First Vatican Council 1869-1870

Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith

Chapter 1 On God the creator of all things


3001 The holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman church believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God,

  • creator and lord of heaven and earth,
  • almighty,
  • eternal,
  • immeasurable,
  • incomprehensible,
  • infinite in
    • will,
    • understanding and
    • every perfection.

Since he is

    • one,
    • singular,
    • completely simple and
    • unchangeable
    • spiritual
    • substance,

he must be declared to be in reality and in essence,

    • distinct from the world,
    • supremely happy in himself and from himself, and
    • inexpressibly loftier than anything besides himself which either exists or can be imagined.

3002 This one true God,

  • by his goodness and almighty power,
  • not with the intention of increasing his happiness,
  • nor indeed of obtaining happiness,
  • but in order to manifest his perfection by the good things which he bestows on what he creates,
  • by an absolutely free plan,
  • together from the beginning of time
  • brought into being from nothing
    • the twofold created order, that is
      • the spiritual and the bodily,
      • the angelic and the earthly,
    • and thereafter the human which is, in a way, common to both since it is composed of spirit and body [10].
4. 3003 Everything that God has brought into being he protects and governs by his providence, which reaches from one end of the earth to the other and orders all things well [11] . All things are open and laid bare to his eyes [12] , even those which will be brought about by the free activity of creatures.


Chapter 2 On revelation


3004 The same holy mother church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things,

  • can be known
    • with certainty from the consideration of created things,
    • by the natural power of human reason : ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. [13]


It was, however, pleasing to his wisdom and goodness to reveal

  • himself and
  • the eternal laws of his will

to the human race by another, and that a supernatural, way.

    • This is how the Apostle puts it : In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son [14] .

3005 It is indeed thanks to this divine revelation, that those matters concerning God

  • which are not of themselves beyond the scope of human reason,
  • can, even in the present state of the human race, be known
    • by everyone
    • without difficulty,
    • with firm certitude and
    • with no intermingling of error.

It is not because of this that one must hold revelation to be absolutely necessary; the reason is that God directed human beings to a supernatural end,

  • that is a sharing in the good things of God that utterly surpasses the understanding of the human mind; indeed eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, nor has it come into our hearts to conceive what things God has prepared for those who love him [15] .
5. The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.

These books the church holds to be sacred and canonical

  • not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill,
  • nor simply because they contain revelation without error,
  • but because,
    • being written under the inspiration of the holy Spirit,
    • they have God as their author,
    • and were as such committed to the church.

3007 Now since the decree on the interpretation of holy scripture, profitably made by the council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows: that

  • in matters of faith and morals,
  • belonging as they do to the establishing of christian doctrine,
  • that meaning of holy scripture must be held to be the true one,
  • which holy mother church held and holds,
    • since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of holy scripture.
8. In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers.


Chapter 3 On faith

1. 3008 Since human beings are totally dependent on God as their creator and lord, and created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are obliged to yield to God the revealer full submission of intellect and will by faith.

This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be

  • a supernatural virtue,
  • by means of which,
    • with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us,
  • we believe to be true what He has revealed,
    • not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason,
    • but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived.
3. Faith, declares the Apostle, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen [17].

3009 Nevertheless, in order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God's will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and

  • first and foremost miracles and prophecies,
    • which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are
      • the most certain signs of revelation and are
      • suited to the understanding of all.


  • Moses
  • and the prophets,
  • and especially Christ our lord himself,
  • worked many absolutely clear miracles and delivered prophecies;
  • while of the apostles we read:
    • And they went forth and preached every, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it [18] . Again it is written:
    • We have the prophetic word made more sure; you will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place [19] .

3010 Now,

  • although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the mind,
  • yet no one can accept the gospel preaching
    • in the way that is necessary for achieving salvation
  • without the inspiration and illumination of the holy Spirit,
    • who gives to all facility in accepting and believing the truth [20] .

And so faith in itself,

  • even though it may not work through charity,
  • is a gift of God,
  • and its operation is a work belonging to the order of salvation,
    • in that a person yields true obedience to God himself when he accepts and collaborates with his grace which he could have rejected.

3011 Wherefore, by divine and catholic faith all those things are to be believed

  • which are contained in the word of God as found in scripture and tradition,
  • and which are proposed by the church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed,
  • whether by her solemn judgment
  • or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.

3012 Since, then, without faith it is impossible to please God [21] and reach the fellowship of his sons and daughters, it follows that

  • no one can ever achieve justification without it,
  • neither can anyone attain eternal life unless he or she perseveres in it to the end.

So that we could fulfil our duty of embracing the true faith and of persevering unwaveringly in it, God, through his only begotten Son,

  • founded the church,
  • and he endowed his institution with clear notes to the end that she might be recognised by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.
11. 3013 To the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvellous, which have been divinely ordained to make for the manifest credibility of the christian faith.

What is more,

    • the church herself

      by reason of

        • her astonishing propagation,
        • her outstanding holiness and
        • her inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness, by
        • her catholic unity and
        • her unconquerable stability,
    • is a kind of great and perpetual motive of credibility and an incontrovertible evidence of her own divine mission.

3014 So it comes about that,

  • like a standard lifted up for the nations [22] ,
  • she both invites to herself those who have not yet believed,
  • and likewise assures her sons and daughters that the faith they profess rests on the firmest of foundations.

To this witness is added the effective help of power from on high. For,

  • the kind Lord stirs up those who go astray and helps them by his grace
    • so that they may come to the knowledge of the truth [23] ;
  • and also confirms by his grace those whom he has translated into his admirable light [24],
    • so that they may persevere in this light,
    • not abandoning them unless he is first abandoned.


  • the situation of those, who
    • by the heavenly gift of faith
  • have embraced the catholic truth,
  • is by no means the same as that of those who,
    • led by human opinions,
  • follow a false religion;
  • for those who have accepted the faith under the guidance of the church can never have any just cause for changing this faith or for calling it into question.


This being so, giving thanks to God the Father who has made us worthy to share with the saints in light [25] let us not neglect so great a salvation [26] , but looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith [27] , let us hold the unshakeable confession of our hope [28].


  • 13 Rm 1, 20.
  • 14 Heb 1, 1-2
  • 15 1 Cor 2, 9.
  • 16 Council of Trent, session 4, first decree (see above p. 663).
  • 17 Heb 11, 1
  • 18 Mk 16, 20.
  • 19 2 Pt 1, 19.
  • 20 Council of Orange II(529), canon 7 (Bruns 2, 178; Msi 8, 713)
  • 21 Heb 11, 6.
  • 22 Is 11, 12
  • 23 1 Tm 2, 4
  • 24 1 Pt 2, 9; Col 1, 13
  • 25 Col 1, 12
  • 26 Heb 2, 3
  • 27 Heb 12, 2
  • 28 Heb