|Colossal marble head of Emperor Constantine the Great, Roman, 4th century|
Paid ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo® since the time of their Founder Felix Y. Manalo, have no coherent teachings on when the Catholic Church was founded. To Emiliano Magtuto, it was founded in 44 B.C (Pasugo Nov. 1956, p. 18); to Benjamin Santiago, it was founded in 400 A.D. (Pasugo Feb. 1959, p. 1 and 1870 A.D. (Pasugo Aug. 1962, p. 3; to Teofilo Ramos, it was founded in 1870 A.D. (Pasugo Mar. 1956, p. 25 and for Joaquin Balmores, it was founded in 400 A.D. (Pasugo Feb. 1952, p. 9). And to many Manalistas, the Catholic Church was founded by Emperor Constantine? Let's face the truth...
The Roman Church of Constantine...From the Catholic Treasure Chest
The Roman Catholic Church was founded by the Roman Emperor, Constantine, in 313 A.D.??? That is what some anti-Catholics will tell you.
When you ask them for "proof" of what they say, they will refer to the "Edict of Milan" issued by Emperor Constantine in 313 A.D. This false charge is riddled with errors. Let us examine them one at a time...
1. They use faulty reasoning by saying that since the Catholic Church is called the "Roman Catholic Church", it must have been founded by a Roman Emperor, namely Constantine. They point to the "Edict of Milan", issued in 313 A.D., as "proof". Now if anyone would just read the "Edict" for themselves, they would find that it merely gave Christianity the freedom to practice the faith openly and with no fear of persecution from the Romans. After all, for centuries Christians were persecuted mercilessly by the Romans from the very beginning. It was the Romans who nailed Jesus Christ to the cross and it was a Roman soldier who thrust a spear into His side. Do you recall the Roman Circus and all of those hungry lions?
Nothing at all is said in the "Edict" about Constantine founding the "Catholic Church", which is not even mentioned by name in the document, and the persons who perpetrate this false charge cannot provide any other genuine historical document which supports it.
2. Their second error is the fact that the term,"Roman Catholic", was not even coined until about 1200 years later in the 16th century, by Protestant reformers, especially Anglicans, because they wanted to retain the name "Catholic" for themselves.
3. Their third error is their failure to read, and to accept, the documents of the Church Fathers and other Church writers. Hundreds of these documents clearly contain the words "Catholic Church", and are dated from 107 A.D.. That date is hundreds of years before Constantine's "Edict" was issued. Genuine historical writings in which the words "Catholic Church" appear, are in every century from 107, up to and beyond the Reformation, and to this very day.The sheer volume of these genuine historical documents is so overwhelming, that it is a continuity that cannot be denied.
Saint Augustine alone, mentioned the Catholic Church by name over 300 times in his writings. Just to mention a few more, so did Saint Athanasius and Saint Jerome mentioned the Catholic Church by name many times. These are just three examples out of scores of early authors.
4. Their fourth error is in trying to show that the "Catholic Church", and the "Roman Catholic Church", are two different Churches, when in fact they are one and the same.
5. Their fifth error is their interpretation of, for example, the Russian Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, etc. They try to show divisions such as Roman, Russian, Ukrainian etc. They fail to realize that there are many Catholics in these, and many other countries, and they are not separate Catholic Churches, but are united to the one Holy Catholic Church. The names just distinguish them from the Orthodox Churches in those countries. It would be proper to say, "the Catholic Church in Russia, the Catholic Church in Ukraine", etc..
6. Their sixth error is tagged to the first error in that anti-Catholics try to peg the Catholic Church as an "apostate"* or a "Pagan Church", since they charge that it "was founded" by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine. If the detractors insist on this false charge, then they will have to admit that the very Bible which they all use, came from that same "apostate" or "pagan" Church, and it was provided by that Church scores of years after Constantine died.
*Calling the Catholic Church an "apostate Church" is tantamount to calling Jesus Christ a liar
(1John 5:10), for Jesus promised in Matthew 28:20, that He would be with His Church every day in every century until the end of time, and with no gaps. He also promised that the Holy Spirit would be with His Church forever, in John 14:16-17, and that His Church is the final authority, inMatthew 18:17, and that He would not orphan His Church, in John 14:18.Saint Paul wrote in Ephesians that, "Just as Christ is head of the Church, being Himself savior of the body." Ephesians 5:21Now who or what is the Body of Christ? It is His Church. Ephesians 1:22-23So since Jesus Christ is the Savior of His Church, could it ever become an "apostate Church"?Saint Paul also said that it is the Church which is the "pillar and foundation of the truth",in 1Timothy 3:15. He did not say it was the Bible.So someone please tell me then, how the Church which Jesus Christ founded could ever apostatize?
7. Their seventh error is in failing to read the history of Constantine (285-337) which is quite interesting, as he was a pagan Roman Emperor who was baptized into the Catholic Church just before he died in 337. If he had founded the Catholic Church in 313 as some claim, then why did he wait until 337 before joining it? How could he have founded a Church to which he did not belong? How could a non-baptized pagan found a Christian Church? Who would join it?
His mother was Saint Helena who journeyed to the Holy Land in search of the true Cross of Christ. She found it in a miraculous way, but that in itself is yet another interesting story.
Written by Bob Stanley, July 6, 2001Updated September 2, 2001