The Nicene Creed fittingly noted four marks of the True Church: one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic. These marks identify four essential qualities and characteristics of the Church that distinguish the True Church from any false claimants. Now my surname may be “Pope,” but I surely cannot add authoritatively to this venerable list. Nevertheless, permit me a couple of “prayerful additions” to the four marks of the Church. These cannot join the official list but I humbly submit these “marks” for your consideration to serve in a similar way in distinguishing the True Church from false claimants and giving insight into the Church’s truest identity.
The 5th Mark of the Church: She is Hated by the World. Jesus consistently taught us to expect the hatred of the world if we are true disciples.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also (John 15:18-20).
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub,how much more the members of his household! (Matt 10:22-24)
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets(Luke 6:26).
One of the more painful aspects of Church life, yet one of those of which I am the most “proud,” is that we are hated very specially by the world. While it is true that some of the Evangelicals are ridiculed, few can deny that there is a very special and intense hatred for the Catholic Church, and it is widely on display. It’s never OK (nor should it be) to scorn Jews or Muslims, or to mock or attack their faith traditions. Most of the other Christian denominations (with the exception of the Evangelicals) escape the bulk of the hatred. But the Catholic Church—ah, the Catholic Church—on her it seems to be open season. We are scorned and portrayed unsympathetically in movies. Our history is misrepresented; our sins (and we do have them) are exaggerated; our teachings are called bigoted, backward, unrealistic, and out-of-date. And no matter how ugly, bigoted, and inaccurate the world’s hatred is, very few express any outrage at how we are treated and misrepresented. Try any of this on Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. and the outrage and claims of bigotry are echoed by the media (as they should be). Meanwhile, Dan Brown, et al. get to go on and on about “evil” priests and bishops; a crucifix can be submerged in urine or the Blessed Mother smeared with dung and this is praised as “art” and funded by government grants.