A Fifth Mark of the Church?

  • Thaddaeus Lancton Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina
Keywords: mercy, Church, mark, Holy Spirit, mission


In addition to the four marks of the Church, mercy has been emphasized since the pontificate of St. John Paul II as essential to the authentic fulfillment of the Church’s identity and mission. A Christological and pneumatological understanding of these marks of the Church leads to a proper grasp of the Church in relation to mercy. The Church is merciful not de facto because of her works of mercy on behalf of the poor or sinners. Rather, she is first the recipient of unprecedented Divine Mercy, poured forth in the gift of the Holy Spirit, and so shares that same Spirit of Mercy with others through her sacraments, preaching, and service. The Church’s mission of mercy thus extends beyond the myriad of manners to alleviate human misery. In union with Christ, her Bridegroom, the Church is to communicate the one gift of Divine Mercy, the Holy Spirit, to all.


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