"Why are there quarrels and ill will and dissensions and schism and fighting among you? Do we not have one God and one Christ, and one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And is there not one calling in Christ? Why do we wrench and tear apart the members of Christ, and revolt against our own body, and reach such folly as to forget that we are members of one another?" St. Clement Of
"He, therefore, who does not assemble with the Church, has even by this displayed his pride, and he has condemned himself." St. Ignatius of
"Although dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, the Church has received this faith from the apostles and their disciples.... The Church received this preaching and this faith. Although she is scattered throughout the whole world, yet, she carefully preserves it, as if she occupied only one house. She also believes these points just as if she had only one soul, and one and the same heart. She proclaims these things, teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For although the languages of the world are different, yet the significance of the tradition is one and the same. For the churches which have been planted in
"Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom will we go?'... Peter, on whom the Church was to be built...taught and showed in the name of the Church that a rebellious and arrogant multitude may depart from the Church. I speak of those who will not hear and obey. However, the Church does not depart from Christ. And the Church consists of those who are a people united to the priest. It is the flock that adhere to its pastor. Therefore, you should know that the bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop. If anyone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church.... The Church is Catholic and is one. It is not cut or divided. Rather it is connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another." St. Cyprian of
"For this has been the source from which heresies and schism have arisen, that God's priest is not obeyed, nor do people reflect that there is for the time one priest in the Church, who for the time is judge instead of Christ, and if the whole brotherhood would obey him, according to divine teaching, no one would stir up anything against the college of priests...." St. Cyprian of
"Secede not from the Church: for nothing is stronger than the Church. Thy hope is the Church; thy salvation is the Church; thy refuge is the Church. It is higher than the heavens and wider than the earth. It never grows old, but is ever full of vigor. Wherefore Holy Writ pointing to its strength and stability calls it a mountain."
"I say and protest that it is as wrong to divide the Church as to fall into heresy." St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on Ephesians," c. 4th century
"Whosoever shall have separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how praiseworthy such a person may fancy his life has been, yet for that one crime of having cut himself off from the unity of Christ he shall not have eternal life, but the wrath of God shall abide with him for ever." St. Augustine of Hippo, "Letter 141," c. early 5th century
Printed with permission from Catholic Defense.