III. The Interpretation of the Heritage of Faith The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church

857, 871

84 The apostles entrusted the ‘Sacred deposit’ of the faith (the

depositumfidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. ‘By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practising and pro-


fessing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remark

able harmony between the bishops and the faithful.’~6

The Magisterium of the Church

8~ ‘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 ofJesus Christ.’47

This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. 86 ‘Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the


divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to

this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faith fully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.’~8 1548 87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: ‘He who hears you,


hears me’,49 the faithful receive with docility the teachings and

directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

The dogmas of the faith


88 The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds


from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is,

when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.