When Jesus mentioned the “one flock, one shepherd,” was he referring to the Catholic Church alone?

Full Question

In John 10:16 Jesus says “I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” Does that one flock mean the One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church or does that include all the other Protestant churches in the world? What does the Church teach?


The Church teaches that the “one flock, one shepherd” in John 10:16 subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him (Dominus Iesus 17).

While the Church acknowledges that many truths are found in other ecclesial communities, the complete fullness of Christ’s teaching and grace is only found in the Catholic Church:

This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me.” (John 17:21, CCC 820)

To work ceaselessly and efficaciously for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit is the mission of the Church (CCC 831).

With Pope Benedict VXI, “Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him: yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!” (Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, St. Peter’s Square, April 24, 2005)

Further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 11-870; One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic: The Early Church Was the Catholic Church by Kenneth D. Whitehead



  1. Ellen Reply

    Jesus meant other sheep Israel, other counties , continents. They thought He was only for the Jews , later He told them to go to the ends of the earth bringing the Gospel , Baptizing in The Name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit I believe at Pentecost they understood all He said when He was with them, including John Ch. 6, the Eucharist.

  2. Peter Reply

    Our Lord was referring to the fact that the Gentiles also were to be incorporated into his Kingdom, which we know as the Catholic Church. (Though another interpretation is that he was speaking of the souls of the Old Testament saints in limbo.) The Protestant denominations are not part of the Church, though this does not mean that every individual Protestant person is culpable for not being a member of the Church. Obviously, we desire for all people — baptised or not — to become members of the Catholic Church. In England there is a very beautiful prayer to Our Lady which says: “Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.”

  3. Jon Smith Reply

    the catholic church was everything JESUS preached AGAINST!!! the BIBLE says call no man father ….what do they call their priests? have no graven images ….what are their churches full of? confessing your sins to priest? when JESUS died and the veil of the temple was rent in two,that was to symbolize the way to GOD is open ….we don’t need a priest anymore …JESUS himself is our mediator…the church is EVIL at the top …many deceived people are taking part in services that are pag
    an in nature…

    1. Peter Reply

      The Catholic Church is everything Jesus preached against? Well, the Catholic Church teaches — and has taught for 2,000 years — that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, that he died for our sins and rose from the dead, that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Which part of that is pagan? As to the other specific points you raised (the sacrament of confession, the title of “Father” used for priests …), I am sure people here would be willing to explain the basis for all this (in the Bible!), if you mean it as a sincere question and are not just spouting off.

  4. Patrick Gannon Reply

    No, he was not referring to the Catholic Church alone, in my view. The Catholic Church didn’t come into existence until the third century. Till that time there was heated competition between competitive sects that were centered around (a most likely mythical) Jesus. The Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics and proto-orthodox competed via the written word, but once Rome got involved, the proto-orthodox became the Orthodox, which then became the Catholic Church, who made short work of banishing the competing sects along with the gospels, epistles and Acts that they too produced, but which of course the Orthodox would not accept as canon, once they won the war of words, thanks to Rome’s interference.

    Jesus, if he had any religious idea in mind outside of Judaism, likely would have sided with the Gnostics or Ebionites. Gnostics liked the gospel of John, while Ebionites preferred Matthew, but all of them had their own texts and scriptures. I think Jesus, if he existed as a historical rather than mythical person, would have been utterly repulsed by many aspects of Catholicism starting with the concept of eternal torture.

  5. Peter Reply

    This “historical Jesus” that you are potentially prepared to believe in seems like a very enlightened chap. What good taste he has to share your opinions on things like the idea that hell does not exist!

    I wonder how it is that in the first three centuries of Christianity (“Christianity”, if you prefer) there were all sorts of sects who based their ideas on a mythical man who had never existed. If the first of these supposed sects started its preaching around the supposed time of Christ, didn’t anyone bother to point out to them that the person they were preaching about never existed?

    If you think the Catholic Church did not exist until the third century, I wonder if you could please share your special theory about: WHAT YEAR exactly the Church was founded? WHO founded the Church? WHAT CONCRETE EVENT was involved in this founding of the Church? Why did other existing “Christians” at the time not protest the creation out of the blue of a new religious organisation that hijacked the Christian legacy?

  6. STEPHEN Reply

    Catholic is greek word (katholos mean universal, kata+holos, according to whole).
    Church came from greek ecclisia (to be called out). Meaning the people which accepts the call of the faith.

    It came out in Acts 9:31: So “the church throughout” Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed peace. As it continued to be built up and to live in the fear of the Lord, it kept increasing in numbers through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

    “The Church throughout” in greek words: ecclesia katholos… Catholic Church.

    Then the name came up in Ignatius of Anthiocs letter to Smyrnaeans, “Where there is Lord Jesus Christ, there is Catholic Church”.
    Ignatius of Anthiocs was a martyred bishop of Anthioc, at the first century.

  7. Jose Rodulfo Reply

    The Church has its Magisterium. Let us not rely on personal opinion.

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