Catholic Church

Catholic Church
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The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members.[1] Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ,[2] administering the sacraments[3] and exercising charity.[4] The Catholic Church is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation.[5] It teaches that it is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter.[6][note 1][7] Catholic doctrine maintains that the Catholic Church is the original and true Church and is infallible when it dogmatically teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.[8][9][10][note 2] Catholic worship is centred on the Eucharist,[11] in which the Church teaches that the sacramental bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ. The Church holds the Blessed Virgin Mary in special regard. Catholic beliefs concerning Mary include her Immaculate Conception and bodily Assumption at the end of her earthly life.[12][note 3]


St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is often used to symbolize the Roman Catholic Church as a whole. It is shown here with the haloed dove (representing the Holy Spirit) in a typical Catholic print by Fratelli Bonella.

The term "Catholic", derived from the Greek word καθολικός (katholikos), which means "universal" or "general", was first used to describe the Church in the early 2nd century.[13] The term katholikos is equivalent to καθόλου (katholou), a contraction of the phrase καθ' ὅλου (kath' holou) meaning "according to the whole".[14] Thus the full name Catholic Church roughly means "universal" or "whole" church.

Since the East-West Schism of 1054, the churches that remained in communion with the See of Rome (the diocese of Rome and its bishop, the Pope, the primal patriarch) have been known as "Catholic", while the Eastern churches that rejected the Pope's primal authority have generally been known as "Orthodox" or "Eastern Orthodox".[15] Following the Reformation in the 16th century, the Church "in communion with the Bishop of Rome" continued to use the term "Catholic" to distinguish itself from the various Protestant churches that split off.[15]

The name "Catholic Church" has been used on official documents such as the title of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[16] It is also the term that Paul VI used when signing the sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council.[17] However, Church documents produced by both the Holy See[18] and by certain national episcopal conferences[19] occasionally refer to the Church by the name "Roman Catholic Church". The Catechism of Pope Pius X published in 1908 also used the term "Roman" to distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian communities.[20]

Organisation and demographics

Catholic Church
Major Sui Iuris Churches
Listed by Rite (Liturgical Tradition)
Latin cross used in the western tradition Patriarchical cross used in eastern tradition
Western Tradition
  • Latin Church
Byzantine Tradition
Antiochian or West Syrian Tradition
Chaldean or East Syrian Tradition
Armenian Tradition
Alexandrian Tradition
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Papacy and Roman Curia

Painting a haloed Jesus Christ passing keys to a kneeling man.
The Church holds that Christ instituted the papacy, upon giving the keys of Heaven to Saint Peter. Represented in a painting by Pietro Perugino.

The Church's hierarchy is headed by the Bishop of Rome, the pope, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church (which is composed of the Latin Rite and the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the see of Rome). The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in a papal conclave on 19 April 2005.[note 4]

The office of the pope is known as the Papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction is often called the "Holy See" (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the "Apostolic See" (meaning the see of the Apostle Saint Peter).[21][22] Directly serving the Pope is the Roman Curia, the central governing body that administers the day-to-day business of the Catholic Church. The pope is also head of state of Vatican City State,[23] a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within the city of Rome.

Following the death or resignation of a pope,[note 5] members of the College of Cardinals who are under age 80 meet in the Sistine Chapel in Rome to elect a new pope.[25] The title Cardinal is a rank of honour bestowed by Popes on certain ecclesiastics, such as leaders within the Roman Curia, bishops serving in major cities and distinguished theologians. Although this election, known as a papal conclave, can theoretically elect any male Catholic as pope, since 1389 only fellow Cardinals have been elevated to that position.[26]

Autonomous particular churches

The Catholic Church is made up of 23 autonomous particular churches, each of which accepts the paramountcy of the Bishop of Rome on matters of doctrine.[27] These churches, also known by the Latin term sui iuris churches, are communities of Catholic Christians whose forms of worship reflect different historical and cultural influences rather than differences in doctrine. In general, each sui iuris church is headed by a patriarch or high ranking bishop,[28] and has a degree of self-governance over the particulars of its internal organization, liturgical rites, liturgical calendar, and other aspects of its spirituality.

The largest of these is the Latin Church which reports over 1 billion followers. The Pope and Roman Curia is head of the Latin Church, which developed in Western Europe before spreading throughout the world. The Latin Church considered itself to be the oldest and largest branch of Western Christianity, a heritage of certain beliefs and customs shared by many Christian denominations that trace their originals to Protestant Reformation.

Relatively small in terms of adherents compared to the Latin Church, but important to the overall structure of the Church, are the 22 self-governing Eastern Catholic Churches with a membership of 17.3 million as of 2010.[29] The Eastern Catholic Churches follow the traditions and spirituality of Eastern Christianity and are composed of Eastern Christians who have always remained in full communion with the Catholic Church or who have chosen to reenter full communion in the centuries following the East-West Schism and earlier divisions. Some Eastern Catholic Churches are governed by a patriarch who is elected by the synod of the bishops of that church,[30] others are headed by a major archbishop,[31] others are under a metropolitan,[32] and others consist of individual eparchies.[33] The Roman Curia has a specific department, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, to maintain relations with them.

Examples of Eastern Catholic Churches can be found in the side bar "Major Sui Iuris Churches".

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Dioceses, parishes and religious orders

Individual countries, regions, or major cities are served by local particular churches known as dioceses or eparchies, each overseen by a Catholic bishop. Each diocese is united with one of the worldwide "sui iuris" particular churches, such as the Latin Church, or one of the many Eastern Catholic Churches. As of 2008, the Catholic Church (both East and West) comprised 2,795 dioceses.[34] The bishops in a particular country or region are often organised into an episcopal conference,[35] which aids in maintaining a uniform style of worship and co-ordination of social justice programs within the areas served by member bishops.

Dioceses are further divided into numerous individual communities called parishes, each staffed by one or more priests, deacons, and/or lay ecclesial ministers.[36] Parishes are responsible for the day to day celebration of the sacraments and pastoral care of the Catholic laity.

Ordained Catholics, as well as members of the laity, may enter into consecrated life either on an individual basis, as a hermit or consecrated virgin, or by joining an institute of consecrated life (a religious institute or a secular institute) in which to take vows confirming their desire to follow the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience.[37] Examples of institutes of consecrated life are the Benedictines, the Carmelites, the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Missionaries of Charity, and the Sisters of Mercy.[37]

Membership statistics

Total church membership (both lay and clerical) in 2007 was 1.147 billion people,[38] increasing from the 1950 figure of 437 million[39] and the 1970 figure of 654 million.[40] On 31 December 2008, membership was 1.166 billion, an increase of 11.54% over the same date in 2000, only slightly greater than the rate of increase of the world population (10.77%). The increase was 33.02% in Africa, but only 1.17% in Europe. It was 15.91% in Asia, 11.39% in Oceania, and 10.93% in the Americas. As a result, Catholics were 17.77% of the total population in Africa, 63.10% in the Americas, 3.05% in Asia, 39.97% in Europe, 26.21% in Oceania, and 17.40% of the world population.

Of the world's Catholics, the proportion living in Africa grew from 12.44% in 2000 to 14.84% in 2008, while those living in Europe fell from 26.81% to 24.31%.[41] Membership in the Catholic Church is attained through baptism or reception into the Church (for individuals previously baptised in non-Catholic Christian churches).[42] For some years until 2009, if someone formally left the Church, that fact was noted in the register of the person's baptism.

At the end of 2007, Vatican records listed 408,024 Catholic priests in the world, 762 more than at the beginning of the year. The main growth areas have been Asia and Africa, with 21.1 percent and 27.6 percent growth respectively. In North and South America, numbers have remained approximately the same, while there was a 6.8 percent decline in Europe and a 5.5 percent decrease in Oceania from 2000 to 2007.[38]

Worship and liturgy

Among the 23 autonomous (sui iuris) churches, numerous forms of worship and liturgical traditions exist, called "rites", which reflect historical and cultural diversity rather than differences in belief.[43] In the definition of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, "a rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui iuris",[44] but the term is often limited to liturgical patrimony. The most commonly used liturgy is the Roman Rite, but even in the Latin Catholic Church a few other rites are in use, and the Eastern Catholic Churches have distinct rites.

Celebration of the Eucharist

In all rites the Mass, or Divine Liturgy, is the centre of Catholic worship. Catholics believe that at each Mass, the bread and wine are supernaturally transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ by the words of consecration spoken by the priest.[45] The words of consecration are drawn from the three synoptic Gospels and a Pauline letter.[46] The Church teaches that Christ established a New Covenant with humanity through the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, as described in these biblical verses.

Hoc est enim corpus meum ...

 — Roman Missal, during the words of consecration (Latin). [47]

Because the Church teaches that Christ is present in the Eucharist,[48] there are strict rules about who may celebrate and who may receive the Eucharist. The sacrament can only be celebrated by an ordained Catholic priest or bishop. Those who are conscious of being in a state of mortal sin are forbidden from receiving the sacrament until they have received absolution through the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance).[49] Catholics are normally obliged to abstain from eating for at least an hour before receiving the sacrament.[49]

Catholics are not permitted to receive the Eucharist as celebrated in Protestant churches, which in the view of the Catholic Church lack the sacrament of Holy Orders, and thus also lack a valid Eucharist.[50] Likewise, Protestants are not normally permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church. This is because unity with the Catholic faith is seen as necessary before one can partake of the Church's sacraments. In relation to the churches of Eastern Christianity not in communion with the Holy See, the Catholic Church is less restrictive, declaring that "a certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged."[51]

Western liturgical rites

Catholic Church
Structure of the
Roman Rite of Mass


The Roman Missal and Communion Chalice

A. The Introductory Rites
The Entrance
Greeting of the Altar
The Act of Penitence
The Kyrie Eleison
The Gloria
The Collect
B. The Liturgy of the Word
The Biblical Readings
The Responsorial Psalm
The Homily
The Profession of Faith
The Prayer of the Faithful
C. The Liturgy of the Eucharist

See also: Eucharist in the Catholic Church

The Preparation of the Gifts
The Prayer over the Offerings
The Eucharistic Prayer
The Communion Rite:
The Lord’s Prayer
The Rite of Peace
The Fraction
Reception of Communion
D. The Concluding Rites
Source: General Instruction of the Roman Missal[52]

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Tridentine Mass in a chapel of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston in April 2009. This ancient form of the Roman Rite dates back to 1570; most elements are centuries older

The Roman Rite is the most common rite of worship used by the Catholic Church. Its use is found worldwide, spread by missionary activity originating in Western European nations throughout Christian history.[53]

Two forms of the Roman Rite are authorised at present: that of the post-1969 editions of the Roman Missal (Mass of Paul VI), which is now the ordinary form of the rite and is celebrated mostly in the vernacular, i.e., the language of the people; and that of the 1962 edition (the Tridentine Mass), now an extraordinary form.[48][note 6] An outline of the major liturgical elements of Roman Rite Mass can be found in the side bar.

In the United States, "Anglican Use" parishes have been created. They use a variation of the Roman rite that retains some of the wording of the Anglican liturgical rites.[note 7]Implementation is expected of the authorisation granted in 2009 for the creation wherever appropriate of ordinariates for groups of Anglicans who have been approved for entrance into the Roman Catholic Church and who may in the future use a rite that incorporates elements of Anglican tradition.[54] Other Western liturgical rites (non-Roman) include the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite.

Eastern liturgical rites

An Eastern Catholic Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Church holding the Mar Thoma Cross which symbolizes the heritage and identity of the Syrian Church of Saint Thomas Christians of India

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

The rites used by the Eastern Catholic Churches include the Byzantine rite, in its Antiochian, Greek and Slavonic varieties, the Alexandrian rite, the Syriac rite, the Armenian rite, the Maronite rite, and the Chaldean rite. In the past some of the rites used by the Eastern Catholic Churches were subject to some degree of liturgical Latinisation. However, in recent years Eastern Catholic Churches have returned to traditional Eastern practices in accord with the Vatican II decree, Orientalium Ecclesiarum. Each church has its own liturgical calendar.


The fundamental beliefs of the Christian religion are summarised in the Nicene Creed. For Catholics, they are detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[55][56] Based on the promises of Christ in the Gospels, the Church believes that it is continually guided by the Holy Spirit and so protected infallibly from falling into doctrinal error.[57] The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Spirit reveals God's truth through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium.[58]

Sacred Scripture consists of the 73 book Catholic Bible. This is made up of the 46 books found in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament—known as the Septuagint[59]—and the 27 New Testament writings first found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and listed in Athanasius' Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter.[60][note 8] Sacred Tradition consists of those teachings believed by the Church to have been handed down since the time of the Apostles.[61] Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are collectively known as the "deposit of faith" (depositum fidei). These are in turn interpreted by the Magisterium (from magister, Latin for "teacher"), the Church's teaching authority, which is exercised by the Pope and the College of Bishops in union with the Pope, the bishop of Rome.[62]


Crucifixion of Christ
by Albrecht Altdorfer, 1526

The Catholic Church holds that there is one eternal God, who exists as a mutual indwelling of three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and the Holy Spirit, which make up the Trinity.

Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. In an event known as the Incarnation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became united with human nature through the conception of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Christ therefore is both fully divine and fully human. It is taught that Christ's mission on earth included giving people his teachings and providing his example for them to follow as recorded in the four Gospels.[63]

The Church teaches that through the passion (suffering) of Christ and his crucifixion as described in the Gospels, all people have an opportunity for forgiveness and freedom from sin, and so can be reconciled to God.[64] The Resurrection of Jesus gained for humans a possible spiritual immortality previously denied to them because of original sin.[65] By reconciling with God and following Christ's words and deeds, an individual can enter the Kingdom of God, which is the "... reign of God over people's hearts and lives".[66]

The Greek term "Christ" and the Hebrew "Messiah" both mean "anointed one", referring to the Christian belief that Jesus' death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecies.[67]


According to the Catechism, the Catholic Church professes to be the "sole Church of Christ", which is described in the Nicene Creed as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.[68] The church teaches that its founder is Jesus Christ, who appointed the twelve Apostles to continue his work as the Church's earliest bishops.[69] Catholic belief holds that the Church "is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth",[70] and that all duly consecrated bishops have a lineal succession from the apostles.[71] In particular, the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), is considered the successor to the apostle Simon Peter, from whom the Pope derives his supremacy over the Church.[72] The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi as the Mystical Body of Christ.[73]

The Church teaches that the fullness of the "means of salvation" exists only in the Catholic Church, but the Church acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of Christian communities separated from itself to "impel towards Catholic unity" and thus bring people to salvation. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved through the Church but that people can be saved ex voto and by pre-baptismal martyrdom as well as when conditions of invincible ignorance are present,[57] although invincible ignorance in itself is not a means of salvation.


According to the Council of Trent, Christ instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church.[74] These are Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance), Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction, one of the "Last Rites"), Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. Sacraments are visible rituals that Catholics see as signs of God's presence and effective channels of God's grace to all those who receive them with the proper disposition (ex opere operato).[75] The Catechism of the Catholic Church categorizes the sacraments into three groups, the "sacraments of Christian initiation", "sacraments of healing", and "sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful", which broadly reflect the stages of one's natural and spiritual life each sacrament is intended to serve.[76]

Sacraments of Christian initiation


As viewed by the Catholic Church, baptism is the first of three sacraments of initiation as a Christian.[77] It washes away all sins, both original sin and personal actual sins.[78] It makes a person a member of the Church.[79] As a gratuitous gift of God that requires no merit on the part of the person who is baptised, it is conferred even on children,[80] who, though they have no personal sins, need it on account of original sin.[81] It marks a person permanently and cannot be repeated.[82] The Catholic Church recognises as valid baptisms conferred even by people who are not Catholics or Christians, provided that they intend to baptise ("to do what the Church does when she baptises") and that they use the Trinitarian baptismal formula.[83]

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Eucharist at the canonization of Frei Galvão in São Paulo, Brazil on 11 May 2007

For Catholics, the Eucharist, the sacrament that completes Christian initiation,[84] is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross,[85] and a banquet in which Christ himself is consumed.[86] The Eucharistic sacrifice always includes prayers, readings from the Bible, consecration of wheat bread and grape wine, and communion by at least some of the participants (in particular the priest) in the consecrated elements,[87] which by the consecration become, in a way surpassing understanding, the body and blood of Jesus Christ,[88] a change known as transubstantiation.[89]


The Catholic Church sees the sacrament of confirmation as required to complete the grace given in baptism.[90] When adults are baptised, confirmation is normally given immediately afterwards,[91] a practice followed even for infants in the Eastern Catholic Church.[92] In the West confirmation of children is delayed until they are old enough to understand or even until they are in their teens.[93] In the West, the sacrament is called confirmation, because it confirms and strengthens the grace of baptism; in the East, it is called chrismation, because the essential rite is the anointing of the person with chrism,[94] a mixture of olive oil and some perfumed substance, usually balsam, blessed by a bishop.[95] Those who receive confirmation must be in a state of grace, which for those who have reached the age of reason means that they should first be cleansed spiritually by the sacrament of Penance; they should also have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to show in their lives that they are Christians.[96]

Sacraments of healing

A Catholic believer prays in a church in Mexico.

The sacrament of penance (also called reconciliation, forgiveness, confession and conversion[97]) exists for the conversion of those who, after baptism, separate themselves from Christ by sin.[98] Essential to this sacrament are acts both by the sinner (examination of conscience, contrition with a determination not to sin again, confession to a priest, and performance of some act to repair the damage caused by sin) and by the priest (determination of the act of reparation to be performed and absolution).[99] Serious sins (mortal sins) must be confessed within at most a year and always before receiving Holy Communion, while confession of venial sins also is recommended.[100] The priest is bound under the severest penalties to maintain the "seal of confession", absolute secrecy about any sins revealed to him in confession.[101]

Anointing of the Sick

While chrism is used only for the three sacraments that cannot be repeated (baptism, confirmation, ordination), a different oil is used by a priest or bishop to bless a Catholic who, because of illness or old age, has begun to be in danger of death.[102] This sacrament, known as Anointing of the Sick, is believed to give comfort, peace, courage and, if the sick person is unable to make a confession, even forgiveness of sins.[103] Although it is not reserved for those in proximate danger of death, it is often administered as one of the Last Rites.

Sacraments of service


Holy Orders is a sacrament in three degrees or orders, episcopate (bishops), presbyterate (priests) and diaconate (deacons), which consecrates and deputes some Christians to serve the whole body by these specific titles.[104] The Church has defined rules on who may be ordained into the clergy. In the Latin Rite, the priesthood and diaconate are generally restricted to celibate men.[105][106] Men who are already married may be ordained in the Eastern Catholic Churches in most countries,[107] and may become deacons even in the Western Church.[105][106] All clergy, whether deacons, priests, or bishops, may preach, teach, baptise, witness marriages and conduct funeral liturgies.[108] Only bishops and priests can administer the sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance) and Anointing of the Sick.[109][110] Only bishops can administer the sacrament of Holy Orders, which ordains someone into the clergy.[111]


Marriage, understood as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman,[112] if entered into validly by any baptised man and woman, is considered a sacrament by the Catholic Church.[113] The church does not recognize divorce as ending a valid marriage, and allows state-recognized divorce only as a means of protecting children or property, without allowing remarriage following such a divorce. Apart from the requirements such as freedom of consent that it sees as applicable to all, the church has established certain specific requirements for the validity of marriages by Catholics.[114] Failure to observe the Church's regulations, as well as defects applicable to all marriages, may be grounds for a church declaration of the invalidity of a marriage, a declaration usually referred to as an annulment.[115]

Judgment after death

The Church teaches that, immediately after death, the soul of each person will receive a particular judgment from God, based on the deeds of that individual's earthly life.[116] This teaching also attests to another day when Christ will sit in a universal judgment of all mankind. This final judgment, according to Church teaching, will bring an end to human history and mark the beginning of a new and better heaven and earth ruled by God in righteousness.[116] The basis on which each person's soul is judged is detailed in the Gospel of Matthew, which lists works of mercy to be performed even to people considered "the least".[117] Emphasis is upon Christ's words that "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven".[118]

According to the Catechism, "The Last Judgement will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life."[118] Depending on the judgement rendered, a soul may enter one of three states of afterlife:

  • Heaven is a time of glorious union with God and a life of unspeakable joy that lasts forever.[116]
  • Purgatory is a temporary condition for the purification of souls who, although saved, are not free enough from sin to enter directly into heaven.[116] Souls in purgatory may be aided in reaching heaven by the prayers of the faithful on earth and by the intercession of saints.[119]
  • Final Damnation: Finally, those who persist in living in a state of mortal sin and do not repent before death subject themselves to hell, an everlasting separation from God.[116] The Church teaches that no one is condemned to hell without having freely decided to reject God.[116] No one is predestined to hell and no one can determine whether anyone else has been condemned.[116] Catholicism teaches that through God's mercy a person can repent at any point before death and be saved.[120] Some Catholic theologians have speculated that the souls of unbaptised infants who die in original sin are assigned to limbo although this is not an official doctrine of the Church.[121]

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Prayers and devotions to Mary are part of Catholic piety but are distinct from the worship of God.[122] The Church holds Mary, as Perpetual Virgin and Mother of God, in special regard. Catholic beliefs concerning Mary include her Immaculate Conception without the stain of original sin and bodily assumption into heaven at the end of her life, both of which have been infallibly defined as dogma, by Pope Pius IX in 1854 and Pope Pius XII in 1950 respectively.[123]

Mariology deals not only with her life but also her veneration in daily life, prayer and Marian art, music and architecture. Several liturgical Marian feasts are celebrated throughout the Church Year and she is honoured with many titles such as Queen of Heaven. Pope Paul VI called her Mother of the Church, because by giving birth to Christ, she is considered to be the spiritual mother to each member of the Body of Christ.[123] Because of her influential role in the life of Jesus, prayers and devotions, such as the Rosary, the Hail Mary, the Salve Regina and the Memorare are common Catholic practices.[124]

The Church has affirmed certain Marian apparitions such as Our Lady of Lourdes, Fátima, Guadalupe[125] and the Shrine Of Our Lady of Good Hope in Wisconsin, USA.[126] Pilgrimages to these sites are popular Catholic devotions.[127]

A common perception held by members of other Christian denominations is that Catholics worship Mary. This is a conviction based mainly upon the devotionals Catholics direct to Mary, which are outwardly similar to acts of worship directed towards God, and also upon the belief of Catholics that Mary is able to grant certain spiritual and temporal benefits to those who call upon her. The Catholic Church maintains that, properly, she is only venerated, as worship is reserved for God alone.


This detail of a fresco (1481–82) by Pietro Perugino in the Sistine chapel shows Jesus giving the keys of heaven to Saint Peter.

Catholic tradition and doctrine holds that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD in Judea within the Roman Empire. The New Testament records Jesus' activities and teaching, his appointment of the twelve Apostles and his instructions to them to continue his work.[128][129] The Catholic Church teaches that the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, in an event known as Pentecost, signaled the beginning of the public ministry of the Catholic Church.[71] Catholic doctrine teaches that the contemporary Catholic Church is the continuation of this early Christian community. It interprets the Confession of Peter found in the Gospel of Matthew as Christ's designation of Saint Peter the Apostle and his successors, the Bishops of Rome to be the temporal head of his Church, a doctrine known as apostolic succession.[130][131][132][133]

Conditions in the Roman Empire facilitated the spread of new ideas. The empire's well-defined network of roads and waterways allowed for easier travel, while the Pax Romana made it safe to travel from one region to another. The government had encouraged inhabitants, especially those in urban areas, to learn Greek, and the common language allowed ideas to be more easily expressed and understood.[134] Unlike most religions in the Roman Empire, however, Christianity required its adherents to renounce all other gods, a practice adopted from Judaism (see Idolatry). Christians' refusal to join pagan celebrations meant they were unable to participate in much of public life, which caused non-Christians–including government authorities–to fear that the Christians were angering the gods and thereby threatening the peace and prosperity of the Empire. The resulting persecutions, although usually local and sporadic, were a defining feature of Christian self-understanding until Christianity was legalised in the 4th century.[135]

In 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I. In 380, Christianity became the state 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 Fall of Constantinople. During this time (the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils) there were considered five primary sees according to Eusebius: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, known as the Pentarchy.

After the destruction of the western Roman Empire, the church in the West was a major factor in the preservation of classical civilization, establishing monasteries, and sending missionaries to convert the peoples of northern Europe, as far as Ireland in the north. In the East, the Byzantine Empire preserved Orthodoxy, well after the massive invasions of Islam in the mid-7th century. The invasions of Islam devastated three of the five Patriarchal sees, capturing Jerusalem first, then Alexandria, and then finally in the mid-8th century, Antioch. The whole period of the next five centuries was dominated by the struggle between Christianity and Islam throughout the Mediterranean Basin. The battles of Poitiers, and Toulouse preserved the Catholic west, even though Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople was besieged.

Doctrine disputes and schisms

In the 11th century, already strained relations between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin church in the West, developed into the East-West Schism, partially due to conflicts over Papal Authority. The fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople by renegade crusaders proved the final breach. In the 16th century, in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church engaged in a process of substantial reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation.[136] In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations due to the growth of religious scepticism during and after the Enlightenment. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent three centuries before. 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.[137] In 1870, the First Vatican Council affirmed the doctrine of papal infallibility when exercised in specifically defined pronouncements.[138][139] Controversy over this and other issues resulted in a very small breakaway movement called the Old Catholic Church.[140]

Contemporary issues

Pope John Paul II with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

The Second Vatican Council (1962–65), initiated by Pope John XXIII, became one of the major influences on the Catholic Church in the second half of the 20th century. It intended to engage the Church more closely with the present world (aggiornamento), which was described by its advocates as an "opening of the windows".[141] It led to changes in liturgy within the Latin Church such as worship in the vernacular (local language), changes to the Church's approach to ecumenism,[142] and a call to improved relations with non-Christian religions, especially Judaism, in its document Nostra Aetate.[143]

The Council, however, generated significant controversy in implementing its reforms; proponents of the "Spirit of Vatican II" such as Swiss theologian Hans Küng claimed Vatican II had "not gone far enough" to change church policies.[144] Traditionalist Catholics, such as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, however, strongly criticised the council, arguing that the council's liturgical reforms led "to the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments," among other issues.[145]

Social justice issues

In 1978, Pope John Paul II, formerly archbishop of Cracow in then-Communist Poland, became the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. His 27-year pontificate was one of the longest in history.[146] Mikhail Gorbachev, the last premier of the Soviet Union, credited the Polish pope with hastening the fall of Communism in Europe.[147]

The Catholic nun Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work among India's poor.[148] Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo won the same award in 1996 for "work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor".[149]

Sexuality and gender issues

Soon after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Church teachings about sexuality became an issue of increasing controversy due to changing cultural attitudes in the Western world (see the Sexual Revolution). In his encyclical Humanae Vitae[150] (1968), Pope Paul VI rejected all artificial contraception (though he permitted the regulation of births by means of natural family planning), contradicting those voices in the Church that saw at the time the birth control pill as an ethically justifiable method of contraception. This teaching was continued especially by John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, where he decried contraception and abortion as well as euthanasia as symptoms of a "culture of death" and called for a "culture of life".[151]

Efforts in support of the ordination of women led to several rulings by the Roman Curia or Pope against the proposal, as in 1976 (Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood), 1988 (Mulieris Dignitatem), and 1994 (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). According to the latest ruling found in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, then Pope John Paul II concluded, "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."[152] In defiance of these rulings, opposition groups such as Roman Catholic Womenpriests have performed alleged ordination ceremonies for women, claiming the aid of a Catholic bishop in performing the rites.[153][note 9] The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded by issuing a statement clarifying that any Catholic bishops involved in ordination ceremonies for women, as well as the women themselves if they were Catholic, would automatically receive the penalty of latae sententiae excommunication, citing canon 1378 of the Canon Law and other church laws.[154]

Sex abuse cases

In the 1990s and 2000s, the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy became the subject of media coverage, legal action and public debate in the United States, Ireland, Australia and other countries. The Church was criticised for its handling of abuse complaints when it became known that some bishops had shielded accused priests, transferring them to other pastoral assignments where some continued to commit sexual offences. In response to the scandal, the Church has established formal procedures to prevent abuse, encourage reporting of any abuse that occurs and to handle such reports promptly, although groups representing victims have disputed their effectiveness.[155] In September 2011, a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court alleging that the Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal William Levada head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, had committed a crime against humanity by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a "systematic and widespread" concealment which included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies.[156]

See also

References and notes


  1. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 77: "In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority." Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time."[6]
  2. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 890: "The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:"
  3. ^ According to the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, paragraph 44: "...we [Pope Pius XII] pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."[12]
  4. ^ The Annuario Pontificio, the list of popes, does not assign numbers to the positions in its listing.
  5. ^ The last resignation occurred in 1415, as part of the Council of Constance's resolution of the Avignon Papacy.[24]
  6. ^ The Tridentine Mass so called because standardised by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent in the 16th century, was the ordinary form of the Roman-Rite Mass until superseded in 1969 by the Roman Missal of Paul VI; its continued use, in the version found in the 1962 edition of the Missal, is authorized by the 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
  7. ^ In 1980, Pope John Paul II issued a pastoral provision that allows establishment of personal parishes in which members of the Episcopal Church (the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion) who join the Catholic Church retain many aspects of Anglican liturgical rites as a variation of the Roman rite. Such "Anglican Use" parishes, numbering fewer than ten, exist only in the United States.
  8. ^ The 73-book Catholic Bible contains the Deuterocanonicals, books not in the modern Hebrew Bible and not upheld as canonical by Protestants.[59] The process of determining which books were to be considered part of the canon took many centuries and was not finally resolved in the Catholic Church until the Council of Trent.
  9. ^ According to Roman Catholic Womanpriests "The principal consecrating Roman Catholic male bishop who ordained our first women bishops is a bishop with apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church in full communion with the pope."[153]


  • NOTE: CCC stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church. The number following CCC is the paragraph number, of which there are 2865. The numbers cited in the Compendium of the CCC are question numbers, of which there are 598.
  1. ^ "Factfile: Roman Catholics around the world". BBC. 1 April 2005. Retrieved 2011-08-19. "The Roman Catholic Church - the largest branch of Christianity - says there are a total of 1.086 billion baptised members around the globe. This figure is expected to exceed 1.1 billion in 2005, with rapid growth in Africa and Asia. However, there are no reliable figures for the number of practising Catholics worldwide." 
  2. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 11". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  3. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 226". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  4. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 388". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  5. ^ O'Collins, p. v (preface). Woods, T., How the Catholic Church Build Western Civilization.
  6. ^ a b "The Apostolic Tradition". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  7. ^ "The Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles" (et spes, 21); "The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles ..." (Gaudium et spes, 22); "The individual bishops, ... each of them, as a member of the episcopal college and legitimate successor of the apostles ..." (Gaudium et spes, 23); "Bishops, as successors of the apostles ..." (Gaudium et spes, 24); "The parallel between Peter and the rest of the Apostles on the one hand, and between the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops on the other hand, does not imply the transmission of the Apostles' extraordinary power to their successors" (Gaudium et spes, Appendix).
  8. ^ "The teaching office". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican. Retrieved 2011-04-28. "889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility." 
  9. ^ "The teaching office". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  10. ^ Second Vatican Council. "Chapter III, paragraph 25". Lumen Gentium. Vatican. Retrieved 2010-07-24. "by the light of the Holy Spirit ... ... vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock." 
  11. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The Eucharist - Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life"
  12. ^ a b Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII: "Munificentissimus Deus: Defining the Dogma of the Assumption". November 1, 1950. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
  13. ^ MacCulloch, Christianity, p. 127.
  14. ^ "Definition at". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  15. ^ a b McBrien, Richard (2008). The Church. Harper Collins. p. xvii. Online version available Quote: "[T]he use of the adjective 'Catholic' as a modifier of 'Church' became divisive only after the East-West Schism ...and the Protestant Reformation ...In the former case, the West claimed for itself the title Catholic Church, while the East appropriated the name Orthodox Church. In the latter case, those in communion with the Bishop of Rome retained the adjective "Catholic", while the churches that broke with the Papacy were called Protestant."
  16. ^ Libreria Editrice Vaticana (2003). Catechism of the Catholic Church Retrieved on: 1 May 2009.
  17. ^ The Vatican. Documents of the II Vatican Council. Retrieved on: 4 May 2009. Note: The Pope's signature appears in the Latin version.
  18. ^ Examples: the encyclicals Divini Illius Magistri of Pope Pius XI and Humani generis of Pope Pius XII; joint declarations signed by Pope Benedict XVI with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on 23 November 2006 and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople on 30 November 2006.
  19. ^ Example: The Baltimore Catechism, an official catechism authorized by the Catholic bishops of the United States, states: "That is why we are called Roman Catholics; to show that we are united to the real successor of St Peter" (Question 118), and refers to the Church as the "Roman Catholic Church" under Questions 114 and 131 (Baltimore Catechism).
  20. ^ "The Catechism of St Pius X, The Ninth Article of the Creed, Question 20". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  21. ^ Jaroslav Pelikan, Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 4: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) (University of Chicago Press 1985 ISBN 9780226653778), p. 114
  22. ^ Robert Feduccia (editor), Primary Source Readings in Catholic Church History (Saint Mary's Press 2005 ISBN 9780884898689), p. 85. Accessed at Google Books
  23. ^ "Vatican City State - State and Government". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  24. ^ Duffy (1997), p. 415
  25. ^ Duffy (1997), p. 416
  26. ^ Duffy (1997), pp. 417–8
  27. ^ "Orientalium Ecclesiarum". Vatican Council II. 2. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  28. ^ CCEO, Canon 56. English Translation
  29. ^ Ronald G. Roberson. "Eastern Catholic Churches Statistics 2010". CNEWA. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  30. ^ CCEO, Canons 55-150. English Translation
  31. ^ CCEO, Canons 151-154
  32. ^ CCEO, Canons 155-173
  33. ^ CCEO, Canons 174-176
  34. ^ Vatican, Annuario Pontificio 2009, p. 1172.
  35. ^ Annuario Pontifico per l'anno 2010 (Città di Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2010)
  36. ^ Barry, p. 52
  37. ^ a b Canon Law 573-746 Catholic Church Canon Law. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  38. ^ a b "Vatican: Priest numbers show steady, moderate increase". Catholic News Service. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  39. ^ Froehle, pp. 4–5
  40. ^ Bazar, Emily (16 April 2008). "Immigrants Make Pilgrimage to Pope". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  41. ^ "Number of Catholics on the Rise". Zenit News Agency. 27 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-02. . For greater details on numbers of Catholics and priests and their distribution by continent and for changes between 2000 and 2008, see "Annuario Statistico della Chiesa dell'anno 2008". Holy See Press Office. 27 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-02.  (in Italian)
  42. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 11.. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  43. ^ CCC, 1200–1209
  44. ^ CCEO, canon 28 §1 in an unofficial English translation. The official text is "Ritus est patrimonium liturgicum, theologicum, spirituale et disciplinare cultura ac rerum adiunctis historiae populorum distinctum, quod modo fidei vivendae uniuscuiusque Ecclesiae sui iuris proprio exprimitur." (A rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage, differentiated by peoples' culture and historical circumstances, that finds expression in each sui iuris Church's own way of living the faith).
  45. ^ CCC, 1324–1331
  46. ^ See Luke 22:19, Matthew 26:27–28, Mark 14:22–24, 1Corinthians 11:24–25
  47. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Canon of the Mass." Wikisource, The Free Library. 17 Oct 2010, 04:54 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 Aug 2011 <>. Note: the Latin: "Hoc est enim corpus meum..." translates to English: "For this is my body..."
  48. ^ a b Kreeft, p. 326
  49. ^ a b Kreeft, p. 331
  50. ^ "CCC, 1400". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  51. ^ "CCC, 1399". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  52. ^ The General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Copyright © 2003, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.
  53. ^ Stuard-will, Kelly (2007). Karitas Publishing. ed. A Faraway Ancient Country.. United States: Gardners Books. pp. 216. ISBN 978-0-615-15801-3. 
  54. ^ Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XVI: "Anglicanorum Coetibus: Providing for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering into Full Communion with the Catholic Church". November 4, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  55. ^ Marthaler, preface
  56. ^ John Paul II, Pope (1997). "Laetamur Magnopere". Vatican. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  57. ^ a b Paul VI, Pope (1964). "Lumen Gentium chapter 2". Vatican. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  58. ^ "CCC, 80-81, 84-86". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  59. ^ a b Schreck, p. 21
  60. ^ Schreck, p. 23
  61. ^ Schreck, pp. 15–19
  62. ^ Schreck, p. 30
  63. ^ McGrath, pp. 4–6.
  64. ^ CCC, 608
  65. ^ Schreck, p. 113.
  66. ^ Barry, p. 26
  67. ^ Kreeft, pp. 71–72
  68. ^ CCC, 811.
  69. ^ Kreeft, p. 98, quote "The fundamental reason for being a Catholic is the historical fact that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, was God's invention, not man's ... As the Father gave authority to Christ (Jn 5:22; Mt 28:18–20), Christ passed it on to his apostles (Lk 10:16), and they passed it on to the successors they appointed as bishops."
  70. ^ Schreck, p. 131
  71. ^ a b Barry, p. 46
  72. ^ CCC, 880. Accessed Aug 20, 2011
  73. ^ Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, Vatican City, 1943. Accessed Aug 20, 2011
  74. ^ CCC, 1113-1114, 1117
  75. ^ Kreeft, pp. 298–299
  76. ^ "CCC, 1210-1211". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  77. ^ "CCC, 1275". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  78. ^ "CCC, 1263". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  79. ^ "CCC, 1267". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  80. ^ "CCC, 1282". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  81. ^ "CCC, 1250". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  82. ^ "CCC, 1272". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  83. ^ "CCC, 1256". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  84. ^ "CCC, 1322". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  85. ^ "CCC, 1365-1372". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  86. ^ "CCC, 1382-1384". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  87. ^ "CCC, 1408". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  88. ^ "CCC, 1333". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  89. ^ "CCC, 1376". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  90. ^ "CCC, 1285". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  91. ^ "Code of Canon Law, canon 883". 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  92. ^ "Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 695". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  93. ^ "Code of Canon Law, canon 891". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  94. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 267". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  95. ^ "Council of Florence: Bull of union with the Armenians". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  96. ^ CCC, 1310 and 1319
  97. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 296". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  98. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 297". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  99. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 302-303". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  100. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 304-306". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  101. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 309". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  102. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 316". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  103. ^ "Compendium of the CCC, 319". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  104. ^ Canons 1008-1009 of the Code of Canon Law as modified by the 2009 motu proprio Omnium in mentem
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  106. ^ a b Canon 1037, Catholic Church Canon Law. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
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  108. ^ Committee on the Diaconate. "Frequently Asked Questions About Deacons". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
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  110. ^ Canon 375, Catholic Church Canon Law. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  111. ^ Barry, p. 114.
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  113. ^ "CCC, 1625". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  114. ^ "CCC, 1631". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  115. ^ "CCC, 1629". Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  116. ^ a b c d e f g CCC, 1021–22, 1051
  117. ^ Matthew 25:35–36
  118. ^ a b Schreck, p. 397
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  120. ^ Luke 23:39–43
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  129. ^ Bokenkotter, p. 30.
  130. ^ The Catholic Church recognizes as legitimate the episcopal consecrations of a number of other churches. However, it still insists that those churches are obligated to defer to the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff.
  131. ^ 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"
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  133. ^ Temporini, Hildegard; Wolfgang Haase (1982). Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt Principat.: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung. Walter de Gruyter. p. 480. doi:2008-06-26. ISBN 3110087006. 
  134. ^ Bokenkotter, p. 24.
  135. ^ MacCulloch, Christianity, pp. 155–159, 164.
  136. ^ Norman 81
  137. ^ "John Paul II, General Audience, March 24, 1993". 1993-03-24. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  138. ^ Leith, Creeds of the Churches (1963), p. 143
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  140. ^ Fahlbusch, The Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001), p. 729
  141. ^ Duffy, pp. 270–276
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  144. ^ Bauckham, p. 373
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  • Catholic Church — noun any of several churches claiming to have maintained historical continuity with the original Christian Church (Freq. 2) • Hypernyms: ↑church, ↑Christian church • Hyponyms: ↑Roman Catholic, ↑Western Church, ↑Roman Catholic Churc …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Catholic Church of St. Catherine — The Catholic Church of St. Catherine (Russian: Католическая церковь Святой Екатерины) in St. Petersburg is one of the oldest Catholic churches in all of Russia. It is part of the Archdiocese of Moscow headed by H.E. Msgr. Paolo Pezzi. It is… …   Wikipedia

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