History of the Roman Catholic Church

History of the Roman Catholic Church

The History of the Catholic Church from apostolic times covers a period of nearly 2,000 years, [August Franzen, Kleine Kirchengeschichte Neubearbeitung, Herder,Freiburg,1988, p.11] making it the world's oldest and largest institution. It dates its beginning to the confession of Peter, and the establishment of the church by Jesus Christ. [Mathew 16, 18 quoted in Franzen ] [ Pius XII Mystici Corporis quoted in Franzen] [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 862 quoted in Franzen] [Franzen 11] Catholic doctrine states that Christ is the head of his Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 791 ] [Pius XII, Mystici Corporis quoted in Franzen ] [Christ "is the head of the body, the Church." He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father's glory, "in everything he (is) preeminent," especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things. The Catechism Of The Catholic Church, numbers 781 to 870-] [The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father hath made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.The Catechism of Trent] The history of the Roman Catholic Church is integral to the History of Christianity and the history of Western civilization.Orlandis, "A Short History of the Catholic Church" (1993), preface]

Roman Catholic Church history is based on the interpretation of "Matthew 16:18" as delineating Christ's designation of Apostle Peter "and" his successors in Rome to be secular head of his Church. The authority of the Apostle Peter and his successors is thus viewed as a continuous history from Jesus Christ through the ecumenical councils, a view shared by many historians as well.Hitchcock, "Geography of Religion" (2004), p. 281, quote: "Some (Christian communities) had been founded by Peter, the disciple Jesus designated as the founder of his church. ... Once the position was institutionalized, historians looked back and recognized Peter as the first pope of the Christian church in Rome"] Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 11, 14, quote: "The Church was founded by Jesus himself in his earthly lifetime.", "The apostolate was established in Rome, the world's capital when the church was inaugurated; it was there that the universality of the Christian teaching most obviously took its central directive–it was the bishops of Rome who very early on began to receive requests for adjudication on disputed points from other bishops."] [cite book | last =Temporini | first =Hildegard | coauthors =Wolfgang Haase | title =Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt Principat.: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung | publisher =Walter de Gruyter | year =1982 | pages =480 | url =http://books.google.com/books?id=kNPV4P5h1qgC&pg=PA480&dq=The+church+was+founded+by+jesus&lr=&sig=ACfU3U1lmU6VawAuGMAmaC9rwF-HU74CFw | doi =2008-06-26 | id =3110087006 ] The institution of the papacy as it exists today developed through the centuries. Church tradition records that Peter became the first leader of Christians in the Imperial capital of Rome. The apostles and many Christians traveled to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and Rome to found the first Christian communities. Christianity spread quickly through the Roman Empire, and by the second century there were many established bishoprics within the Empire including Northern Africa, France, Italy, Syria, and Asia Minor, and twenty bishoprics outside the empire, mainly in Armenia. [Franzen 31- 32] Irenaeus (d. 202) defended the apostolic tradition, which can only be safeguarded with the central primacy of Rome. [Franzen 41]

In 313, the struggles of the early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I. In 383, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire by the decree of the Emperor, which would persist until the fall of the Western Empire, and later, with the Eastern Roman Empire, until the capture of Constantinople. At this time there were considered five primary sees according to Eusebius: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria.

After the destruction of the western Roman Empire, the church in the West preserved classical civilization, establishing monasteries, and sending missionaries to convert the pagan peoples of northern Europe, as far as Ireland in the north. In the East, the Byzantine Empire preserved Catholicism, up until the massive invasions of Islam in the mid-seventh century. The invasions of Islam devastated three of the five sees, capturing Jerusalem first, then Alexandria, and then finally in the mid-eighth century, they captured Antioch.

The whole period of the next five centuries was dominated by the struggle between the Catholic Church and Islam throughout the Mediterranean. The battles of Poitiers, and Toulouse preserved the west, even as Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople besieged.

In the 11th century, as the invasions of Islam strained relations between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin church in the West, it split apart, partially due to the split over papal power, the fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople by the Europeans proved the final breach.

In the 16th century, partly in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Church engaged in a process of substantial reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation. In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world, though seeing a reduction in its hold on European countries from the growth of religious scepticism after the Enlightenment. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent three centuries before.

Church beginnings


The years following the Crucifixion of Jesus until the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles is called the Apostolic Age. [Franzen, Kirchegeschichte 20] Jesus instructed his disciples to spread his teachings (Mk28,28, Mk16,15) “before his ascension but did not tell them how. [Franzen Kirchengeschichte, 18] In the Roman Catholic view, all twelve apostles are part of divine revelation, [Franzen 18] but during the Apostolic Age, the Apostle Paul who opened the religion to gentiles, was without leadership position the most important figure [Duffy, 3] In or around the year 50, the apostles convened the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem, to reconcile doctrinal differences among the competing forms of Christianity.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (2002), p. 37, Chapter 1 The Early Christian Community subsection entitled "Rome", quote: "In Acts 15 scripture recorded the apostles meeting in synod to reach a common policy about the Gentile mission."] McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (2002), pp. 37–8, Chapter 1 The Early Christian Community subsection entitled "Rome", quote: "The 'synod' or, in Latin, 'council' (the modern distinction making a synod something less than a council was unknown in antiquity) became an indispensable way of keeping a common mind, and helped to keep maverick individuals from centrifugal tendencies. During the third century synodal government became so developed that synods used to meet not merely at times of crisis but on a regular basis every year, normally between Easter and Pentecost."] At the Council of Jerusalem in 50 it was confirmed that gentiles could be accepted as Christians.

The Christian community in Jerusalem, where Jesus, many of the twelve Apostles and many eye-witnesses originally lived, had a special position among Christian communities. It experienced conflict and persecution especially in the years 32-33 and 62-63 highlighted by the stoning of Saint Stephen and the Apostle James. [ Franzen 24] The destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 ended the pre-eminence of Jerusalem and with the consequent dispersion of Jews and Christians from this city, Early Christianity grew apart from Judaism and established itself as a predominantly gentile religion. Antioch became the first Gentile Christian community with stature [Franzen 25]

Roman Christians had travelled to Jerusalem during the Pentacost experience [Acts 2,10] The Church of Rome was already flourishing, when, from Corinth the Apostle Paul sent his letter to the Roman Community in the Winter of 57-58 [Franzen 26] [Rom 1,8] The Roman Catholic Church does not claim, that Peter founded the Roman Community. The Church" does" claim that Peter lived and died in Rome [Franzen 27] And, "“His authority perpetuated within the Christian community in evidence in the New Testament writings attributed to Peter himself”" [Duffy 5] The Roman Catholic Church asserts that this authority was inherited by Peter's successors as Bishop of Rome and also that the Roman Church had a solid apostolic succession in Linus, Anacletus, Clement I, Evaristus, Alexander I, Sixtus I, Telesphorus and the others that followed according to Irenaeus and early succession lists from the year 160 [ Franzen 27]

Apostles but also numerous Christians, soldiers, merchants, preachers [Franzen 29] traveled to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and other places to found the first Christian communities,Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 19–20] and over 40 were established by the year 100. Hitchcock, "Geography of Religion" (2004), p. 281, quote: "By the year 100, more than 40 Christian communities existed in cities around the Mediterranean, including two in North Africa, at Alexandria and Cyrene, and several in Italy."] Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 18, quote: "The story of how this tiny community of believers spread to many cities of the Roman Empire within less than a century is indeed a remarkable chapter in the history of humanity."] The Catholic Church believes it came fully into being on the day of Pentecost when, according to scriptural accounts, the apostles received the Holy Spirit and emerged from hiding following the death and ressurection of Jesus to preach and spread his message.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 19–20] Schreck, "The Essential Catholic Catechism" (1999), p. 130]

At first, Christians continued to worship alongside Jewish believers, but within twenty years of Jesus's death, Sunday was being regarded as the primary day of worship.Davidson, "The Birth of the Church" (2005), p. 115] Growing tensions soon led to a starker separation that was virtually complete by the time Christians refused to join in the Bar Khokba Jewish revolt of 132,Davidson, "The Birth of the Church" (2005), p. 146] however some groups of Christians retained elements of Jewish practice.Davidson, "The Birth of the Church" (2005), p. 149] Church leadership by bishops priests and deacons originated in the New Testament period.Herring, "An Introduction to the History of Christianity" (2006), p. 23] Christianity also differed from other Roman religions in that it set out its beliefs in a clearly defined way.Herring, "An Introduction to the History of Christianity" (2006), p. 28] From as early as the first century, the Church of Rome was recognized as a doctrinal authority because it was believed that the Apostles Peter and Paul had led the Church there.] Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 11] Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 40–2, quote: "Several pieces of evidence indicate that the Bishop of Rome even after Peter held some sort of preeminence among other bishops. ... (lists several historical documents) ... None of these examples, taken by themselves, would be sufficient to prove the primacy of the successors of Peter and Paul. Taken together, however, they point to a Roman authority which was recognized in the early church as going beyond that of other churches."] McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (2002), p. 36, Chapter 1 The Early Christian Community subsection entitled "Rome" by Henry Chadwick, quote: "Towards the latter part of the first century, Rome's presiding cleric named Clement wrote on behalf of his church to remonstrate with the Corinthian Christians ... Clement apologized not for intervening but for not having acted sooner. Moreover, during the second century the Roman community's leadership was evident in its generous alms to poorer churches. About 165 they erected monuments to their martyred apostles ... Roman bishops were already conscious of being custodians of the authentic tradition or true interpretation of the apostolic writings. In the conflict with Gnosticism Rome played a decisive role, and likewise in the deep division in Asia Minor created by the claims of the Montanist prophets to be the organs of the Holy Spirit's direct utterances."]

The apostles convened the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem, in or around the year 50 to reconcile differences concerning the Gentile mission.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (2002), p. 37, Chapter 1 The Early Christian Community subsection entitled "Rome" by Henry Chadwick, quote: "In Acts 15 scripture recorded the apostles meeting in synod to reach a common policy about the Gentile mission."] Although competing forms of Christianity emerged early and persisted into the fifth century, there was broad doctrinal unity within the mainstream churches.Davidson, "The Birth of the Church" (2005), p. 155, quote: "For all the scattered nature of the churches, a very large number of believers in apostolic times lived no more than a week or so's travel from one of the main hubs of the christian movement: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Ephesus, Corinth or Philippi. Communities received regular visits from itinerant teachers and leaders.. This unity was focussed upon the essentials of belief in Jesus..] From the year 100 onward, teachers like Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus defined Catholic teaching in stark opposition to heresies such as Gnosticism.Davidson, "The Birth of the Church" (2005), pp. 169, 181] The Roman Church retained the practice of meeting in ecumenical councils to ensure that any internal doctrinal differences were quickly resolved.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (2002), pp. 37–8, Chapter 1 The Early Christian Community subsection entitled "Rome" by Henry Chadwick, quote: "The 'synod' or, in Latin, 'council' (the modern distinction making a synod something less than a council was unknown in antiquity) became an indispensable way of keeping a common mind, and helped to keep maverick individuals from centrifugal tendencies. During the third century synodal government became so developed that synods used to meet not merely at times of crisis but on a regular basis every year, normally between Easter and Pentecost."] In the first few centuries of its existence, the Church formed its teachings and traditions into a systematic whole under the influence of theological apologists such as Pope Clement I, Justin Martyr and Augustine of Hippo.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 27–8, quote: "A distinguished succession of theological apologists added intellectual authority to the resources at the disposal of the papacy, at just that point in its early development when the absence of a centralized teaching office could have fractured the universal witness to a single body of ideas. At the end of the first century there was St. Clement of Rome, third successor to St. Peter in the see; in the second century there was St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus of Lyons and St. Justin Martyr; in the fourth century St. Augustine of Hippo, the greatest theologian of the Early Church."]

The Christian church was fragmented in its early days. [Langan, "The Catholic Tradition" (1998), p. 55. Langan states that although there were schools in various regions with similar rites and organization, Gnostic, Ebionite and Montanist schools were more loosely structured and often disagreed with each other. Langan, "The Catholic Tradition" (1998), p. 115] Partially as a response to the Gnostic teaching, in the 2nd century, Irenaeus created the first known document describing apostolic succession.Langan, "The Catholic Tradition" (1998), p. 107/]


In the first centuries of its existence, the Church defined and formed its teachings and traditions into a systematic whole under the influence of theological apologists such as Pope Clement I, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr and Augustine Hippo.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 27–8, quote: "A distinguished succession of theological apologists added intellectual authority to the resources at the disposal of the papacy, at just that point in its early development when the absence of a centralized teaching office could have fractured the universal witness to a single body of ideas. At the end of the third century there was St. Clement of Rome, third successor to St. Peter in the see; in the fourth century there was St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus of Lyons and St. Justin Martyr; in the fourth century St. Augustine of Hippo, the greatest theologian of the Early Church."] Because early Christians refused to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods or to defer to Roman rulers as gods, they were frequently subject to persecution. Hitchcock, "Geography of Religion" (2004), p. 282 ] The ferocity or absence of the persecution varied depending upon the policies of the emperor in question. Persecution began under Nero in the first century, and by the mid-third century it was extensive throughout the empire, culminating in the great persecution of Diocletian and Galerius at the beginning of the fourth century, which was seen as a final attempt to wipe out Christianity.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), pp. 53–5] In spite of these persecutions evangelization efforts persisted, leading to the Edict of Milan which legalized Christianity in 313.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), pp. 58–9] By 380, Christianity had become the official religion of the Empire.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), p. 59]

From Constantine to Gregory

Council of Nicaea

In 325, the First Council of Nicaea was convened in response to the Arian challenge concerning the trinitarian nature of God. The council formulated the Nicene Creed as a basic statement of Christian belief and divided the church into geographical and administrative areas called dioceses. Hitchcock, "Geography of Religion" (2004), p. 283 ] Although Rome was one of three dioceses whose primacy was officially sanctioned by this council, it had certain qualities that destined it for particular prominence. It was considered the see of Peter and Paul, it was located in the capital of the empire, church scholars were desirous of obtaining the Roman bishop's support in doctrinal disputes, and it was wealthy and known for supporting other churches around the world.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 35–6] Most of following ecumenical councils sought the approval of the Bishop of Rome, whose delegates usually presided them or were headed by the Pope himself. [Franzen, 9]


During the reign of Pope Sylvester I, Emperor Constantine I commissioned the first Basilica of St. Peter, as well as the Lateran Palace, a papal residence, and several other sites of lasting importance to Christianity.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 18] Many standard Christian practices had been established by the end of Constantine's life including the observation of Sunday as the official day of worship, the use of the altar as the focal point of each church, the sign of the cross, and the liturgical calendar.Hitchcock, "Geography of Religion" (2004), p. 284]

During the following decades a series of ecumenical christological councils codified critical elements of the Church's theology. The Council of Rome in 382 set the Biblical canon, listing the accepted books of the "Old" and "New Testament", and in 391 the Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible was made.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), pp. 61–2] The Council of Ephesus in 431 clarified the nature of Jesus' incarnation, declaring that he was both fully man and fully God.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 35] Two decades later, the Council of Chalcedon solidified Roman papal primacy which added to continuing breakdown in relations between Rome and Constantinople, the see of the Eastern Church.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 84–93] Also sparked were the Monophysite disagreements over the precise nature of the incarnation of Jesus which led to the first of the various Oriental Orthodox Churches breaking away from the Catholic Church.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (2002), p. 142, Chapter 4 Eastern Christendom by Kallistos Ware ]

Middle Ages

Early Middle Ages

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Catholic faith competed with Arianism for the conversion of the barbarian tribes.Le Goff, "Medieval Civilization" (1964), pp. 5–20] The 496 conversion of Clovis I, pagan king of the Franks, saw the beginning of a steady rise of the faith in the West.Le Goff, "Medieval Civilization" (1964), p. 21]

In 530, Saint Benedict wrote his "Rule of St Benedict" as a practical guide for monastic community life. Its message spread to monasteries throughout Europe.Woods, "How the Church Built Western Civilization" (2005), p. 27] Monasteries became major conduits of civilization, preserving craft and artistic skills while maintaining intellectual culture within their schools, scriptoria and libraries. They functioned as agricultural, economic and production centers as well as a focus for spiritual life.Le Goff, "Medieval Civilization" (1964), p. 120] During this period the Visigoths and Lombards moved away from Arianism for Catholicism. Pope Gregory the Great played a notable role in these conversions and dramatically reformed the ecclesiastical structures and administration which then launched renewed missionary efforts.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 50–2] Missionaries such as Augustine of Canterbury, who was sent from Rome to begin the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, and, coming the other way in the Hiberno-Scottish mission, Saints Colombanus, Boniface, Willibrord, Ansgar and many others took Christianity into northern Europe and spread Catholicism among the Germanic, and Slavic peoples, and reached the Vikings and other Scandinavians in later centuries.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), pp. 84–6] The Synod of Whitby of 664, though not as decisive as sometimes claimed, was an important moment in the reintegration of the Celtic Church of the British Isles, which had essentially lost contact with Rome because of the pagan invaders in between, into the Roman hierarchy.

In the early 700s, Byzantine iconoclasm became a major source of conflict between the Eastern and Western parts of the Church. Byzantine emperors forbade the creation and veneration of religious images, as violations of the Ten Commandments. Other major religions in the East such as Judaism and Islam had similar prohibitions. Pope Gregory III vehemently disagreed Vidmar, Jedin 34] A new Empress Irene siding with the pope, called for an Ecumenical Council In 787, the fathers of the Second Council of Nicaea "warmly received the papal delegates and his message" ,Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 63, 74] At the conclusion, 300 bishops, who were led by the representatives of Pope Hadrian I. [Franzen 35] "adopted the Pope's teaching" ,Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 63, 74] in favor of icons.

With the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III in 800, his new title as "Patricius Romanorum," and the handing over of the keys to the Tomb of Saint Peter, the papacy had acquired a new protector in the West. This freed the pontiffs to some degree from the power of the emperor in Constantinople but also led to a schism, because the emperors and patriarchs of Constantinople interpreted themselves as the true descendants of the Roman Empire dating back to the beginnings of the Church. [Jedin 36] Pope Nicholas I had refused to recognize Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople ,who in turn had attacked the pope as a heretic, because he kept the filioque in the creed, which referred to the Holy Spirit emanating from God the Father" and" the Son. The papacy was strengthened through this new allicance, which in the long term created a new problem for the Popes, when in the Investiture Controversy succeeding emperors sought to appoint bishops and even future popes.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 107–11] Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 78, quote: "By contrast, Paschal's successor Eugenius II (824–7), elected with imperial influence, gave away most of these papal gains. He acknowledged the Emperor's sovereignty in the papal state, and he accepted a constitution imposed by Lothair which established imperial supervision of the administration of Rome, imposed an oath to the Emperor on all citizens, and required the Pope–elect to swear fealty before he could be consecrated. Under Sergius II (844–7) it was even agreed that the Pope could not be consecrated without an imperial mandate, and that the ceremony must be in the presence of his representative, a revival of some of the more galling restrictions of Byzantine rule."] After the disintegration of the Charlemagne empire and repeated incursions of Islamic forces into Italy, the papacy, without any protection, entered a phase of major weakness. [Franzen. 36-42]

High Middle Ages

The Cluniac reform of monasteries that began in 910 placed abbots under the direct control of the pope rather than the secular control of feudal lords, thus eliminating a major source of corruption. This sparked a great monastic renewal.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 88–9] Monasteries, convents and cathedrals still operated virtually all schools and libraries, and often functioned as credit establishments promoting economic growth.Woods, "How the Church Built Western Civilization" (2005), p. 40] Le Goff, "Medieval Civilization" (1964), pp. 80–2] After 1100, some older cathedral schools split into lower grammar schools and higher schools for advanced learning. First in Bologna, then at Paris and Oxford, many of these higher schools developed into universities and became the direct ancestors of modern Western institutions of learning.Woods, "How the Church Built Western Civilization" (2005), pp. 44–8] It was here where notable theologians worked to explain the connection between human experience and faith. The most notable of these theologians, Thomas Aquinas, produced "Summa Theologica", a key intellectual achievement in its synthesis of Aristotelian thought and the Gospel.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 158–9] Monastic contributions to western society included the teaching of metallurgy, the introduction of new crops, the invention of musical notation and the creation and preservation of literature.

During the 11th century, the East–West schism permanently divided Christianity.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 91] It arose over a dispute on whether Constantinople or Rome held jurisdiction over the church in Sicily and led to mutual excommunications in 1054. The Western (Latin) branch of Christianity has since become known as the Catholic Church, while the Eastern (Greek) branch became known as the Orthodox Church.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), p. 103] Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 104] The Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) both failed to heal the schism.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 119, 131] Some Eastern churches have since reunited with the Catholic Church, and others claim never to have been out of communion with the pope. [cite web | title =Eastern Catholic | work = Catholic World News| publisher =Trinity Communications | date =2008 | url = | accessdate =2008-05-30 ] Officially, the two churches remain in schism, although excommunications were mutually lifted in 1965.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 278]

The 11th century saw the Investiture Controversy between Emperor and Pope over the right to make church appointments, the first major phase of the struggle between Church and state in medieval Europe. The Papacy were the initial victors, but as Italians divided between Guelphs and Ghibellines in factions that were often passed down through families or states until the end of the Middle Ages, the dispute gradually weakened the Papacy, not least by drawing it into politics. The Church also attempted to control, or exact a price for, most marriages among the great by prohibiting, in 1059, marriages involving consanguinity (blood kin) and affinity (kin by marriage) to the seventh degree of relationship. Under these rules, almost all great marriages required a dispensation. The rules were relaxed to the fourth degree in 1215 (now only the first degree is prohibited by the Church - a man cannot marry his stepdaughter, for example).

Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095 when he received an appeal from Byzantine emperor Alexius I to help ward off a Turkish invasion.Riley-Smith, "The First Crusaders" (1997), p. 8] Urban further believed that a Crusade might help bring about reconciliation with Eastern Christianity.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 130–1] Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 140 quote: "And so when Urban called for a crusade at Clermont in 1095, one of his motives was to bring help to the beleaguered Eastern Christians."] Fueled by reports of Muslim atrocities against Christians,Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 155 quote: "Stories were also circulating about the harsh treatment of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem at the hands of the infidel, inflaming Western opinion."] the series of military campaigns known as the Crusades began in 1096. They were intended to return the Holy Land to Christian control. The goal was not permanently realized, and episodes of brutality committed by the armies of both sides left a legacy of mutual distrust between Muslims and Western and Eastern Christians.Le Goff, "Medieval Civilization" (1964), pp. 65–7] The sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade left Eastern Christians embittered, despite the fact that Pope Innocent III had expressly forbidden any such attack.Tyerman, "God's War: A New History of the Crusades" (2006), pp. 525–60] In 2001, Pope John Paul II apologized to the Orthodox Christians for the sins of Catholics including the sacking of Constantinople in 1204. [cite web | title =Pope sorrow over Constantinople
publisher =BBC News | date = 2004-06-29| url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3850789.stm | accessdate =2008-04-06

Two new orders of architecture emerged from the Church of this era. The earlier Romanesque style combined massive walls, rounded arches and ceilings of masonry. To compensate for the absence of large windows, interiors were brightly painted with scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints. Later, the Basilique Saint-Denis marked a new trend in cathedral building when it utilized Gothic architecture.Woods, "How the Church Built Western Civilization" (2005), pp. 119–22] This style, with its large windows and high, pointed arches, improved lighting and geometric harmony in a manner that was intended to direct the worshiper's mind to God who "orders all things". In other developments, the 12th century saw the founding of eight new monastic orders, many of them functioning as Military Knights of the Crusades.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church" (2007), p. 62] Cistercian monk Bernard of Clairvaux exerted great influence over the new orders and produced reforms to ensure purity of purpose. His influence led Pope Alexander III to begin reforms that would lead to the establishment of canon law.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 101] In the following century, new mendicant orders were founded by Francis of Assisi and Dominic de Guzmán which brought consecrated religious life into urban settings.Le Goff, "Medieval Civilization" (1964), p. 87]

12th century France witnessed the widespread growth of Catharism, a dualistic belief in extreme asceticism which taught that all matter was evil, accepted suicide and denied the value of Church sacraments. After a papal legate was murdered by the Cathars in 1208, Pope Innocent III declared the Albigensian Crusade.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 112] Abuses committed during the crusade caused Innocent III to informally institute the first papal inquisition to prevent future aberrational practices and to root out the remaining Cathars.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 144–7, quote: "The Albigensian Crusade, as it became known, lasted until 1219. The pope, Innocent III, was a lawyer and saw both how easily the crusade had gotten out of hand and how it could be mitigated. He encouraged local rulers to adopt anti-heretic legislation and bring people to trial. By 1231 a papal inquisition began, and the friars were given charge of investigating tribunals."] Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 132, quote: "A crusade was proclaimed against these Albigenses, as they were sometimes called ... It was in connection with this crusade that the papal system of Inquisition originated-a special tribunal appointed by the Popes and charged with ferreting out heretics. Until then the responsibility devolved on the local bishops. However, Innocent found it necessary in coping with the Albigensian threat to send out delegates who were entrusted with special powers that made them independent of the episcopal authority. In 1233 Gregory IX organized this "ad hoc" body into a system of permanent inquisitors, who were usually chosen from among the mendicant friars, Dominicans and Franciscans, men who were often marked by a high degree of courage, integrity, prudence, and zeal."] Formalized under Gregory IX, this Medieval inquisition executed an average of three people per year for heresy at its height. Over time, other inquisitions were launched by the Church or secular rulers to prosecute heretics, to respond to the threat of Moorish invasion or for political purposes. The accused were encouraged to recant their heresy and those who did not could be punished by penance, fines, imprisonment, torture or execution by burning.Casey, "Early Modern Spain: A Social History" (2002), pp. 229–30] Black, "Early Modern Italy" (2001), pp. 200–2] King Philip IV of France created an inquisition for his suppression of the Knights Templar during the 14th century.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 93] King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella formed another in 1480, originally to deal with distrusted ex-Jewish and ex-Muslim converts.Kamen, "The Spanish Inquisition" (1997), pp. 48–9] Over a 350-year period, this Spanish Inquisition executed between 3,000 and 4,000 people,Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 150–2] representing around two percent of those accused.Kamen, "The Spanish Inquisition" (1997), pp. 59, 203] The inquisition played a major role in the final expulsion of Islam from the kingdoms of Sicily and Spain.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (1990), p. 187, Chapter 5 Christianity and Islam by Jeremy Johns (University of Oxford) ] In 1482, Pope Sixtus IV condemned its excesses but Ferdinand ignored his protests.Kamen, "The Spanish Inquisition" (1997), p. 49, quote: "In this bull the pope protested ... the Inquisition has for some time been moved not by zeal for the faith and the salvation of souls, but by lust for wealth, and that many true and faithful Christians, on the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves and other lower and even less proper persons, have without any legitimate proof been thrust into secular prisons, tortured and condemned as relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and property and handed over to the secular arm to be executed, to the peril of souls, setting a pernicious example, and causing disgust to many."] Historians note that for centuries Protestant propaganda and popular literature exaggerated the horrors of these inquisitions.Armstrong, "The European Reformation" (2002), p. 103, quote: "Contrary to subsequent Protestant propaganda the procedure followed by the (Papal) Inquisition was careful and respectful with regard to legal rights. Clear proof was required, along with two witnesses, and rarely was torture used to extract confessions. Anonymous denunciations were illegal, while a defence lawyer was guaranteed for the suspect. Punishments were generally lenient and designed to bring the guilty party back into the fold. The public abjuration of protestantism before a congregation might suffice, for example."] McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (1990), p. 215, Chapter 5 Christianity and Islam by Jeremy Johns (University of Oxford), quote: "The inquisition has come to occupy such a role in European demonology that we must be careful to keep it in proportion. ... and the surviving records indicate that the proportion of executions was not high."] Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 146, quote: "The extent of the Inquisition trials for heresy has been highly exaggerated. Once the Inquisition was established ... the pyromania which had characterized lay attempts to suppress heresy came to an end. Ninety percent of the sentences were "canonical" or church-related penances: fasting, pilgrimage, increased attendance at Mass, the wearing of distinctive clothing or badges, etc. The number of those who were put to death was very small indeed. The best estimate is that, of every hundred people sentenced, one person was executed, and ten were given prison terms. Even these latter could have their sentences reduced once the inquisitors left town."] According to Edward Norman, this view "identified the entire Catholic Church ... with [the] occasional excesses" wrought by secular rulers.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 93, quote: "... subsequent Protestant propaganda for centuries identified the entire Catholic Church in Spain, and elsewhere, with their occasional excesses. By the 19th century political liberals and religious dissenters took the 'crimes' of the Inquisition to be the ultimate proofs of the vile character of 'popery', and an enormous popular literature on the subject poured from the presses of Europe and North America. At its most active, in the 16th century, nevertheless, the Inquisition was regarded as far more enlightened than the secular courts: if you denied the Trinity and repented you were given penance; if you stole a sheep and repented you were hung. It has been calculated that only one per cent of those who appeared before the Inquisition tribunals eventually received death penalties. But the damage wrought by propaganda has been effective, and today the 'Spanish' Inquisition, like the Crusades, persists in supplying supposedly discreditable episodes to damn the memory of the Catholic past."] While one percent of those tried in the inquisitions received death penalties, scholars agree that they were "more enlightened" and considered to be rather lenient when compared to secular courts.A growing sense of church-state conflicts marked the 14th century. To escape instability in Rome, Clement V in 1309 became the first of seven popes to reside in the fortified city of Avignon in southern FranceDuffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 122] during a period known as the Avignon Papacy. The papacy returned to Rome in 1378 at the urging of Catherine of Siena and others who felt the See of Peter should be in the Roman church.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (1990), p. 232, Chapter 6 Christian Civilization by Colin Morris (University of Southampton)] Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 155] With the death of Pope Gregory XI later that year, the papal election was disputed between supporters of Italian and French-backed candidates leading to the Western schism. For 38 years, separate claimants to the papal throne sat in Rome and Avignon. Efforts at resolution further complicated the issue when a third compromise pope was elected in 1409.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (1990), p. 240, Chapter 7 The Late Medieval Church and its Reformation by Patrick Collinson (University of Cambridge)] The matter was finally resolved in 1417 at the Council of Constance where the cardinals called upon all three claimants to the papal throne to resign, and held a new election naming Martin V pope.

Renaissance and reforms

Discoveries and Missionaries

Through the late 15th and early 16th centuries, European missionaries and explorers spread Catholicism to the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Pope Alexander VI, in the papal bull Inter caetera, awarded colonial rights over most of the newly discovered lands to Spain and Portugal.Koschorke, "A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America" (2007), pp. 13, 283] Under the "patronato" system, state authorities controlled clerical appointments and no direct contact was allowed with the Vatican.Dussel, Enrique, "A History of the Church in Latin America", Wm B Eerdmans Publishing, 1981, pp. 39, 59] On December 1511, the Dominican friar Antonio de Montesinos openly rebuked the Spanish authorities governing Hispaniola for their mistreatment of the American natives, telling them "... you are in mortal sin ... for the cruelty and tyranny you use in dealing with these innocent people".Woods, "How the Church Built Western Civilization" (2005), p. 135] Johansen, Bruce, "The Native Peoples of North America," Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2006, pp. 109, 110, quote: "In the Americas, the Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas avidly encouraged enquiries into the Spanish conquest's many cruelties. Las Casas chronicled Spanish brutality against the Native peoples in excruciating detail."] Koschorke, "A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America" (2007), p. 287] King Ferdinand enacted the "Laws of Burgos" and "Valladolid" in response. Enforcement was lax, and while some blame the Church for not doing enough to liberate the Indians, others point to the Church as the only voice raised on behalf of indigenous peoples.Dussel, Enrique, "A History of the Church in Latin America", Wm B Eerdmans Publishing, 1981, pp. 45, 52, 53 quote: "The missionary Church opposed this state of affairs from the beginning, and nearly everything positive that was done for the benefit of the indigenous peoples resulted from the call and clamor of the missionaries. The fact remained, however, that widespread injustice was extremely difficult to uproot ... Even more important than Bartolome de Las Casas was the Bishop of Nicaragua, Antonio de Valdeviso, who ultimately suffered martyrdom for his defense of the Indian."] The issue resulted in a crisis of conscience in 16th-century Spain.Johansen, Bruce, "The Native Peoples of North America," Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2006, pp. 109, 110, quote: In large part because of Las Casas's work, a movement arose in Spain for more humane treatment of indigenous peoples.] An outpouring of self-criticism and philosophical reflection among Catholic theologians, most notably Francisco de Vitoria, led to debate on the nature of human rights and the birth of modern international law.Woods, "How the Church Built Western Civilization" (2005), p. 137] Chadwick, Owen, "The Reformation", Penguin, 1990, p. 327]

In 1521, through the leadership and preaching of the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first Catholics were baptized in what became the first Christian nation in Southeast Asia, the Philippines.Koschorke, "A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America" (2007), p. 21] The following year, Franciscan missionaries arrived in what is now Mexico, and sought to convert the Indians and to provide for their well-being by establishing schools and hospitals. They taught the Indians better farming methods, and easier ways of weaving and making pottery. Because some people questioned whether the Indians were truly human and deserved baptism, Pope Paul III in the papal bull Veritas Ipsa or Sublimis Deus (1537) confirmed that the Indians were deserving people.Johansen, Bruce, "The Native Peoples of North America," Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2006, p. 110, quote: "In the Papal bull "Sublimis deus" (1537), Pope Paul III declared that Indians were to be regarded as fully human, and that their souls were as immortal as those of Europeans. This edict also outlawed slavery of Indians in any form ..."] Koschorke, "A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America" (2007), p. 290] Afterward, the conversion effort gained momentum.Samora "et al", "A History of the Mexican-American People" (1993), p. 20] Over the next 150 years, the missions expanded into southwestern North America.Jackson, "From Savages to Subjects: Missions in the History of the American Southwest" (2000), p. 14] The native people were legally defined as children, and priests took on a paternalistic role, often enforced with corporal punishment.Jackson, "From Savages to Subjects: Missions in the History of the American Southwest" (2000), p. 13] Elsewhere, in India, Portuguese missionaries and the Spanish Jesuit Francis Xavier evangelized among non-Christians and a Christian community which claimed to have been established by Thomas the Apostle.Koschorke, "A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America" (2007), pp. 3, 17]

Renaissance Church

In Europe, the Renaissance marked a period of renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. It also brought a re-examination of accepted beliefs. Cathedrals and churches had long served as picture books and art galleries for millions of the uneducated. The stained glass windows, frescoes, statues, paintings and panels retold the stories of the saints and of biblical characters. The Church sponsored great Renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, who created some of the world's most famous artworks.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 133] The acceptance of humanism had its effects on the Church, which embraced it as well. In 1509, a well known scholar of the age, Erasmus, wrote "The Praise of Folly," a work which captured a widely held unease about corruption in the Church.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 86] The Papacy itself was questioned by councilarism expressed in the councils of Constance and the Basel. Real reforms during these ecumenical councils and the Fifth Lateran Council were attempted several times but thwarted. They were seen as necessary but did not succeed in large measure because of internal feuds within the Church, [Franzen 65-78] ongoing conflicts with the Ottoman Empire andSaracenes [Franzen 65-78] and the simony and nepotism practiced in the Renaissance Church of the 15th and early 16th centuries. As a result, rich, powerful and worldly men like Roderigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) were able to win election to the papacy.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 201–5] Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 149]

Reformation wars

The Fifth Lateran Council issued some but only minor reforms in March of 1517. A few months later, October 17, 1517, Martin Luther issued his "Ninety-Five Theses" in a letter to several bishops, hoping to spark debate.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 184] Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 215] His theses protested key points of Catholic doctrine as well as the sale of indulgences. Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and others further criticized Catholic teachings. These challenges, supported by powerful political forces in the region, developed into the Protestant Reformation.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 196–200] Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 223–4] In Germany, the reformation led to war between the Protestant Schmalkaldic League and the Catholic Emperor Charles V. The first nine-year war ended in 1555 but continued tensions produced a far graver conflict, the Thirty Years' War, which broke out in 1618. In France, a series of conflicts termed the French Wars of Religion was fought from 1562 to 1598 between the Huguenots and the forces of the French Catholic League. A series of popes sided with and became financial supporters of the Catholic League.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 177–8] This ended under Pope Clement VIII, who hesitantly accepted King Henry IV's 1598 Edict of Nantes, which granted civil and religious toleration to Protestants.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 233]


The English Reformation was ostensibly based on Henry VIII's desire for annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, and was initially more of a political, and later a theological dispute.Scruton, "A Dictionary of Political Thought" (1996), p. 470, quote: "The (English) Reformation must not be confused with the changes introduced into the Church of England during the 'Reformation Parliament' of 1529–36, which were of a political rather than a religious nature, designed to unite the secular and religious sources of authority within a single sovereign power: the Anglican Church did not until later make any substantial change in doctrine."] The Acts of Supremacy made the English monarch head of the English church thereby establishing the Church of England. Then, beginning in 1536, some 825 monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland were dissolved and Catholic churches were confiscated.Schama, "A History of Britain 1: At the Edge of the World?" (2003), pp. 309–11] When he died in 1547 all monasteries, friaries, convents of nuns and shrines were destroyed or desolved.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 220, quote: "Henry, seeing how far Cranmer had tried to take him in making the land Lutheran or Calvinist, pulled the plug in September 1538 and passed the Six Articles, which tried to restore the ancient faith, including the practice of celibacy for the clergy. By 1543 most of the Reformation legislation was reversed. One man, John Lambert, was made an example in November 1538. He was burned by being dragged in and out of the fire for holding the very same beliefs about the Eucharist that Cranmer held. Cranmer was made to watch the whole brutal event. He also had to send his wife back to Germany."] Gonzalez, "The Story of Christianity, Volume 2" (1985), p. 75, quote: "In England, he took steps to make the church conform as much as possible to Roman Catholicism, except in the matter of obedience to the pope. He also refused to restore monasteries, which he had suppressed and confiscated under the pretense of reformation, and whose properties he had no intention of returning."] Mary I of England reunited the Church of England with Rome and, against the advice of the Spanish ambassador, persecuted Protestants during the Marian Persecutions.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 225–6] Haigh, "The English Reformation Revised" (1987), p. 159, quote: "Mary wanted to make England a Catholic country as quickly as possible: to reintroduce the pope's authority, to repeal those parliamentary statutes which had so radically altered the relationship of Church and State and to restore to the Church its Catholic doctrine and services. Nothing was to be allowed to stand in her way. No murmurings among the people, no riots or rebellions or intrigues, not even the advice of the Spanish ambassador to make haste slowly could deflect the Queen from her purpose. ... Death by burning at the hands of the sheriffs became the penalty for those who, convicted of heresy in the church courts, refused to recant."] After some provocation, the following monarch, Elizabeth I enforced the Act of Supremacy. This prevented Catholics from becoming members of professions, holding public office, voting or educating their children.Solt, "Church and State in Early Modern England, 1509-1640", (1990), p. 149 ] Executions of Catholics under Elizabeth I, who reigned much longer, then surpassed the Marian persecutions and persisted under subsequent English monarchs.Schama, "A History of Britain 1: At the Edge of the World?" (2003), pp. 272–3.] Penal laws were also enacted in IrelandJackson, "Ireland Her Own" (1991), p. 514] but were less effective than in England.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 131–2] In part because the Irish people associated Catholicism with nationhood and national identity, they resisted persistent English efforts to eliminate the Catholic Church.

Council of Trent

Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, in his book "The Reformation, A History" noted that through all the slaughter of the Reformation era emerged the valuable concept of religious toleration and an improved Catholic Church [cite web | last =Potemra | first =Michael | title =Crucible of Freedom | publisher =National Review | date =2004-07-13 | url =| accessdate =2008-06-21 ] which responded to doctrinal challenges and abuses highlighted by the Reformation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563). The council became the driving-force of the Counter-Reformation, and reaffirmed central Catholic doctrines such as transubstantiation, and the requirement for love and hope as well as faith to attain salvation.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 242–4] It also reformed many other areas of importance to the Church, most importantly by improving the education of the clergy and consolidating the central jurisdiction of the Roman Curia.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 81] Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 237] The criticisms of the Reformation were among factors that sparked new religious orders including the Theatines, Barnabites and Jesuits, some of which became the great missionary orders of later years.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 91–2] Spiritual renewal and reform were inspired by many new saints like Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales and Philip Neri whose writings spawned distinct schools of spirituality within the Church (Oratorians, Carmelites, Salesian), etc.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 251] Improvement to the education of the laity was another positive effect of the era, with a proliferation of secondary schools reinvigorating higher studies such as history, philosophy and theology.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 241] To popularize Counter-Reformation teachings, the Church encouraged the Baroque style in art, music and architecture. Baroque religious expression was stirring and emotional, created to stimulate religious fervor.Murray, "Dictionary of the Arts" (1994), p. 45]

Elsewhere, Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier introduced Christianity to Japan, and by the end of the 16th century tens of thousands of Japanese followed Roman Catholicism. Church growth came to a halt in 1597 under the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu who, in an effort to isolate the country from foreign influences, launched a severe persecution of Christians.Koschorke, "A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America" (2007), pp. 31–2] Japanese were forbidden to leave the country and Europeans were forbidden to enter. Despite this, a minority Christian population survived into the 19th century.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (1990), p. 318, Chapter 9 The Expansion of Christianity by John McManners]

Baroque, Enlightenment and revolutions

The Council of Trent generated a revival of religious life and Marian devotions in the Roman Catholic Church. During the Reformation, the Church had defended its Marian beliefs against Protestant views. At the same time, the Catholic world was engaged in ongoing Ottoman Wars in Europe against Turkey which were fought and won under the auspices of the Virgin Mary. The victory at Battle of Lepanto (1571) was accredited to her “and signified the beginning of a strong resurgence of Marian devotions, focusing especially on Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth and her powerful role as mediatrix of many graces”. [Otto Stegmüller, Barock, in Marienkunde, 1967 566] The Colloquium Marianum, a elite group, and the Sodality of Our Lady based their activities on a virtuous life, free of cardinal sins.
Pope Paul V and Gregory XV ruled in 1617 and 1622 to be inadmissible to state, that he virgin was conceived non-immaculate. Alexander VII declared in 1661, that the soul of Mary was free from original sin. Pope Clement XI ordered the feast of the Immaculata for the whole Church in 1708. The feast of the Rosary was introduced in 1716, the feast of the Seven Sorrows in 1727. The Angelus prayer was strongly supported by Pope Benedict XIII in 1724 and by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742. [F Zöpfl, Barocke Frömmigkeit, in Marienkunde, 577] Popular Marian piety was even more colourful and varied than ever before: Numerous Marian pilgrimages, "Marian Salve" devotions, new Marian litanies, Marian theatre plays, Marian hymns, Marian processions. Marian fraternities, today mostly defunct, had millions of members. [ Zöpfl 579]

The Enlightenment constituted a new challenge of the Church. Unlike the Protestant Reformation, which questioned certain Christian doctrines, the enlightenment questioned Christianity as a whole. Generally, it elevated human reason above divine revelation and down-graded religious authorities such as the papacy based on it [Lortz, IV, 7-11] Politically the Ottoman Empire continued as a major threat, advancing all the way to the city of Vienna. Parallel the Church attempted to fend of Gallicanism and Councilarism, ideologies which threatened the papacy and structure of the Church. [ Duffy 188-189]

Toward the latter part of the 17th century, Blessed Pope Innocent XI viewed the increasing Turkish attacks against Europe, which were supported by France, as the major threat for the Church. He built a Polish-Austrian coalition for the Turkish defeat at Vienna in 1683. Scholars have called him a saintly pope because he reformed abuses by the Church, including simony, nepotism and the lavish papal expenditures that had caused him to inherit a papal debt of 50,000,000 scudi. By eliminating certain honorary posts and introducing new fiscal policies, Innocent XI was able to regain control of the church's finances . In France, the Church battled Jansenism and Gallicanism, which supported Councilarism , and rejected papal primacy, demanding special concessions for the Church in France. This weakened the Church's ability to respond to gallicanist thinkers such as Denis Diderot, who challenged fundamental doctrines of the Church.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 267–9]

In 1685 gallicanist King Louis XIV of France issued the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, ending a century of religious toleration.. France forced Catholic theologians to support councilarism and deny Papal infallibility. The king threatened Pope Innocent XI with a general council and a military take-over of the Papal state. [Franzen 326] The absolute French State used Gallicanism to gain control of virtually all major Church appointments as well as many of the Church's properties.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 188–91] Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 137] State authority over the Church became popular in other countries as well. In Belgium and Germany, Gallicanism appeared in the form of Febronianism, which rejected papal pregoratives in an equal fashion. [Franzen 328] Emperor Joseph II of Austria (1780-1790) practiced Josephinism by regulating Church life, appointments and massive confiscation of Church properties. [Franzen 328]

Church in America

In the Americas, the Church expanded its missions but, until the 19th century, had to work under the Spanish and Portuguese governments and military. [Franzen, 362] Junípero Serra, the Franciscan priest in charge of this effort, founded a series of missions which became important economic, political, and religious institutions.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 111–2] These missions brought grain, cattle and a new way of living to the Indian tribes of California. Overland routes were established from New Mexico that resulted in the colonization of San Francisco in 1776 and Los Angeles in 1781. However, by bringing Western civilization to the area, these missions and the Spanish government have been held responsible for wiping out nearly a third of the native population, primarily through disease.King, "Mission to Paradise" (1975), p. 169] Only in the 19th century, after the breakdown of most Spanish and Portuguese colonies, was the Vatican able to take charge of Catholic missionary activities through its Propaganda Fide organization. [Franzen 362]

During this period the Church faced colonial abuses from the Portuguese and Spanish governments. In South America, the Jesuits protected native peoples from enslavement by establishing semi-independent settlements called reductions. Pope Gregory XVI, challenging Spanish and Portuguese sovereignty, appointed his own candidates as bishops in the colonies, condemned slavery and the slave trade in 1839 (papal bull In Supremo Apostolatus), and approved the ordination of native clergy in spite of government racism.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 221]

India and China

See also Chinese Rites controversy

Francis Xavier (1502-1552) had began to introduce Christianity to India. Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656), a Tuscan Jesuit missionary to Southern India followed in his path. He pioneered (inculturation), adopting many Brahmin customs which were not, in his opinion, contrary to Christianity. He lived like a Brahmin, learned Sanskrit, and presented Christianity as a part of Indian beliefs, not identical with the controversial Portuguese culture of the colonialists. He permitted the use of all customs, which in his view did not directly contradict Christian teachings. By 1640 there were 40 000 Christians in Madura alone. In 1632, Pope Gregory XV gave permission for this approach. But strong anti-Jesuit sentiments in Portugal, France even in Rome resulted in a reversal, which signalled the end of the successful Catholic missions in India. [Franzen, 323] On September 12, 1744, Benedict XIV forbade the so called Malabar rites in India, with the result, that leading Indian casts who wanted to adhere to their traditional cultures, turned away from the Catholic Church. [Franzen, Papstgeschichte, 325]

The Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) Adam Schall von Bell and other Jesuits had successfully introduced Christianity to China via inculturation. Ricci and Schall were appointed by the Chinese Emperor in Peking to be court mathematicians court astronomer and even Mandarin. The first Catholic Church was built in Peking in 1650 [Franzen 323] The emperor granted freedom of religion to Catholics. Ricci had adopted the Catholic faith to Chinese thinking, permitting among others the veneration of the dead. The Vatican disagreed and forbade any adaptation in the so-called Chinese Rites controversy in 1692 and 1742. The Bull Ex Quo Singulari of Pope Benedict XIV from July 11, 1742 repeated verbatim the bull of Clement XI and stressed the purity of Christian teachings and traditions, which must be uphold against all heresies. This bull virtually destroyed the Jesuit goal , to christianize the influential upper classes in China. [Franzen, Papstgeschichte, 325] "The Vatican policy was the death of the missions in China." [Franzen 324] Afterwards The Church experienced missionary setbacks in 1721 when the Chinese Rites controversy led the Kangxi Emperor to outlaw Christian missions.McManners, "Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity" (1990), p. 328, Chapter 9 The Expansion of Christianity by John McManners] . The Chinese emperor felt duped and refused to permit any alteration of the existing Christian practices. He told the visiting papal delegate:
* "You destroyed your religion. You put in misery all Europeans living here in China. You desecrated the honour of all those, who died long ago." [Franzen 325]

In 1939 Pope Pius XII, within weeks of his coronation, radically reverted the 250 year old Vatican policy and permitted the veneration of dead family members. [Franzen 324] The Church began to flourish again with twenty new arch-dioceses, seventy-nine dioceses and thirty-eight apostolic prefects, but only until 1949, when the Communist revolution took over the country. [Franzen 325]


Thoughout the inculturation controversy, the very existence of Jesuits were under attack in Portugal, Spain, France, and the Kingdom of Sicily. The inculturation controversy and the Jesuit support for the native Indians in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina added fuel to growing criticism of the order, which seemed to to symbolize the strength and independence of the Church. Defending the rights of native peoples in South America, hindered the efforts of European powers, espcecially Spain and Portugal to maintain absolute rule over their domains. Portugal's Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal was the main enemy of the Jesuits. Pope Benedict XIV attempted to keep the Jesuits in existence without any changes: "Sint ut sunt aut not sint, They must be the way they are or they will not be,". [Ludwig von Pastor, Geschichte der Päpste, Vol XVI,I Herder Verlag Freiburg,1961] He went far to mollify Portugese pride, even allowing the local Cardinal to wear a papal tiara and have his seminarians dressed like cardinals [Von Pastor 339] In 1773, European rulers united to force Pope Clement XIV to dissolve the order.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 193] Several decades later Pius VII restored the Jesuits in the 1814 papal bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 295]

French Revolution

Matters grew still worse with the violent anti-clericalism of the French Revolution.Edward, "The Cambridge Modern History" (1908), p. 25] Direct attacks on the wealth of the Church and associated grievances led to the wholesale nationalisation of church property and attempts to establish a state-run church. Large numbers of priests refused to take an oath of compliance to the National Assembly, leading to the Church being outlawed and replaced by a new religion of the worship of "Reason". In this period, all monasteries were destroyed, 30,000 priests were exiled and hundreds more were killed.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 283–5] When Pope Pius VI sided against the revolution in the First Coalition, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Italy. The 82 year old pope was taken as a prisoner to France in February 1799 and died in Valence August 29 1799 after six months of captivity. To win popular support for his rule, Napoleon re-established the Catholic Church in France through the Concordat of 1801.Collins, "The Story of Christianity" (1999), p. 176] All over Europe, the end of the Napoleonic wars signaled by the Congress of Vienna, brought Catholic revival, renewed enthusiasm, and new respect for the papacy following the depredations of the previous era.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), pp. 214–6]


By the close of the 19th century, new technologies and superior weaponry had allowed European powers to gain control of most of the African interior. The new rulers introduced a cash economy which required African people to become literate, and so created a great demand for schools. At the time, the only possibility open to Africans for a western education was through Christian missionaries. Catholic missionaries followed colonial governments into Africa, and built schools, monasteries and churches.Hastings, "The Church in Africa" (2004), pp. 397–410]

Industrial age

First Vatican Council

Before the council, in 1854 Pope Pius IX with the support of the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic Bishops, whom he had consulted between 1851–1853, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19930324en.html] Eight years earlier, in 1846, the Pope had granted the unanimous wish of the bishops from the United States, and declared the Immaculata the patron of the USA. [ Pius IX in Bäumer, 245]

During First Vatican Council, some 108 council fathers requested to add the words “Immaculate Virgin” to the Hail Mary. [ and to add the Immaculata to the Litany of Loreto.] Some fathers requested, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception to be included in the Creed of the Church, which was opposed by Pius IX [Bauer 566] Many French Catholics wished the dogmatization of Papal infallibility and the assumption of Mary by the ecumenical council. [Civilta Catolica February 6, 1869.] During Vatican One, nine mariological petitions favoured a possible assumption dogma, which however was strongly opposed by some council fathers, especially from Germany. In 1870, the First Vatican Council affirmed the doctrine of papal infallibility when exercised in specifically defined pronouncements.Leith, "Creeds of the Churches" (1963), p. 143] Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 232] Controversy over this and other issues resulted in a very small breakaway movement called the Old Catholic Church.Fahlbusch, "The Encyclopedia of Christianity" (2001), p. 729]

ocial teachings

The Industrial Revolution brought many concerns about the deteriorating working and living conditions of urban workers. Influenced by the German Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel Freiherr von Ketteler, in 1891 Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical "Rerum Novarum", which set in context Catholic social teaching in terms that rejected socialism but advocated the regulation of working conditions. "Rerum Novarum" argued for the establishment of a living wage and the right of workers to form trade unions.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 240]

Quadragesimo Anno was issued by Pope Pius XI, on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Rerum Novarum. Unlike Leo, who addressed the mainly condition of workers, Pius XI concentrated on the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He called for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity. [Duffy 260] He noted major dangers for human freedom and dignity, arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism.

The social teachings of Pope Pius XII repeat these teachings, and apply them in greater detail not only to workers and owners of capital, but also to other professions such as politicians, educators, house-wives, farmers bookkeepers, international organizations, and all aspects of life including the military. Going beyond Pius XI, he also defined social teachings in the areas of medicine, psychology, sport, TV, science, law and education. "There is virtually no social issue, which Pius XII did not address and relate to the Christian faith." [Franzen, 368] He was called "the Pope of Technology," for his willingness and ability to examine the social implications of technological advances. The dominant concern was the continued rights and dignity of the individual. With the beginning of the space age at the end of his pontificate, Pius XII explored the social implications of space exploration and satellites on the social fabric of humanity asking for a new sense of community and solidarity in light of existing papal teachings on subsidiarity. [Felictity O'Brien, Pius XII, London 2000, p.13]


Popes have always highlighted the inner link between the Virgin Mary as Mother of God and the full acceptance of Jesus Christ as Son of God. [Mystici Corporis, Lumen Gentium and Redemptoris Mater provide a modern Catholic understanding of this link.] [see Pius XII,Mystici corporis, also John Paul II in Redemptoris Mater: The Second Vatican Council, by presenting Mary in the mystery of Christ, also finds the path to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Church. Mary, as the Mother of Christ, is in a particular way united with the Church, "which the Lord established as his own body."] Since the 19th century, they were highly important for the development of mariology to explain the veneration of Mary through their decisions not only in the area of Marian beliefs (Mariology) but also Marian practices and devotions. Before the 19th century, Popes promulgated Marian veneration by authorizing new Marian feast days, prayers, initiatives, the acceptance and support of Marian congregations. [Baumann in Marienkunde 1163] [^ Baumann in Marienkunde, 672] Since the 19th century, Popes begin to use encyclicals more frequently. Thus Leo XIII, the Rosary Pope issued eleven Marian encyclicals. Recent Popes promulgated the veneration of the Blessed Virgin with two dogmas, Pius IX the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Pius XII also promulgated the new feast Queenship of Mary celebrating Mary as Queen of Heaven and he introduced the first ever Marian year in 1954, a second one was proclaimed by John Paul II. Pius IX, Pius XI and Pius XII facilitated the veneration of Marian apparitions such as in Lourdes and Fátima. Later Popes such from John XXIII to Benedict XVI promoted the visit to Marian shrines (Benedict XVI in 2007 and 2008). The Second Vatican Council highlighted the importance of Marian veneration in Lumen Gentium. During the Council, Paul VI proclaimed Mary to be the Mother of the Church.

Anti-Clericalism and persecutions

In Latin America, a succession of anti-clerical regimes came to power beginning in the 1830's. [Stacy, "Mexico and the United States" (2003), p. 139] The confiscation of Church properties and restrictions on people's religious freedoms generally accompanied secularist, and later, Marxist-leaning, governmental reforms.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 167–72] One such regime emerged in Mexico in 1860. Church properties were confiscated and basic civil and political rights were denied to religious orders and the clergy. More severe laws called Calles Law during the rule of atheist Plutarco Elías Calles eventually led to the "worst guerilla war in Latin American History", the Cristero War.Chadwick, "A History of Christianity" (1995), pp. 264–5] Between 1926 and 1934, over 3,000 priests were exiled or assassinated.Scheina, "Latin America's Wars: The Age of the Caudillo" (2003), p. 33] [cite web | last =Van Hove | first =Brian | title =Blood Drenched Altars | publisher =EWTN | date =1994 | url =http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/FR94204.TXT Blood-Drenched Altars |accessdate=2008-03-09] In an effort to prove that "God would not defend the Church", Calles ordered "hideous desecration of churches ... there were parodies of (church) services, nuns were raped and any priests captured ... were shot ...". Calles was eventually deposed and despite the persecution, the Church in Mexico continued to grow. A 2000 census reported that 88 percent of Mexicans identify as Catholic. [cite web | title = International Religious Freedom Report 2001| publisher = US Department of State| date =2001 | url =http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/9001.pdf | format=PDF| accessdate =2008-03-13 ] In 1954, under the regime of General Juan Perón, Argentina saw extensive destruction of churches, denunciations of clergy and confiscation of Catholic schools as Perón attempted to extend state control over national institutions.Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), pp. 167–8] Cuba, under atheist Fidel Castro, succeeded in reducing the Church's ability to work by deporting the archbishop and 150 Spanish priests, discriminating against Catholics in public life and education and refusing to accept them as members of the Communist Party. The subsequent flight of 300,000 people from the island also helped to diminish the Church there.Chadwick, "A History of Christianity" (1995), p. 266]

Unprecedented persecutions of the Catholic Church took place not only in Mexico but also in 20th century Spain and the Soviet Union. Pius XI called this the Terrible Triangle [Fontenelle, 164] The " harsh persecution short of total annihilation of the clergy, monks, and nuns and other people associated with the Church, [Riasanovsky 617] , began in 1918 and continued well into the Thirties. The Civil War in Spain started in 1936, during which thousands of churches were destroyed, thirteen bishops and some 6,832 clergy and religious Spaniards were assassinated. [Franzen 397] .Harvnb|de la Cueva|1998|p=355] After the massive Church persecutions in Mexico, Spain and the Soviet Union, Pius XI defined communism as the main adversary of the Catholic Church in his encyclical Divini Redemptoris issued on March 19, 1937. [Franzen 365] He blamed Western powers and media for a conspiracy of silence on the persecutions carried out by Communist, Socialist and Fascist forces.

World War II

In the 1937 encyclical "Mit brennender Sorge", drafted by the future Pope Pius XII,Pham, "Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession" (2005), p. 45, quote: "When Pius XI was complimented on the publication, in 1937, of his encyclical denouncing Nazism, "Mit Brennender Sorge", his response was to point to his Secretary of State and say bluntly, 'The credit is his.' "] Pope Pius XI warned Catholics that antisemitism is incompatible with Christianity.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), pp. 327–33, quote: "Mark well that in the Catholic Mass, Abraham is our Patriarch and forefather. Anti-Semitism is incompatible with the lofty thought which that fact expresses. It is a movement with which we Christians can have nothing to do. No, no, I say to you it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism. It is inadmissible. Through Christ and in Christ we are the spiritual progeny of Abraham. Spiritually, we are all Semites."] Read from the pulpits of all German Catholic churches, it described Hitler as an insane and arrogant prophet and was the first official denunciation of Nazism made by any major organization.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 389–92] Nazi persecution of the Church in Germany then began by "outright repression" and "staged prosecutions of monks for homosexuality, with the maximum of publicity." When Dutch bishops protested against deportation of Jews in Holland, the Nazi's responded with even more severe measures. In Poland, the Nazis murdered over 2500 monks and priests while even more were sent to concentration camps.Chadwick, "A History of Christianity" (1995), pp. 254–5] The Priester-Block (priests barracks) in Dachau lists 2600 Roman Catholic priests.Vidmar, "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" (2005), p. 329] Stalin staged an even more severe persecution at almost the same time. After World War II historians such as David Kertzer accused the Church of encouraging centuries of anti–semitism, and Pope Pius XII of not doing enough to stop Nazi atrocities. [cite news | last =Eakin | first =Emily | title =New Accusations Of a Vatican Role In Anti-Semitism; Battle Lines Were Drawn After Beatification of Pope Pius IX | work =The New York Times | date =2001-09-01 | url =http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04E3DF1130F932A3575AC0A9679C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all |accessdate=2008-03-09 ] Prominent members of the Jewish community, including Golda Meir, Albert Einstein, Moshe Sharett and Rabbi Isaac Herzog contradicted the criticisms and spoke highly of Pius' efforts to protect Jews, while others such as rabbi David G. Dalin noted that "hundreds of thousands" of Jews were saved by the Church.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), pp. 480–1, quote:"A recent article by American rabbi, David G. Dalin, challenges this judgement. He calls making Pius XII a target of moral outrage a failure of historical understanding, and he thinks Jews should reject any 'attempt to usurp the Holocaust' for the partisan purposes at work in this debate. Dalin surmises that well–known Jews such as Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, Moshe Sharett, and Rabbi Isaac Herzog would likely have been shocked at these attacks on Pope Pius. Einstein, for instance, in an article in "Time", paid tribute to Pius and noted that the Church alone 'stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign.' Dalin points out that 'Rabbi Herzog, the chief rabbi of Israel, sent a message in February 1944 declaring "the people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness ... (is) doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history." ' Dalin cites these tributes as recognition of the work of the Holy See in saving hundreds of thousands of Jews."] Even so, in 2000 Pope John Paul II on behalf of all people, apologized to Jews by inserting a prayer at the Western Wall that read "We're deeply saddened by the behavior of those in the course of history who have caused the children of God to suffer, and asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant." [cite web | last =Randall | first = Gene| title = Pope Ends Pilgrimage to the Holy Land| publisher =CNN | date =2000-03-26 | url = | accessdate =2008-06-09 ]

Post-Industrial age

econd Vatican Council

main| Vatican II and beyond The Catholic Church engaged in a comprehensive process of reform following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 270–6] Intended as a continuation of Vatican I, under Pope John XXIII the council developed into an engine of modernisation. It was tasked with making the historical teachings of the Church clear to a modern world, and made pronouncements on topics including the nature of the church, the mission of the laity and religious freedom. The council approved a revision of the liturgy and permitted the Latin liturgical rites to use vernacular languages as well as Latin during mass and other sacraments.cite web | last = Paul VI| first =Pope | title =Sacrosanctum Concilium | publisher = Vatican| date = 1963-12-04 | url =http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html | accessdate = 2008-02-09] Efforts by the Church to improve Christian unity became a priority.Duffy, "Saints and Sinners" (1997), p. 274] In addition to finding common ground on certain issues with Protestant churches, the Catholic Church has discussed the possibility of unity with the Eastern Orthodox Church. [cite web | title =Roman Catholic-Eastern Orthodox Dialogue | publisher =Public Broadcasting Service | date =2000-07-14 | url =http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week346/feature.html | accessdate =2008-02-16 ]


Changes to old rites and ceremonies following Vatican II produced a variety of responses. Some stopped going to church, while others tried to preserve the old liturgy with the help of sympathetic priests.Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 410] These formed the basis of today's Traditionalist Catholic groups, which believe that the reforms of Vatican II have gone too far. Liberal Catholics form another dissenting group who feel that the Vatican II reforms did not go far enough. The liberal views of theologians such as Hans Küng and Charles Curran, led to Church withdrawal of their authorization to teach as Catholics. [Bauckham, Richard, in "New Dictionary of Theology", Ed. Ferguson, (1988), p. 373] According to Professor Thomas Bokenkotter, most Catholics "accepted the changes more or less gracefully." In 2007, Benedict XVI reinstated the old mass as an option, to be celebrated upon request by the faithful. [Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 (July 7, 2007)]

A new "Codex Juris Canonici" - Canon Law called for by John XXIII, was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1983. It includes numerous reforms and alterations in Church law and Church discipline for the Latin Church. It replaced the 1917 version issued by Benedict XV.


; Modernism"to be added";Liberation theologyIn the 1960s, growing social awareness and politicization in the Latin American Church gave birth to liberation theology. The Peruvian priest, Gustavo Gutiérrez, became it primary proponentcite web | title = Liberation Theology| publisher =BBC | year =2005 | url =http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/liberationtheology.shtml | accessdate =2008-06-02 ] and, in 1979, the bishops' conference in Mexico officially declared the Latin American Church's "preferential option for the poor". [cite book |author= Aguilar, Mario |title=The History and Politics of Latin American Theology, Volume 1 |location=London |publisher=SCM Press |year= 2007 |page= 31|isbn= 978-0334040231] Archbishop Óscar Romero, a supporter of the movement, became the region's most famous contemporary martyr in 1980, when he was murdered while saying mass by forces allied with the government. [For more on Romero, by a former colleague, see cite book|author= Sobrino, Jon |authorlink= Jon Sobrino |title= Archbishop Romero: Memories and Reflections |location= Maryknoll, NY |publisher= Orbis |year= 1990 |isbn= 978-0883446676] Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger) denounced the movement. [cite news | last = Rohter| first =Larry | title =As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists | work =The New York Times | date =2007-05-07 | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/07/world/americas/07theology.html | accessdate =2008-02-21 Benedict's main involvement in dealing with liberation theology was while he was still Cardinal Ratzinger.] The Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff was twice ordered to cease publishing and teaching. [cite book |author= Aguilar, Mario |title=The History and Politics of Latin American Theology, Volume 1 |location=London |publisher=SCM Press |year= 2007 |page= 121|isbn= 978-0334040231] While Pope John Paul II was criticized for his severity in dealing with proponents of the movement, he maintained that the Church, in its efforts to champion the poor, should not do so by resorting to violence or partisan politics. The movement is still alive in Latin America today, though the Church now faces the challenge of Pentecostal revival in much of the region. [For liberation theology's persistence, see cite news | last = Rohter| first =Larry | title =As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists | work=The New York Times | date =2007-05-07 |url= http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/07/world/americas/07theology.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1| accessdate =2008-06-02 For the threat from Pentecostalism, see cite book|last= Stoll |first= David |title= Is Latin America turning Protestant?: The Politics of Evangelical Growth |location= Berkeley |publisher=University of California Press |year= 1990 |isbn= 978-0520064997]

exuality and Gender issues

The sexual revolution of the 1960s brought challenging issues for the Church. Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" affirmed the sanctity of life from conception to natural death and rejected the use of contraception; both abortion and euthanasia were considered to be murder. [cite web | last = Paul VI| first =Pope | title =Humanae Vitae | publisher =Vatican | date =1968 | url=http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html | accessdate =2008-02-02 ] Norman, "The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History" (2007), p. 184]

Efforts to lead the Church to consider the ordination of women led Pope John Paul II to issue two documents to explain Church teaching. "Mulieris Dignitatem" was issued in 1988 to clarify women's equally important and complementary role in the work of the Church. [cite web | last =John Paul II | first =Pope | title =Mulieris Dignitatem | publisher =Vatican | date =1988 | url =http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html | accessdate =2008-02-21 ] Bokenkotter, "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" (2004), p. 467] Then in 1994, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" explained that the Church extends ordination only to men in order to follow the example of Jesus, who chose only men for this specific duty.Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth (2008), pp. 180–1, quote: "The difference between the discipleship of the Twelve and the discipleship of the women is obvious; the tasks assigned to each group are quite different. Yet Luke makes clear—and the other Gospels also show this in all sorts of ways—that 'many' women belonged to the more intimate community of believers and that their faith—filled following of Jesus was an essential element of that community, as would be vividly illustrated at the foot of the Cross and the Resurrection."] [cite web | last =John Paul II | first =Pope | title =Apostolic Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone| publisher = Vatican| date =1994-05-22 | url =,+women%27s+ordination&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=10&gl=us| accessdate =2008-02-02 ] [cite news | last =Cowell | first =Alan | title =Pope Rules Out Debate On Making Women Priests | work = The New York Times | date =1994-05-31 | url =http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05E7DE133BF932A05756C0A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all | accessdate =2008-02-12 ]

Major lawsuits emerged in 2001 claiming that priests had sexually abused minors.Bruni, "A Gospel of Shame" (2002), p. 336] Some priests resigned, others were defrocked and jailed, [cite news | last =Newman | first =Andy | title =A Choice for New York Priests in Abuse Cases | work =The New York Times | date =2006-08-31 | url =http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/31/nyregion/31priest.html | accessdate =2008-03-13 ] and there were financial settlements with many victims. In the US, where the vast majority of sex abuse cases occurred, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a comprehensive study that found that four percent of all priests who served in the US from 1950 to 2002 had faced some sort of sexual accusation.cite web | last =Owen | first =Richard | title =Pope calls for continuous prayer to rid priesthood of paedophilia | work =Times Online UK edition | publisher =Times Newspapers Ltd | date =2008-01-07 | url =http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3142511.ece | accessdate =2008-03-31 ] cite web | author = Terry, Karen et al| title = John Jay Report| publisher =John Jay College of Criminal Justice | year = 2004| url =http://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2004_02_27_JohnJay/index.html | accessdate =2008-02-09 ] The Church was widely criticized when it emerged that some bishops had known about abuse allegations, and reassigned many of the accused after first sending them to psychiatric counseling.Steinfels, "A People Adrift" (2003). pp. 40–6] Frawley-ODea, "Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church " (2007), p. 4] Some bishops and psychiatrists contended that the prevailing psychology of the times suggested that people could be cured of such behavior through counseling. Pope John Paul II responded by declaring that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young."Walsh, "John Paul II: A Light for the World" (2003), p. 62] The U.S. Church instituted reforms to prevent future abuse by requiring background checks for Church employees; because the vast majority of victims were teenage boys, the worldwide Church also prohibited the ordination of men with "deep–seated homosexual tendencies."cite news|url=http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20051104_istruzione_en.html|author=Pope Benedict XVI|publisher=Vatican|year=2005|title=Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders|accessdate=2008-03-09] cite web | last = Filteau | first =Jerry | title =Report says clergy sexual abuse brought 'smoke of Satan' into church | publisher =Catholic News Service | year =2004 | url =http://www.catholicnews.com/data/abuse/abuse08.htm | accessdate =2008-03-10 ] It now requires dioceses faced with an allegation to alert the authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused from duty.Cite web|url=http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/charter.shtml|title=Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People|accessdate=2007-10-08|publisher=United States Conference of Catholic Bishops|year=2005|author=United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] [cite web | title =Scandals in the church: The Bishops' Decisions; The Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People | work= The New York Times | date =2002-06-15 | url =http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9906EFDA133CF936A25755C0A9649C8B63 | accessdate =2008-02-12 ] In 2008, the Vatican affirmed that the scandal was an "exceptionally serious" problem, but estimated that it was "probably caused by "no more than 1 per cent" of the over 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide. Some commentators, such as journalist Jon Dougherty, have argued that media coverage of the issue has been excessive, given that the same problems plague other institutions, such as the U.S. public school system, with much greater frequency. [cite web | last =Dougherty | first =Jon | title =Sex Abuse by Teachers Said Worse Than Catholic Church | publisher =Newsmax | date =2004-04-05 | url =http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/4/5/01552.shtml | accessdate =2008-06-11 ] cite web | last =Shakeshaft | first =Charol | title =Educator Sexual Misconduct | publisher = US Department of Education| year =2004 | url = http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf |format=PDF| accessdate =2008-04-12 ]

Catholicism today

Benedict XVI

With the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the Church has so far seen largely a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, John Paul II, with some notable exceptions. Benedict decentralized beatifications and reverted the decision of his predecessor regarding papal elections [Moto Proprio, De Aliquibus Mutationibus, June 11, 2007] . In 2007, he set a Church record by approving the beatification of 498 Spanish Martyrs‎. His first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" discussed love and sex in continued opposition to several other views on sexuality.

Roman Catholic attempts to improve ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches have been complicated by disputes over both doctrine and the recent history of the Orthodox Eastern Catholic Churches, involving the return of expropriatiated properties of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which the Orthodox Church took over after World War Two at the request of Josef Stalin. [Foodnote to be added]


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*cite book |title= Creeds of the Churches|last=Leith |first=John | authorlink=John Leith|year=1963 |publisher=Aldine Publishing Co| url = http://books.google.com/books?id=fOaXP-CjPOIC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=first+vatican+council&source=web&ots=R6EKi09sWe&sig=oLD8CHbsh-Li4EC3nxTtuzLJyzk#PPA144,M1|isbn=0664240577
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*cite book |title=The Roman Catholic Church, An Illustrated History |last=Norman |first=Edward | authorlink=Edward Norman|year=2007 |publisher=University of California Press|isbn=978-0-520-25251-6
*cite book |title=A Short History of the Catholic Church |last=Orlandis |first=Jose | authorlink=Jose Orlandis|year=1993 |publisher=Scepter Publishers|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=M8kjqryq8dIC&dq=catholic+church+and+world+history&pg=PP1&ots=z95cumMcAL&source=citation&sig=O1U0JEBrP34V6V-0rg--hL0965E&hl=en&prev=http://www.google.com/search?q=Catholic+church+and+world+history&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7ADBR&sa=X&oi=print&ct=result&cd=1&cad=bottom-3results#PPA7,M1|isbn=1851821252
*cite book|last=Pham|first=John Peter|title=Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession|publisher=Oxford University Press|date=2006|isbn=0195178343
*cite book |title=The First Crusaders |last=Riley-Smith |first=Jonathan |authorlink=Jonathan Riley-Smith |year=1997 |publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=9780511003080
*cite book |title= Latin America's Wars: The Age of the Caudillo|last=Scheina |first=Robert L. |year=2007 |publisher=Brassey's| url =http://books.google.com/books?id=8aWQ_7oKJfkC&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=cristero+war+priests+killed&source=web&ots=YNDpLM2ukb&sig=YWccvtnJKnSpaI15bTHCOX3zoyc#PPA33,M1 |isbn=1574884522
*cite book|last=Samora|first=Julian|last2=Simon|first2=Patricia Vandel|last3=Candelaria|first3=Cordelia|last4=Pulido|first4=Alberto L|title=A History of the Mexican-American People|publisher=University of Notre Dame Press|date=1993|isbn=9780268010973
*cite book |last= Schama|first= Simon|authorlink= Simon Schama|title= A History of Britain 1: At the Edge of the World? |origyear= 2000|year= 2003|publisher= BBC Worldwide|location= London|isbn= 0 56 348714 3|pages= pp. 309–11|chapter= Burning Convictions
*cite book |title= A Dictionary of Political Thought |last=Scruton |first=Roger | authorlink=Roger Scruton|year=1996 |publisher=Macmillan |isbn=0330280996
*cite book |title= Church and State in Early Modern England, 1509-1640 |last=Solt |first=Leo Frank | authorlink=Leo Frank Solt|year=1990 |publisher=Oxford University Press |isbn=0195059794
*cite book|last= Stacy |first= Lee |title= Mexico and the United States |publisher= Marshall Cavendish |date= 2003 |isbn= 0761474021
*cite book |title=A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America |first=Peter |last=Steinfels| authorlink=Peter Steinfels| year=2003|publisher=Simon & Schuster|isbn=0-68-483663-7
*cite book |title= God's War: A New History of the Crusades |last=Tyerman |first=Christopher |year=2006 |publisher=Harvard University Press |isbn=0674023870
*cite book |title=The Catholic Church Through the Ages |last=Vidmar |first=John |authorlink=John Vidmar|year=2005 |publisher=Paulist Press|isbn=0809142341
*cite book |title= John Paul II: A Light for the World, Essays and Reflections on the Papacy of |last=Walsh |first=Mary Ann |coauthors=Thavis, John |year=2003 | url =http://books.google.com/books?id=pWkVkkWcNIUC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=john+paul+ii+no+place+in+priesthood+for+those+who+would+abuse+children&source=web&ots=JHtN19slKn&sig=ku39uj118QJXeVxQhUC0gi2gffU&hl=en |publisher=Rowman & Littlefield|isbn=1580511422
*cite book |title=How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization |last=Woods Jr |first=Thomas | authorlink=Thomas Woods|year=2005 |publisher=Regnery Publishing, Inc|isbn=0-89526-038-7
*cite book |title=FDR, The Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in America, 1933–1945 |last=Woolner |first=David |year=2003 | url =http://books.google.com/books?id=jMvaoXvJ4VcC&dq=role+of+catholic+church+during+world+war+ii&pg=PP1&ots=wcJJVgBWwO&source=citation&sig=x1NCTXVDVpk7cYhXAseBD93h3z0&hl=en&prev=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Role+of+Catholic+Church+during+World+War+II&btnG=Google+Search&sa=X&oi=print&ct=result&cd=2&cad=bottom-3results#PPP14,M1 |publisher=Macmillan|isbn=978-88-209-7908-9

ee also

* Roman Catholic Church
*History of the Papacy
*Timeline of the Roman Catholic Church
*Role of the Roman Catholic Church in civilization
*Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church
*History of Christianity
*History of Western civilization


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