The foundations of the Roman Catholic Church were laid at the very beginning of Christianity, as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters that were sent to early Christian communities. The main founders of the Church were the Apostles themselves, people who walked with Jesus and heard him speak. They travelled throughout the world, preaching the Good News and the salvation he offered. They were soon joined by men and women such as St. Paul the Apostle who worked relentlessly to spread the Way of Christ Jesus.
St. Peter the Apostle was the first Bishop of Rome, which makes him the first Pope. Since then, the teachings of Christ, the Sacraments, Scripture, and the Traditions passed on from the Apostles, have been nurtured and preserved by the Catholic Church.
For many, this gives the Roman Catholic Church true authority and credibility.
"You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the underworld will never overpower it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven." Matthew 16:18-19
Being Catholic isn’t easy. There are many aspects of doctrine that people struggle with, and there are obligations that we must adhere to as Catholics, such as weekly Mass, attendance on Holy Days and Reconciliation at least once a year. For many, this commitment to the Church marks a commitment to Jesus and are happy to oblige. Jesus never said that being his disciple would be easy.
It takes many years to become a priest, and a deep knowledge of Theology and pastoral care is required before they can be ordained. This means we are able to turn to our priests and rest assured that their knowledge is reliable. In fact, most of the great theological thinkers throughout the last 2,000 years have been Catholic, such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and contemporary theologians such as Jon Sobrino and Karl Rahner. There’s a sense of security in this; our religious practices have strong foundations.
The Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions on the world and is steeped in history, yet the ordinary Catholics of the world are simply busy following the example of Jesus. They are feeding the poor and looking after the vulnerable through Catholic organisations such as Caritas, the St Vincent de Paul charity, soup kitchens, open houses, and through chaplaincies in hospitals and prisons.
Being Catholic is being part of a family. The Church is a mother to God's children, and her arms are open to all.