Catholic Church

Emblem of the Holy See
Catholic Church
Ecclesia Catholica
Saint Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
ClassificationCatholic
ScriptureBible
TheologyCatholic theology
PolityEpiscopal[1]
StructureCommunion
PopeFrancis
AdministrationRoman Curia
Particular churches
sui iuris
Latin Church, and 23 Eastern Catholic Churches
Dioceses
Parishes221,700
RegionWorldwide
LanguageEcclesiastical Latin and native languages
LiturgyWestern and Eastern
HeadquartersVatican City
FounderJesus, according to
sacred tradition
Origin1st century
Holy Land, Roman Empire[2][3]
Members1.345 billion (2019)[4]
Clergy
Hospitals5,500[5]
Primary schools95,200[6]
Secondary schools43,800
Official websiteVatican.va

The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2019.[4] As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution,[7] it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation.[8] The church consists of 24 particular churches and almost 3,500 dioceses and eparchies around the world. The pope, who is the Bishop of Rome (and whose titles also include Vicar of Jesus Christ and Successor of St. Peter), is the chief pastor of the church,[9] entrusted with the universal Petrine ministry of unity and correction. The church's administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, a tiny enclave of Rome, of which the pope is head of state.

The core beliefs of Catholicism are found in the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission,[10][11][note 1] that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to Saint Peter, upon whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ.[14] It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition.[15] The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders, enclosed monastic orders and third orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.[16][17]

Of its seven sacraments, the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass.[18] The church teaches that through consecration by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions.[19] Its teaching includes Divine Mercy, sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church operates thousands of Catholic schools, hospitals, and orphanages around the world, and is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.[20] Among its other social services are numerous charitable and humanitarian organisations.

The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, art, music and science. Catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora, and conversions. Since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere, due to secularisation in Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East. The Catholic Church shared communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the pope. Before the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, the Church of the East also shared in this communion, as did the Oriental Orthodox churches before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451; all separated primarily over differences in Christology. In the 16th century, the Reformation led to Protestantism also breaking away. From the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticised for its teachings on sexuality, its inability to ordain women, and its handling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy.

  1. ^ Marshall, Thomas William (1844). Notes of the Episcopal Polity of the Holy Catholic Church. London: Levey, Rossen and Franklin. ASIN 1163912190.
  2. ^ Stanford, Peter. "Roman Catholic Church". BBC Religions. BBC. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  3. ^ Bokenkotter 2004, p. 18.
  4. ^ a b "Pubblicati l'Annuario Pontificio 2021 e l'Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2019" (in Italian). L'Osservatore Romano. 25 March 2021. Archived from the original on 25 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  5. ^ Calderisi, Robert. Earthly Mission - The Catholic Church and World Development; TJ International Ltd; 2013; p.40
  6. ^ "Laudato Si". Vermont Catholic. 8 (4, 2016–2017, Winter): 73. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  7. ^ Mark A. Noll. The New Shape of World Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 191.
  8. ^ O'Collins, p. v (preface).
  9. ^ "Lumen gentium". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Vatican congregation reaffirms truth, oneness of Catholic Church". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  11. ^ Bokenkotter 2004, p. 7.
  12. ^ Cite error: The named reference note1cite1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference note1cite2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ Holy Bible: Matthew 16:19
  15. ^ "CCC, 890". Vatican.va.
  16. ^ "CCC, 835". Vatican.va. The rich variety of … theological and spiritual heritages proper to the local churches 'unified in a common effort shows all the more resplendently the catholicity of the undivided Church'.(cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 23)
  17. ^ Colin Gunton. "Christianity among the Religions in the Encyclopedia of Religion", Religious Studies, Vol. 24, number 1, page 14. In a review of an article from the Encyclopedia of Religion, Gunton writes: "[T]he article [on Catholicism in the encyclopedia] rightly suggests caution, suggesting at the outset that Roman Catholicism is marked by several different doctrinal, theological and liturgical emphases."
  18. ^ "CCC, 1322–1327". Vatican.va. the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith
  19. ^ "The Four Marian Dogmas". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  20. ^ Agnew, John (12 February 2010). "Deus Vult: The Geopolitics of Catholic Church". Geopolitics. 15 (1): 39–61. doi:10.1080/14650040903420388. S2CID 144793259.


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