like to know how we can observe these ‘marks’.

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