Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 27 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Simeon Sylites
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

What is the magisterium of the Catholic Church?

GHENT ALTARPIECE

Jan van Eyck | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 07/02/20

The magisterium is the official teaching office of the Church, including the pope and the bishops in union with him.

At times Catholics will talk about the “magisterium” and its role in the Church. What is it and what does it do?

In simple terms, the magisterium is the official teaching office — in the sense of role or authority, not a bureaucratic center — of the Church, which consists of the pope and the bishops in union with him. They are given the task of interpreting scripture and making judgments on “tradition” within the Church, making official statements as to the authenticity of such traditions.


JESUS ON A MOUNT,SERMON

Read more:
What is a dogma?

Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the magisterium.

“The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. (CCC 85)

This task, given to the apostles and St. Peter by Jesus Christ, can be seen in the New Testament, specifically in the Acts of the Apostles where there arose a dispute concerning the admittance of gentiles.

St. Peter had a vision where he was urged by God to accept the “unclean.” Afterwards he proclaimed, “‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?’ He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:47-48).

The baptism of the gentiles is one example of how Peter and the apostles encountered a new situation, where they had to discern the right course of action. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they were able to make a proclamation that interpreted God’s word in an authentic way.

Catholics believe that the pope and the bishops in union with him can be trusted because of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit upon them, guiding them in the process of proclaiming certain “dogmas” and in judging the authenticity of certain traditions.

The entire concept of the magisterium hinges on this belief, going back to Jesus’ promise, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17).


POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE

Read more:
What is the meaning of the title “pope”?

Tags:
CatechismPope
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
morning
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
2
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
3
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
4
ORGAN
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
5
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
6
BABCIA Z WNUKAMI
Cerith Gardiner
5 Ways grandparents impact our lives for the better
7
WOMAN,FACE,MASK
Cecilia Pigg
Simplify your life and honor your body with these 5 natural perso...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.