In his 1998 encyclical Tertio Millennio Adveniente, Pope John Paul II asked catechists and theologians “to promote a deeper understanding of the ecclesiological doctrine of the Second Vatican Council as contained primarily in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium” (no. 47). To respond to this call, Dr. Regis Martin wrote What Is the Church? in order to present a faithful ecclesiology in simple, accessible terms.

In a style that manages to be as poetic as it is theological rich, Martin unfolds the mystery of the Church with deference and sincere devotion. What Is the Church?: Confessions of a Cradle Catholic is an introduction to the Church that will delight the reader as it simultaneously conveys the truth of the Church established by Christ.

About the Author

Regis Martin is a professor of Theology and faculty associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio. He is the author of several books, including Witness to Wonder, The Beggar’s Banquet, and What is the Church?.


“Like the Gospel, this book challenges us in our depths to receive the gift of God and to live it without compromise in the one ‘ place’ where that is possible—His Church.”

—Archbiship Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap.

“Regis Martin’ s sheer zest for the English language is only the first of the delights of this book. The reader finds himself drawn into a glorious and scholarly (never pedantic, always agile) encomium on the ancient Church, from a massively orthodox point of view (Lumen Gentium is Martin’ s principle text). An added delight is that Martin has read, quite simply, everything, and brings it into vigorous play.”

–Thomas Howard, Author of On Being Catholic and Evangelical is Not Enough

“Regis Martin is himself a gift to the Church. . . . I do not hesitate to endorse and recommend this work, which is a genuine contribution to the emerging, more accurate understanding of the teaching and accomplishment of the Second Vatican Council.”

—Archbishop John J. Myers, Emeritus Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey

“In an era of widespread ecclesiological confusion, What Is the Church? is filled with clarity, charity, and discernment. Dr. Martin wears his learning lightly and shares it beguilingly in a book that is at the same time light for the intellect and music for the soul.”

—Russell B. Shaw, Journalist and Author

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What Is the Church?