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Catholic Church

Catholic Church

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Published by SonofMan
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church. With more than a billion members, over half of all Christians 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, comprising a total of 2,795 dioceses in 2008.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church. With more than a billion members, over half of all Christians 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, comprising a total of 2,795 dioceses in 2008.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: SonofMan on Oct 23, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.
In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makesuse of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name andwith his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors. 
 Pontifical Mission Societies(International Secretariats)
is a broad term for the body of theCatholicfaith, itstheologiesand doctrines, its liturgical,ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.
Although for many the term usually refers to Christiansand churches belonging to theCatholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome,  for others it refers to continuity "back to the earliest churches",
 as claimed even bychurches in dispute with one another over doctrine and practice such as theCatholicChurch, theEastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, theAssyrian Church of the East, theOld Catholic Church and theAnglican Communion.
The claim of continuitymay be based onApostolic Succession,especially in conjunction with adherence to the  Nicene Creed.
In this sense of indicating historical continuity, the term "catholicism" isat times employed to mark a contrast to Protestantism, which tends to look instead to the Bible as interpreted by the 16th-centuryProtestant Reformationas its ultimate standard.
It was thus used by theOxford Movement.
According toRichard McBrien, Catholicism is distinguished from other forms of Christianityin its particular understanding and commitment to tradition, thesacraments,  the mediation between God, and communion.
Catholicism can include a monasticlife, religious orders, a religious appreciation of the arts, a communal understanding of sin andredemption, missionary activity, and always "communion the Bishop of Rome" and thedegree or form of primacythat what he calls the Communion of Catholic Churchesattribute to his chair or office.
McBrien maintains that Eastern Catholic Churchesshould not come under the heading "Roman Catholic Church" :"The Catholic Churchitself is a communion of local churches, known as dioceses and patriarchates, of Romanand non-Roman Churches." Thus "to be Catholic --whether Roman/Latin or non-Roman/Latin -- is to be in full communion with the Bishop of Rome and as such anintegral part of the Communion of Catholic Churches." Ibid.356. However, the Popes andtheHoly Seeuse the term "Roman Catholic Church" only to mean the whole Church incommunion with Rome and never to mean theLatin or Western Churchalone. In aspeech by John Paul II to President Hillery of Ireland,the Pope referred to the church heheaded both as the "Roman Catholic Church" and as the "Catholic Church". The sameusage, whereby both terms are used of the Church as a whole is found in papaldocuments such as theencyclical
.In popular usage also, "Catholic"usually means "Roman Catholic",
a usage decried by some, including certainProtestants.
"Catholic" usually refers to members of all the 23constituent Churches, theone Westernand the 22 Eastern. Newspapers reflect popular usage. A
, as defined in Hexam's
Concise Dictionary of Religion
is whatRomanCatholics  believe to be "aritein which Godis uniquely active."Augustine of Hippo  defined aChristian sacrament as "a visible sign of an invisible reality." TheAnglican  Book of Common Prayer speaks of them as "an outward and visible sign of an inwardand invisibleGrace." Examples of sacraments would be Baptism and the Mass."
Therefore a sacrament is a religious symbolor often aritewhich conveys divine grace,
 blessing, or sanctityupon the believer who participates in it, or a tangible symbol which represents an intangible reality. As defined above, an example would be baptismin water,representing (and conveying) thegrace of the gift of theHoly Spirit, theForgiveness of  Sins, and membership into theChurch. Anointing withholy anointing oilis another  example which is often synonymous with receiving theHoly Spiritand salvation asexplicitly described in Mark 1:14-15. Another way of looking at Sacraments is that theyare an external and physical sign of the conferral of Sanctifying Grace.
Throughout the Christian faith views concerning which rites are sacramental, that isconferringsanctifying grace,and what it means for an external act to be sacramental vary widely. Other religious traditions also have what might be called "sacraments" in a sense,though not necessarily according to the Christian meaning of the term.
, derived from Greek 
, alone) is thereligiouspractice in which one renounces worldlypursuits in order to fully devote one's life to spiritual work. The origin of the word is fromAncient Greek , and the idea wasoriginally related to Christianmonks.In theChristian tradition,those pursuing a monastic life are usually called
(brothers) if male,and 
if female. Both monks and nuns may also be called
. Some other religions also include what could be described as"monastic" elements, most notablyBuddhism, but alsoTaoism,Hinduism, andJainism, though the expressions differ considerably.
Theological significance
Unlike "families" or "federations" of Churches formed through the grant of mutualrecognition by distinct ecclesial bodies,
the Catholic Church considers itself a singleChurch ("one Body") composed of a multitude of particular Churches, each of which, asstated, is an embodiment of the fullness of the one Catholic Church. For the particular Churches within the Catholic Church, whether autonomous ritual churches (e.g., CopticCatholic Church, Melkite Catholic Church, Armenian Catholic Church, etc.) or dioceses(e.g., Diocese of Birmingham, Archdiocese of Chicago, etc.), are seen as not simply branches, divisions or sections of a larger body. Theologically, each is considered to bethe embodiment in a particular place or for a particular community of the one, wholeCatholic Church. "It is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique CatholicChurch exists.

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