Introduction to Authority

By Vic Scaravilli

Authority – definition is the right to govern, command, and control others based on its power given to it by an outside source.

Quote from Pope John 23: “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work for the good of all.”


(Gave His Church the)


Deposit of Faith

(Consists of the total revelation given by Christ)



(Transmission of revelation over time)


Oral Written

(This revelation is preserved in two forms: Verbally and the Bible)



(The teaching office of the Church that formally defines what Christ taught)


Jesus gave His apostles the Deposit of Faith which is all of what He taught them about Himself and salvation. The Deposit of Faith is preserved in two forms: Oral Tradition and the Scriptures or the Bible. The Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church that formally defines the Deposit of Faith.

The three sources of authority in the Catholic Church are:




The full rule of faith is Scriptures plus Apostolic Traditions as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

All of the beliefs about our various specific doctrines come from these three sources. These three sources always MUST be in agreement with each other.

Apostolic or Sacred Tradition.

Tradition is that revelation that was given by Jesus to the apostles in verbal form. These were the teachings that were spoken and were carried on throughout the time of the early church verbally before and while the Scriptures were used.


The Bible

Scriptures or the Bible is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It consists of 73 books.

Both Scriptures and Tradition compliment each other to give us the fullness of truth.They are the truths that God gave us in order to know him.

Vatican II: “Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred Deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church.”

Both Scriptures and Tradition compliment each other to give us the fullness of truth. Also, they cannot be in contradiction with each other. Many non-Catholics ask “Where is such-and-such taught in the Bible?” The proper question should be “Is such-and such a doctrine in agreement with the original deposit of faith given from the apostles, both written and oral?”



The function of the Magisterium is to authentically interpret the Word of God in either written form or in the form of Tradition. This office has the dual responsibility of protecting the truth that has been passed on by the apostles as well as defining God’s revelation at different times in the history of the growing Church.

Vatican II: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, had been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but its servant.”

This is the group of all of the bishops of the world together with the Pope when they meet in ecumenical council. During an ecumenical council, this group makes decisions and pronouncements about faith and morals that are infallible. Their function is to define and preserve the true teachings of Christ and to do so with the assurance of infallibility.


There is a great definition of this found in the CCC. In the very first sentence, Pope John Paul II introduces this book by saying, “Guarding the Deposit of Faith is the mission which the Lord entrusted His Church, and which she fulfills in every age.”

1Tim. 3:15 tells us that the Church “is the pillar and foundation of all truth.”

Mat. 18:18 – whatever you (church) bind on earth will be bound in heaven.



The true rule of faith in the Catholic Church’s authority is Scripture plus the Tradition that is preserved and interpreted by the Magisterium.

The Writings of Vic Scaravilli

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