What Do Catholics Believe?

"Whoever says 'I believe' says 'I pledge myself to what we believe.' Communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith.

From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formulae for all. But already early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of its faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 185-186)

Over the centuries there have been many creeds through which the Christian faith has been articulated, but for centuries the creed that has been professed by Catholics every Sunday is that approved by the Council of Constantinople in 381, an amplified version of the Nicene Creed of 325. This is the faith entrusted by Christ to the Apostles.  As St. Cyril of Jerusalem noted in the fourth century, "This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments" (Catechetical Lecture 5.12, quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 186).

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

For Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the most authoritative summary of the Catholic faith, a magnificent explanation of the above Creed. However, there are other good summaries available as well, such as the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Other suggestions for learning about the Catholic faith may be found in the Recommended Resources section of our website.

Above all, we encourage you to contact your local parish and speak to someone in person about your interest in the Catholic faith. Please don't hesitate to let us know if you need any assistance. We are happy to share the riches of our faith with you!