In his last words to the apostles, the Lord Jesus Christ gave them a mission: “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” (Mt 28:19-20).
“Jesus Christ—the Word made flesh and Son of the Father—has an absolutely unique role in the salvation of the world. Similarly, the [Catholic] Church . . . uniquely contains the means of continuing Christ’s saving mission” (Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, Statement on Dominus Iesus, 2000).
Christ’s instruction to the apostles was a great call to those who became the first bishops and the first missionaries of the Church. They were told to go ad gentes—that is, “to the nations,” to those who did not know Christ—and to proclaim the Gospel. Because the apostles were faithful and obedient to Christ’s command, his Church has grown and flourished.
Read the entire statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops