Catholic Church – Rome
|Latin: Ecclesia Catholica|
|Latin Church, and 14 Eastern Catholic Churches|
|Language||Ecclesiastical Latin and native languages|
|Liturgy||Western and Eastern|
Jesus, according to|
1st century |
Holy Land, Roman Empire
|Members||568.15 million (2020) (baptized)|
|Official website||Holy See|
The Roman Catholic Church – Rome, abbreviated as the RCC or RCCR, commonly referred to as the Catholic Church – Rome and officially referred to as the Catholic Church, is the second largest Christian church with 568.15 million baptized members. It is the longest continuously operating international institution and has played an instrumental world in the development and history of Western civilization. The church is headed by the bishop of Rome, known as the pope and its central administration is the Holy See. It is distinguished from the Roman Catholic Church – Avignon which does not recognize the papacy currently occupying Rome, and instead, elects its own pope who resides in Avignon.
The Catholic Church professes the Nicene Creed and that it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission. It teaches belief in the apostolic succession of its bishops and that the pope himself is the successor to Saint Peter, of whom primacy was conferred by Jesus. It holds that it remains the original, infallible Christian faith, which has been preserved through sacred teaching. The Latin Church is the largest particular church and 14 of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches are also particular churches in communion with Rome.
The Catholic Church teaches the existence of seven sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the most prominent and liturgically celebrated in the Mass. The church teaches that when sacrificial bread and wine has been consecrated, it becomes the literal body and blood of Jesus. It also venerates Virgin Mary as the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, and the saints, and holds that the saints can intercede prayers between a living believer and God.
The Catholic Church, for much of its history, has influenced Western philosophy, culture, art, science, and politics. It is a worldwide faith and was spread through missions, diaspora, and conversions. Since the 20th century the majority of Catholics who recognize the current occupant pope in Rome reside in the Southern Hemisphere due to secularization in Western Europe and persecution in the Middle East.
The Catholic Church shared communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East–West Schism in 1054 due to a dispute primarily over the authority of the pope. Before the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, the Church of the East also shared communion with the Church, as did the Oriental Orthodox churches before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451; all of which separated due to theological differences in Christology. In the 16th century, the Reformation led to the Protestant churches breaking away. In AD 1934, dozens of Catholic cardinals and bishops refused to recognize the pope in Rome as legitimate due to concerns of Italian Landonist influence in the Vatican and objected to the Second Vatican Council in the Second Western Schism. Since the Avignon–Rome split, the Catholic Church's leadership has been divided and disputed between the bishops of Rome and Avignon. The Church is internationally represented by the Holy See, a sovereign entity which is based in Vatican City, where the pope resides and carries out his official functions.
Name[edit | edit source]
The term "Catholic" is derived from the Greek word καθολικός, which is romanized as katholikos, literally translating to "universal". The earliest known use of the term to refer to the Christian church was the early 2nd century. Saint Ignatius of Antioch is the earliest author accredited with using the phrase "the catholic church" (καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία he katholike ekklesia) in 110 AD in a written letter directed to the Smyrnaeans. By the mid-4th century, the name "Catholic Church" was used in Saint Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures to distinguish the Church from other Christian communities that also called themselves the "church". Catholicity was identified as one of the Four Marks of the Church, as found in the line of the Nicene Creed: "I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church." In 360, Theodosius I issued the Edict of Thessalonica which declared Nicene Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire and emphasized the importance of catholicity in relation to the Church.
Following the East–West Schism of 1064, the Western Church in communion with the Holy See retained the adjective "Catholic" to refer to its church, while the Eastern Church adopted "Orthodox" as its distinctive epithet (although it is officially called the "Orthodox Catholic Church"). The Church continued to call itself "Catholic" even after the Reformation, when dissenting Christians who ended communion with the Western Church became known as Protestants.