Many Tried to Destroy the Catholic Church but They Couldn't Do It!

Vatican flag of Vatican fills the frame.

This post is a compendium of quotes from different Church defenders to remind attackers that "Those Who Have Tried to Destroy the Church Throughout History Are Themselves Destroyed" and a list of those who attacked the Catholic Church but failed.

Quotes for those who are trying to attack the Catholic Church.

Dynasties, empires, forms of government, have succeeded each other, and only one institution has stood unchanged - the Church. —Dom Gueranger

The true religion has shown forth with greater splendor the more it has been oppressed. —Pope St. Symmachus, c. 506 A.D.

It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted, she is triumphant; when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right; when she is deserted by her supporters, she holds the field. —St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church

The Church can never be brought down. Indeed it grows under persecution, and those who attack it are destroyed. —St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

In vain will the Princes of the earth seek, in their conceited calculations, to destroy the Church: God, who has founded her, will make her triumph. Empires shall pass away, and their persecutions: the Church will survive them all, knowing neither wrinkle or decay. —Dom Gueranger

The Church, instituted by the Lord and confirmed by the Apostles, is one for all men; but the frantic folly of the diverse impious sects has cut them off from her. It cannot be denied that this tearing asunder of the faith has arisen from the defect of poor intelligence, which twists what is read to confirm to its opinion, instead of adjusting its opinion to the meaning of what is read. However, while individual parties fight among themselves, the Church stands revealed not only by her own doctrines, but by those also of her adversaries. And although they are all ranged against her, she confutes the most wicked error which they all share, by the very fact that she is alone and one. All the heretics, therefore, come against the Church; but while all the heretics can conquer each other, they can win nothing for themselves. For their victory is the triumph of the Church over all of them. One heresy struggles against that teaching of another, which the faith of the Church has already condemned in the other heresy, - for there is nothing which the heretics hold in common, - and the result is that they affirm our faith while fighting among themselves. —St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, The Trinity, 7:4, 356 A.D., Jurgens, "The Faith of the Early Fathers", 865

The Church has ever proved indestructible. Her persecutors have failed to destroy her; in fact, it was during times of persecution that the Church grew more and more; while the persecutors themselves, and those whom the Church would destroy, are the very ones who came to nothing... Again, errors have assailed her; but in fact, the greater number of errors that have arisen, the more has the truth been made manifest...Nor has the Church failed before the assaults of demons: for she is like a tower of refuge to all who fight against the devil. —St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

"Other societies depend for their very existence upon a congenial human envelopment; she [the Church] flourishes in the most uncongenial. Other societies have their day and pass down to dissolution and corruption; she alone knows no corruption. Other dynasties rise and fall; [She] remains unmoved. Other causes wax and wane with the worldly influence which they can command; she is usually the most effective when her earthly interest is at the lowest ebb... [She] takes mortal things - a perishing pagan language, a debased architecture, an infant science or philosophy - and infuses them into her own immortality. She takes superstitions of a countryside, and retaining their 'accidents', 'transubstantiates' them into truth; the customs or rites of a pagan society, and makes them the symbols of living worship. And into all she infuses a spirit that is all her own - a spirit of delicate grace and beauty of which she alone has the secret. —Benson

"As for what concerns the exterior and temporal prosperity of the Church, it is evident that she has to cope with most malicious and powerful adversaries. Too often has she suffered at their hands the abolition of her rights, the diminution and oppression of her liberties, scorn and affronts to her authority, and every conceivable outrage. And if in their wickedness her enemies have not accomplished all the injury they had resolved upon and striven to do, they nevertheless seem to go on unchecked. But, despite them the Church, amidst all these conflicts, will always stand out and increase in greatness and glory. Nor can human reason rightly understand why evil, apparently so dominant, should yet be so restricted as regards its results; whilst the Church, driven into straits, comes forth glorious and triumphant. —Pope Leo XIII, "Octobri Mense", 1891

"[M]en should realize that all attempts to overthrow the 'House of God' are in vain. For this is the Church founded on Peter, 'Rock,' not merely in name but in truth. Against this 'the gates of hell will not prevail', 'for it is founded on a rock.' There has never been an enemy of the Christian religion who was not simultaneously at wicked war with the See of Peter, since while this See remained strong the survival of the Christian religion was assured. As St. Irenaeus proclaims openly to all, 'by the order and succession of the Roman pontiffs the tradition from the Apostles in the Church and the proclamation of the truth has come down to us. And this is the fullest demonstration that it is the one and the same life-giving faith which has been preserved in the Church until now since the time of the Apostles and has been handed on in truth. —Pope Pius VII, "Diu Satis", 1800

"O precious and necessary gift of Infallibility in the Church! Gift without which the mission of the Son of God would have been a failure! Gift whereby faith, that essential element of man's salvation, is preserved upon the earth! Yes, we have the promise; and the effects of this promise are evident even to them that are not of the Church. Where is there an unprejudiced man, who would not recognize in the hand of God in the perpetuity of the Catholic Symbol of Faith, whereas everything else on earth is for ever changing? Can we attribute to natural causes such a result as this - that a society, whose link is unity of belief, should live through so many ages, and yet lose nothing of the truth it possessed at its commencement, nor imbibe anything of the falseness of the world around it; that it should have been attacked by thousands of sects, and yet have triumphed over them all, survived them all, and be as pure in the faith now at this present day, as it was on the day when first formed by its divine Founder? Is it not an unheard-of prodigy, that hundreds of millions of men, differing from each other in country, character, and customs, yea, and frequently enemies to each other, should be united in one like submission to the same authority, which, with a single world, governs their reason in matters of faith? —Dom Gueranger

"Believe me, O man, there is no power like the power of the Church. Cease thy battling, lest thou lose thy strength; wage not war with heaven. When it is with man thou warrest, thou mayst win or lose; but when thy fighting is against the Church, it is impossible though shouldst conquer, for God is above all in strength... If though will not believe [Christ's] word, believe facts. How many tyrants have sought to crush the Church? They had their gridirons and fiery furnaces, and wild beasts, and swords - and all failed. Where are those enemies now? Buried and forgotten. And the Church? Brighter than the sun. All they had is now past, but her riches are immortal. If the Christians conquered when they were but few in number, canst thou hope to vanquish them, now that the whole earth is filled with the holy religion? 'Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.' Wonder not at it; for the Church is dearer unto God than the very heavens. He took flesh not from heaven, but from his Church on earth; and heaven is for the Church, not the Church for heaven. —St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church

Nothing human is lasting; but the Church's ceaseless duration will excite the spleen of incredulity and baffle all its calculations. Persecutions, heresies, schisms, apostasies, and scandals - all will strive to work her ruin; but she will survive them all. The descendants of her bitterest foes will call her mother. Thrones and dynasties, nations, and even whole races, will be carried away by the tide of time, she alone will subsist throughout the ages, stretching out her arms to receive all men, teaching ever the same truths, repeating, even to the last day, the same symbol of faith, and ever faithful to the instructions given her by our Risen Jesus during these forty days preceding his Ascension (Acts 1:3). —Dom Gueranger

The world goes on its laborious way, proud of its riches, of its power, of its arms, of its genius; the Church goes onward along the course of ages with an even step, trusting in God only, to Whom, day and night, she lifts her eyes and her suppliant hands. Even though in her prudence she neglects not the human aid which Providence and the times afford her, not in these does she put her trust, which rests in prayer, in supplication, in the invocation of God. Thus it is that she renews her vital breath; the diligence of her prayer has caused her, in her aloofness from worldly things and in her continual union with the Divine will, to live the tranquil and peaceful life of Our very Lord Jesus Christ; being herself the image of Christ, Whose happy and perpetual joy was hardly marred by the horror of the torments He endured for us. This important doctrine of Christian wisdom has been ever believed and practiced by Christians worthy of the name. —Pope Leo XIII, "Octobri Mense", 1891

As these ages sped, the Church of God, though afflicted by many a disaster and social upheaval, torn by many a heresy and schism, anguished by the treason of her followers and by the disloyalty of her sons, nevertheless, trusting in the promises of her Founder, while human institutions of varying origin that surrounded her fell in ruins, not only stood safe and unharmed, but also in every age glowed with brighter beauty in noble lives of holiness and devotion, while in many Christians she made the fire of charity burn with growing heat. Moreover, thanks to her missionaries and martyrs she brought into her Fold fresh nations, among whom the pristine glory of virginity renews its bloom and the rank of priest and Bishop keeps its vigor. In fine, so deeply has she imbued all peoples with her spirit of charity and justice, that the very men who treat her with indifference or hostility, cannot refrain from borrowing her way of speaking and acting. —Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930

O holy Roman Church! Thou hast forever put thy trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Caesars, who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? Where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith? Where the heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching and denied what they listed? Where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hast made them what they were? Where that empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenseless State, did arrest the pride of its conquests? Where the reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou was to have no part? Where the more modern sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? And those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world's duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the [two thousand] years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee! —Dom Gueranger

It appears that not even the sins and human weaknesses of her own members could destroy the Church, as long as we have the humility to admit such wrongdoings and do something to correct them, as Pope Francis is now asking us to do. —Bishop Pablo David

She remains (the Church) in existence, not because of us, or perhaps even in spite of us. Ironically, it is when the Church behaves like a worldly empire that she becomes irrelevant. There have been times when she got diminished or reduced to a minority, as is already happening in some countries. —Bishop Pablo David

The Catholic Church will survive a hundred Dutertes. —Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani

List of those who attacked the Catholic Church but failed.

In the early first century, the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. This has been under attack since the very first day of the Church's existence by those who want to destroy it. The attacks have continued unabated for more than 2000 years, and continue to this very day.

Well, guess what? The Church which Jesus Christ founded is still with us.

But what happened to those attackers?

1. First, it was the Jews who did not accept Christ. They accused him of all sorts of lies and prodded the Romans to crucify Him. They persecuted the fledgling Church right from the start. Read about the actions of Saul and persecution by the Jews in Acts 7 and 8. What did the Jews receive for their actions against the Church? They received almost total destruction.

Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:2 (The New American Bible), "..there will not be left here a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." He was talking about the Jewish temple and Jerusalem. His words were fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans totally destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. All the Jewish priests were put to death, and that is why you will not find Jewish priests today, only Rabbi's, as it takes a priest to make a priest. The Catholic Church was not destroyed, but Judaism almost was, and it was forever changed.

The Catholic Church continued to grow.

2. Next, it was the Romans. They crucified Jesus Christ, and mercilessly persecuted the Christians and tried to kill them all for hundreds of years, and through many pagan Roman Emperors. What did the Romans receive for their persecution? A pagan Roman Emperor, Constantine, was converted to Christianity. (If you can't fight them, then join them). The Roman Empire began a long decline and ended with Romulus in 476, after being almost completely destroyed by invaders from the north.

The Roman Empire never recovered.

The Catholic Church was not destroyed, but those who tried to destroy it, the Roman Empire was.

The Catholic Church continued to prosper.

3. Then came Islam. We all know of the terrible persecutions of the Church in the middle ages. We remember all of those Crusade wars and the defeats of brave Christian knights suffered at the hands of Islam. Islam is still with us, but so is the Catholic Church, and the Church emerged stronger than ever.

4. Heretics have been attacking the Church from the very beginning, and in every century since. Some come on with much fanfare and then eventually die out. Who remembers the Simonians, the Corinthians, Basilidians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Ebonites, Montanists, Origenists, Arians, Nestorians, Lollards, Photius, and hundreds of others? They all attacked the Catholic Church, but the Church is still here, and they are all gone. However, some of these heresies continue to crop up and like chameleons who change their colors, they are disguised with new names. Heresies and heretics will always be with us. They are the chaff mixed in with the wheat and are the ones who will be cut down and thrown into the unquenchable fire, while the wheat will be gathered into the barn and saved (Matthew 3:12, The New American Bible).

5. Then came Protestantism. Started by Martin Luther in 1521 (16th-century), it spread over Europe in short order and caused 10 million Catholics to become Protestant. It was a blow to the Catholic Church but only a temporary one, as only a short 10 years later, the Church gained 10 million converts in central America, starting with the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Church continued to grow, but cracks immediately began to show in the heresy of Protestantism. Since they had no central authority, they began to squabble amongst themselves over just what was the truth. Soon they split into various sects, Lutherans, Baptists, Calvinists, Methodists, Anglicans, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Adventist, etc.. The splits are still going on to this day. At the latest count, there are over 40,000* different non-Catholic sects in the world today that call themselves Christian. To make matters worse, the individual sects are further dividing themselves into smaller and smaller pieces. Baptists alone are split into over 20 major pieces and over 80 more minor ones. Presbyterianism is split into over 10 pieces. Lutheranism is split into 18 pieces. Even Mormonism is split into at least four parts. There are literally hundreds of Pentecostal Churches alone, and many more who call themselves non-denominational.

Non-Catholic Christians have never learned that "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand." (Matthew 12:25, The New American Bible). Also, a house built on sand and not on the 'rock', (Matthew 16:18, The New American Bible), will be washed away, (Matthew 7:21-27, The New American Bible).

So What did the Protestant reformation do to the Church which Jesus Christ founded? It produced some temporary setbacks, but that is all. The Church continues to grow and is much larger now than it was when Martin Luther started Protestantism. So what did Protestantism gain? Nothing more than a severe splintering of the Body of Christ. It certainly did not attain its goal of destroying the Catholic Church. In fact, Protestantism is in great trouble today and will no doubt go the way of Arius, and Photius and the hundreds of other heretics in the past.

*World Christian Encyclopedia, a Protestant publication.

6. Then along came Adolph Hitler, who vowed to destroy the Catholic Church. Where is he and his 1000 year Reich today? They are gone, but guess what? The Catholic Church is still here today.

7. We cannot forget communism and the damage it did to the Church over 75 years of terror. Eastern Europe behind an iron curtain, the USSR, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, and a score or so of other countries under the yoke of the bear. The Soviet empire collapsed suddenly without a shot being fired. What caused the sudden collapse which surprised almost everyone? It was the Blessed Virgin Mary acting through her Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II. The collapse started in Catholic Poland and with the help of our Polish Pope. Granted, communism is still alive in parts of the world, but where is the Soviet Union, the main adversary? And what about the Catholic Church which the communists tried to destroy? It is making a comeback in those religion starved countries.

8. In the 1920s, the Klu Klux Klan confronted the Catholic Church but failed. Look where they are now? The Catholic church still exists.

9. In 1717, Freemason tried to destroy the Catholic Church but failed. The Catholic church still exists.

10. Napoleon Bonaparte tried to destroy the Catholic Church but failed.

During a frustrating argument with a Roman Catholic cardinal, Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly burst out: “Your eminence, are you not aware that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The cardinal, the anecdote goes, responded ruefully: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

What happened to Bonaparte? The Catholic church still exists.

So now, how do you explain this remarkable survivability of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself founded, after seemingly overwhelming attacks, from within and from without, and by many diverse forces, some with cunning ingenuity, and for almost 2000 years?

It is very easily explained for anyone who knows and loves Holy Scripture.

It survives because Jesus Christ, Himself said it would, Matthew 16:18, Matthew 28:20, and John 14:16-17.

Show me another institution that has survived intact for 2000 years, and still to this day does exactly what Jesus Christ commanded? Show me another institution that has withstood the slings and the arrows and the barbs, the heresies and the heretics, the wars and the subversions, that the Catholic Church has endured for so long? Explain to me how and why the Catholic Church has survived for so long?

If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31 (The New American Bible)

I do not have to explain it to anyone, for that is the explanation of whether anyone chooses to believe it or not.

Now I ask you, If ALL of those groups which I have listed here could not destroy the Catholic Church, what makes you think that you or anyone else can? If you try to destroy the Church which Jesus Christ founded, you will find that you are fighting against GOD Himself. Acts 5:38-39 but then, some people just never seem to get the message...

No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you. This is the lot of the servants of the LORD, their vindication from me, says the LORD. —Isaiah 54:17 (The New American Bible)


  1. Douthat, R. (2010, March 29). Opinion | A time for contrition [Blog post]. Retrieved from
  2. Stanley, B. (1998, July 30). They couldn't do it, what makes you think you can? [Blog post]. Retrieved from
  3. Catholic - Universal Church. (2016, May 12). Catholic - universal church [Blog post]. Retrieved from
  4. Punay, E. (2019, February 27). Catholic church won’t die in 25 years – bishops [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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