Latin Church

Emblem of the Holy See
Latin Church
(Roman Catholic Church)
Latin: Ecclesia Latina
(Ecclesia Catholico Romanum)
Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran
TypeParticular church (sui iuris)
OrientationWestern Christianity
TheologyCatholic theology
GovernanceHoly See
RegionMainly in Western Europe, Central Europe, the Americas, the Philippines, pockets of Africa, Madagascar, Oceania, with several episcopal conferences around the world
LanguageEcclesiastical Latin
LiturgyLatin liturgical rites
HeadquartersArchbasilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy
FounderApostles Peter and Paul
Origin1st century
Rome, Roman Empire
Members1.311 billion (2018)[2][citation needed]
Other name(s)
  • Western Church
  • Latin Catholic Church
  • Roman Catholic Church
Official websiteHoly See

The Latin Church (Latin: Ecclesia Latina), also known as the Roman Catholic Church (Latin: Ecclesia Catholica Romana) or the Western Church (Latin: Ecclesia Occidentalis[N 1]), is the largest particular Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, and traditionally employs in the majority the Latin liturgical rites, which since the mid-twentieth century are very often in practice translated into the vernacular. The "Latin Church" is one of 24 such Churches, the 23 others being referred to as a group as the Eastern Catholic Churches. The "Latin Church" is headed by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope – one of whose traditional titles in some eras and contexts has also been the Patriarch of the West, and whose cathedra as a bishop is located in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy.

The Catholic Church teaches that its bishops are the successors of Jesus' apostles, and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter upon whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ.[3] Within the substantial cultural and theological unity of the Latin Church, local traditions flourished in ancient times as is exemplified by the different theological methodologies of four major figures known as the Latin Doctors of the Church who lived in the 2nd–7th centuries in territories which included Roman north Africa and Palestine.

As regards liturgical forms, there exist and have existed since ancient times differing traditions of Latin liturgical rites, of which the predominant has been the Roman Rite. Of other liturgical families, the main survivors are what is now referred to officially as the Hispano-Mozarabic Rite, still in restricted use in Spain; the Ambrosian Rite, centred geographically on the Archdiocese of Milan, in Italy, and much closer in form, though not specific content, to the Roman Rite; and the Carthusian Rite, practised within the strict Carthusian monastic Order, which also employs in general terms forms similar to the Roman Rite, but with a number of significant divergences which have adapted it to the distinctive way of life of the Carthusians. There once existed what is referred to as the Gallican Rite, used in Gaulish or Frankish territories. This was a conglomeration of varying forms, not unlike the present Hispano-Mozarabic Rite in its general structures, but never strictly codified and which from at least the seventh century was gradually infiltrated, and then eventually for the most part replaced, by liturgical texts and forms which had their origin in the diocese of Rome. Other former "Rites" in past times practised in certain religious orders and important cities were in truth usually partial variants upon the Roman Rite and have almost entirely disappeared from current use, despite limited nostalgic efforts at revival of some of them and a certain indulgence by the Roman authorities.

The Latin Church was in full communion with what is referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East-West schism of Rome and Constantinople in 1054. From that time, but also before it, it became common to refer to Western Christians as Latins in contrast to Byzantines or Greeks. Following the Islamic conquests, the Crusades were launched by the West from 1095 to 1291 in order to defend Christians and their properties in the Holy Land against persecution. In the long term the Crusaders did not succeed in re-establishing political and military control of Palestine, which like former Christian North Africa and the rest of the Middle East remained under Islamic domination. The names of many former Christian dioceses of this vast area are still used by the Catholic Church as the names of Catholic titular sees, irrespective of liturgical families.

The division between "Latins" and "Greeks" does not cover the whole panoply of traditional Christian Churches, since it leaves seriously out of reckoning the sizeable Eastern Catholic Churches, some of which follow the Byzantine liturgical tradition, but others, along with various ancient Churches outside the Catholic Church known jointly as Oriental Orthodoxy, follow the greatly varying cultural, spiritual and liturgical traditions of Syriac, Armenian and Coptic Christianity.

In the early modern period and subsequently, the Latin Church carried out evangelizing missions to Latin America, and from from the late modern period to Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century resulted in Protestantism breaking away, resulting in the fragmentation of Western Christianity, including not only Protestant offshoots of the Latin Church, but also smaller groups of 19th-century break-away Independent Catholic denominations.

  1. ^ Marshall, Thomas William (1844). Notes of the Episcopal Polity of the Holy Catholic Church. London: Levey, Rossen and Franklin.
  2. ^ Larissa L. Lopez (26 March 2020). "Number of Catholics in World Grows: There Are More Than 1.3 Billion". Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  3. ^ Holy Bible: Matthew 16:19

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