Roman Catholic Church

Roman Catholic Church

Overview
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments
Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper...

 and exercising charity. The Catholic Church is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation.
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Timeline

1170   Thomas Becket: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

1268   Conradin, the last legitimate male heir of the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Kings of Germany and Holy Roman Emperors, is executed along with his companion Frederick I, Margrave of Baden by Charles I of Sicily, a political rival and ally to the hostile Roman Catholic church.

1409   Western Schism: the Roman Catholic church is led into a double schism as Petros Philargos is crowned Pope Alexander V after the Council of Pisa, joining Pope Gregory XII in Rome and Pope Benedict XII in Avignon.

1572   Marriage in Paris of the future Huguenot King Henry IV of Navarre to Marguerite de Valois, in a supposed attempt to reconcile Protestants and Catholics.

1789   Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the United States.

1792   During what became known as the September Massacres of the French Revolution, rampaging mobs slaughter three Roman Catholic Church bishops, more than two hundred priests, and prisoners believed to be royalist sympathizers.

1839   In the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha III issues the Edict of toleration which gives Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii Catholic Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace are established as a result.

1845   The eminent and controversial Anglican, John Henry Newman, is received into the Roman Catholic Church.

1962   Second Vatican Council: Pope John XXIII convenes the first ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church in 92 years.

1964   Second Vatican Council: The third session of the Roman Catholic Church's ecumenical council closes.

 
Encyclopedia
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments
Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper...

 and exercising charity. The Catholic Church is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation. It teaches that it is the one true church
One true faith
The concept of a one true faith, one true religion, or one true church, stem from the concept of the One True God asserted by believers in a monotheistic view of God...

 founded by Jesus Christ, that its bishops
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....

 are the successors
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 of Christ's apostles
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

 and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter. Catholic doctrine maintains that the Catholic Church is the original and true Church
One true faith
The concept of a one true faith, one true religion, or one true church, stem from the concept of the One True God asserted by believers in a monotheistic view of God...

 and is infallible
Infallibility of the Church
The Infallibility of the Church is the belief that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to err in its belief or teaching under certain circumstances...

 when it definitively teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 890: "The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:" Catholic worship
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 is centred on the Eucharist, in which the Church teaches that the sacramental bread
Sacramental bread
Sacramental bread, sometimes called the lamb, altar bread, host or simply Communion bread, is the bread which is used in the Christian ritual of the Eucharist.-Eastern Catholic and Orthodox:...

 and wine are transubstantiated
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

 into the body and blood of Christ
Real Presence
Real Presence is a term used in various Christian traditions to express belief that in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is really present in what was previously just bread and wine, and not merely present in symbol, a figure of speech , or by his power .Not all Christian traditions accept this dogma...

. The Church holds the Blessed Virgin Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God...

 in special regard. Catholic beliefs concerning Mary include her Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

 and bodily Assumption
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

 at the end of her earthly life.

Name


The term "Catholic", derived from the Greek word καθολικός (katholikos), which means "universal" or "general", was first used to describe the Church in the early 2nd century. The term katholikos is equivalent to καθόλου (katholou), a contraction of the phrase καθ' ὅλου (kath' holou) meaning "according to the whole". Thus the full name Catholic Church roughly means "universal" or "whole" church.

Since the East-West Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 of 1054, the churches that remained in communion with the See of Rome (the diocese of Rome and its bishop, the Pope, the primal patriarch) have been known as "Catholic", while the Eastern churches that rejected the Pope's primal authority have generally been known as "Orthodox" or "Eastern Orthodox". Following the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 in the 16th century, the Church "in communion with the Bishop of Rome" continued to use the term "Catholic" to distinguish itself from the various Protestant churches that split off.

The name "Catholic Church" has been used on official documents such as the title of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

.
It is also the term that Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 used when signing the sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council. However, Church documents produced by both the Holy See and by certain national episcopal conference
Episcopal Conference
In the Roman Catholic Church, an Episcopal Conference, Conference of Bishops, or National Conference of Bishops is an official assembly of all the bishops of a given territory...

s occasionally refer to the Church by the name "Roman Catholic Church". The Catechism of Pope Pius X published in 1908 also used the term "Roman" to distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian communities.

Organisation and demographics



Papacy and Roman Curia



The Church's hierarchy
Catholic Church hierarchy
The term Hierarchy in the Catholic Church has a variety of related usages. Literally, "holy government", the term is employed in different instances. There is a Hierarchy of Truths, which refers to the levels of solemnity of the official teaching of the faith...

 is headed by the Bishop of Rome
Diocese of Rome
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church...

, the pope, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church (which is composed of the Latin Rite and the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion
Full communion
In Christian ecclesiology, full communion is a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines....

 with the see
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

 of Rome). The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, who was elected in a papal conclave
Papal conclave, 2005
The Papal conclave of 2005 was convened as a result of the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. After his death, the cardinals who were in Rome met and set a date for the beginning of the conclave to elect John Paul's successor. The conclave began on 18 April 2005 and ended on the following...

 on 19 April 2005.

The office of the pope is known as the Papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction in its primary sense does not signify jurisdiction over ecclesiastics , but jurisdiction exercised by church leaders over other leaders and over the laity....

 is often called the "Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

" (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the "Apostolic See
Apostolic See
In Christianity, an apostolic see is any episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus.Out of the many such sees, five acquired special importance in Chalcedonian Christianity and became classified as the Pentarchy in Eastern Orthodox Christianity...

" (meaning the see of the Apostle Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

). Directly serving the Pope is the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

, the central governing body that administers the day-to-day business of the Catholic Church. The pope is also head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of Vatican City State
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, a sovereign city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 entirely enclaved
Enclave and exclave
In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.An exclave, on the other hand, is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.These are two...

 within the city of Rome.

Following the death or resignation of a pope, members of the College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

 who are under age 80 meet in the Sistine Chapel in Rome to elect a new pope. The title Cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 is a rank of honour bestowed by Popes on certain ecclesiastics, such as leaders within the Roman Curia, bishops serving in major cities and distinguished theologians. Although this election, known as a papal conclave
Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, who then becomes the Pope during a period of vacancy in the papal office. The Pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church...

, can theoretically elect any male Catholic as pope, since 1389 only fellow Cardinals have been elevated to that position.

Autonomous particular churches



The Catholic Church is made up of 23 autonomous particular churches, each of which accepts the paramountcy of the Bishop of Rome on matters of doctrine. These churches, also known by the Latin term sui iuris
Sui iuris
Sui iuris, commonly also spelled sui juris, is a Latin phrase that literally means “of one’s own laws”.-Secular law:In civil law the phrase sui juris indicates legal competence, the capacity to manage one’s own affairs...

churches, are communities of Catholic Christians whose forms of worship reflect different historical and cultural influences rather than differences in doctrine. In general, each sui iuris church is headed by a patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 or high ranking bishop, and has a degree of self-governance over the particulars of its internal organization, liturgical rites, liturgical calendar, and other aspects of its spirituality.

The largest of these is the Latin Church
Latin Church
The Latin Church is the largest particular church within the Catholic Church. It is a particular church not on the level of the local particular churches known as dioceses or eparchies, but on the level of autonomous ritual churches, of which there are 23, the remaining 22 of which are Eastern...

 which reports over 1 billion followers. The Pope and Roman Curia is head of the Latin Church, which developed in Western Europe
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 before spreading throughout the world. The Latin Church considered itself to be the oldest and largest branch of Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

, a heritage of certain beliefs and customs shared by many Christian denominations that trace their originals to Protestant Reformation.

Relatively small in terms of adherents compared to the Latin Church, but important to the overall structure of the Church, are the 22 self-governing Eastern Catholic Churches with a membership of 17.3 million as of 2010. The Eastern Catholic Churches follow the traditions and spirituality of Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 and are composed of Eastern Christians who have always remained in full communion with the Catholic Church or who have chosen to reenter full communion in the centuries following the East-West Schism and earlier divisions. Some Eastern Catholic Churches are governed by a patriarch who is elected by the synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 of the bishops of that church, others are headed by a major archbishop, others are under a metropolitan, and others consist of individual eparchies. The Roman Curia has a specific department, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Congregation for the Oriental Churches
The Congregation for the Oriental Churches is the dicastery of the Roman Curia responsible for contact with the Eastern Catholic Churches for the sake of assisting their development, protecting their rights and also maintaining whole and entire in the one Catholic Church, alongside the liturgical,...

, to maintain relations with them.
Examples of Eastern Catholic Churches can be found in the side bar "Major Sui Iuris Churches".

Dioceses, parishes and religious orders


Individual countries, regions, or major cities are served by local particular church
Particular Church
In Catholic canon law, a Particular Church is an ecclesial community headed by a bishop or someone recognised as the equivalent of a bishop.There are two kinds of particular Churches:# Local particular Churches ...

es known as diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

s
or eparchies
Eparchy
Eparchy is an anglicized Greek word , authentically Latinized as eparchia and loosely translating as 'rule over something,' like province, prefecture, or territory, to have the jurisdiction over, it has specific meanings both in politics, history and in the hierarchy of the Eastern Christian...

, each overseen by a Catholic bishop. Each diocese is united with one of the worldwide "sui iuris" particular churches, such as the Latin Church, or one of the many Eastern Catholic Churches. As of 2008, the Catholic Church (both East and West) comprised 2,795 dioceses. The bishops in a particular country or region are often organised into an episcopal conference, which aids in maintaining a uniform style of worship and co-ordination of social justice programs within the areas served by member bishops.

Dioceses are further divided into numerous individual communities called parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es, each staffed by one or more priests
Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

, deacons, and/or lay ecclesial ministers. Parishes are responsible for the day to day celebration of the sacraments and pastoral care of the Catholic laity.

Ordained Catholics, as well as members of the laity
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

, may enter into consecrated life
Consecrated life (Catholic Church)
In the Roman Catholic Church, the term "consecrated life" denotes a stable form of Christian living by those faithful who feel called to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way recognized by the Church...

 either on an individual basis, as a hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

 or consecrated virgin
Consecrated virgin
In the Catholic Church a consecrated virgin is a woman who has been conscrated by the church to a life of perpetual virginity in the service of God. Consecrated virgins are to spend their time in works of penance and mercy, in apostolic activity and in prayer, according to their state of life and...

, or by joining an institute of consecrated life
Institute of Consecrated Life
Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected institutes in the Roman Catholic Church whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds...

 (a religious institute
Religious institute
In the Roman Catholic Church, a religious institute is "a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has elapsed, and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common".-Distinctions...

 or a secular institute
Secular institute
In the Roman Catholic Church, a secular institute is an organization of individuals who are consecrated persons – professing the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience – while living in the world, unlike members of a religious order who live in community. It is one of the...

) in which to take vows
Religious vows
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices and views.In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by...

 confirming their desire to follow the three evangelical counsels
Evangelical counsels
The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty , and obedience . As Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Canonical gospels , they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect"...

 of chastity, poverty and obedience. Examples of institutes of consecrated life are the Benedictines
Order of Saint Benedict
The Order of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of St. Benedict. Within the order, each individual community maintains its own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests...

, the Carmelites
Carmelites
The Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Carmelites is a Catholic religious order perhaps founded in the 12th century on Mount Carmel, hence its name. However, historical records about its origin remain uncertain...

, the Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

, the Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

s, the Missionaries of Charity
Missionaries of Charity
Missionaries of Charity is a Roman Catholic religious congregation established in 1950 by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which consists of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries...

, and the Sisters of Mercy
Sisters of Mercy
The Religious Order of the Sisters of Mercy is an order of Catholic women founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831. , the order has about 10,000 members worldwide, organized into a number of independent congregations....

.

Membership statistics


Total church membership (both lay and clerical) in 2007 was 1.147 billion people, increasing from the 1950 figure of 437 million and the 1970 figure of 654 million. On 31 December 2008, membership was 1.166 billion, an increase of 11.54% over the same date in 2000, only slightly greater than the rate of increase of the world population (10.77%). The increase was 33.02% in Africa, but only 1.17% in Europe. It was 15.91% in Asia, 11.39% in Oceania, and 10.93% in the Americas. As a result, Catholics were 17.77% of the total population in Africa, 63.10% in the Americas, 3.05% in Asia, 39.97% in Europe, 26.21% in Oceania, and 17.40% of the world population.

Of the world's Catholics, the proportion living in Africa grew from 12.44% in 2000 to 14.84% in 2008, while those living in Europe fell from 26.81% to 24.31%.
Membership in the Catholic Church is attained through baptism or reception into the Church
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the process through which interested adults and older children are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith and way of life...

 (for individuals previously baptised in non-Catholic Christian churches). For some years until 2009, if someone formally left the Church
Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica
Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica was the action alluded to in canons 1086, 1117 and 1124 of the Code of Canon Law from 1983 to 2009, by which someone formally, and not just de facto, left the Catholic Church. These canons indicated some juridical effects of such an act...

, that fact was noted in the register of the person's baptism.

At the end of 2007, Vatican records listed 408,024 Catholic priests in the world, 762 more than at the beginning of the year. The main growth areas have been Asia and Africa, with 21.1 per cent and 27.6 per cent growth respectively. In North and South America, numbers have remained approximately the same, while there was a 6.8 per cent decline in Europe and a 5.5 per cent decrease in Oceania from 2000 to 2007.

Worship and liturgy



Among the 23 autonomous (sui iuris) churches, numerous forms of worship and liturgical traditions exist, called "rites", which reflect historical and cultural diversity rather than differences in belief. In the definition of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches is the title of the 1990 codification of the common portions of the Canon Law for the 22 of the 23 sui iuris Churches in the Catholic Church. The Roman or Latin rite Church is guided by its own particular Canons...

, "a rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui iuris", but the term is often limited to liturgical patrimony. The most commonly used liturgy is the Roman Rite
Roman Rite
The Roman Rite is the liturgical rite used in the Diocese of Rome in the Catholic Church. It is by far the most widespread of the Latin liturgical rites used within the Western or Latin autonomous particular Church, the particular Church that itself is also called the Latin Rite, and that is one of...

, but even in the Latin Catholic Church a few other rites
Latin liturgical rites
Latin liturgical rites used within that area of the Catholic Church where the Latin language once dominated were for many centuries no less numerous than the liturgical rites of the Eastern autonomous particular Churches. Their number is now much reduced...

 are in use, and the Eastern Catholic Churches have distinct rites.

Celebration of the Eucharist


In all rites the Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

, or Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

, is the centre of Catholic worship. Catholics believe that at each Mass, the bread and wine are supernaturally transubstantiated
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

 into the body and blood of Christ
Real Presence
Real Presence is a term used in various Christian traditions to express belief that in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is really present in what was previously just bread and wine, and not merely present in symbol, a figure of speech , or by his power .Not all Christian traditions accept this dogma...

 by the words of consecration
Words of Institution
The Words of Institution are words echoing those of Jesus himself at his Last Supper that, when consecrating bread and wine, Christian Eucharistic liturgies include in a narrative of that event...

 spoken by the priest. The words of consecration are drawn from the three synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

 and a Pauline letter
First Epistle to the Corinthians
The first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as First Corinthians , is the seventh book of the New Testament of the Bible...

. The Church teaches that Christ established a New Covenant
New Covenant
The New Covenant is a concept originally derived from the Hebrew Bible. The term "New Covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to an epochal relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment...

 with humanity through the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

, as described in these biblical verses.

Because the Church teaches that Christ is present in the Eucharist, there are strict rules about who may celebrate and who may receive the Eucharist. The sacrament can only be celebrated by an ordained Catholic priest or bishop. Those who are conscious of being in a state of mortal sin are forbidden from receiving the sacrament until they have received absolution through the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). Catholics are normally obliged to abstain from eating for at least an hour before receiving the sacrament.

Catholics are not permitted to receive the Eucharist as celebrated in Protestant churches, which in the view of the Catholic Church lack the sacrament of Holy Orders, and thus also lack a valid Eucharist. Likewise, Protestants are not normally permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church. This is because unity with the Catholic faith is seen as necessary before one can partake of the Church's sacraments. In relation to the churches of Eastern Christianity not in communion with the Holy See, the Catholic Church is less restrictive, declaring that "a certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged."

Western liturgical rites


The Roman Rite is the most common rite of worship used by the Catholic Church. Its use is found worldwide, spread by missionary activity originating in Western European nations throughout Christian history.

Two forms of the Roman Rite are authorised at present: that of the post-1969 editions of the Roman Missal
Roman Missal
The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.-Situation before the Council of Trent:...

 (Mass of Paul VI
Mass of Paul VI
The Mass of Pope Paul VI is the liturgy of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council...

), which is now the ordinary form of the rite and is celebrated mostly in the vernacular, i.e., the language of the people; and that of the 1962 edition (the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969...

), now an extraordinary form
Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite
"An extraordinary form of the Roman Rite" is a phrase used in Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum to describe the liturgy of the 1962 Roman Missal, widely referred to as the "Tridentine Mass"...

. An outline of the major liturgical elements of Roman Rite Mass can be found in the side bar.

In the United States, "Anglican Use" parishes have been created. They use a variation of the Roman rite that retains some of the wording of the Anglican liturgical rites.Implementation is expected of the authorisation granted in 2009 for the creation wherever appropriate of ordinariates for groups of Anglicans
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 who have been approved for entrance into the Roman Catholic Church and who may in the future use a rite that incorporates elements of Anglican tradition. Other Western liturgical rites (non-Roman) include the Ambrosian Rite
Ambrosian Rite
Ambrosian Rite, also called the Milanese Rite, is a Catholic liturgical Western Rite. The rite is named after Saint Ambrose, a bishop of Milan in the fourth century...

 and the Mozarabic Rite
Mozarabic Rite
The Mozarabic, Visigothic, or Hispanic Rite is a form of Catholic worship within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, and in the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church . Its beginning dates to the 7th century, and is localized in the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Eastern liturgical rites



The liturgical rites of the Eastern Catholic Churches are very similar to, and often identical with the rites used by the Eastern Orthodox and other Eastern Christian Churches that historically developed in areas such as Eastern Europe, Northeastern Africa, and the Middle East, but are no longer in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. The Eastern Catholic Churches are either groups of faithful that have restored full communion with the Bishop of Rome, while preserving their unique identity as Eastern Christians, or groups with which full communion has never been broken.

The rites used by the Eastern Catholic Churches include the Byzantine rite
Byzantine Rite
The Byzantine Rite, sometimes called the Rite of Constantinople or Constantinopolitan Rite is the liturgical rite used currently by all the Eastern Orthodox Churches, by the Greek Catholic Churches , and by the Protestant Ukrainian Lutheran Church...

, in its Antiochian, Greek and Slavonic varieties, the Alexandrian
Alexandrian Rite
The Alexandrian Rite is officially called the Liturgy of Saint Mark, traditionally regarded as the first bishop of Alexandria. The Alexandrian Rite contains elements from the liturgy of Saint Basil, Cyril the Great, and Saint Gregory Nazianzus...

 rite, the Syriac rite
West Syrian Rite
The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

, the Armenian rite
Armenian Rite
The Armenian Rite is an independent liturgy. This rite is used by both the Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic Churches; it is also the rite of a significant number of Eastern Catholic Christians in the Republic of Georgia....

, the Maronite rite, and the Chaldean rite. In the past some of the rites used by the Eastern Catholic Churches were subject to some degree of liturgical Latinisation
Liturgical Latinisation
Liturgical Latinisation, also known as Latinisation, is the process by which liturgical and other aspects of the Churches of Eastern Christianity were altered to resemble more closely the practices of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church...

. However, in recent years Eastern Catholic Churches have returned to traditional Eastern practices in accord with the Vatican II
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 decree, Orientalium Ecclesiarum
Orientalium Ecclesiarum
Orientalium Ecclesiarum is the Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches from the Second Vatican Council. One of the shorter such documents, it was passed by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,110 to 39 and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964...

. Each church has its own liturgical calendar.

Doctrine



The fundamental beliefs of the Christian religion are summarised in the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. For Catholics, they are detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Based on the promises of Christ in the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

s, the Church believes that it is continually guided by the Holy Spirit and so protected infallibly
Infallibility of the Church
The Infallibility of the Church is the belief that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to err in its belief or teaching under certain circumstances...

 from falling into doctrinal error. The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Spirit reveals God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

's truth through Sacred Scripture
Books of the Bible
The Books of the Bible are listed differently in the canons of Judaism and the Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Slavonic Orthodox, Georgian, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac and Ethiopian churches, although there is substantial overlap. A table comparing the canons of some of these traditions...

, Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition or Holy Tradition is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions, to refer to the fundamental basis of church authority....

 and the Magisterium
Magisterium
In the Catholic Church the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. This authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the Pope, led by the Bishop of Rome , who has authority over the bishops,...

.

Sacred Scripture consists of the 73 book Catholic Bible. This is made up of the 46 books found in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

—known as the Septuagint—and the 27 New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 writings first found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209
Codex Vaticanus
The Codex Vaticanus , is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Greek Bible , one of the four great uncial codices. The Codex is named for the residence in the Vatican Library, where it has been stored since at least the 15th century...

 and listed in Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

' Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter
Easter letter
In AD 367, Athanasius of Alexandria authored the 39th Festal Letter, or Easter letter, which was approved at the Quinisext Council. In it, he listed the same 27 books of the New Testament that are in use today...

. Sacred Tradition consists of those teachings believed by the Church to have been handed down since the time of the Apostles. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are collectively known as the "deposit of faith" (depositum fidei). These are in turn interpreted by the Magisterium (from magister, Latin for "teacher"), the Church's teaching authority, which is exercised by the Pope and the College of Bishops in union with the Pope, the bishop of Rome.

Trinity



The Catholic Church holds that there is one eternal God, who exists as a mutual indwelling
Perichoresis
Perichoresis is a term in Christian theology first found within the Church Fathers but now reinvigorated among contemporary figures such as C. Baxter Kruger, Jurgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf and John Zizioulas, amongst others. The term first appears in Gregory of Nazianzus but was explored more...

 of three persons: God the Father; God the Son
God the Son
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit...

; and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, which make up the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

.

Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. In an event known as the Incarnation
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became united with human nature through the conception of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Christ therefore is both fully divine and fully human. It is taught that Christ's mission on earth included giving people his teachings and providing his example for them to follow as recorded in the four Gospels.

The Church teaches that through the passion
Passion (Christianity)
The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion...

 (suffering) of Christ and his crucifixion
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

 as described in the Gospels, all people have an opportunity for forgiveness and freedom from sin, and so can be reconciled to God. The Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 gained for humans a possible spiritual immortality previously denied to them because of original sin. By reconciling with God and following Christ's words and deeds, an individual can enter the Kingdom of God
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

, which is the "... reign of God over people's hearts and lives".

The Greek term "Christ" and the Hebrew "Messiah" both mean "anointed one", referring to the Christian belief that Jesus' death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecies.

Apostolicity


According to the Catechism, the Catholic Church professes to be the "sole Church of Christ", which is described in the Nicene Creed as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
Four Marks of the Church
The Four Marks of the Church is a term describing four specific adjectives—one, holy, catholic and apostolic—indicating four major distinctive marks or distinguishing characteristics of the Christian Church...

. The church teaches that its founder is Jesus Christ, who appointed the twelve Apostles to continue his work as the Church's earliest bishops. Catholic belief holds that the Church "is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth", and that all duly consecrated bishops have a lineal succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 from the apostles. In particular, the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), is considered the successor to the apostle Simon Peter, from whom the Pope derives his supremacy
Papal supremacy
Papal supremacy refers to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church that the pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered: that, in brief,...

 over the Church. The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi
Mystici Corporis Christi
Mystici Corporis Christi is a papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII during World War II, on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is one of the more important encyclicals of Pope Pius XII, because of its topic, the Church, and because its Church concept was fully included in Lumen...

as the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Church teaches that the fullness of the "means of salvation" exists only in the Catholic Church, but the Church acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of Christian communities separated from itself to "impel towards Catholic unity" and thus bring people to salvation. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved through the Church but that people can be saved ex voto and by pre-baptismal martyrdom as well as when conditions of invincible ignorance are present, although invincible ignorance in itself is not a means of salvation.

Sacraments



According to the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

, Christ instituted seven sacraments
Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper...

 and entrusted them to the Church. These are Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, Confirmation, the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

, Reconciliation (Penance
Penance
Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans and other Protestants...

), Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick (Catholic Church)
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to Catholics who because of sickness or old age are in danger of death, even if the danger is not proximate...

 (formerly called Extreme Unction, one of the "Last Rites
Last Rites
The Last Rites are the very last prayers and ministrations given to many Christians before death. The last rites go by various names and include different practices in different Christian traditions...

"), Holy Orders
Holy Orders
The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry....

 and Holy Matrimony
Catholic marriage
Catholic marriage, also called matrimony, is a "covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring...

. Sacraments are visible rituals that Catholics see as signs of God's presence and effective channels of God's grace
Grace (Christianity)
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

 to all those who receive them with the proper disposition (ex opere operato
Ex opere operato
Ex opere operato is a Latin phrase meaning "from the work done" referring to the efficacy of the Sacraments deriving from the action of the Sacrament as opposed to the merits or holiness of the priest or minister....

). The Catechism of the Catholic Church categorizes the sacraments into three groups, the "sacraments of Christian initiation", "sacraments of healing", and "sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful", which broadly reflect the stages of one's natural and spiritual life each sacrament is intended to serve.
Baptism

As viewed by the Catholic Church, Baptism is the first of three sacraments of initiation as a Christian. It washes away all sins, both original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

 and personal actual sins. It makes a person a member of the Church. As a gratuitous gift of God that requires no merit on the part of the person who is baptised, it is conferred even on children
Infant baptism
Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning "child." The practice is sometimes contrasted with what is called "believer's baptism", or...

, who, though they have no personal sins, need it on account of original sin. It marks a person permanently and cannot be repeated. The Catholic Church recognises as valid baptisms conferred even by people who are not Catholics or Christians, provided that they intend to baptise ("to do what the Church does when she baptises") and that they use the Trinitarian baptismal formula.

Eucharist

For Catholics, the Eucharist is the sacrament which completes Christian initiation, is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and a banquet in which Christ himself is consumed. The Eucharistic sacrifice always includes prayers, readings from the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, consecration of wheat bread and grape wine, and communion by at least some of the participants (in particular the priest) in the consecrated elements, which by the consecration become, in a way surpassing understanding, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a change known as transubstantiation
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

.
Confirmation

The Catholic Church sees the sacrament of confirmation as required to complete the grace given in baptism. When adults are baptised, confirmation is normally given immediately afterwards, a practice followed even for infants in the Eastern Catholic Church. In the West
Latin Church
The Latin Church is the largest particular church within the Catholic Church. It is a particular church not on the level of the local particular churches known as dioceses or eparchies, but on the level of autonomous ritual churches, of which there are 23, the remaining 22 of which are Eastern...

 confirmation of children is delayed until they are old enough to understand or even until they are in their teens. In the West, the sacrament is called confirmation, because it confirms and strengthens the grace of baptism; in the East, it is called chrismation, because the essential rite is the anointing of the person with chrism
Chrism
Chrism , also called "Myrrh" , Holy anointing oil, or "Consecrated Oil", is a consecrated oil used in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, in the Assyrian Church of the East, and in Old-Catholic churches, as well as Anglican churches in the administration...

, a mixture of olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

 and some perfumed substance, usually balsam, blessed by a bishop. Those who receive confirmation must be in a state of grace, which for those who have reached the age of reason
Age of reason (canon law)
In the Roman Catholic Church, the age of reason, also called the age of discretion, is the age at which children become capable of moral responsibility. On completion of the seventh year a minor is presumed to have the use of reason, but mental retardation or insanity could prevent some...

 means that they should first be cleansed spiritually by the sacrament of Penance; they should also have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to show in their lives that they are Christians.
Penance


The sacrament of penance (also called reconciliation, forgiveness, confession and conversion) exists for the conversion of those who, after baptism, separate themselves from Christ by sin. Essential to this sacrament are acts both by the sinner (examination of conscience, contrition with a determination not to sin again, confession to a priest, and performance of some act to repair the damage caused by sin) and by the priest (determination of the act of reparation to be performed and absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

). Serious sins (mortal sin
Mortal sin
Mortal sins are in the theology of some, but not all Christian denominations wrongful acts that condemn a person to Hell after death. These sins are considered "mortal" because they constitute a rupture in a person's link to God's saving grace: the person's soul becomes "dead", not merely weakened...

s) must be confessed within at most a year and always before receiving Holy Communion, while confession of venial sin
Venial sin
According to Roman Catholicism, a venial sin is a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in Hell...

s also is recommended. The priest is bound under the severest penalties to maintain the "seal of confession", absolute secrecy about any sins revealed to him in confession.
Anointing of the Sick

While chrism is used only for the three sacraments that cannot be repeated (baptism, confirmation, ordination), a different oil is used by a priest or bishop to bless a Catholic who, because of illness or old age, has begun to be in danger of death. This sacrament, known as Anointing of the Sick, is believed to give comfort, peace, courage and, if the sick person is unable to make a confession, even forgiveness of sins. Although it is not reserved for those in proximate danger of death, it is often administered as one of the Last Rites.
Ordination

Holy Orders is a sacrament in three degrees or orders, episcopate (bishops), presbyterate (priests) and diaconate (deacons), which consecrates and deputes some Christians to serve the whole body by these specific titles. The Church has defined rules on who may be ordained into the clergy. In the Latin Rite, the priesthood and diaconate are generally restricted to celibate men. Men who are already married may be ordained in the Eastern Catholic Churches in most countries, and may become deacons even in the Western Church. All clergy, whether deacons, priests, or bishops, may preach, teach, baptise, witness marriages and conduct funeral liturgies. Only bishops and priests can administer the sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance) and Anointing of the Sick. Only bishops can administer the sacrament of Holy Orders
Holy Orders (Catholic Church)
Holy Orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. The Church regards ordination as a Sacrament. In the phrase "Holy Orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word order designates an established civil body or corporation with a...

, which ordains
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 someone into the clergy.
Matrimony

Marriage, understood as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman, if entered into validly by any baptised man and woman, is considered a sacrament by the Catholic Church. The church does not recognize divorce as ending a valid marriage, and allows state-recognized divorce only as a means of protecting children or property, without allowing remarriage following such a divorce. Apart from the requirements such as freedom of consent that it sees as applicable to all, the church has established certain specific requirements for the validity of marriages by Catholics. Failure to observe the Church's regulations, as well as defects applicable to all marriages, may be grounds for a church declaration of the invalidity of a marriage, a declaration usually referred to as an annulment
Annulment (Catholic Church)
In the Roman Catholic Church an annulment is the procedure, governed by the Church's Canon Law and the Catechism, whereby an ecclesial tribunal determines the sacrament of marriage was invalidly entered into. An annulment determines the Catholic marriage to be void at its inception...

.

Judgment after death


The Church teaches that, immediately after death, the soul of each person will receive a particular judgment
Particular judgment
Particular judgment, according to Christian eschatology, is the judgment given by God that a departed person undergoes immediately after death, in contradistinction to the General judgment of all people at the end of the world....

 from God. This teaching also attests to another day when Christ will sit in a universal judgment of all mankind. This final judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

, according to Church teaching, will bring an end to human history and mark the beginning of a new and better heaven and earth ruled by God in righteousness. The basis on which each person's soul is judged is detailed in the Gospel of Matthew, which lists works of mercy
Works of Mercy
The Works of Mercy or Acts of Mercy are actions and practices which Christianity in general, and the Methodist Church, Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in particular, consider expectations to be fulfilled by believers, and are a means of grace, which aid in sanctification.The...

 to be performed even to people considered "the least of Christ's brothers". Emphasis is upon Christ's words that "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven".

According to the Catechism, "The Last Judgement will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life." Depending on the judgement rendered, a soul may enter one of three states of afterlife:
  • Heaven is a time of glorious union with God and a life of unspeakable joy that lasts forever.
  • Purgatory
    Purgatory
    Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

     is a temporary condition for the purification of souls who, although saved, are not free enough from sin to enter directly into heaven. Souls in purgatory may be aided in reaching heaven by the prayers of the faithful on earth and by the intercession of saints
    Intercession of saints
    Intercession of the saints is a Christian doctrine held by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Anglican churches, that deceased saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for believers, and that it is possible to ask deceased saints for their prayers...

    .
  • Final Damnation: Finally, those who persist in living in a state of mortal sin and do not repent before death subject themselves to hell, an everlasting separation from God. The Church teaches that no one is condemned to hell without having freely decided to reject God. No one is predestined
    Predestination
    Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

     to hell and no one can determine whether anyone else has been condemned. Catholicism teaches that through God's mercy a person can repent at any point before death and be saved. Some Catholic theologians have speculated that the souls of unbaptised infants who die in original sin are assigned to limbo
    Limbo
    In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church or any other...

     although this is not an official doctrine of the Church.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary


Prayers and devotions
Catholic devotions
A Roman Catholic devotion is a gift of oneself, or one's activities to God. It is a willingness and desire to dedicate oneself to serve God; either in terms of prayers or in terms of a set of pious acts such as the adoration of God or the veneration of the saints or the Virgin Mary.Roman Catholic...

 to Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God...

 are part of Catholic piety but are distinct from the worship of God. The Church holds Mary, as Perpetual Virgin and Mother of God
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

, in special regard. Catholic beliefs concerning Mary include her Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

 without the stain of original sin and bodily assumption
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

 into heaven at the end of her life, both of which have been infallibly
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

 defined as dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

, by Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 in 1854 and Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 in 1950 respectively.

Mariology deals not only with her life but also her veneration in daily life, prayer and Marian art
Roman Catholic Marian art
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been one of the major subjects of Christian Art, Catholic Art and Western Art for many centuries. Literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of...

, music
Roman Catholic Marian music
Roman Catholic Marian music shares a trait with some other forms of Christian music in adding another emotional dimension to the process of veneration and in being used in various Marian ceremonies and feasts...

 and architecture. Several liturgical Marian feasts are celebrated throughout the Church Year and she is honoured with many titles such as Queen of Heaven
Queen of Heaven
Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians, mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in the Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches, to whom the title is a consequence of the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, where the Virgin...

. Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 called her Mother of the Church
Mother of the Church
Mother of the Church is a title, officially given to Mary during the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI. The title was first used by Saint Ambrose of Milan and rediscovered by Hugo Rahner, the brother of Karl Rahner.- Ambrose and Hugo Rahner :...

, because by giving birth to Christ, she is considered to be the spiritual mother to each member of the Body of Christ
Body of Christ
In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two separate connotations: it may refer to Jesus's statement about the Eucharist at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in , or the explicit usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in to refer to the Christian Church.Although in general usage the...

. Because of her influential role in the life of Jesus, prayers and devotions, such as the Rosary
Rosary
The rosary or "garland of roses" is a traditional Catholic devotion. The term denotes the prayer beads used to count the series of prayers that make up the rosary...

, the Hail Mary
Hail Mary
The Angelic Salutation, Hail Mary, or Ave Maria is a traditional biblical Catholic prayer asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Hail Mary is used within the Catholic Church, and it forms the basis of the Rosary...

, the Salve Regina
Salve Regina
The "Salve Regina", also known as the Hail Holy Queen, is a Marian hymn and one of four Marian antiphons sung at different seasons within the Christian liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The Salve Regina is traditionally sung at Compline in the time from the Saturday before Trinity...

 and the Memorare
Memorare
Memorare is a Roman Catholic prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Memorare, from the Latin "Remember", is frequently misattributed to the 12th century Cistercian monk Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, apparently due to confusion with its 17th century popularizer, Father Claude Bernard, who stated that he...

 are common Catholic practices.

The Church has affirmed certain Marian apparitions
Marian apparitions
A Marian apparition is an event in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have supernaturally appeared to one or more people. They are often given names based on the town in which they were reported, or on the sobriquet which was given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition...

 such as Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes is the name used to refer to the Marian apparition said to have appeared before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France...

, Fátima
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fátima is a famous title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared in apparitions reported by three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. These occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13...

, Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe , also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe is a celebrated Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary.According to tradition, on December 9, 1531 Juan Diego, a simple indigenous peasant, had a vision of a young woman while he was on a hill in the Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. The lady...

 and the Shrine Of Our Lady of Good Hope in Wisconsin, USA. Pilgrimages to these sites are popular Catholic devotions.

History


Catholic tradition and doctrine holds that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD in Judea
Judaea (Roman province)
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 within the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. The New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 records Jesus' activities and teaching, his appointment of the twelve Apostles and his instructions to them to continue his work
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

.
The Catholic Church teaches that the coming of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 upon the apostles, in an event known as Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

, signaled the beginning of the public ministry of the Catholic Church. Catholic doctrine teaches that the contemporary Catholic Church is the continuation of this early Christian community
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

. It interprets the Confession of Peter found in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 as Christ's designation of Saint Peter the Apostle and his successors, the Bishops of Rome to be the temporal head of his Church, a doctrine known as apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

.

Conditions in the Roman Empire facilitated the spread of new ideas. The empire's well-defined network of roads and waterways allowed for easier travel, while the Pax Romana
Pax Romana
Pax Romana was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Since it was established by Caesar Augustus it is sometimes called Pax Augusta...

 made it safe to travel from one region to another. The government had encouraged inhabitants, especially those in urban areas, to learn Greek, and the common language allowed ideas to be more easily expressed and understood. Unlike most religions in the Roman Empire, however, Christianity required its adherents to renounce all other gods, a practice adopted from Judaism (see Idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

). Christians' refusal to join pagan celebrations meant they were unable to participate in much of public life, which caused non-Christians–including government authorities–to fear that the Christians were angering the gods and thereby threatening the peace and prosperity of the Empire. The resulting persecutions, although usually local and sporadic, were a defining feature of Christian self-understanding until Christianity was legalised in the 4th century.

In 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

 by the Emperor Constantine I
Constantine I and Christianity
During the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine, also known as Constantine I, had a significant religious experience following his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312...

. In 380, Christianity became the state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 of the Roman Empire by the decree of the Emperor
Edict of Thessalonica
The Edict of Thessalonica, also known as Cunctos populos, was delivered on 27 February 380 by Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II in order that all their subjects should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria...

, which would persist until the fall of the Western Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, and later, with the Eastern Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, until the Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

. During this time (the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils) there were considered five primary sees according to Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period...

, Jerusalem
Jerusalem in Christianity
For Christians, Jerusalem's place in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.-Jerusalem in the New Testament and early Christianity:...

 and Alexandria
Patriarch of Alexandria
The Patriarch of Alexandria is the Archbishop of Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation of Pope , and did so earlier than that of the Bishop of Rome...

, known as the Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

.

After the destruction of the western Roman Empire, the church in the West
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 was a major factor in the preservation of classical civilization
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

, establishing monasteries, and sending missionaries to convert the peoples of northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, as far as Ireland in the north. In the East
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, the Byzantine Empire preserved Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

, well after the massive invasions of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in the mid-7th century
Christianity in the 7th century
Christianity in the 7th century, the Western and Eastern areas of Christianity began to take on distinctive shapes. Whereas in the East the Church maintained its structure and character and evolved more slowly, in the West the Bishops of Rome were forced to adapt more quickly and flexibly to...

. The invasions of Islam devastated three of the five Patriarchal sees, capturing Jerusalem first, then Alexandria, and then finally in the mid-8th century
Christianity in the 8th century
- Eastern Church :By the late 8th century the Muslim empire had conquered all of Persia and much of the Eastern Roman territory including Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. Suddenly much of the Christian world was under Muslim rule...

, Antioch. The whole period of the next five centuries was dominated by the struggle between Christianity and Islam throughout the Mediterranean Basin
Mediterranean Basin
In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

. The battles of Poitiers, and Toulouse preserved the Catholic west, even though Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople was besieged.

Doctrine disputes and schisms



In the 11th century
Christianity in the 11th century
In 1054, following the death of the Patriarch of Rome Leo IX, papal legates from Rome traveled to Constantinople to deny Michael Cerularius, the reigning Patriarch of Constantinople, the title of Ecumenical Patriarch and to insist that he recognize the Church of Rome's claim to be the head and...

, already strained relations between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 church in the West, developed into the East-West Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

, partially due to conflicts over Papal Authority. The fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople by renegade crusaders proved the final breach. In the 16th century
Christianity in the 16th century
- Age of Discovery :During the Age of Discovery, the Roman Catholic Church established a number of Missions in the Americas and other colonies in order to spread Christianity in the New World and to convert the indigenous peoples...

, in response to the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, the Catholic Church engaged in a process of substantial reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

. In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations due to the growth of religious scepticism during and after the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. The Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 three centuries before. In 1854 Pope Pius IX with the support of the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s, whom he had consulted between 1851–1853, proclaimed the dogma
Dogma (Roman Catholic)
In the Roman Catholic Church, a dogma is an article of faith revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church presents to be believed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmata regulate the language, how the truth of...

 of the Immaculate Conception. In 1870, the First Vatican Council
First Vatican Council
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This twentieth ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned...

 affirmed the doctrine of papal infallibility
Papal infallibility
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when in his official capacity he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals...

 when exercised in specifically defined pronouncements. Controversy over this and other issues resulted in a very small breakaway movement called the Old Catholic Church
Old Catholic Church
The term Old Catholic Church is commonly used to describe a number of Ultrajectine Christian churches that originated with groups that split from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, most importantly that of Papal Infallibility...

.

Contemporary issues


The Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 (1962–65), initiated by Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

, became one of the major influences on the Catholic Church in the second half of the 20th century. It intended to engage the Church more closely with the present world (aggiornamento
Aggiornamento
-Code of Canon law:Originally, the word referred merely to an adjournment of the Code of Canon law, as John XXIII said himself in his 1959 speech. However, the Code of canon law was only completed in 1983, after a long delay of 18 years after the end of the Council...

), which was described by its advocates as an "opening of the windows". It led to changes in liturgy within the Latin Church such as worship in the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 (local language), changes to the Church's approach to ecumenism
Catholic Church and ecumenism
The Catholic Church has been heavily involved in the ecumenical movement since the Second Vatican Council .- Before the Second Vatican Council :...

, and a call to improved relations with non-Christian religions, especially Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, in its document Nostra Aetate
Nostra Aetate
Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council. Passed by a vote of 2,221 to 88 of the assembled bishops, this declaration was promulgated on October 28, 1965, by Pope Paul VI.The first draft, entitled "Decretum de...

.

The Council, however, generated significant controversy in implementing its reforms; proponents of the "Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
By the spirit of Vatican II is meant the teaching and intentions of the Second Vatican Council interpreted in a way that is not limited to a literal reading of its documents, or even interpreted in a way that contradicts the "letter" of the Council...

" such as Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 theologian Hans Küng
Hans Küng
Hans Küng is a Swiss Catholic priest, theologian, and prolific author. Since 1995 he has been President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic . Küng is "a Catholic priest in good standing", but the Vatican has rescinded his authority to teach Catholic theology...

 claimed Vatican II had "not gone far enough" to change church policies. Traditionalist Catholics, such as Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel François Marie Joseph Lefebvre was a French Roman Catholic archbishop. Following a career as an Apostolic Delegate for West Africa and Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, he took the lead in opposing the changes within the Church associated with the Second Vatican Council.In 1970,...

, however, strongly criticised the council, arguing that the council's liturgical reforms led "to the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments," among other issues.

Social justice issues



In 1978, Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

, formerly archbishop of Cracow in then-Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, became the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. His 27-year pontificate was one of the longest in history. Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

, the last premier of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, credited the Polish pope with hastening the fall of Communism in Europe.

The Catholic nun Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa , born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu , was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950...

 of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 in 1979 for her humanitarian work among India's poor. Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo
Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo
Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo SDB, GCL is an East Timorese Roman Catholic bishop. Along with José Ramos-Horta, he received the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for work "towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor."...

 won the same award in 1996 for "work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

".

Sexuality and gender issues



Soon after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Church teachings about sexuality became an issue of increasing controversy due to changing cultural attitudes in the Western world (see the Sexual Revolution
Sexual revolution
The sexual revolution was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the Western world from the 1960s into the 1980s...

). In his encyclical Humanae Vitae
Humanae Vitae
Humanae Vitae is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and issued on 25 July 1968. Subtitled On the Regulation of Birth, it re-affirms the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and the continuing proscription of most forms of birth...

(1968), Pope Paul VI rejected all artificial contraception (though he permitted the regulation of births by means of natural family planning
Natural family planning
Natural family planning is a term referring to the family planning methods approved by the Roman Catholic Church. In accordance with the Church's requirements for sexual behavior in keeping with its philosophy of the dignity of the human person, NFP excludes the use of other methods of birth...

), contradicting those voices in the Church that saw at the time the birth control pill as an ethically justifiable method of contraception. This teaching was continued especially by John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae
Evangelium Vitae
Evangelium Vitae is the name of the encyclical written by Pope John Paul II which expresses the position of the Catholic Church regarding the value and inviolability of human life...

, where he decried contraception
Contraception
Contraception is the prevention of the fusion of gametes during or after sexual activity. The term contraception is a contraction of contra, which means against, and the word conception, meaning fertilization...

 and abortion as well as euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

 as symptoms of a "culture of death" and called for a "culture of life".

Efforts in support of the ordination of women led to several rulings by the Roman Curia or Pope against the proposal, as in 1976 (Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood), 1988 (Mulieris Dignitatem
Mulieris Dignitatem
Mulieris Dignitatem is a 1988 apostolic letter by John Paul II on the dignity of women. The letter advocates what is called Christian complementarianism, a view on the complementary roles of men and women in line with the philosophy of new feminism....

), and 1994 (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is an Apostolic Letter issued from the Vatican by Pope John Paul II on 22 May 1994, whereby the Pope expounds the teaching of the Catholic Church's position requiring "the reservation of priestly ordination to men alone." In its clear proclamation that "the Church has no...

). According to the latest ruling found in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, then Pope John Paul II concluded, "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." In defiance of these rulings, opposition groups such as Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Roman Catholic Womenpriests is an Independent Catholic international group that asserts a connection to the Catholic Church. They are descended from the Danube Seven, a group of women who claim to have been ordained as priests in 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an independent bishop...

 have performed alleged ordination ceremonies for women, claiming the aid of a Catholic bishop in performing the rites. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

 responded by issuing a statement clarifying that any Catholic bishops involved in ordination ceremonies for women, as well as the women themselves if they were Catholic, would automatically receive the penalty of latae sententiae excommunication
Latae sententiae
Latæ sententiæ is a Latin term used in the canon law of the Catholic Church meaning literally "given sentence".Officially, a latae sententiae penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened....

, citing canon 1378 of the Canon Law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 and other church laws.

Sex abuse cases


In the 1990s and 2000s, the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy became the subject of media coverage, legal action and public debate in the United States, Ireland, Australia and other countries
Roman Catholic sex abuse cases by country
This page documents notable Alleged Roman Catholic sex abuse cases by country.- Kenya :In 2009 several people came forward with accusations of sexual molestation against an Italian priest working in the country. The Church gave assurances of an investigation, but this has not taken place...

. The Church was criticised for its handling of abuse complaints when it became known that some bishops had shielded accused priests, transferring them to other pastoral assignments where some continued to commit sexual offences. In response to the scandal, the Church has established formal procedures to prevent abuse, encourage reporting of any abuse that occurs and to handle such reports promptly, although groups representing victims have disputed their effectiveness. In September 2011, a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 alleging that the Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Angelo Sodano
Angelo Sodano is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the current Dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican Secretary of State, having held that post from 1990 to 2006, under both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI...

 dean of the College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal William Levada
William Levada
William Joseph Levada is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Since 2005, he has served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, making him the highest ranking American in the Roman Curia. He was previously the Archbishop of Portland from 1986 to 1995 and...

 head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, had committed a crime against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

 by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a "systematic and widespread" concealment which included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies.

Citations

  • NOTE: CCC stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church
    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

    . The number following CCC is the paragraph number, of which there are 2865. The numbers cited in the Compendium of the CCC are question numbers, of which there are 598.


External links


  • Vatican.va  – official website of the Holy See
  • Vatican YouTube  – official YouTube
    YouTube
    YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

    channel