The Church continues to make Christ present in human history. It obeys the apostolic mandate given by Jesus before ascending into heaven: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age ( Mt 28:19-20). In the history of the Church, we find the divine and the human closely intertwined.

Certain aspects of the Church’s history are quite striking, even for a non-believer:

a) unity in time and space (catholicity). The Catholic Church has continued throughout the centuries to be the same reality, with the same doctrine and same fundamental elements: unity of faith, of sacraments, and of hierarchy (through the apostolic succession). Furthermore, throughout the centuries it has gathered together men and women of the most varied races and cultures all over the world;

b) the missionary activity of the Church in all times and places has taken advantage of even the most adverse events in history to preach the Gospel;

c) the power, in every generation, to produce fruits of sanctity in people of all races and conditions;

d) a surprising ability to recuperate after suffering crises, sometimes very grave ones.