Dogma of the Catholic Church

Most people have heard of Dogma but not many people know what it means. Dogma is another name for what the Church believes. The Catholic Church official teaching is based on The Apostles Creed and Dogma. Dogma is fundamental to the Catholic faith. It is etched on the heart of the Church for eternity because the Church believes it was revealed by God and the Church declared it infallibly. A dogma is a definitive Catholic teaching and a doctrine is less formal official teaching.

Note that the Vatican has no official list of Dogmas, probably for many reasons, one of which, that Dogmas can be very complicated, and placing them in a few words, could become legalistic, and also give an incomplete view of the Dogmas.

We provide this list as a reference only, and encourage those who want to learn more about each of these to consult the Catechism and various other Catholic sources. To see a flow chart of Catholic Doctrine go here

I. The Unity and Trinity of God

  1. God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things.
  2. God's existence is not merely an object of rational knowledge, but also an object of supernatural faith.
  3. God's Nature is incomprehensible to men.
  4. The blessed in Heaven possess an immediate intuitive knowledge of the Divine Essence.
  5. The immediate vision of God transcends the natural power of cognition of the human soul, and is therefore supernatural.
  6. The soul, for the immediate vision of God, requires the light of glory.
  7. God's Essence is also incomprehensible to the blessed in Heaven.
  8. The divine attributes are really identical among themselves and with the Divine Essence.
  9. God is absolutely perfect.
  10. God is actually infinite in every perfection.
  11. God is absolutely simple.
  12. There is only one God.
  13. The one God is, in the ontological sense, the true God.
  14. God possesses an infinite power of cognition.
  15. God is absolute veracity.
  16. God is absolutely faithful.
  17. God is absolute ontological goodness in Himself and in relation to others.
  18. God is absolute moral goodness or holiness.
  19. God is absolute benignity.
  20. God is absolutely immutable.
  21. God is eternal.
  22. God is immense or absolutely immeasurable.
  23. God is everywhere present in created space.
  24. God's knowledge is infinite.
  25. God's knowledge is purely and simply actual.
  26. God's knowledge is subsistent.
  27. God knows all that is merely possible by the knowledge of simple intelligence.
  28. God knows all real things in the past, the present and the future.
  29. By the knowledge of vision, God also foresees the future free acts of rational creatures with infallible certainty.
  30. God's Divine Will is infinite.
  31. God loves Himself of necessity, but loves and wills the creation of extra-divine things, on the other hand, with freedom.
  32. God is almighty.
  33. God is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth.
  34. God is infinitely just.
  35. God is infinitely merciful.
  36. In God there are three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Each of the three Persons possesses the one (numerical) Divine Essence.
  37. In God there are two internal divine processions.
  38. The Divine Persons, not the Divine Nature, are the subject of the internal divine processions (in the active and in the passive sense).
  39. The Second Divine Person proceeds from the First Divine Person by generation, and therefore is related to Him as Son to Father.
  40. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and from the Son as from a single principle through a single spiration.
  41. The Holy Ghost does not proceed through generation but through spiration.
  42. The relations in God are really identical with the Divine Nature.
  43. The Three Divine Persons are in one another.
  44. All the ad extra activities of God are common to the three Persons.

II. God the Creator

  1. All that exists outside God was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God.
  2. God was moved by his goodness to create the world.
  3. The world was created for the glorification of God.
  4. The Three Divine Persons are one single, common principle of creation.
  5. God created the world free from exterior compulsion and inner necessity.
  6. God has created a good world.
  7. The world had a beginning in time.
  8. God alone created the world.
  9. God keeps all created things in existence.
  10. God, through his Providence, protects and guides all that He has created.
  11. The first man was created by God.
  12. Man consists of two essential parts - a material body and a spiritual soul.
  13. The rational soul per se is the essential form of the body.
  14. Every human being possesses an individual soul.
  15. God has conferred on man a supernatural destiny.
  16. Our first parents, before the fall, were endowed with sanctifying grace.
  17. In addition to sanctifying grace, our first parents were endowed with the preternatural gift of bodily immortality.
  18. Our first parents in Paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment.
  19. Through sin our first parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God.
  20. Our first parents became subject to death and to the dominion of the devil.
  21. Adam's sin is transmitted to his posterity, not by imitation but by descent.
  22. Original sin is transmitted by natural generation.
  23. In the state of original sin man is deprived of sanctifying grace and all that this implies, as well as of the preternatural gifts of integrity.
  24. Souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific Vision of God.
  25. In the beginning of time God created spiritual essences (angels) out of nothing.
  26. The nature of angels is spiritual.
  27. The evil spirits (demons) were created good by God; they became evil through their own fault.
  28. The secondary task of the good angels is the protection of men and care for their salvation.
  29. The devil possesses a certain dominion over mankind by reason of Adam's sin.

III. God the Redeemer

  1. Jesus Christ is true God and true Son of God.
  2. Christ assumed a real body, not an apparent body.
  3. Christ assumed not only a body but also a rational soul.
  4. Christ was truly generated and born of a daughter of Adam, the Virgin Mary.
  5. The Divine and human natures are united hypostatically in Christ, that is, joined to each other in one Person.
  6. In the hypostatic union each of the two natures of Christ continues unimpaired, untransformed, and unmixed with each other.
  7. Each of the two natures in Christ possesses its own natural will and its own natural mode of operation.
  8. The hypostatic union of Christ's human nature with the Divine Logos took place at the moment of conception.
  9. The hypostatic union was effected by the three Divine Persons acting in common.
  10. Only the second Divine Person became Man.
  11. Not only as God but also as man Jesus Christ is the natural Son of God.
  12. The God-Man Jesus Christ is to be venerated with one single mode of worship, the absolute worship of latria which is due to God alone.
  13. Christ's Divine and human characteristics and activities are to be predicated of the one Word Incarnate.
  14. Christ was free from all sin, from original sin as well as from all personal sin.
  15. Christ's human nature was passable.
  16. The Son of God became man in order to redeem men.
  17. Fallen man cannot redeem himself.
  18. The God-man Jesus Christ is a high priest.
  19. Christ offered Himself on the Cross as a true and proper sacrifice.
  20. Christ by his sacrifice on the Cross has ransomed us and reconciled us with God.
  21. Christ, through his passion and death, merited award from God.
  22. After his death, Christ's Soul, which was separated from his Body, descended into the underworld.
  23. On the third day after his death, Christ rose gloriously from the dead.
  24. Christ ascended body and soul into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.

IV. The Mother of the Redeemer

  1. Mary is truly the Mother of God.
  2. Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. Mary is the Immaculate Conception.
  3. Mary conceived by the Holy Ghost without the cooperation of man.
  4. Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity.
  5. After the birth of Jesus, Mary remained a Virgin.
  6. Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven.

Explanations of this Mary stuff can be found here                               

V. God the Sanctifier

  1. There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will.
  2. There is a supernatural influence of God in the faculties of the soul which coincides in time with man's free act of will.
  3. For every salutary act, internal supernatural grace of God (gratia elevans) is absolutely necessary.
  4. Internal supernatural grace is absolutely necessary for the beginning of faith and salvation.
  5. Without the special help of God, the justified cannot persevere to the end in justification.
  6. The justified person is not able for his whole life long to avoid sins, even venial sins, without the special privilege of the grace of God.
  7. Even in the fallen state, man can, by his natural intellectual power, know religious and moral truths.
  8. For the performance of a morally good action, sanctifying grace is not required.
  9. In the state of fallen nature, it is morally impossible for man without supernatural Revelation, to know easily, with absolute certainty, and without admixture of error, all religious and moral truths of the natural order.
  10. Grace cannot be merited by natural works either de condigno or de congruo.
  11. God gives all the just sufficient grace for the observation of the divine commandments.
  12. God, by his eternal resolve of Will, has predetermined certain men to eternal blessedness.
  13. God, by an eternal resolve of his Will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection.
  14. The human will remains free under the influence of efficacious grace, which is not irresistible.
  15. There is grace which is truly sufficient and yet remains inefficacious.
  16. The causes of Justification. (Defined by the Council of Trent) :
    1. The final cause is the honour of God and of Christ and the eternal life of men.
    2. The efficient cause is the mercy of God.
    3. The meritorious cause is Jesus Christ, who as mediator between God and men, has made atonement for us and merited the grace by which we are justified.
    4. The instrumental cause of the first justification is the Sacrament of Baptism. Thus it defines that Faith is a necessary precondition for justification (of adults).
    5. The formal cause is God's Justice, not by which He Himself is just, but which He makes us just, that is, Sanctifying Grace.
  17. The sinner can and must prepare himself by the help of actual grace for the reception of the grace by which he is justified.
  18. The justification of an adult is not possible without faith.
  19. Besides faith, further acts of disposition must be present.
  20. Sanctifying grace sanctifies the soul.
  21. Sanctifying grace makes the just man a friend of God.
  22. Sanctifying grace makes the just man a child of God and gives him a claim to the inheritance of heaven.
  23. The three Divine or theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are infused with sanctifying grace.
  24. Without special Divine Revelation no one can know with the certainty of faith, if he be in the state of grace.
  25. The degree of justifying grace is not identical in all the just.
  26. Grace can be increased by good works.
  27. The grace by which we are justified may be lost, and is lost by every grievous sin.
  28. By his good works, the justified man really acquires a claim to supernatural reward from God.
  29. A just man merits for himself through each good work an increase of sanctifying grace, eternal life (if death finds him in the state of grace) and an increase in heavenly glory.

VI. The Catholic Church

  1. The Catholic Church was founded by the God-Man Jesus Christ.
  2. Christ founded the Catholic Church in order to continue his work of redemption for all time.
  3. Christ gave his Church a hierarchical constitution.
  4. The powers bestowed on the Apostles have descended to the Bishops.
  5. Christ appointed the Apostle Peter to be the first of all the Apostles and to be the visible Head of the whole Catholic Church, by appointing him immediately and personally to the primacy of jurisdiction.
  6. According to Christ's ordinance, Peter is to have successors in his Primacy over the whole Catholic Church and for all time.
  7. The successors of Peter in the Primacy are the Bishops of Rome.
  8. The Pope possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Catholic Church, not merely in matters of faith and morals, but also in Church discipline and in the government of the Church.
  9. The Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.
  10. By virtue of Divine right, the bishops possess an ordinary power of government over their dioceses.
  11. Christ founded the Catholic Church.
  12. Christ is the Head of the Catholic Church.
  13. In the final decision on doctrines concerning faith and morals, the Catholic Church is infallible.
  14. The primary object of the Infallibility is the formally revealed truths of Christian Doctrine concerning faith and morals.
  15. The totality of the Bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered over the earth propose a teaching of faith or morals as one to he held by all the faithful.
  16. The Church founded by Christ is unique and one.
  17. The Church founded by Christ is holy.
  18. The Church founded by Christ is catholic.
  19. The Church founded by Christ is apostolic.
  20. Membership of the Catholic Church is necessary for all men for salvation.(1)

VII. The Communion of Saints

  1. It is permissible and profitable to venerate the Saints in Heaven, and to invoke their intercession.
  2. It is permissible and profitable to venerate the relics of the Saints.
  3. It is permissible and profitable to venerate images of the Saints.
  4. The living faithful can come to the assistance of the souls in Purgatory by their intercessions.

More about the Saints here
More about Purgatory Here
More about Statues in Church here

VIII. The Sacraments

  1. The Sacraments of the New Covenant contain the grace which they signify, and bestow it on those who do not hinder it.
  2. The Sacraments work ex opere operato, that is, the sacraments operate by the power of the completed sacramental rite.
  3. All the Sacraments of the New Covenant confer sanctifying grace on the receivers.
  4. Three Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, imprint a character, that is an indelible spiritual mark, and, for this reason, cannot be repeated.
  5. The sacramental character is a spiritual mark imprinted on the soul.
  6. The sacramental character continues at least until the death of the bearer.
  7. All Sacraments of the New Covenant were instituted by Jesus Christ.
  8. There are seven Sacraments of the New Law.
  9. The Sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for the salvation of mankind.
  10. The validity and efficacy of the Sacrament is independent of the minister's orthodoxy and state of grace.
  11. For the valid dispensing of the Sacraments it is necessary that the minister accomplish the Sacramental sign in the proper manner.
  12. The minister must have the intention of at least doing what the Church does.
  13. In the case of adult recipients moral worthiness is necessary for the worthy or fruitful reception of the Sacraments.

IX. Baptism

  1. Baptism is a true Sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ.
  2. The materia remota of the Sacrament of Baptism is true and natural water.
  3. Baptism confers the grace of justification.
  4. Baptism effects the remission of all punishments of sin, both eternal and temporal.
  5. Even if it be unworthily received, valid Baptism imprints on the soul of the recipient an indelible spiritual mark, the Baptismal Character, and for this reason, the Sacrament cannot be repeated.
  6. Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception for salvation.
  7. Baptism can be validly administered by anyone.
  8. Baptism can be received by any person in the wayfaring state who is not already baptised.
  9. The Baptism of young children is valid and licit.

More about Baptism here                                                           

X. Confirmation

  1. Confirmation is a true Sacrament properly so-called.
  2. Confirmation imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, and for this reason, cannot be repeated.
  3. The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop alone.

XI. Holy Eucharist

  1. The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are truly, really, and substantially present in the Eucharist.
  2. Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into his Body and of the whole substance of the wine into his Blood.
  3. The accidents of bread and wine continue after the change of the substance.
  4. The Body and Blood of Christ together with his Soul and Divinity and therefore, the whole Christ, are truly present in the Eucharist.
  5. The Whole Christ is present under each of the two Species.
  6. When either consecrated Species is divided, the Whole Christ is present in each part of the Species.
  7. After the Consecration has been completed the Body and Blood are permanently present in the Eucharist.
  8. The Worship of Adoration (latria) must be given to Christ present in the Eucharist.
  9. The Eucharist is a true Sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ.
  10. The matter for the consummation of the Eucharist is bread and wine.
  11. For children before the age of reason, the reception of the Eucharist is not necessary for salvation.
  12. Communion under two forms is not necessary for any individual members of the Faithful, either by reason of Divine precept or as a means of salvation.
  13. The power of consecration resides in a validly consecrated priest only .
  14. The Sacrament of the Eucharist can be validly received by every baptised person in the wayfaring state, including young children.
  15. For the worthy reception of the Eucharist, the state of grace as well as the proper and pious disposition are necessary.
  16. The Holy Mass is a true and proper Sacrifice.
  17. In the Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross is made present, its memory celebrated, and its saving power applied.
  18. In the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacrifice of the Cross the Sacrificial Gift and the Primary Sacrificing Priest are identical; only the nature and the mode of the offering are different.
  19. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely a sacrifice of praise and thanks-giving, but also a sacrifice of expiation and impetration.
More about the Eucahrist here                            

XII. Penance

  1. The Church has received from Christ the power of remitting sins committed after Baptism.
  2. By the Church's Absolution sins are truly and immediately remitted.
  3. The Church's power to forgive sins extends to all sin without exception.
  4. The exercise of the Church's power to forgive sins is a judicial act.
  5. The forgiveness of sins which takes place in the Tribunal of Penance is a true and proper Sacrament, which is distinct from the Sacrament of Baptism.
  6. Extra-sacramental justification is effected by perfect sorrow only when it is associated with the desire for the Sacrament (votum sacramenti).
  7. Contrition springing from the motive of fear is a morally good and supernatural act.
  8. The Sacramental confession of sins is ordained by God and is necessary for salvation.
  9. By virtue of Divine ordinance, all grievous sins according to kind and number, as well as those circumstances which alter their nature, are subject to the obligation of confession.
  10. The confession of venial sins is not necessary but is permitted and is useful.
  11. All temporal punishments for sin are not always remitted by God with the guilt of sin and the eternal punishment.
  12. The priest has the right and duty, according to the nature of the sins and the ability of the penitent, to impose salutary and appropriate works for satisfaction.
  13. Extra-sacramental penitential works, such as the performance of voluntary penitential practices and the patient bearing of trials sent by God, possess satisfactory value.
  14. The form of the Sacrament of Penance consists in the words of Absolution.
  15. Absolution, in association with the acts of the penitent, effects the forgiveness of sins.
  16. The principal effect of the Sacrament of Penance is the reconciliation of the sinner with God.
  17. The Sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation to those who, after Baptism, fall into grievous sin.
  18. The sole possessors of the Church's Power of Absolution are the bishops and priests.
  19. Absolution given by deacons, clerics or lower rank, and laymen is not Sacramental Absolution.
  20. The Sacrament of Penance can be received by any baptised person who, after Baptism, has committed a grievous or a venial sin.
  21. The Church possesses the power to grant Indulgences.
  22. The use of Indulgences is useful and salutary to the Faithful.

An explanation of Penance is here                                                           

XIII. Holy Orders

  1. Holy Order is a true and proper Sacrament which was instituted by Jesus Christ.
  2. The consecration of priests is a Sacrament.
  3. Bishops are superior to priests.
  4. The Sacrament of Order confers sanctifying grace on the recipient.
  5. The Sacrament of Order imprints a character on the recipient.
  6. The Sacrament of Order confers a permanent spiritual power on the recipient.
  7. The ordinary dispenser of all grades of Order, both the sacramental and the non-sacramental, is the validly consecrated Bishop alone.

More about Priests here                                                   

XIV. Matrimony

  1. Marriage is a true and proper Sacrament instituted by God.
  2. From the sacramental contract of marriage emerges the Bond of Marriage, which binds both marriage partners to a lifelong indivisible community of life.
  3. The Sacrament of Matrimony bestows sanctifying grace on the contracting parties.

Problems of gay marriage here                                                                   

XV. Anointing of the sick

  1. Extreme Unction or anointing of the sick is a true and proper Sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ.
  2. The remote matter of Extreme Unction is oil.
  3. The form consists in the prayer of the priest for the sick person which accomplishes the anointing.
  4. Extreme Unction gives the sick person sanctifying grace in order to arouse and strengthen him.
  5. Extreme Unction effects the remission of grievous sins still remaining and of venial sins.
  6. Extreme Unction sometimes effects the restoration of bodily health, if this be of spiritual advantage.
  7. Only Bishops and priests can validly administer Extreme Unction.
  8. Extreme Unction can be received only by the Faithful who are seriously ill.

XVI. The Last Things

  1. In the present order of salvation, death is a punishment for sin.
  2. All human beings subject to original sin are subject to the law of death.
  3. The souls of the just which in the moment of death are free from all guilt of sin and punishment for sin, enter into Heaven.
  4. The bliss of Heaven lasts for all eternity.
  5. The degree of perfection of the Beatific Vision granted to the just is proportioned to each one's merit.
  6. The souls of those who die in the condition of personal grievous sin enter hell.
  7. The punishment of hell lasts for all eternity.
  8. The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter purgatory.
  9. At the end of the world Christ will come again in glory to pronounce judgment.
  10. All the dead will rise again on the last day with their bodies.
  11. The dead will rise again with the same bodies as they had on earth.
  12. Christ, on his second coming, will judge all men.


(1) Dr. Art Sippo writes "[No salvation outside the Church] was reiterated at Vatican II in Lumen Gentium Paragraph 14. Now formal membership is the ordinary means of salvation, but the Church has always accepted that there can be extenuating circumstances and that one may be related to the Catholic Church less formally [this will include many Christians of other denominations]. Technically, all validly baptized persons are members of the Catholic Church."

Also, some honest seekers who did not learn about the the Catholic Church (through no fault of their own) will be saved.

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