what is being queried is why some do not believe it when the early Christians did and still do - are we to presume that the Church did in fact fail and that some very much later date reformer reformed it and that Christ's prayer went and goes unanswered - no way and not at all imho -
Of course the early church failed, even when Paul was alive churches were going off course(for example some going back into works and telling others that they should get circumcised) hence his need to write them and correct them. Men are fallible which is why we need Gods word as our guidance and plumb line.
Wasnt it St Augustine who declared that God goes out of the room when we have sex? Yep VERY fallible.
There is some confusion regarding the indefectibility of the Catholic church here. The Catholic church cannot fail. The Catholic church is a society of believers, the buildings are the place of worship. And so, those holding to every teaching of the Catholic church, they are the Immaculate Catholic church.
St. Athanasius: “Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they would be the true Church
Fr. William Jurgens: “At one point in the Church’s history, only a few years before Gregory’s [Nazianz] present preaching (+380 A.D.), perhaps the number of Catholic bishops in possession of sees, as opposed to Arian bishops in possession of sees, was no greater than something between 1% and 3% of the total. Had doctrine been determined by popularity, today we should all be deniers of Christ and opponents of the Spirit
Fr. William Jurgens: “In the time of the Emperor Valens (4th century), Basil was virtually the only orthodox Bishop in all the East who succeeded in retaining charge of his see… If it has no other importance for modern man, a knowledge of the history of Arianism should demonstrate at least that the Catholic Church takes no account of popularity and numbers in shaping and maintaining doctrine
: else, we should long since have had to abandon Basil and Hilary and Athanasius and Liberius and Ossius and call ourselves after Arius.”
Anyone who departs from the Catholic Faith in the least degree, they have placed themselves outside the Catholic church, the rest of the members are not effected!
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9), June 29, 1896: “The practice of the Church has always been the same, and that with the consenting judgment [i.e. consensus] of the holy fathers who certainly were accustomed to hold as having no part of Catholic communion and as banished from the Church whoever had departed in even the least way from the doctrine proposed by the authentic Magisterium
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9), June 29, 1896: “No one who merely disbelieves in all these (heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one
. For there may be or arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and if anyone holds to a single one of these he is not a Catholic.”
Indefectibility of the Catholic church is found in the faithful remnant
. Jesus said that his words i.e. the catholic faith, would not pass away. Jesus promised that He will be with His church, the remnant, even to the consummation of the world.
2 John 1:2 For the sake of the truth which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away
John 14:26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
The gates of hell are heretics, liars.
Pope Vigilius, Second Council of Constantinople, 553: “... we bear in mind what was promised about the holy Church and Him who said the gates of Hell will not prevail against it (by these we understand the death-dealing tongues of heretics)
Pope St. Leo IX, Sept. 2, 1053: “The holy Church built upon a rock, that is Christ, and upon Peter... because by the gates of Hell, that is, by the disputations of heretics which lead the vain to destruction, it would never be overcome.
Pope Innocent III, Eius exemplo, Dec. 18, 1208: “By the heart we believe and by the mouth we confess the one Church, not of heretics
, but the Holy Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church outside of which we believe that no one is saved.”