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The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church,[note 1] is the world's largest Christian church. With more than a billion members, over half of all Christians[note 2] and more than one-sixth of the world's population, the Catholic Church is a communion of the Western, or (Latin Rite) Church, and 22 autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches (called particular churches), comprising a total of 2,795 dioceses in 2008. The Church's highest earthly authority in matters of faith, morality, and governance is the Pope,[15] currently Pope Benedict XVI, who holds supreme authority in concert with the College of Bishops, of which he is the head.[16][17][18] The Catholic community is made up of an ordained ministry and the laity; members of either group may belong to organized religious communities.[19]

The Church defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity.[20] It operates social programs and institutions throughout the world, including Catholic schools, universities, hospitals, missions and shelters, as well as Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities that help families, the poor, the elderly and the sick.[21]

The Catholic Church believes itself to be the original Church founded by Jesus upon the Apostles,[22] among whom Simon Peter held the position of chief apostle.[23] The Church also believes that its bishops, through apostolic succession, are consecrated successors of these apostles,[24][25] and that the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) as the successor of Peter, possesses a universal primacy of jurisdiction and pastoral care.[26]

Church doctrines have been defined through various ecumenical councils, following the example set by the first Apostles in the Council of Jerusalem.[27] On the basis of promises made by Jesus to his apostles, described in the Gospels, the Church believes that it is guided by the Holy Spirit and so protected from falling into doctrinal error.[28][29][30]

Catholic beliefs are based on the deposit of Faith (containing both the Holy Bible and Sacred Tradition) handed down from the time of the Apostles, which are interpreted by the Church's teaching authority. Those beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed and formally detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[31] Formal Catholic worship is termed the liturgy. The Eucharist is the center of Catholic worship. It is one of seven sacraments which mark key stages in the lives of believers.

With a history spanning almost two thousand years, the Church is "the world's oldest and largest institution"[32] and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilization since at least the 4th century.[33] In the 11th century, a major split, sometimes called the Great Schism, occurred between Eastern and Western Christianity. Those Eastern churches which remained in, or later re-established, communion with the Pope, form the Eastern Catholic churches and those which remain independent of papal authority are usually known as Orthodox churches. In the 16th century, partly in response to the rise of the Protestant Reformation, the Church engaged in its own process of reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation.

Although the Church maintains that it is the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" founded by Jesus and in which is found the fullness of the means of salvation,[34][35] it also acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of other Christian communities to bring people to salvation.[36][37] It believes that it is called by the Holy Spirit to work for unity among all Christians, a movement known as ecumenism.[37] Modern issues facing the Church include secularism, "Modernism", and opposition to the Church's teachings on abortion, euthanasia, birth control, and sexual ethics.[38]

Origin and mission


According to Catholic doctrine, the Catholic Church is the original Church founded by Jesus Christ. The New Testament records his appointing of the twelve Apostles and giving them authority to continue his work.[39] One of these, Simon Peter, was made their leader when Jesus proclaimed "upon this rock I will build my church ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven ... ". In the Catholic view, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in an event known as Pentecost signaled the beginning of the public ministry of the Church and all duly consecrated bishops since then are considered the successors to the apostles. The traditional narrative places Peter in Rome, where he founded a church and served as the first bishop of the See of Rome, later consecrating Linus as his successor, thus beginning the line of Popes.[40][41]

Elements of this traditional narrative agree with the surviving historical evidence which includes the writings of Saint Paul, several early Church Fathers (among them Pope Clement I) and some archaeological evidence. Although in the past some Biblical scholars thought the word 'rock' referred to Jesus or to Peter's faith, the majority now understand it as referring to the person of Peter. Some historians of Christianity assert that the Catholic Church can be traced to Jesus's consecration of Peter, some that Jesus did not found a church in his lifetime but provided a framework of beliefs, while others do not make a judgement about whether or not the Church was founded by Jesus but disagree with the traditional view that the papacy originated with Peter. These assert that Rome may not have had a bishop until after the apostolic age and suggest the papal office may have been superimposed by the traditional narrative upon the primitive church although some acknowledge that the papal office had indeed emerged by the mid 150s.

Mission and purpose

The Church believes that its mission is founded upon Jesus' command to his followers to spread the faith across the world: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."[42][43][44] Pope Benedict XVI summarized this mission as a threefold responsibility to proclaim the word of God, celebrate the sacraments, and exercise the ministry of charity.[45] As part of its ministry of charity, the Church runs worldwide agencies such as Caritas Internationalis, whose national subsidiaries include CAFOD and Catholic Relief Services. Other institutions include Catholic schools, Catholic universities, Catholic Charities, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Marriage Encounter, hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes, homeless shelters, as well as ministries to the poor, families, the elderly, AIDS victims, and pregnant and abused women.[21]


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. Catholic beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed[46] and detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[31][47] The Nicene Creed also forms the central statement of belief of other Christian denominations.[48] Chief among these are Eastern Orthodox Christians, whose beliefs are similar to those of Catholics, differing mainly with regard to papal infallibility, the filioque clause and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.[49][50] The various Protestant denominations vary in their beliefs, but generally differ from Catholics regarding the Pope, Church tradition, the Eucharist, veneration of saints, and issues pertaining to grace, good works and salvation.[51]

Catholic belief holds that the Church "... is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth."[52] To Catholics, the term "Church" refers to the people of God, who abide in Jesus and who, "... nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ."[53] Lumen Gentium (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), affirms that the fullness of the "means of salvation" exists only in the Catholic Church but acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of Christian communities separated from itself to bring people to salvation. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved indirectly through the Church if the person has invincible ignorance of the Catholic Church and its teachings (as a result of parentage or culture, for example), yet follows the morals God has dictated in his heart and would, therefore, join the Church if he understood its necessity.[54][55] It teaches that Catholics are called by the Holy Spirit to work for unity among all Christians.[54][55]

The Council of Jerusalem, convened by the Apostles around the year 50 to clarify Church teachings, set the precedent for later councils of the Church, convened by Church leaders throughout history.[27][56][57] The most recent Church council was the Second Vatican Council, which closed in 1965.[58]

Teaching authority, seven sacraments

Based on the promises of Jesus in the Gospels, the Church believes that it is continually guided by the Holy Spirit and so protected infallibly from falling into doctrinal error. The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Spirit reveals God's truth through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. Sacred Scripture, or the Catholic Bible, consists of those books found in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament—known as the Septuagint—and the 27 New Testament writings first found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and listed in Athanasius' Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter. These scriptures make up the 73-book Catholic bible in contrast with the shorter, 66-book bible used by most Protestants. The books and works that are upheld as canonical by the Catholic Church but not by some other groups are known as the Deuterocanonicals. Sacred Tradition consists of those teachings believed by the Church to have been handed down since the time of the Apostles. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are collectively known as the "deposit of faith" (depositum fidei). These are in turn interpreted by the Magisterium (from magister, Latin for "teacher"), the Church's teaching authority, which—through apostolic succession—is exercised by the pope and the college of bishops in union with the pope.

According to the Council of Trent, Jesus instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church. These are Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance), Anointing of the Sick (formerly Extreme Unction or the "last rites"), Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. Sacraments are important visible rituals which 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).

God the Father, creation, and original sin

The Church teaches that God is the source and creator of all that exists,[59] and that he is a loving and caring entity who is directly involved in the world and in people's lives,[60] desiring his creatures to love him and to love each other.[61][62] Catholicism teaches that while human beings live bodily in a visible, material world, their souls simultaneously occupy an invisible, spiritual world, in which spiritual beings called angels exist to "worship and serve God".[63] Some angels, however, chose to rebel against God, and thereby became demons antagonistic both to God and to mankind.[64] Among other names, the leader of this rebellion has been called "Lucifer", "Satan" and the devil.[65] Satan is believed to have tempted the first humans, Adam and Eve, whose subsequent act of original sin brought suffering and death into the world.[66]

This event, known in Catholic belief as the Fall of Man, separated humanity from its original intimacy with God. The Catechism states that the description of the fall, in Genesis 3, uses figurative language, but affirms that "... a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man" that resulted in "a deprivation of original holiness and justice" that makes each person "subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death: and inclined to sin". Catholic doctrine accepts the possibility that God's creation occurred in a way consistent with evolution but rejects as outside the scope of science any efforts to use of the theory to deny supernatural divine creation.[67] The soul did not evolve, according to Catholic doctrine, but was infused into man and woman directly by God.[66] The Church believes that people can be cleansed of original sin and all personal sins through Baptism.[68] This sacramental act of cleansing admits a person as a full member of the natural and supernatural Church and can only be conferred on a person once.[68]

Jesus, sin and Penance

Catholics believe that Jesus is the Messiah of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecies.[69] The Nicene Creed states that he is "... the only begotten son of God, ... one in being with the Father. Through him all things were made". In an event known as the Incarnation, the Church teaches that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became united with human nature when Jesus was conceived in the womb of a Jewish virgin named Mary. Jesus is believed, therefore, to be both fully divine and fully human. It is taught that Jesus' mission on earth included giving people his word and his example to follow, as recorded in the four Gospels.[70] Catholicism teaches that following the example of Jesus helps believers to become closer to him, and therefore to grow in true love, freedom, and fullness of life.[71][72]

Falling into sin is considered the opposite to following Jesus, weakening a person's resemblance to God and turning their soul away from his love.[73] Sins range from the less serious venial sins to more serious mortal sins which end a person's relationship with God.[73][74] The Church teaches that through the passion (suffering) of Jesus and his crucifixion, all people have an opportunity for forgiveness and freedom from sin, and so can be reconciled to God.[69][75] The Resurrection of Jesus, according to Catholic belief, gained for humans a possible spiritual immortality previously denied to us because of original sin.[76] John the Baptist called Jesus "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world",[77] in reference to the ancient Jewish practice of sacrificing lambs to God.[78][79] By reconciling with God and following Jesus' words and deeds, the Church believes one can enter the Kingdom of God, which is the "... reign of God over people's hearts and lives."[80][81]

After baptism, the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance or Confession) is the means by which Catholics believe they can obtain forgiveness for subsequent sin and receive God's grace. Catholics believe Jesus gave the apostles authority to forgive sins in God's name.[82] After making an examination of conscience that often involves a review of the ten commandments, the sacrament involves confession of sins by an individual to a priest, who then offers advice and imposes a particular penance to be performed. The penitent then prays an act of contrition and the priest administers absolution, formally forgiving the person of his sins.[83] The priest is forbidden—under penalty of excommunication—to reveal any sin or disclosure heard under the seal of confession. Penance helps prepare Catholics before they can licitly receive the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.[84][85]

Holy Spirit and Confirmation

Bernini's alabaster window in St. Peter's Basilica depicts the Holy Spirit as a dove, a common motif in Christian art.

Jesus told his apostles that after his death and resurrection he would send them the "Advocate", the "Holy Spirit", who "... will teach you all things".[86][87] Through the sacrament of Confirmation, Catholics believe they receive the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Trinity, the Church teaches that receiving the Holy Spirit is an act of receiving God.[88] Confirmation, sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian maturity", is believed to increase and deepen the grace received at Baptism,[89] as the confirmand is sealed with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e., wisdom (to see and follow God's plan), understanding, counsel (right judgement), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence), and fear of the Lord (rejoicing in the presence of God; a spirit of holy fear in God's presence).[90][91] The corresponding fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.[90][91] To be properly confirmed, Catholics must be in a state of grace, which means they cannot be conscious of having committed an unconfessed mortal sin.[91] They must also have prepared spiritually for the sacrament, chosen a sponsor for spiritual support, and selected a saint to be their special patron and intercessor.[89] In the Eastern Catholic Churches, baptism, including infant baptism, is immediately followed by Confirmation and the reception of the Eucharist.[91][92]

Final judgment and afterlife

Belief in an afterlife is part of Catholic doctrine, the "four last things" being death, judgment, heaven, and hell. 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.[91][93] This teaching also attests to another day when Jesus will sit in a universal judgment of all mankind.[21][94] 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.[91][95] The basis upon which each person's soul will be judged is detailed in the Gospel of Matthew which lists works of mercy to be performed even to people considered "the least".[94][95] Emphasis is upon Jesus' 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".[95] 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."[95]

A priest administering the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (also known as Anointing of the Sick).

There are three states of afterlife in Catholic belief. Heaven is a time of glorious union with God and a life of unspeakable joy that lasts forever.[91][93] Purgatory is a temporary condition for the purification of souls who, although saved, are not free enough from sin to enter directly into heaven. It is a state requiring penance and purgation of sin through God's mercy aided by the prayers of others.[91][93] Finally, those who chose to live a sinful and selfish life, did not repent, and fully intended to persist in their ways are sent to hell, an everlasting separation from God.[91][96] The Church teaches that no one is condemned to hell without having freely decided to reject God and his love.[91][93] He predestines no one to hell and no one can determine whether anyone else has been condemned.[91][93] Catholicism teaches that through God's mercy a person can repent at any point before death and be saved "like the good thief who was crucified next to Jesus".[93][97]

Social teaching

In addition to operating numerous social ministries throughout the world, the Church teaches that individual Catholics are required to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as well. The seven corporal works of mercy are: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead.[91] Welcoming strangers, immigrants, and refugees could be said to be another corporal work of mercy. The spiritual works of mercy include: instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving, bearing wrongs patiently, and praying for the living and the dead.[21][91] In conjunction with the work of mercy to visit the sick, the Church offers the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick,[91] administered only by a priest.[98] Church teaching on works of mercy and the new social problems of the industrial era led to the development of Catholic social teaching, which emphasizes human dignity and commits Catholics to the welfare of others.[21][91]

Prayer and worship

Catholic liturgy is regulated by Church authority[99] and consists of the Eucharist and Mass, the other sacraments, and the Liturgy of the Hours. According to the precepts of the Church, every Catholic is required to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation,[91] confess sins at least once a year, receive the Eucharist at least once during Easter season, observe the prescribed days of fasting and of abstinence as established by the Church, and also help provide for the Church's needs.[100] (For the Latin Church, the holy days of obligation are set forth in the Code of Canon Law, but they vary from nation to nation, as requested by each nation's conference of bishops and approved by the Holy See.) All Catholics are expected to participate in the liturgical life of the Church, but individual or communal prayer and devotions—while encouraged—are a matter of personal preference.[101] Frequent reception of the Eucharist (daily, weekly, or at least once a year) and frequent confession of sins (weekly, monthly, or during Advent and Lent, or at least once a year) are common Catholic practices encouraged by the Church.

Diverse traditions of worship

Differing liturgical traditions, or rites, exist throughout the universal Church, reflecting historical and cultural diversity rather than a difference in beliefs.[102] The most commonly used liturgy is the Roman Rite (which is used in most of the Latin Catholic Church, but not in the Eastern Catholic Churches nor in those parts of the Latin Church where other Latin liturgical rites are in use). Presently, this rite exists in two authorized forms: the ordinary form (the 1969 Mass of Paul VI, celebrated mostly in the vernacular, i.e., the language of the people) and the extraordinary form (the 1962 edition of the Tridentine or Latin Mass standardized by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent).[103][104][note 3] In 1980, Pope John Paul II issued a Pastoral Provision which allows members of the Episcopal Church (the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion) to retain many aspects of Anglican liturgical rites as a variation of the Roman rite when they join the Catholic Church. Such "Anglican Use" parishes exist only in the United States. Other Western rites (non-Roman) include the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite.

The Eastern Catholic Churches refer to the Eucharistic celebration as the Divine Liturgy. Each of the Eastern Catholic Churches uses one of the following Eastern rites: the Byzantine rite, Alexandrian or Coptic rite, Syriac rite, Armenian rite, Maronite rite, and Chaldean rite.

The Latin Catholic Church and the various Eastern Catholic Churches each follow a liturgical year—an annual calendar—which sets aside certain days and seasons to celebrate key events in the life of Jesus.[106] Advent, Christmas and the Epiphany celebrate his expected coming, birth and manifestation. Lent is the period of purification and penance that ends during Holy Week with the Easter Triduum. These days recall Jesus' last supper with his disciples, death on the cross, burial and resurrection. The feast of the Ascension of Jesus is followed by Pentecost which recalls the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' disciples.[106] The remainder of the liturgical year apart from these special periods is known as Ordinary Time.


The Eucharist is celebrated at each Mass and is the center of Catholic worship.[107][108] The Words of Institution for this sacrament are drawn from the Gospels and a Pauline letter.[109] In its main elements and prayers, the Catholic Mass celebrated today, according to professor Alan Schreck, is "almost identical" to the form described in the Didache and First Apology of Justin Martyr in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries.[110][111]

The Church holds that Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Catholics believe that at each Mass, the bread and wine become supernaturally transubstantiated into the true Body and Blood of Christ.

The Church teaches that Jesus established a New Covenant with humanity through the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. This is held to be in fulfilment of the Old Testament promise of God's salvation for all the peoples of the world—a covenant sealed by Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.[112] In contrast to some Protestant belief, therefore, Catholicism teaches that Jesus's sacrifice is made truly present in the celebration of the Eucharist.[103] It is Catholic dogma that the bread and wine brought to the altar at each Mass are changed through the power of the Holy Spirit into the true Body and the true Blood of Christ (termed "transubstantiation") and that, by consuming these, believers are spiritually nourished and deepen their union with Jesus, are cleansed of venial sins, helped to overcome and avoid sin, unite with the poor and promote Christian unity.[112][113]

Mass consists of two parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.[114] Because the Church teaches that Christ is present in the Eucharist,[103] there are strict rules about its celebration and reception. The ingredients of the bread and wine used in the Mass are specified and Catholics must abstain from eating for one hour before receiving Communion.[115] Those who are conscious of being in a state of mortal sin are forbidden from this sacrament unless they have received absolution through the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance).[115] Because the Church recognizes their celebration of the Mass and priestly ordination as valid sacraments, intercommunion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Assyrian Church of the East, Polish National Catholic Church, and certain other churches—in "suitable circumstances and with Church authority"—is both possible and encouraged.[116] The same is not true for Protestant churches. In very limited circumstances, however, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance), and Anointing of the Sick to Protestants.[note 4] Catholics are not permitted to receive communion in Protestant churches because of their different beliefs and practices regarding Holy Orders and the Eucharist.[118]

Liturgy of the Hours

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus instructs his disciples to "pray always".[119] The Liturgy of the Hours,[120] or Divine Office, is the Church's effort to respond to this request. It is considered to be an extension of the celebration of the Mass and is the official daily liturgical prayer of the Church.[121] It makes particular use of the Psalms as well as readings from the New and Old Testament, and various prayers.[121] It is an adaptation of the ancient Jewish practice of reading the Psalms at certain hours of the day or night. Catholics who pray the Liturgy of the Hours use a set of books issued by the Church that has been called a breviary. By canon law, priests and deacons are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day.[122] Religious orders often make praying the Liturgy of the Hours a part of their rule of life; the Second Vatican Council encouraged the Christian laity to take up the practice.[121][123]

Devotional life and prayer

In addition to the Mass, the Catholic Church considers prayer to be one of the most important elements of Christian life. The Church considers personal prayer a Christian duty, one of the spiritual works of mercy and one of the principal ways its members nourish a relationship with God.[124] The Catechism identifies three types of prayer: vocal prayer (sung or spoken), meditation, and contemplative prayer. Quoting from the early church father John Chrysostom regarding vocal prayer, the Catechism states, "Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls."[125] Meditation is prayer in which the "mind seeks to understand the why and how of Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking."[125] Contemplative prayer is being with God, taking time to be close to and alone with him.[125] Three of the most common devotional prayers of the Catholic Church are The Lord's Prayer, the Rosary and Stations of the Cross.[126] These prayers are most often vocal, yet always meditative and contemplative. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a common form of contemplative prayer, whereas Benediction is a common vocal method of prayer. Lectio divina, which means "sacred reading", is a form of meditative prayer. The Church encourages patterns of prayer intended to develop into habitual prayer. This includes such daily prayers as grace at meals, the Rosary, or the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as the weekly rhythm of Sunday Eucharist and the observance of the year-long liturgical cycle.[125]

Mary and the saints

Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus

Prayers to, devotions to, and veneration of the Virgin Mary and the saints are a common part of Catholic life but are distinct from the worship of God.[127] Catholic teaching maintains that the Church exists simultaneously on earth (Church militant), in purgatory (Church suffering), and in heaven (Church triumphant); thus Mary and all other saints are alive and part of the living Church.[128] This unity of the Church in heaven, in purgatory, and on earth is the "Communion of Saints".[128][129] Explaining the intercession of saints, the Catechism states that the saints "... do not cease to intercede with the Father for us ... so by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."[127][129] The Church holds Mary, as ever Virgin and Mother of God, in special regard. She is believed to have been conceived without original sin, and to have been assumed into heaven. These teachings, the focus of Roman Catholic Mariology, are considered infallible. Several liturgical Marian feasts are celebrated throughout the Church Year and she is honored with many titles such as Queen of Heaven (in Latin, Regina Coeli). Pope Paul VI called her Mother of the Church (in Latin, Mater Ecclesiae), because by giving birth to Christ, she is considered to be the spiritual mother to each member of the Body of Christ.[130] 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.[126] The Church has affirmed the validity of Marian apparitions (supernatural experiences of Mary by one or more persons) such as those at Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe[131] while others such as Međugorje are still under investigation. Affirmed or not, however, pilgrimages to these places are popular Catholic devotions.[132]

Pilgrimage has been an important element of Catholic spirituality since at least the second century. Devotional journeys to the sites of biblical events or to places strongly connected with Jesus, Mary or the saints are considered an aid to spiritual growth, and can become meritorious acts if performed with the right intention. Western Europe has more than 6,000 pilgrimage destinations which generate around 60 million faith-related visits a year.[133]

Church organization and community

While the Church considers Jesus to be its ultimate head, the spiritual leader and head of the Church organization is the pope.[134] The pope governs from the Vatican City in Rome – a sovereign nation of which he is the head of state.[135] Each pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals, a body composed of clerics (normally bishops) who have been elevated to the rank of cardinal. The cardinals, who also serve as papal advisors, may select any Catholic male as pope, but if the candidate is not already a bishop, he must become one before taking office.[136]

The pope is assisted in the Church's administration by the Roman Curia, or civil service. The Church is governed according to formal regulations set out in the Code of Canon Law. The official language of the Church is Latin, although Italian is the working language of the Vatican administration.[137]

As of 2008, the worldwide Catholic Church comprises 2,795 dioceses (also called sees or, in the East, eparchies), grouped into 23 particular Churches – the Latin-rite Church and 22 Eastern Catholic Churches – each with distinct traditions regarding the liturgy and the administration of the sacraments.[138] Each diocese is divided into individual communities called parishes, each staffed by one or more priests.[139]

The church community is made up of ordained members (such as bishops, priests and deacons,) and the laity. Members of religious orders such as nuns, friars and monks are lay members unless individually ordained as priests.[140]

Ordained members and Holy Orders

Ordination of a Catholic bishop. Two deacons hold the Book of the Gospels above his head, during the prayer of consecration.

Men may become ordained clergy, through the sacrament of Holy Orders, as bishops, priests or deacons. All clergy who are bishops [note 5] form the College of Bishops and are jointly considered the successors of the apostles.[141][142] Only bishops can administer the sacrament of Holy Orders.[143] They are also responsible for teaching, governing, and sanctifying the faithful of their diocese, sharing these duties with the priests and deacons who serve under them. The sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance) and Anointing of the Sick may only be administered by priests or bishops. Deacons and all other clergy may preach, teach, baptize, witness marriages and conduct funeral liturgies.[144] Baptism is the only sacrament that may be administered in emergencies by any Catholic, or even a non-Christian who "has the intention of baptizing according to the belief of the Catholic Church".[145]

Married men may become deacons but only celibate men are ordinarily ordained as priests in the Latin Rite.[146][147] However, married clergymen who have been received into the Church from other denominations may be exempted from this rule.[148] The Eastern Catholic Churches ordain both celibate and married men to the priesthood, but married men cannot become bishops.[149][150] All 23 particular Churches of the Catholic Church maintain the ancient tradition that marriage is not allowed after ordination. Men with transitory homosexual leanings may be ordained deacons following three years of prayer and chastity, but homosexual men who are sexually active, or those who have deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, cannot be ordained.[151] [note 6]

Programs designed to prepare men for the priesthood can vary from country to country, since they are usually laid down by national bishops' conferences.[155] The conferences consult Vatican documents such as Pastores Dabo Vobis, Novo Millennio Ineunte, and Optatam Totius to create these programs.[156] In some countries, priests are required to have a college degree plus another four years of full-time theological study in a seminary or other approved institution. In other countries, a degree is not strictly required, but seminary education is longer. Candidates for the priesthood are also evaluated in terms of human, spiritual and pastoral formation.[157] Ordination is conferred by a bishop through the laying on of hands, following which the newly ordained priest or deacon is formally clothed in his vestments, i.e., the stole and chasuble for priests, or stole and dalmatic for deacons.[143]

The Church teaches that since the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus were all male, only men may be ordained as priests.[158] While some consider this to be evidence of a discriminatory attitude toward women,[159] the Church believes that Jesus called women to different yet equally important vocations in Church ministry.[160] Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Christifideles Laici, states that women have specific vocations reserved only for the female sex, and are equally called to be disciples of Jesus.[161]

Lay members, marriage

A Catholic wedding at Manila Cathedral in the Philippines

The laity consists of those Catholics who are not ordained clergy. Saint Paul compared the diversity of roles in the Church to the different parts of a body, all being important to enable the body to function.[19] The Church therefore considers that lay members are equally called to live according to Christian principles, to work to spread the message of Jesus, and to effect change in the world for the good of others. The Church calls these actions participation in Christ's priestly, prophetic and royal offices.[162] Marriage and the consecrated life are lay vocations. The sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Latin rite is not administered (conferred) by the priest or deacon who presides. Instead, the ministers of the sacrament are the bride and groom, who mutually confer the sacrament upon each other by expressing their consent before the priest or deacon who serves as a witness. In the Eastern Catholic Churches the minister of this sacrament, which is called "Crowning", is the priest or bishop who, after receiving the mutual consent of the spouses, successively crowns the bridegroom and the bride as a sign of the marriage covenant.[163] Church law makes no provision for divorce, but annulment may be granted when proof is produced that essential conditions for contracting a sacramental union (valid marriage) were absent. Since the Church condemns all forms of artificial birth control, married persons are expected to be open to new life in their sexual relations.[164] Natural family planning is approved.[165]

Lay ecclesial movements consist of lay Catholics organized for purposes of teaching the faith, cultural work, mutual support or missionary work.[166] Such groups include: Communion and Liberation, Opus Dei and many others.[166] Some non-ordained Catholics practice formal, public ministries within the Church.[167] These are called lay ecclesial ministers, a broad category which may include pastoral life coordinators, pastoral assistants, youth ministers and campus ministers.[168]

Consecrated life

Religious orders

Both the ordained and the laity may enter the cloistered consecrated life as monks or nuns. There are also friars and sisters who engage in teaching and missionary activity and charity work such as the various mendicant orders. A candidate takes vows confirming their desire to follow the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience.[169]

The majority of those wishing to enter the consecrated life join one of the religious institutes which are also referred to as monastic or religious orders. They follow a common rule such as the Rule of St Benedict and agree to live under the leadership of a superior.[170][171] They usually live together in a community but individuals may be given permission to live as hermits, or to reside elsewhere, for example as a serving priest or chaplain.[172] Examples of religious institutes include the Benedictines, Carmelites, Cistercians, Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Marist Brothers, Paulist Fathers, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of the Destitute, Sisters of Mercy, Legionaries of Christ and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), but there are many others.[169]

Tertiaries and Oblates

Tertiaries and "Oblates (regular)" are laypersons who live according to the third rule of orders such as those of the Secular Franciscan Order or Lay Carmelites, either within a religious community or outside.[166] Although all tertiaries make a public profession, participate in the good works of their order and in some cases may wear the habit, they are not bound by public vows unless they live in a religious community. They must not be confused with "Oblates (secular)", who are not members of the consecrated life but are laypersons (married or single) or secular priests that have individually affiliated themselves in prayer with a House of their choice without making public vows. They make a formal private promise (annually renewable or for life, depending on the house with which they are affiliated) to follow the rule of prayer in their private life as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit.

Other forms of consecrated life

The Church recognizes several other forms of consecrated life, including secular institutes, societies of apostolic life and consecrated widows and widowers.[169] It also makes provision for the approval of new forms.[173]


Baptism of an infant by affusion

Membership of the Catholic Church is attained through baptism.[174] For those baptized as children, First Communion is a particular rite of passage when, following instruction, they are allowed to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time in the Latin (Western) Church; the Eastern Churches confer the sacraments of initiation at once - Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation) and Eucharist - to unbaptized children or unbaptized adult converts. Those never baptized may be admitted to Baptism by participating in a formation program such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.[175] Christians - those baptized with flowing water and in the "Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" - baptized outside of the Catholic Church are admitted through other formation programs but are not re-baptized.[176] In all rites, after going through formation and making a profession of faith, candidates are received into the Church. This ordinarily occurs at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.[175]

Members of the Church can incur excommunication for serious violations of ecclesiastical law. Excommunication does not remove a member from the Church but severely limits the member's ability to participate in it. For very serious offenses, the excommunication can be incurred automatically.[177] Examples include violating the seal of confession (committed when a priest discloses the sins heard in the sacrament of Penance), persisting in heresy, creating schism, becoming an apostate, or having or performing an abortion.[178] Throwing away or retaining for a sacrilegious purpose the Eucharist is considered an excommunicable offense.[179] Excommunication is the most severe ecclesiastical penalty because it forbids a person from receiving any sacrament. Such offences can only be forgiven by the Pope, the bishop of the diocese where the person resides, or a priest authorized by the bishop to do so.[180] A similar concept is a minister's power to refuse to distribute communion to a person not yet declared excommunicated (but nonetheless excommunicated latae sententiae) who has publicly committed a very serious sin.[181]

Excommunication, which is a "medicinal" measure meant to lead to repentance, does not make the person to whom it is applied cease to be a member of the Church. To terminate one's membership, a person must present to the competent Church authority a formal act of defection. If that person later wishes to rejoin the Church, the procedure is the same as for any baptized non-Catholic, namely by a profession of faith, again before the competent Church authority.

Catholic institutions, personnel and demographics

The number of Catholic institutions and personnel as of 2000[182]
Parishes and missions 408,637
Primary and secondary schools 125,016
Universities 1,046
Hospitals 5,853
Orphanages 8,695
Homes for the elderly and handicapped 13,933
Dispensaries, leprosaries, nurseries and other institutions 74,936
Total 638,116
Seminarians (men studying for the priesthood) 110,583
Religious sisters 769,142
Religious brothers 55,057
Diocesan and religious priests 405,178
Lay Ecclesial Ministers 30,632
Permanent deacons 27,824
Bishops 3,475
Archbishops 914
Cardinals 183
Pope 1
Total 1,402,989

Church membership in 2007 was 1.147 billion people,[183] increasing from the 1950 figure of 437 million[184] and the 1970 figure of 654 million.[185] The Catholic population increase of 139% outpaced the world population increase of 117% between 1950 and 2000.[184] It is the largest Christian church, and encompasses approximately half of all Christians, one sixth of the world's population, the largest organized body of any world religion.[13][186] It is known for its ability to use its transnational ties and organizational strength to bring significant resources to needy situations[187] and operates the world's largest non-governmental school system.[188] Although the number of practicing Catholics worldwide is not reliably known,[189] membership is growing particularly in Africa and Asia.[12]

Some parts of Europe and the Americas have experienced a shortage of priests in recent years as the number of priests has not increased in proportion to the number of Catholics.[190] The Church in Latin America, known for its large parishes where the parishioner to priest ratio is the highest in the world, considers this to be a contributing factor in the rise of Pentecostal and evangelical Christian denominations in the region.[191] Secularism has seen a steady rise in Europe, yet the Catholic presence there remains strong.[191]

With a high number of adult baptisms, the Church is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else.[192] It also operates a greater number of Catholic schools per parish here (3:1) than in other areas of the world.[193] Challenges faced include suppression of non-Islamic religious practices by Muslims in Sudan and a high rate of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.[194]

The Church in Asia is a significant minority among other religions, comprising only 3% of all Asians, yet it has a large proportion of religious sisters, priests and parishes relative to the total Catholic population.[191] From 1975 to 2000, total Asian population grew by 61% with an Asian Catholic population increase of 104%.[195] Challenges faced include oppression in communist countries like North Korea and China.[196]

In Oceania, the Church faces challenges in reaching indigenous populations where over 715 different languages are spoken.[191] Of Catholics worldwide, 12% reside in Africa, 50% in the American continents, 10% are in Asia, 27% in Europe and 1% live in Oceania.[197]

Cultural influence

The baptism of Clovis I, King of the Franks was of immense importance in spreading Christianity throughout Western and Central Europe.[198]

The influence of the Catholic Church on world culture and society has been vast, first and foremost in the development of European civilization from Greco-Roman times to the modern era.[33] The church rejected and helped end practices[dubious ] such as human sacrifice, slavery,[note 7] infanticide, and polygamy in evangelized cultures throughout the world, beginning with the Roman Empire. In addition, the Church played a significant role in moderating some of the excesses of the colonial era.[200][201][202][203][204] Over the course of its history, the Church has influenced the status of women, condemning infanticide, divorce, incest, polygamy and counting the marital infidelity of men as equally sinful to that of women.[200][201][205] The official Church teaching[206] considers women and men to be equal, different, and complementary.

Catholic universities, scholars and many priests including Copernicus, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Nicholas Steno, Francesco Grimaldi, Giambattista Riccioli, Roger Boscovich, Athanasius Kircher, Gregor Mendel, Georges Lemaître and others, were responsible for many important scientific discoveries. The Jesuits produced the large majority of priest-scientists, who contributed to worldwide cultural exchange by spreading their developments in knowledge to Asia, Africa, and the Americas.[207][208] Most research took place in Catholic universities that were staffed by members of religious orders who had the education and means to conduct scientific investigation.[207] The 1633 Church condemnation of Galileo Galilei created the perception of antagonism between the Church and science of that era. According to historian Thomas Noble, the effect of the Galileo affair was to restrict scientific development in some European countries.[207] In part because of lessons learned from the Galilei affair, the Church created the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a scientific organization that essentially began in 1603 but developed over time to reach its present form by 1936.[209]

The Catholic Church was the dominant influence on the development of Western art, at least up to the Protestant Reformation. Important contributions include its consistent opposition to Byzantine iconoclasm, its cultivation and patronage of individual artists, as well as development of the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles of art and architecture.[210] Renaissance artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernini, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, and Titian, were among a multitude of innovative virtuosos sponsored by the Church.[211] In music, Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern Western musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church,[212] and an enormous body of religious music has been composed for it through the ages. This led directly to the emergence and development of European classical music, and its many derivatives. The Baroque style, which encompassed music, art, and architecture, was particularly encouraged by the post-Reformation Catholic Church as such forms offered a means of religious expression that was stirring and emotional, intended to stimulate religious fervor.[213]


Early Christianity

The Catholic Church considers Pentecost to be the beginning of its own history.[214][215] According to historians, the Apostles traveled to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and Rome to found the first Christian communities,[214][216] over 40 of which had been established by the year 100.[217]

The New Testament gospels indicate that the earliest Christians continued to observe traditional Jewish pieties such as fasting, reverence for the Torah and observance of Jewish holy days.[218][219] However, Christians were directed by Jesus to evangelize non-Jewish peoples. As Christianity spread to non-Jews, disputes over observance of the Mosaic law generated intense controversy. A pivotal moment in this dispute occurred in the mid-1st century, when the circumcision controversy arose and was ultimately addressed at the Council of Jerusalem. At this council, Paul made an argument that circumcision was no longer necessary, vocally supported by Peter, as documented in Acts 15. This position received widespread support and was summarized in a letter circulated in Antioch.[220]

In the second century, writings by teachers such as Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus defined Catholic teaching in stark opposition to Gnosticism.[221] Other writers such as Pope Clement I, Justin Martyr, Augustine of Hippo influenced the development of Church teachings and traditions. These writers are collectively known as Church Fathers.[222]


Early Christians were slaughtered as entertainment in the Colosseum in Rome. Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1883.

Early Christians refused to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods or to worship Roman rulers as gods and were thus subject to persecution.[223] The first documented case of imperially-sponsored persecution of Christians occurred in Rome under Nero in the first century and re-occurred under various emperors until the great persecution of Diocletian and Galerius, which was seen as a final attempt to wipe out Christianity.[224] Nevertheless, Christianity continued to spread and was eventually legalized in 313 under Constantine's Edict of Milan.[225]

During this era of persecution, the early Church evolved both in doctrinal and structural ways. The apostles had convened the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem, to resolve issues concerning evangelization of Gentiles.[57] While competing forms of Christianity emerged early, the Roman Church retained this practice of meeting in "synods" (councils) to ensure that any internal doctrinal differences were quickly resolved, which facilitated broad doctrinal unity within the mainstream churches.[56][226]

By 58 AD, a large Christian community existed in Rome.[227] 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.[228][229][230]

The concept of the primacy of the Roman bishop over other churches was increasingly recognized by the church at large from at least the second century although disputes over the implications of that primacy would ultimately lead to schisms.[231][232]

State religion of the Roman Empire

Despite persecution, Christianity spread and was eventually legalized in 313 under Constantine's Edict of Milan.[225]

Emperor Constantine I commissioned the first Basilica of St. Peter and several other sites of lasting importance to Christianity.[233] By this time, the altar as the focal point of each church, the sign of the cross, and the liturgical calendar had been established[234] and in 380, Christianity was declared the state religion of the Empire.[235]

After the legalization of Christianity, a number of doctrinal disputes led to the calling of ecumenical councils. The doctrinal formulations resulting from these ecumenical councils were pivotal in the history of Christianity. The first seven Ecumenical Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea (325) to the Second Council of Nicaea (787), sought to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom.

In 325, the First Council of Nicaea convened in response to the threat of Arianism; in order to encapsulate the basic tenets of the Christian belief, it promulgated a creed which became the basis of what is now known as the Nicene Creed.[236] In addition, it divided the church into geographical and administrative areas called dioceses.[237] The Council of Rome in 382 established the first Biblical canon when it listed the accepted books of the Old and New Testament.[238] The Council of Ephesus in 431[239] and the Council of Chalcedon in 451 defined the relationship of Christ's divine and human natures, leading to splits with the Nestorians and Monophysites.[56]

Constantine moved the imperial capital to Constantinople, and the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) elevated the See of Constantinople to a position "second in eminence and power to the bishop of Rome".[240][241]

Rome had particular prominence over the other dioceses; it was considered the see of Peter and Paul, it was located in the capital of the empire, it was wealthy and known for supporting other churches, and church scholars wanted the Roman bishop's support in doctrinal disputes.[242] From c 350 to c500, the bishops, or popes, of Rome steadily increased in authority.[227]

Early Middle Ages

Following the collapse of Roman power in Western Europe, the Catholic faith competed with Arianism for the conversion of the barbarian tribes.[243] The 496 conversion of Clovis I, pagan king of the Franks, marked the beginning of a steady rise of the Catholic faith in the West.[244] The Rule of St Benedict, composed in 530, became a blueprint for the organization of monasteries throughout Europe.[245] As well as providing a focus for spiritual life, the new monasteries preserved classical craft and artistic skills while maintaining intellectual culture within their schools, scriptoria and libraries. They also functioned as agricultural, economic and production centers, particularly in remote regions, becoming major conduits of civilization.[246]

Pope Gregory the Great reformed church practice and administration around 600 and launched renewed missionary efforts[247] which were complemented by other missionary movements such as the Hiberno-Scottish mission.[248][249] Missionaries such as Augustine of Canterbury, Saint Boniface, Willibrord and Ansgar took Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons and other Germanic people.[248] In the same period the Visigoths and Lombards moved from Arianism toward Catholicism,[244] and in Britain the full reunion of the Celtic churches with Rome was effectively marked by the Synod of Whitby in 664.[249] Later missionary efforts by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century reached greater Moravia and introduced, along with Christianity, the Cyrillic alphabet used in the southern and eastern Slavic languages.[250] While Christianity continued to expand in Europe, Islam presented a significant military threat to Western Christendom.[251] By 715, Muslim armies had conquered Syria, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Alexandria, Iraq and Persia, Carthage and much of the Iberian Peninsula.[252]

From the 8th century, Iconoclasm, the destruction of religious images, became a major source of conflict in the eastern church.[253][254] Byzantine emperors Leo III and Constantine V strongly supported Iconoclasm, while the papacy and the western church remained resolute in favour of the veneration of icons. In 787, the Second Council of Nicaea ruled in favor of the iconodules but the dispute continued into the early 9th century.[254] The consequent estrangement led to the creation of the papal states and the papal coronation of the Frankish King Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans in 800. This ultimately created a new problem as successive Western emperors sought to impose an increasingly tight control over the popes.[255][256]

Eastern and Western Christendom grew farther apart in the 9th century. Conflicts arose over ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Byzantine-controlled south of Italy, missionaries to Bulgaria and a brief schism revolving around Photios of Constantinople.[253][257] Further disagreements led to Pope and Patriarch excommunicating each other in 1054, commonly considered the date of the East–West Schism.[258] The Western branch of Christianity remained in communion with the Pope and remained a part of the Catholic Church, while the Eastern (Greek) branch that rejected the papal claims became known as the Eastern Orthodox churches.[259][260] Efforts to mend the rift were attempted at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274 and Council of Florence in 1439; however, both attempts failed to heal the schism, even though in each case both the Eastern Emperor and Eastern Patriarch agreed to the reunion[261] because they were unable to change the attitudes of the Eastern Churches at large.[262] Some Eastern churches have subsequently reunited with the Catholic Church.[260] In spite of recent attempts at reunification, the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Church remain in schism although excommunications were mutually lifted in 1965.[263]

High Middle Ages

The Cluniac reform of monasteries that had begun in 910 sparked widespread monastic growth and renewal.[264] Monasteries introduced new technologies and crops, fostered the creation and preservation of literature and promoted economic growth. Monasteries, convents and cathedrals still operated virtually all schools and libraries.[265][266] Despite a church ban on the practice of usury the larger abbeys functioned as sources for economic credit.[267] The 11th and 12th century saw internal efforts to reform the church. The college of cardinals in 1059 was created to free papal elections from interference by Emperor and nobility. Lay investiture of bishops, a source of rulers' dominance over the Church, was attacked by reformers and under Pope Gregory VII, erupted into the Investiture Controversy between Pope and Emperor. The matter was eventually settled with the Concordat of Worms in 1122 where it was agreed that bishops would be selected in accordance with Church law.[268][269]

Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont (1095), where he preached the First Crusade; later manuscript illumination of c. 1490

In 1095, Byzantine emperor Alexius I appealed to Pope Urban II for help against renewed Muslim invasions,[270] which caused Urban to launch the First Crusade aimed at aiding the Byzantine Empire and returning the Holy Land to Christian control.[262][271] 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.[272] The sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, conducted against papal authorisation, left Eastern Christians embittered and was a decisive event that permanently solidified the schism between the churches.[273][274]

The crusades also saw the formation of military orders which included the Hospitallers, Templars and later, the Teutonic Knights all of whom provided social services as well as guardianship of pilgrim routes.[275] The Teutonic Knights conquered the then-pagan Prussia.[275] The Templars became noted bankers and creditors who were suppressed by King Philip IV of France shortly after 1300.[276] Later, mendicant orders were founded by Francis of Assisi and Dominic de Guzmán which brought consecrated religious life into urban settings.[277] These orders also played a large role in the development of cathedral schools into universities, the direct ancestors of the modern Western institutions.[278] Notable scholastic theologians such as the Dominican Thomas Aquinas worked at these universities, his Summa Theologica was a key intellectual achievement in its synthesis of Aristotelian thought and Christianity.[279]

Twelfth century France witnessed the emergence of Catharism, a dualist heresy that had spread from Eastern Europe through Germany. After the Cathars were accused of murdering a papal legate in 1208,[280] Pope Innocent III declared the Albigensian Crusade against them. When this turned into an "appalling massacre",[281] he instituted the first papal inquisition to prevent further massacres and to root out the remaining Cathars.[281][282][283] Formalized under Gregory IX, this Medieval inquisition put to death an average of three people per year for heresy.[276][283]

Over time, other inquisitions were launched by secular rulers to prosecute heretics, often with the approval of Church hierarchy, to respond to the threat of Muslim invasion or for political purposes.[284] King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain formed an inquisition in 1480, originally to deal with distrusted converts from Judaism and Islam to Catholicism.[285] Over a 350-year period, this Spanish Inquisition executed between 3,000 and 4,000 people,[286] representing around two percent of those accused.[287] In 1482 Pope Sixtus IV condemned the excesses of the Spanish Inquisition, but Ferdinand ignored his protests.[288] Some historians argue that for centuries Protestant propaganda and popular literature exaggerated the horrors of the inquisitions in an effort to associate the Catholic Church with acts committed by secular rulers.[289][290][291] Over all, one percent of those tried by the inquisitions received death penalties, leading some scholars to consider them rather lenient when compared to the secular courts of the period.[286][292] The inquisition played a major role in the final expulsion of Islam from Sicily and Spain.[251]

At the end of the 13th century, Pope Boniface VIII was involved in a heated conflict with Philip IV of France. After a falsified papal bull was circulated by Philip in a "smear campaign" against the pope, Boniface promulgated Unam Sanctam.[293] This clarified the spiritual responsibilities of the pope as supreme over the temporal responsibilities of monarchs.[293] When Philip subsequently attempted to kidnap Boniface, the townspeople came to his rescue.[293] Later, the Papacy came under French dominance, with Clement V in 1305 moving to Avignon.[294] The Avignon Papacy ended in 1376 when the Pope returned to Rome[295][296] but was soon followed in 1378 by the 38-year-long Western schism with separate claimants to the papacy in Rome, Avignon and (after 1409) Pisa, backed by conflicting secular rulers.[297] The matter was finally resolved in 1417 at the Council of Constance where the three claimants either resigned or were deposed and held a new election naming Martin V Pope.[297]

Reformation and Counter-Reformation

In 1509, the scholar Erasmus wrote In Praise of Folly, a work which captured a widely held unease about corruption in the Church.[298] The Council of Constance, the Council of Basel and the Fifth Lateran Council had all attempted to reform internal Church abuses but had failed.[299] As a result, rich, powerful and worldly men like Roderigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) were able to win election to the papacy.[299][300] In 1517, Martin Luther included his Ninety-Five Theses in a letter to several bishops.[301][302] His theses protested key points of Catholic doctrine as well as the sale of indulgences.[301][302] Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and others further criticized Catholic teachings. These challenges developed into a large and all encompassing European movement called the Protestant Reformation.[242][303] In Germany, the reformation led to a nine-year war between the Protestant Schmalkaldic League and the Catholic Emperor Charles V. In 1618 a far graver conflict, the Thirty Years' War, followed.[304] In France, a series of conflicts termed the French Wars of Religion were fought from 1562 to 1598 between the Huguenots and the forces of the French Catholic League. The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre marked the turning point in this war.[305] Survivors regrouped under Henry of Navarre who became Catholic and began the first experiment in religious toleration with his 1598 Edict of Nantes.[305] This Edict, which granted civil and religious toleration to Protestants, was hesitantly accepted by Pope Clement VIII.[304][306]

Whitby Abbey, England, one of hundreds of monasteries destroyed during the Reformation

The English Reformation under Henry VIII began more as a political than as a theological dispute. When the annulment of his marriage was denied by the pope, Henry had Parliament pass the Acts of Supremacy, 1534, which made him, and not the pope, head of the English Church.[307][308] Although he strove to maintain the substance of traditional Catholicism, Henry initiated and supported the confiscation and dissolution of monasteries, friaries, convents and shrines throughout England, Wales and Ireland.[307][309][310] Under Henry's daughter, Mary I, England was reunited with Rome, {Henry's Act of Supremacy was repealed (1554)}, but the following monarch, Elizabeth I, {second Act of Supremacy, 1558} restored a separate church which outlawed Catholic priests[311] and prevented Catholics from educating their children and taking part in political life[312][313] until the first Catholic Relief Act of 1778 began the process of eliminating many of the anti-Catholic laws.[314][315]

The Catholic Church responded to doctrinal challenges and abuses highlighted by the Reformation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563), which became the driving force of the Counter-Reformation. Doctrinally, it reaffirmed central Catholic teachings such as transubstantiation, and the requirement for love and hope as well as faith to attain salvation.[316] It also made structural reforms, most importantly by improving the education of the clergy and laity and consolidating the central jurisdiction of the Roman Curia.[316][317][318][note 8] To popularize Counter-Reformation teachings, the Church encouraged the Baroque style in art, music and architecture,[213] and new religious orders were founded. These included the Theatines, Barnabites and Jesuits, some of which became the great missionary orders of later years.[321] The Jesuits quickly took on a leadership in education during the Counter-Reformation, viewing it as a "battleground for hearts and minds";[322] at the same time, the writings of figures such as Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales and Philip Neri spawned new schools of spirituality within the Church.[323] In central Europe, the Counter-Reformation presented the Habsburg dynasty with an opportunity to "combat Protestantism and consolidate their realms in the name of God".[322]

Toward the latter part of the 17th century, Pope Innocent XI reformed abuses that were occurring in the Church's hierarchy, including simony, nepotism and the lavish papal expenditures that had caused him to inherit a large papal debt.[324] He promoted missionary activity, tried to unite Europe against the Turkish invasion, prevented influential Catholic rulers (including the Emperor) from marrying Protestants but strongly condemned religious persecution.[324]

Age of Discovery

Just before the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire in 1453,[325] in an effort to combat the spread of Islam, Pope Nicholas V granted Portugal the right to subdue and even enslave Muslims, pagans and other unbelievers in the papal bull Dum Diversas (1452). Several decades later European explorers and missionaries spread Catholicism to the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Pope Alexander VI had awarded colonial rights over most of the newly discovered lands to Spain and Portugal[326] and the ensuing patronato system allowed state authorities, not the Vatican, to control all clerical appointments in the new colonies.[327] Although the Spanish monarchs tried to curb abuses committed against the Amerindians by explorers and conquerors,[328] Antonio de Montesinos, a Dominican friar, openly rebuked the Spanish rulers of Hispaniola in 1511 for their cruelty and tyranny in dealing with the American natives.[329][330] King Ferdinand enacted the Laws of Burgos and Valladolid in response. The issue resulted in a crisis of conscience in 16th-century Spain[330][331] and, through the writings of Catholic clergy such as Bartolomé de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria, led to debate on the nature of human rights[330] and to the birth of modern international law.[332][333] Enforcement of these laws was lax, and some historians 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.[334] Nevertheless, Amerindian populations suffered serious decline due to new diseases, inadvertently introduced through contact with Europeans, which created a labor vacuum in the New World.[328]

In 1521 the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan made the first Catholic converts in the Philippines.[335] The following year, the first Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico, establishing schools, model farms and hospitals. When some Europeans questioned whether the Indians were truly human and worthy of baptism, Pope Paul III in the 1537 bull Sublimis Deus confirmed that "their souls were as immortal as those of Europeans" and they should neither be robbed nor turned into slaves.[336][337][338] Over the next 150 years, missions expanded into southwestern North America.[339] Native people were often legally defined as children, and priests took on a paternalistic role, sometimes enforced with corporal punishment.[340] Elsewhere, Portuguese missionaries under the Spanish Jesuit Francis Xavier evangelized in India and Japan.[341] 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 or Kirishitan's.[342] An underground minority Christian population survived throughout this period of persecution and enforced isolation which was eventually lifted in the 19th century.[342][343]

The Jesuit Reduction of São Miguel das Missões, in Brazil.

In the Americas, Franciscan priest Junípero Serra founded a series of new missions in cooperation with the Spanish government and military.[344] These missions brought grain, cattle and a new way of living to the Indian tribes of California. San Francisco was founded in 1776 and Los Angeles in 1781. In a challenge to Spanish and Portuguese policy, Pope Gregory XVI, began to appoint his own candidates as bishops in the colonies, condemned slavery and the slave trade in the 1839 papal bull In Supremo Apostolatus, and approved the ordination of native clergy in the face of government racism.[345] Yet in spite of these advances, the Amerindian population continued to suffer decline from exposure to European diseases.[346]

In South America, Jesuit missionaries tried to protect native peoples from enslavement by establishing semi-independent settlements called reductions. In China, despite Jesuit efforts to find compromise, the Chinese Rites controversy led the Kangxi Emperor to outlaw Christian missions in 1721.[347] These events added fuel to growing criticism of the Jesuits, who were seen to symbolize the independent power of the Church, and in 1773 European rulers united to force Pope Clement XIV to dissolve the order.[348] The Jesuits were eventually restored in the 1814 papal bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum.[349]


Toward the latter part of the 17th century, Pope Innocent XI reformed abuses by the Church, including simony, nepotism and the lavish papal expenditures that had caused him to inherit a large papal debt.[324] He promoted missionary activity, tried to unite Europe against the Turkish invasions, and condemned religious persecution of all kinds.[324] In 1685 King Louis XIV of France revoked the Edict of Nantes, ending a century-long experiment in religious toleration. However the religious conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries played a major role in provoking a backlash against Christianity in 18th century Europe. In a philosophical and cultural movement known as "the Enlightenment", the power and influence of the Church over Western society declined as ideologies such as rationalism, secularism, nationalism, anti-clericalism, liberalism and freemasonry challenged it.[350]

These movements culminated in the violent anti-clericalism of the French Revolution. Direct attacks on the wealth of the Church and associated grievances led to the wholesale nationalisation of church property in France.[351] Large numbers of French 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".[351] In this period, all monasteries were destroyed, 30,000 priests were exiled and hundreds more were killed.[351] When Pope Pius VI sided against the revolution in the First Coalition, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Italy. The pope was imprisoned by French troops, and died in 1799 after six weeks of captivity. Napoleon later re-established the Catholic Church in France through the Concordat of 1801.[352] The end of the Napoleonic wars brought Catholic revival, renewed enthusiasm, and new respect for the papacy due in part to his "heroic stand against the tyrant".[353][354] The papal states were returned, and the Church was "liberated" from its servile ties to European kings thus freeing the Church to return to its "true spiritual mission."[353]

In the Americas, Franciscan priest Junípero Serra founded a series of new missions in cooperation with the Spanish government and military.[344] These missions brought grain, cattle and a new way of living to the Indian tribes of California. San Francisco was founded in 1776 and Los Angeles in 1781. In a challenge to Spanish and Portuguese policy, Pope Gregory XVI, began to appoint his own candidates as bishops in the colonies, condemned slavery and the slave trade in the 1839 papal bull In Supremo Apostolatus, and approved the ordination of native clergy in the face of government racism.[345] Yet in spite of these advances, the Amerindian population continued to suffer decline from exposure to European diseases.[346]

In South America, Jesuit missionaries tried to protect native peoples from enslavement by establishing semi-independent settlements called reductions. In China, despite Jesuit efforts to find compromise, the Chinese Rites controversy led the Kangxi Emperor to outlaw Christian missions in 1721.[347]

In 1773 European rulers united to force Pope Clement XIV to dissolve the Jesuits. The expulsion of the Society of Jesus from the principal Catholic nations of Europe and their colonial empires is seen by some as the first major triumph of the secularist notions of the self-styled Age of Enlightenment. The suppression was also seen by many as an attempt by Catholic monarchs to gain control of revenues and trade that were previously dominated by the Society of Jesus, this included the takeover destruction of the Jesuit reductions and the enslavement of many of their previously-protected inhabitants.

With the reaction against the anti-clerical excesses of the Revolution, especially after 1815, came Catholic revival, renewed enthusiasm, and new respect for the papacy.[354] The Jesuits were finally restored in the 1814 papal bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum.[349]

Industrial age

In response to growing concern about the deteriorating working and living conditions brought about by the Industrial Revolution, Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical Rerum Novarum. This set out Catholic social teaching in terms that rejected socialism but advocated the regulation of working conditions, the establishment of a living wage and the right of workers to form trade unions.[355] The Catholic Church exercised a prominent role in shaping the labor movement in the United States. In 1933, two American Catholics, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, founded a new Catholic peace group, the Catholic Worker that would embody their ideals of pacifism, commitment to the poor and to fundamental change in American society.

Although the infallibility of the Church in doctrinal matters had always been a Church dogma, the First Vatican Council, which convened in 1870, affirmed the doctrine of papal infallibility when exercised in certain specifically defined pronouncements.[356][357] This decision in many eyes gave the pope "enormous moral and spiritual authority over the worldwide" Church.[350] Reaction to the pronouncement resulted in the breakaway of a group of mainly German churches which subsequently formed the Old Catholic Church.[358] The loss of the papal states to the Italian unification movement created what came to be known as the Roman Question,[359] a territorial dispute between the papacy and the Italian government that was not resolved until the 1929 Lateran Treaty granted sovereignty to the Holy See over Vatican City.[360]

By the close of the 19th century, European powers controlled most of the African interior. Catholic missionaries followed colonial governments into Africa and built schools, hospitals, monasteries and churches.[361]

In Latin America, beginning in the 1830s, a succession of anti-clerical regimes came to power in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela.[362] Church properties were confiscated and basic civil and political rights denied to religious orders and the clergy.[363]

Anti-clericalism also resulted in violence and expropriation of Church properties in Spain and the Soviet Union.[364] During the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, over 6,000[365] priests and nuns were killed by republicans and anarchists.[366] In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, persecution of the Church included the execution and exiling of clerics and the confiscation and closure of churches.[367]

On 20 July 1933, the Vatican signed an agreement with Germany, the Reichskonkordat, which guaranteed the Church certain rights and freedoms.[368][369] Violations of this led to Pope Pius XI issuing the 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge[368][370][371][372] which publicly condemned Nazi persecution of the Church, neopaganism and the culture of racial superiority.[372][373][374][375]

Catholic Mortal Agony of Christ chapel at Dachau concentration camp. Of the 2700 ministers who were imprisoned there during World War II, over 2600 were Catholic priests, 2000 of whom ultimately did not survive.[376]

After the Second World War began in September 1939, the Church condemned the invasion of Poland and subsequent 1940 Nazi invasions.[377] During the war, several thousand Catholic clergy were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps.[376]

In the Holocaust, Pope Pius XII directed the Church hierarchy to help protect Jews from the Nazis.[378] However, the Church has also been accused of encouraging centuries of antisemitism and Pius himself of not doing enough to stop Nazi atrocities.[379][380] Debate over the validity of these criticisms continues to this day.[381][382][383]

Following the Soviet doctrine regarding the exercise of religion, postwar Communist governments in Eastern Europe severely restricted religious freedoms. Even though some clerics collaborated with the Communist regimes,[384] the Church's resistance and the leadership of Pope John Paul II have been credited with hastening the downfall of communist governments across Europe in 1991.[385] The rise to power of the Communists in China in 1949 led to the expulsion of all foreign missionaries.[386] The new government also created the Patriotic Church whose unilaterally appointed bishops were initially rejected by Rome before many of them were accepted.[386][387][388] The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s led to the closure of all religious establishments. When Chinese churches eventually reopened they remained under the control of the Communist party's Patriotic Church, and many Catholic pastors and priests continued to be sent to prison for refusing to renounce allegiance to Rome.[387]

Second Vatican Council and beyond

The Catholic Church initiated a comprehensive process of reform under Pope John XXIII.[389] Intended as a continuation of the First Vatican Council, the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), developed into an engine of modernization, making pronouncements on religious freedom, the nature of the Church and the mission of the laity.[389] The role of the bishops of the Church was brought into renewed prominence, especially when seen collectively, as the college of the successors of the Apostles in teaching and governing the Church. This college does not exist without its head, the successor of St. Peter (the Pope). It also permitted the Latin liturgical rites to use vernacular languages as well as Latin during Mass and other sacraments.[390] Christian unity became a greater priority.[391] In addition to finding more common ground with the various Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church has reopened discussions regarding the possibility of reconciliation between the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church.[392]

Changes to old rites and ceremonies following Vatican II produced a variety of responses. Although most Catholics "accepted the changes more or less gracefully", some stopped going to church and others tried to preserve what they perceived to be the "true precepts of the Church".[393] The latter form 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, and 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.[394]

In the 1960s, growing social awareness and politicization in the Church in Latin America gave birth to liberation theology, a movement often identified with Gustavo Gutiérrez who was pivotal in expounding the melding of Marxism and Catholic social teaching. A cornerstone of the Liberation Theology were ecclesial base communities, groups uniting clergy and laity in social and political action. Although the movement garnered some support among Latin American bishops, it was never officially endorsed by any of the Latin American Bishops’ Conferences. At the 1979 Conference of Latin American Bishops in Puebla, Mexico, Pope John Paul II and conservative bishops attending the conference attempted to rein in the more radical elements of liberation theology; however, the conference did make a formal commitment to a "preferential option for the poor".[395] Archbishop Óscar Romero, a supporter of the movement, became the region's most famous contemporary martyr in 1980, when he was murdered by forces allied with the government of El Salvador while saying Mass.[396] In Managua, Nicaragua, Pope John Paul II criticized elements of Liberation Theology and the Nicaraguan Catholic clergy's involvement in the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger) have denounced the movement.[397] Pope John Paul II maintained that the Church, in its efforts to champion the poor, should not do so by advocating violence or engaging in partisan politics.[398] Liberation Theology is still alive in Latin America today, although the Church now faces the challenge of Pentecostal revival in much of the region.[397]

The sexual revolution of the 1960s precipitated Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) which rejected the use of contraception, including sterilization, claiming these work against the intimate relationship and moral order of husband and wife by directly opposing God's will.[399] It approved Natural Family Planning as a legitimate means to limit family size.[399] Abortion was condemned by the Church as early as the first century, again in the fourteenth century and again in 1995 with Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life).[400] This encyclical condemned the "culture of death" which the pope often used to describe the societal embrace of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, suicide, capital punishment, and genocide.[400][401] The Church's rejection of the use of condoms has provoked criticism, especially with respect to countries where the incidence of AIDS and HIV has reached epidemic proportions. The Church maintains that in countries like Kenya and Uganda, where behavioral changes are encouraged alongside condom use, greater progress in controlling the disease has been made than in those countries solely promoting condoms.[402][403] Feminists disagreed with these and other Church teachings and, with a coalition of American nuns, called on the Church to consider the ordination of women.[404] They stated that many Church documents contained anti-female prejudice and studies were conducted to discover how this may have developed as it was deemed contrary to the openness of Jesus.[404] These events led Pope John Paul II to issue the 1988 apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women), which declared that women had a different, yet equally important role in the Church.[405][406] In 1994 the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (On Ordination to the Priesthood) further explained that the Church follows the example of Jesus, who chose only men for the specific priestly duty.[160][407][408]

The documents of the Second Vatican Council expressed a new attitude of openness in the Catholic Church toward non-Catholics including Protestant, and Orthodox Christians as well as non-Christians including members of the Jewish faith and Muslims. In the years since, major ecumenical projects have been undertaken with these major religious groups to improve relationships and establish areas of theological agreement and practical cooperation.

Since the end of the twentieth century, sex abuse by Catholic clergy has been the subject of media coverage, legal action, and public debate in Australia, Ireland and the United States.[409]


World Youth Day is a Catholic international youth event initiated by Pope John Paul II.

The Pope remains an international leader who regularly receives heads of state from around the world. As the head of the Holy See, he occasionally addresses the United Nations where the Holy See is the only non-member observer state with all the rights of full membership except voting.[410] The 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI saw a continuation of the policies of his predecessors. His first encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) discussed the various forms of love and re-emphasized marriage and the centrality of charity to the Church's mission.[45]

Following outcry from Muslims over Pope Benedict's Regensburg address, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor's remarks critical of Islam, a May 2008 summit between the pope and a delegation of Muslims came to an agreement that religion is essentially non-violent, and that violence can be justified neither by reason nor by faith.[411] In October 2009, the Vatican announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to receive Anglican converts to the Catholic Church.[412][413]

The Church also sponsors the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which provides the Pope with information on scientific matters[209] and whose international membership includes British physicist Stephen Hawking and Nobel laureates such as U.S. physicist Charles Hard Townes. In politics, the Church actively encourages support for candidates who would "protect human life, promote family life, pursue social justice, and practice solidarity" which translate into support for traditional views of marriage, welcoming and support for the poor and immigrants, and those who would work against abortion.[414]


  1. There is some ambiguity about the title "Catholic Church", since the Church is not the only institution to claim catholicity. The Church is referred to and refers to itself in various ways, in part depending upon circumstance. The Greek word καθολικός (katholikos), from which we get "Catholic", means "universal".[1] It was first used to describe the Christian Church in the early second century.[2] Since the East-West Schism, the Western Church has been known as "Catholic", while the Eastern Church has been known as "Orthodox".[3] Following the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the church in communion with the Bishop of Rome used the name "Catholic" to distinguish itself from the various Protestant churches.[3] The name "Catholic Church", rather than "Roman Catholic Church", is usually the term that the Church uses in its own documents. It appears in the title of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[4] It is also the term that Pope Paul VI used when signing the documents of the Second Vatican Council.[5][6][7] Especially in English-speaking countries, the Church is regularly referred to as the "Roman" Catholic Church; occasionally, it refers to itself in the same way.[8] At times, this can help distinguish the Church from other churches that also claim catholicity. Hence this has been the title used in some documents involving ecumenical relations. However, the name "Roman Catholic Church" is disliked by many Catholics, as a label applied to them by others to suggest that theirs is only one of several catholic churches, and to imply that Catholic allegiance to the Pope renders them in some way untrustworthy.[9] Within the Church, the name "Roman Church", in the strictest sense, refers to the Diocese of Rome.[10][11]
  2. The 2007 Pontifical Yearbook states that there are 1.115 billion Catholics worldwide.[12] The CIA World Factbook, which relies on worldwide census' figures, provides a similar estimate.[13] Estimates from other reliable sources suggests that the Catholic Church accounts for over half[14] of all Christians worldwide.
  3. The Tridentine Mass was the ordinary form of the Roman-Rite Mass since the 16th century and though superseded in 1969 by the Roman Missal of Paul VI, it continues to be offered according to that of 1962, as authorised by the documents Quattuor Abhinc Annos (1984), Ecclesia Dei (1988)[105] and Summorum Pontificum (2007).
  4. Protestants may receive Catholic sacraments only if all the following circumstances are present: (1) the person is in danger of death or, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops, some other grave necessity, (2) they cannot approach a minister of their own denomination, (3) they freely ask for the sacrament on their own accord, (4) they truly believe what the Catholic Church teaches regarding the sacraments, and (5) they have the proper disposition to receive them.[116][117]
  5. A bishop can be one who holds the position of pope, cardinal (normally), patriarch, primate, archbishop, or metropolitan, as well, as ordinary diocesan bishop.
  6. Based on the Christ's example and his teaching as given in Matthew 19:11–12 and to St. Paul, who wrote of the advantages celibacy allowed a man in serving the Lord,[152] celibacy was "held in high esteem" from the Church's beginnings. It is considered a kind of spiritual marriage with Christ, a concept further popularized by the early Christian theologian Origen. Clerical celibacy began to be demanded in the 4th century, including papal decretals beginning with Pope Siricius.[153] In the 11th century, mandatory celibacy was enforced as part of efforts to reform the medieval church.[154]
  7. The Church initially accepted slavery as part of the social fabric of society during the Roman Empire and early antiquity, campaigning primarily for humane treatment of slaves but also admonishing slaves to behave appropriately towards their masters. During the early medieval period, this attitude changed to one which opposed enslavement of Christians but still tolerated enslavement of non-Christians. Between the 6th and 12th century there was a growing sentiment that slavery was not compatible with Christian conceptions of charity and justice; some Catholics such as Saint Bathilde, Saint Anskar, Saint Wulfstan and Saint Anselm campaigned against slavery and the slave trade. The Middle Ages witnessed the emergence of orders of monks such as the Mercedarians who were founded for the purpose of freeing Christians who had been enslaved by Muslims. By the end of the Medieval period, enslavement of Christians had been converted to serfdom throughout most of Europe. Catholic teaching began to turn towards the abolition of slavery beginning in 1435 and culminating in three major pronouncements against slavery by Pope Paul III in 1537. The papacy endorsed Portuguese and Spanish taking of Muslim slaves; however, a number of Popes issued papal bulls condemning enslavement and mistreatment of Native Americans by Spanish and Portuguese colonials. These bulls were largely ignored despite the threat of excommunication. Nonetheless, Catholic missionaries such as the Jesuits worked to alleviate the suffering of Native American slaves in the New World. In spite of a resounding condemnation of slavery by Pope Gregory XVI in his bull In Supremo Apostolatus issued in 1839, some American bishops continued to support slaveholding interests until the abolition of slavery.[199] The Church has maintained its teaching against slavery and continues to campaign against it in whatever form it takes around the world.
  8. The Roman Curia is a "bureaucracy that assists the pope in his responsibilities of governing the universal Church. Although early in the history of the Church bishops of Rome had assistants to help them in the exercise of their ministry, it was not until 1588 that formal organization of the Roman Curia was accomplished by Pope Sixtus V. The most recent reorganization of the Curia was completed in 1988 by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus".[319] The Curia functioned as the civil government of the Papal States until 1870.[320]


  1. "Concise Oxford English Dictionary" (online version). Oxford University Press. 2005. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  2. Marthaler, Berard (1993). The Creed. Twenty-Third Publications. p. 303.,M1. Retrieved 9 May 2008. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 McBrien, Richard (2008). The Church. Harper Collins. p. xvii. Online version available here. Quote: The 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 Holy 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.
  4. Libreria Editrice Vaticana (2003). "Catechism of the Catholic Church." Retrieved on: 2009-05-01.
  5. The Vatican. Documents of the II Vatican Council. Retrieved on: 2009-05-04. Note: The Pope's signature appears in the Latin version.
  6. Declaration on Christian Formation, published by National Catholic Welfare Conference, Washington DC 1965, page 13
  7. Whitehead, Kenneth (1996). ""How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name?" Eternal Word Television Network. Retrieved on 9 May 2008.
  8. Example: 1977 Agreement with Archbishop Donald Coggan of Canterbury
  9. Walsh, Michael (2005). Roman Catholicism. Routledge. p. 19. Online version available here
  10. Beal, John (2002). New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. Paulist Press.,M1. Retrieved 13 May 2008.  p. 468
  11. The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: "There is a further aspect of the term Roman Catholic that needs consideration. The Roman Church can be used to refer, not to the Church universal insofar as it possesses a primate who is bishop of Rome, but to the local Church of Rome, which has the privilege of its bishop being also the primate of the whole Church."
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Number of Catholics and Priests Rises". Zenit News Agency. 12 February 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2008. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "CIA World Factbook". United States Government Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  14. "Major Branches of Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  15. Schreck, pp. 158–159.
  16. Paul VI, Pope (1964). "Lumen Gentium chapter 3, section 22". Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  17. Code of Canon Law, canons 331 and 336
  18. Teaching with Authority, by Richard R. Gaillardetz, p. 57
  19. 19.0 19.1 Schreck, p. 153.
  20. Barry, pp. 50–51.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Barry, pp. 98–99. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "OneFaith98" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "OneFaith98" defined multiple times with different content
  22. Paragraphs number 857-859 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  23. Paragraphs number 551-553 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  24. Paragraphs number 860-862 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  25. Paragraph number 1562 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  26. Paragraphs number 880-882 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 Schreck, p. 152.
  28. Barry, p. 37, pp. 43–44.
  29. Matthew 16:18–19
  30. John 16:12–13
  31. 31.0 31.1 Marthaler, preface
  32. O'Collins, p. v (preface).
  33. 33.0 33.1 Orlandis, preface
  34. Vatican Council, Second (1964). "Lumen Gentium paragraph 14". Vatican. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  35. Paragraph number 846 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 
  36. Paragraph number 819 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 Kreeft, pp. 110–112.
  38. Shorto, Russel (8 April 2007). "Keeping the Faith". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2008. 
  39. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Kreeft98O
  40. Franzen pp. 17-18
  41. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Orlandis11
  42. Matthew 28:19–20
  43. Paragraph number 849 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  44. Norman, p. 12.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Benedict XVI, Pope (2005). "Deus Caritas Est". Vatican. Retrieved 6 May 2008. 
  46. Kreeft, p. 17.
  47. John Paul II, Pope (1997). "Laetamur Magnopere". Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  48. Richardson, p. 132.
  49. Langan, p. 118.
  50. Parry, p. 292.
  51. Collinson, pp. 254–260.
  52. Schreck, p. 131.
  53. Paragraph numbers 777–778 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  54. 54.0 54.1 Paul VI, Pope (1964). "Lumen Gentium chapter 2". Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  55. 55.0 55.1 Schreck, pp. 146–147.
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 Ware, p. 142. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "McManners371" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "McManners371" defined multiple times with different content
  57. 57.0 57.1 Chadwick, Henry p. 37, quote: "In Acts 15 scripture recorded the apostles meeting in synod to reach a common policy about the Gentile mission."
  58. Duffy, p. 275, p. 281.
  59. Schreck, p. 45.
  60. Barry, p. 7.
  61. Matthew 22:37–40
  62. Barry, pp. 91–92.
  63. Kreeft, p. 51.
  64. Paragraph numbers 390, 392, 405 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  65. Schreck, p. 57.
  66. 66.0 66.1 Schreck, p. 68.
  67. Kreeft, p. 49.
  68. 68.0 68.1 Kreeft, p. 308.
  69. 69.0 69.1 Kreeft, pp. 71–72.
  70. McGrath, pp. 4–6.
  71. John 10:1–30
  72. Schreck, pp. 264–265.
  73. 73.0 73.1 Paragraph numbers 1850, 1857 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  74. Barry, p. 77.
  75. Paragraph number 608 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  76. Schreck, p. 113.
  77. John 1:29
  78. Leviticus 4:35
  79. Numbers 15:5
  80. Barry, p. 26.
  81. Schreck, p. 100.
  82. Schreck, p. 242.
  83. Kreeft, pp. 343–344.
  84. Paragraph number 1310 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 11 February 2008. 
  85. Paragraph numbers 1385, 1389 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 11 February 2008. 
  86. John 14:26
  87. Barry, p. 37.
  88. Kreeft, p. 88.
  89. 89.0 89.1 Schreck, p. 230.
  90. 90.0 90.1 Schreck, p. 277.
  91. 91.00 91.01 91.02 91.03 91.04 91.05 91.06 91.07 91.08 91.09 91.10 91.11 91.12 91.13 91.14 91.15 CCC, sec. 1831, 1303. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Catechism of the Catholic Church" defined multiple times with different content
  92. Paragraph number 1233 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  93. 93.0 93.1 93.2 93.3 93.4 93.5 Schreck, pp. 379–386.
  94. 94.0 94.1 Matthew 25:35–36
  95. 95.0 95.1 95.2 95.3 Schreck, p. 397. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Schreck397" defined multiple times with different content
  96. Barry, p. 105.
  97. Luke 23:39–43
  98. Kreeft, p. 373.
  99. Schreck, p. 141.
  100. Paragraph numbers 2041–2043 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  101. Schreck, p. 193.
  102. Paragraph number 1200–1209 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  103. 103.0 103.1 103.2 Kreeft, pp. 326–327. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Kreeft326" defined multiple times with different content
  104. Benedict XVI, Pope (2007). "Summorum Pontificum". Eternal Word Television Network. Retrieved 27 March 2008. [dead link]
  105. John Paul II, Pope (1988). "Ecclesia Dei". Vatican. Retrieved 27 March 2008. 
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  109. See Luke 22:19, Matthew 26:27–28, Mark 14:22–24, 1Corinthians 11:24–25
  110. Schreck, pp. 189–190, quote: "Some of the earliest Christian writings, such as the Didache, or the 'Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,' chapters 9–10 (late first and early second century), and the First Apology of Justin Martyr, chapters 65–67 (about A.D. 155), describe the primitive form of the Mass and its prayers in a way that bears striking resemblance to the basic format of the Mass today. In fact, the main elements of St. Justin's description of the Mass are almost identical to the form Catholics now employ."
  111. Paragraph numbers 1345–1346 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  112. 112.0 112.1 Schreck, pp. 232–239.
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  118. Paragraph numbers 1400 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 5 June 2008. 
  119. Luke 18:1
  120. "General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours". The Catholic Liturgical Library. Retrieved 3 July 2009. ; "The Divine Office: A Study of the Roman Breviary, by the Rev. E.J. Quigley". Sancta Missa. Retrieved 3 July 2009. ; "article on the Liturgy of the Hours / Divine Office / Breviary". Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
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  124. Barry, p. 86, p. 98.
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  131. Schreck, p. 368.
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  138. Vatican, Annuario Pontificio p. 1172.
  139. Barry, p. 52.
  140. "Canon 207". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  141. "Canon 42". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  142. "Canon 375". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
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  147. "Canon 1031". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  148. Cholij, Roman (1993). "Priestly Celibacy in Patristics and in the History of the Church". Vatican. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  149. Niebuhur, Gustav (16 February 1997). "Bishop's Quiet Action Allows Priest Both Flock And Family". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2008. 
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  151. Pope Benedict XVI (4 November 2005). "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". Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
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  154. Bokenkotter, p. 145.
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  156. USCCB, Program for Priestly Formation (2006), preface
  157. USCCB, Program for Priestly Formation (2006), paras. 72, 243
  158. Paragraph number 1577 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  159. Bokenkotter, p. 496.
  160. 160.0 160.1 Pope Benedict XVI, pp. 180–181, 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."
  161. John Paul II, Pope (1988). "Christifideles Laici". Vatican. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  162. Paragraph numbers 871–872, 899, 901, 905, 908–909 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
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  171. "Canon 654". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  172. "Canon 587". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  173. "Canon 605". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  174. "Canon 11". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Vatican. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  175. 175.0 175.1 Barry, p. 56.
  176. Gledhill, Ruth (22 December 2007). "Tony Blair converts to Catholicism". Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 4 April 2008. 
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  180. Paragraph number 1463 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  181. "Pro-abortion politicians excluded from Communion: Pope". Catholic World News. 9 May 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2008. 
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  183. "Vatican: Priest numbers show steady, moderate increase". Catholic News Service. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
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  185. Bazar, Emily (16 April 2008). "Immigrants Make Pilgrimage to Pope". USA Today. Retrieved 3 May 2008. 
  186. Duffy, preface
  187. Froehle, p. 132.
  188. Gardner, p. 148
  189. "Factfile: Roman Catholics around the world". BBC News. 1 April 2005. Retrieved 24 March 2008. 
  190. Pogatchnik, Shawn (13 April 2005). "Catholic Priest Shortage". CBS News. Retrieved 4 April 2008. 
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  192. Froehle, p. 46.
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  194. Froehle, pp. 62–64.
  195. Froehle, p. 86.
  196. Froehle, p. 98.
  197. Froehle, p. 10.
  198. Hart Milman, p. 353.
  199. Stark, Rodney (2003-07-01). "The Truth About the Catholic Church and Slavery". Christianity Today. 
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  202. Noble, p. 445.
  203. Stearns, p. 65.
  204. Hastings, p. 309.
  205. Stark, p. 104.
  206. Kreeft, p. 61.
  207. 207.0 207.1 207.2 Noble, p. 582, pp. 593–595.
  208. Woods, p. 102.
  209. 209.0 209.1 Mason, Michael (18 August 2008). "How to Teach Science to the Pope". Discover Magazine.,%20pontifical%20academy%20of%20science. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  210. Woods, pp. 115–27.
  211. Duffy, p. 133.
  212. Hall, p. 100.
  213. 213.0 213.1 Murray, p. 45.
  214. 214.0 214.1 Vidmar, pp. 19–20.
  215. Schreck, p. 130.
  216. Bokenkotter, 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."
  217. Wilken, 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."
  218. White (2004). Pg 127.
  219. Ehrman (2005). Pg 187.
  220. McGrath (2006). Pp 174-175.
  221. Davidson, p. 169, p. 181.
  222. Norman, pp. 27–28, 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."
  223. Wilken, p. 282.
  224. Collins, p. 53–55.
  225. 225.0 225.1 Davidson, p. 341.
  226. Davidson, 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.
  227. 227.0 227.1 "Rome (early Christian)." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  228. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Norman11
  229. Chadwick, Henry p. 361, 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."
  230. Vidmar, pp. 40–42, 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."
  231. Barker, p. 846.
  232. Schatz, pp. 9–20.
  233. Duffy, p. 18.
  234. Wilken, p. 284.
  235. Wilken, p. 286.
  236. Herring, p. 60.
  237. Wilkin, p. 283
  238. Collins, pp. 61–62.
  239. Duffy, p. 35.
  240. Bokenkotter, p. 84–93.
  241. Noble, p. 214.
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  243. Le Goff, pp. 5–20.
  244. 244.0 244.1 Le Goff, p. 21.
  245. Woods, p. 27.
  246. Le Goff, p. 120.
  247. Duffy, pp. 50–52.
  248. 248.0 248.1 Mayr-Harting, pp. 92–94.
  249. 249.0 249.1 Vidmar, pp. 82–83, quote: "How it [monasticism] came to Ireland is a matter of some debate. The liturgical and literary evidence is strong that it came directly from Egypt without the moderating influence of the Roman Church."
  250. Johnson, p. 18.
  251. 251.0 251.1 Johns, p. 166 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "McManners187" defined multiple times with different content
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  253. 253.0 253.1 Vidmar, pp. 102–103.
  254. 254.0 254.1 Duffy, p. 63, p. 74.
  255. Vidmar, pp. 107–111.
  256. Duffy, p. 78.
  257. Duffy, pp. 81–82.
  258. Duffy, p. 91.
  259. Collins, p. 103.
  260. 260.0 260.1 Vidmar, p. 104
  261. Duffy, p. 119, p. 131.
  262. 262.0 262.1 Bokenkotter, pp. 140–141.
  263. Duffy, p. 278.
  264. Duffy, pp. 88–89.
  265. Woods, pp. 40–44.
  266. Le Goff, pp. 80–82.
  267. Le Goff, p. 225.
  268. Bokenkotter, pp. 116–120.
  269. Noble, pp. 286–287.
  270. Riley-Smith, p. 8.
  271. Vidmar, pp. 130–131.
  272. Le Goff, pp. 65–67.
  273. Tyerman, pp. 525–560.
  274. "Pope sorrow over Constantinople". BBC News. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  275. 275.0 275.1 Norman, pp. 62–65.
  276. 276.0 276.1 Norman, p. 93.
  277. Le Goff, p. 87.
  278. Woods, pp. 44–48.
  279. Bokenkotter, pp. 158–159.
  280. Henry Charles Lea, 'A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages', Volume 1, (1888), p. 145, quote: "The murder of the legate Pierre de Castelnau sent a thrill of horror throughout Christendom...Of its details, however, the accounts are so contradictory that it is impossible to speak of it with precision."
  281. 281.0 281.1 Morris, p. 214
  282. Vidmar, pp. 144–147, 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."
  283. 283.0 283.1 Bokenkotter, 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."
  284. Black, pp. 200–202.
  285. Kamen, p. 48–49.
  286. 286.0 286.1 Vidmar, pp. 150–152.
  287. Kamen, p. 59, p. 203.
  288. Kamen, 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."
  289. Norman, 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."
  290. Morris, p. 215, 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."
  291. Vidmar, 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."
  292. Peters, p. 112
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  331. Johansen, p. 109, p. 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."
  332. Woods, p. 137.
  333. Chadwick, Owen, p. 327.
  334. Dussel, p. 45, pp. 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."
  335. Koschorke, p. 21.
  336. Chadwick, Owen, The Reformation, p. 190.
  337. Johansen, 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 ..."
  338. Koschorke, p. 290.
  339. Jackson, p. 14.
  340. Jackson, p. 13.
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  353. 353.0 353.1 Bokenkotter, pp. 293-295 quote, "But though the Church suffered grave damage, the effect of the Revolution on the papacy was beneficial—in fact, it helped to create the more powerful papacy of the nineteenth century. ... And Pius VII greatly enhanced the papal image by his heroic stand against the tyrant. But more fundamental reasons were ultimately responsible. In shattering the ancient monarchies, the Revolution liberated the Church from servitude to Gallican monarchs .... With the end of the old order the popes could now make Rome once more the vital center of Catholicism and guide the Church back to its true spiritual mission. ... The era that began with the downfall of Napoleon witnessed a full-scale revival of the Catholic Church, a spiritual and intellectual renaissance that made it once more a vital institution and a powerful force in public affairs. It was an amazing reversal. The revolutionary period saw the Church stripped of its privileges, its Pope imprisoned, its property confiscated, its monasteries emptied, its priests and nuns slaughtered and driven into exile, its very existence called into question. And even though it was propped up again by Napoleon, it was treated by the Corsican adventurer as his handmaid: He humiliated the papacy, considered the bishops his creatures, even rewrote the Church's catechism and dictated the discipline it was to follow. But after Waterloo, the Church returned to health and vigor."
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  356. Leith, p. 143.
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  359. Bokenkotter, pp. 306–307.
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  363. Fontenelle, 164
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  367. Riasanovsky 634
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  371. Shirer, p. 235 quote "On July 25, five days after the ratification of the concordat, the German government promulgated a sterilization law, which particularly offended the Catholic Church. Five days later the first steps were taken to dissolve the Catholic Youth League. During the next years, thousands of Catholic priests, nuns and lay leaders were arrested, many of them on trumped-up charges of 'immorality' or 'smuggling foreign currency'. Erich Klausener, leader of Catholic Action, was, as we have seen, murdered in the June 30, 1934, purge. Scores of Catholic publications were suppressed, and even the sanctity of the confessional was violated by Gestapo agents. By the spring of 1937, the Catholic hierarchy, in Germany, which, like most of the Protestant clergy, had tried to co-operate with the new regime, was thoroughly disillusioned.
  372. 372.0 372.1 McGonigle, p. 172 quote "Hitler, of course flagrantly violated the rights of Catholics and others whenever it pleased him. Catholic Action groups were attacked by Hitler's police and Catholic schools were closed. Priests were persecuted and sent to concentration camps. ... On Palm Sunday, March 21, 1937, the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge was read in Catholic Churches in Germany. In effect it taught that the racial ideas of the leader (fuhrer) and totalitarianism stood in opposition to the Catholic faith. The letter let the world, and especially German Catholics, know clearly that the Church was harassed and persecuted, and that it clearly opposed the doctrines of Nazism."
  373. Bokenkotter, pp. 389–392, quote "And when Hitler showed increasing belligerence toward the Church, Pius met the challenge with a decisiveness that astonished the world. His encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge was the 'first great official public document to dare to confront and criticize Nazism' and 'one of the greatest such condemnations ever issued by the Vatican.' Smuggled into Germany, it was read from all the Catholic pulpits on Palm Sunday in March 1937. It denounced the Nazi "myth of blood and soil" and decried its neopaganism, its war of annihilation against the Church, and even described the Fuhrer himself as a 'mad prophet possessed of repulsive arrogance'. The Nazis were infuriated, and in retaliation closed and sealed all the presses that had printed it and took numerous vindictive measures against the Church, including staging a long series of immorality trials of Catholic clergy."
  374. Rhodes, p. 204-205 quote "Mit brennender Sorge did not prevaricate. Although it began mildly enough with an account of the broad aims of the Church, it went on to become one of the greatest condemnations of a national regime ever pronounced by the Vatican. Its vigorous language is in sharp contrast to the involved style in which encyclicals were normally written. The education question was fully and critically examined, and a long section devoted to disproving the Nazi theory of Blood and Soil (Blut und Boden) and the Nazi claim that faith in Germany was equivalent to faith in God. There were scathing references to Rosenberg's Myth of the Twentieth Century and its neo-paganism. The pressure exercised by the Nazi party on Catholic officials to betray their faith was lambasted as 'base, illegal and inhuman'. The document spoke of "a condition of spiritual oppression in Germany such as has never been seen before", of 'the open fight against the Confessional schools and the suppression of liberty of choice for those who desire a Catholic education'. 'With pressure veiled and open,' it went on, 'with intimidation, with promises of economic, professional, civil, and other advantages, the attachment of Catholics to the Faith, particularly those in government employment, is exposed to a violence as illegal as it is inhuman.' 'The calvary of the Church': 'The war of annihilation against the Catholic Faith'; 'The cult of idols'. The fulminations thundered down from the pulpits to the delighted congregations. Nor was the Fuhrer himself spared, for his 'aspirations to divinity', 'placing himself on the same level as Christ': 'a mad prophet possessed of repulsive arrogance' (widerliche Hochmut)."
  375. Vidmar, p. 327 quote "Pius XI's greatest coup was in writing the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge ("With Burning Desire") in 1936, and having it distributed secretly and ingeniously by an army of motorcyclists, and read from the pulpit on Palm Sunday before the Nazis obtained a single copy. It stated (in German and not in the traditional Latin) that the Concordat with the Nazis was agreed to despite serious misgivings about Nazi integrity. It then went on to condemn the persecution of the church, the neopaganism of the Nazi ideology-especially its theory of racial superiority-and Hitler himself, calling him 'a mad prophet possessed of repulsive arrogance.'"
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