The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with more than one billion members worldwide. It is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation. Sony VAIO PCG-3B1M Battery
The Catholic hierarchy is led by the Pope and includes cardinals, patriarchsand diocesan bishops. The Church teaches that it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ, that its bishopsare the successors of Christ's apostles and that the Pope is the sole successor to Saint Peter. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1T Battery
Catholic doctrine maintains that the Church is infallible when it dogmatically teaches a doctrine of faith or morals. There are a variety of different doctrinal and theological emphases within the Catholic Church,including the Eastern Catholic Churches and religious communities such as the Jesuits, the Franciscans and theDominicans. Sony VAIO PCG-3D1M Battery
Catholic social teaching emphasises support for the sick, the poor and the afflicted through the corporal works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and medical services in the world.
The Catholic Church is Trinitarian and defines its mission as spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, administering thesacramentsand exercising charity. Sony VAIO PCG-3G2M Battery
Catholic worship is highly liturgical, focusing on the Mass or Divine Liturgyduring which the sacrament of the Eucharist is celebrated. The Church teaches that bread and wine used during the Mass become the body and blood of Christ through transubstantiation. The Catholic Church practises closed communion and onlybaptised members of the church are ordinarily permitted to receive the Eucharist. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1M Battery
The Church holds the Blessed Virgin Mary as mother of Jesus Christ in special regard. The church has defined four specific Marian dogmatic teachings, namely her Immaculate Conception without original sin, her status as the Mother of God, her perpetual virginity and her bodily Assumption into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. Sony VAIO PCG-7141M Battery
NumerousMarian devotions are also practiced.
The term "catholic" is derived from the Greek word καθολικός (katholikos) meaning "universal" and was first used to describe the Church in the early 2nd century. The term katholikos is equivalent to καθόλου (katholou), Sony VAIO PCG-7143M Battery
a contraction of the phrase καθ' ὅλου (kath' holou) meaning "according to the whole". "Catholic Church" (he katholike ekklesia) first appears in a letter of St Ignatius written in about 110. In the "Catechetical Discourses" of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, "Catholic Church" is used to distinguish it from other groups that also call themselves the church. Sony VAIO PCG-7151M Battery
Since the East-West Schism of 1054, the church that remained in communion with the See of Rome continued to call itself "Catholic" while the Eastern churches have generally been known as "Orthodox" or "Eastern Orthodox". Following the Reformation in the 16th century, the Church continued to use the term "Catholic" to distinguish itself from the various Protestant denominations that split off. Sony VAIO PCG-7154M Battery
The name "Catholic Church" is the most common designation used in official church documents. It is also the term which Paul VI used when signing documents of the Second Vatican Council. However, Church documents produced by both the Holy See and by certain national episcopal conferences occasionally refer to the Sony VAIO PCG-7162M Battery
Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism of Pope Pius X published in 1908 also used the term "Roman" to distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian communities who are not in full communion with Rome.
The Church's hierarchy is headed by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, Sony VAIO PCG-7181M Battery
a position which makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church (which is composed of the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the seeof Rome). The current office-holder is Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in apapal conclave on 19 April 2005. Sony VAIO PCG-41112M Battery
The office of the pope is known as the Papacy. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the "Holy See" (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the "Apostolic See" (meaning the see of the Apostle Saint Peter). Directly serving the Pope is theRoman Curia, the central governing body that administers the day-to-day business of the Catholic Church. Sony VAIO PCG-7153M Battery
The pope is also head of state of Vatican City State,a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within the city of Rome. The legal entity of the Holy See is distinct from that of the Vatican City state and all foreign relations are accredited to the Holy See. Sony VAIO PCG-71312M Battery
Following the death or resignation of a pope,[note 7] members of the College of Cardinals who are under age 80 meet in the Sistine Chapel in Rome to elect a new pope. The position of cardinalis a rank of honour bestowed by popes on certain ecclesiastics, such as leaders within the Roman Curia, bishops serving in major cities and distinguished theologians. Sony VAIO PCG-7144M Battery
Although this election, known as a papal conclave, can theoretically elect any male Catholic as pope, since 1389 only fellow cardinals have been elevated to that position.
For advice and assistance in governing, the Pope may turn to the College of Cardinals, the next highest level in the hierarchy.Sony VAIO PCG-7191L Battery
The Catholic Church is made up of 23 autonomous particular churches, each of which accepts the paramountcy of theBishop of Rome on matters of doctrine. These churches, also known by the Latin term sui iuris churches, are communities of Catholic Christians whose forms of worship reflect different historical and cultural influences rather than differences in doctrine. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1M Battery
In general, each sui iuris church is headed by a patriarch or high ranking bishop,and has a degree of self-governance over the particulars of its internal organisation, liturgical rites, liturgical calendar and other aspects of its spirituality.
The largest of the particular churches is the Latin Church which reports over one billion members. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M Battery
It developed in western Europe and North Africa before spreading throughout the world. The Latin Church considered itself to be the oldest and largest branch of Western Christianity, a heritage of certain beliefs and customs originating in Western Europe that are also shared by many Christian denominations that trace their origins to the Protestant Reformation. Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M Battery
Relatively small in terms of adherents compared to the Latin Church, but important to the overall structure of the Church, are the 22 self-governing Eastern Catholic Churches with a membership of 17.3 million as of 2010. The Eastern Catholic Churches follow the traditions and spirituality of Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M Battery
Eastern Christianityand are composed of Eastern Christians who have always remained in full communion with the Catholic Church or who have chosen to reenter full communion in the centuries following the East-West Schism and earlier divisions. Sony VAIO PCG-8141M Battery
Some Eastern Catholic Churches are governed by a patriarch who is elected by the synod of the bishops of that church, others are headed by a major archbishop, others are under a metropolitan, and others consist of individual eparchies. The Roman Curia has a specific department, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, to maintain relations with them. Sony VAIO PCG-8161M Battery
Individual countries, regions, or major cities are served by local particular churches known as dioceses or eparchies, each overseen by a Catholic bishop. Each diocese is united with one of the worldwide "sui iuris" particular churches, such as the Latin Church, or one of the many Eastern Catholic Churches. Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M Battery
As of 2008, the Catholic Church altogether comprised 2,795 dioceses. The bishops in a particular country or region are often organised into an episcopal conference, which aids in maintaining a uniform style of worship and co-ordination of social justice programmes within the areas served by member bishops. Sony VAIO PCG-5N2M Battery
Dioceses are further divided into numerous individual communities called parishes, each staffed by one or more priests,deacons and/or lay ecclesial ministers. Parishes are responsible for the day to day celebration of the sacraments and pastoral care of the Catholic laity. Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M Battery
Ordained Catholics, as well as members of the laity, may enter into consecrated life either on an individual basis, as ahermit or consecrated virgin, or by joining an institute of consecrated life (a religious institute or a secular institute) in which to take vows confirming their desire to follow the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M Battery
Examples of institutes of consecrated life are the Benedictines, the Carmelites, the Dominicans, theFranciscans, the Missionaries of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy.
Total church membership (both lay and clerical) in 2007 was 1.147 billion people, Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M Battery
increasing from the 1950 figure of 437 millionand the 1970 figure of 654 million. On 31 December 2011, membership was 1.196 billion, an increase of 11.54% over the same date in 2000, only slightly greater than the rate of increase of the world population (10.77%). The increase was 33.02% in Africa, but only 1.17% in Europe. Sony VAIO PCG-7171M Battery
It was 15.91% in Asia, 11.39% in Oceania and 10.93% in the Americas. As a result, Catholics were 17.77% of the total population in Africa, 63.10% in the Americas, 3.05% in Asia, 39.97% in Europe, 26.21% in Oceania and 17.09% of the world population. Sony VAIO PCG-7186M Battery
Of the world's Catholics, the proportion living in Africa grew from 12.44% in 2000 to 14.84% in 2008, while those living in Europe declined from 26.81% to 24.31%. Membership in the Catholic Church is attained through baptism or reception into the Church (for individuals previously baptised in non-Catholic Christian churches). Sony VAIO PCG-81112M Battery
For some years until 2009, if someone formally left the Church, that fact was noted in the register of the person's baptism.
At the end of 2007, Vatican records listed 408,024 Catholic priests in the world, 762 more than at the beginning of the year.Sony VAIO PCG-31311M Battery
The main growth areas have been Asia and Africa, with 21.1 per cent and 27.6 per cent growth respectively. In North and South America, numbers have remained approximately the same, while there was a 6.8 per cent decline in Europe and a 5.5 per cent decrease in Oceania from 2000 to 2007. Sony VAIO PCG-8152M Battery
Among the 23 autonomous (sui iuris) churches, numerous forms of worship and liturgical traditions exist, called "rites", which reflect historical and cultural diversity rather than differences in belief. In the definition of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, "a rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual, and disciplinary patrimony, Sony VAIO PCG-31111M Battery
culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui iuris", but the term is often limited to liturgical patrimony. The most commonly used liturgy is the Roman Rite in its ordinary form, but other rites are in use in the Eastern Catholic Churches and even in the Latin Church. Sony VAIO PCG-61111M Battery
In all rites the Mass, or Divine Liturgy, is the centre of Catholic worship. The Catholic Church teaches that at each Mass the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ by the words of consecration spoken by the priest. The Church teaches that this happens through transubstantiation, Sony VAIO PCG-51112M Battery
in which the "accidents" (perceptible aspects) of the sacramental bread and wine remain, but the underlying substance is transmuted into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. The words of consecration are drawn from the three synoptic Gospels and a Pauline letter. Sony VAIO PCG-51211M Battery
The Church teaches that Christ established aNew Covenant with humanity through the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, as described in these biblical verses.
Because the Church teaches that Christ is present in the Eucharist, there are strict rules about who may celebrate and who may receive the Eucharist. Sony VAIO PCG-51212M Battery
The sacrament can only be celebrated by an ordained Catholic priest. Those who are conscious of being in a state of mortal sin are forbidden from receiving the sacrament until they have received absolution through the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). Catholics are normally obliged to abstain from eating for at least an hour before receiving the sacrament. Sony VAIO PCG-41111M Battery
Catholics are not permitted to receive the Eucharist as celebrated in Protestant churches, which in the view of the Catholic Church lack the sacrament of Holy Orders and thus also lack a valid Eucharist. Likewise, Protestants are not normally permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church. Sony VAIO PCG-41111V Battery
This is because unity with the Catholic faith is seen as necessary before one can partake of the Church's sacraments. In relation to the churches of Eastern Christianity not in communion with the Holy See, the Catholic Church is less restrictive, declaring that "a certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged." Sony VAIO PCG-61412V Battery
The Roman Rite is the most common rite of worship used by the Catholic Church. Its use is found worldwide, spread by missionary activity originating in European Catholic nations throughout Christian history.
Two forms of the Roman Rite are authorised at present: the ordinary form, Sony VAIO PCG-71112M Battery
celebrated mostly in the vernacular, corresponding to the post-1969 editions of the Roman Missal (Mass of Paul VI), and the extraordinary form, corresponding to the 1962 edition, formerly known as the Tridentine Mass. An outline of the major liturgical elements of Roman Rite Mass can be found in the side bar. Sony VAIO PCG-81111V Battery
In the United States, "Anglican Use" parishes have been created. They use a variation of the Roman rite that retains some of the wording of the Anglican liturgical rites.[note 9] Implementation is expected of the authorisation granted in 2009 for the creation wherever appropriate of ordinariates for groups of Sony VAIO PCG-81111V Battery
Anglicans who have been approved for entrance into the Catholic Church and who may in the future use a rite that incorporates elements of Anglican tradition. Other Western liturgical rites (non-Roman) include the Ambrosian Rite and the Mozarabic Rite.
The liturgical rites of the Eastern Catholic Churches are very similar to, Sony VAIO PCG-81212M Battery
and often identical with, the rites used by the Eastern Orthodox and other Eastern Christian churches which historically developed in Russia, Caucasus and the Balkans, Northeastern Africa and the Middle East, but are no longer in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. Sony VAIO PCG-81212V Battery
The Eastern Catholic Churches are either groups of faithful which have restored full communion with the Bishop of Rome, while preserving their identity as Eastern Christians, or groups with which full communion has never been broken.
The rites used by the Eastern Catholic Churches include the Byzantine rite, in its Antiochian, Sony VAIO PCG-51111M Battery
Greek and Slavonic varieties, the Alexandrian rite, the Syriac rite, the Armenian rite, the Maronite rite and the Chaldean rite. In the past some of the rites used by the Eastern Catholic Churches were subject to some degree of liturgical Latinisation. Sony VAIO VPCS13X9E/B battery
However, in recent years Eastern Catholic Churches have returned to traditional Eastern practices in accord with theVatican II decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum. Each church has its own liturgical calendar.
The fundamental beliefs of the Christian religion are summarised in the Nicene Creed. Sony VAIO VPCS12V9E/B battery
For Catholics, they are detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Based on the promises of Christ 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. Sony VAIO VPCS12V9E/B battery
Sacred Scripture consists of the 73 book Catholic Bible. This is made up of the 46 books found in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament—known as theSeptuagint—and the 27 New Testament writings first found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and listed in Athanasius' Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter. Sony VAIO VPCF13M8E/B battery
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 (frommagister, Latin for "teacher"), the Church's teaching authority, which is exercised by the Pope and the College of Bishops in union with the Pope, the bishop of Rome. Sony VAIO VPCF13Z0E/B battery
The social Gospel espoused by Jesus and Catholic social teaching place a heavy emphasis on the corporal works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy, namely the support and concern for the sick, the poor and the afflicted. Sony VAIO VPCM13M1E/L battery
Church teaching calls for a preferential option for the poor while canon law prescribes that "The Christian faithful are also obliged to promotesocial justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor."
The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of health services in the world. Sony VAIO VPCM13M1E/W battery
In 2010, the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers said that the Church manages 26% of health care facilities in the world, including hospitals, clinics, orphanages, pharmacies and centres for those with leprosy.
Religious institutes for women have played a particularly prominent role in the provision of health and education services, Sony VAIO VPCF22M1E battery
as with orders like Sisters of Mercy, Little Sisters of the Poor, Missionaries of Charity, Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.
The Church is also actively engaged in international aid and development through organisations such as Catholic Relief Services, Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery
Caritas International, Aid to the Church in Need, refugee advocacy groups such as the Jesuit Refugee Service and community aid groups like Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
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, which make up the Trinity. Sony VAIO VPCF13M0E/B battery
Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. In an event known as the Incarnation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became united with human nature through the conception of Christ in the womb of theBlessed Virgin Mary. Sony VAIO VPCYB2M1E battery
Christ therefore is both fully divine and fully human. It is taught that Christ's mission on earth included giving people his teachings and providing his example for them to follow as recorded in the four Gospels.
The Church teaches that through the passion (suffering) of Christ and his crucifixion as described in the Gospels, Sony VAIO VPCYB3V1E battery
all people have an opportunity for forgiveness and freedom from sin and so can be reconciled to God. The Resurrection of Jesus gained for humans a possible spiritual immortality previously denied to them because of original sin. By reconciling with God and following Christ's words and deeds, Sony VAIO VPCY11M1E battery
an individual can enter the Kingdom of God, which is the "... reign of God over people's hearts and lives".
The Greek term "Christ" and the Hebrew "Messiah" both mean "anointed one", referring to the Christian belief that Jesus' death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecies. Sony VAIO VPCS12L9E/B battery
According to the Catechism, the Catholic Church professes to be the "sole Church of Christ", which is described in the Nicene Creed as the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. The church teaches that its founder is Jesus Christ, who appointed the twelve Apostles to continue his work as the Church's earliest bishops. Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B battery
Catholic belief holds that the Church "is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth", and that all duly consecrated bishops have a lineal succession from the apostles. In particular, the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), is considered the successor to the apostle Simon Peter, from whom the Pope derives his supremacy over the Church. Sony VAIO VPCYB3V1E/R Battery
The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi as the Mystical Body of Christ.
The Church teaches that the fullness of the "means of salvation" exists only in the Catholic Church, Sony VAIO VPCF23P1E Battery
but the Church acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of Christian communities separated from itself to "impel towards Catholic unity" and thus bring people to salvation. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved through the Church but that people can be saved ex voto and by pre-baptismal martyrdom as well as when conditions of invincible ignorance are present,although invincible ignorance in itself is not a means of salvation. Sony VAIO VPCF23N1E Battery
According to the Council of Trent, Christ instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church. These areBaptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Reconciliation (Penance), Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction, one of the "Last Rites"), Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/L Battery
Sacraments are visible rituals that 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). The Catechism of the Catholic Church categorises the sacraments into three groups, the "sacraments of Christian initiation",Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/G battery
"sacraments of healing" and "sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful". These groups broadly reflect the stages of people's natural and spiritual lives which each sacrament is intended to serve.
As viewed by the Catholic Church, Baptism is the first of three sacraments of initiation as a Christian. Sony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery
It washes away all sins, both original sin and personal actual sins. It makes a person a member of the Church. As a gratuitous gift of God that requires no merit on the part of the person who is baptised, it is conferred even on children, who, though they have no personal sins, need it on account of original sin. Sony VAIO VPCS11J7E/B Battery
If a new-born child is in a danger of death, anyone - be it a doctor, a nurse, or a parent - may baptise the child. Baptism marks a person permanently and cannot be repeated. The Catholic Church recognises as valid baptisms conferred even by people who are not Catholics or Christians, Sony VAIO VPCS11M1E/W Battery
provided that they intend to baptise ("to do what the Church does when she baptises") and that they use the Trinitarian baptismal formula.
The Catholic Church sees the sacrament of confirmation as required to complete the grace given in baptism. Sony VAIO VPCS11V9E Battery
When adults are baptised, confirmation is normally given immediately afterwards, a practice followed even for infants in the Eastern Catholic Church. In the West confirmation of children is delayed until they are old enough to understand or even until they are in their teens. Sony VAIO VPCS11V9E/B Battery
In Western Christianity, particularly Catholicism, the sacrament is called confirmation, because it confirms and strengthens the grace of baptism; in the Eastern Church, it is called chrismation, because the essential rite is the anointing of the person with chrism, a mixture of olive oil and some perfumed substance, Sony VAIO VPCS11X9E/B Battery
usually balsam, blessed by a bishop. Those who receive confirmation must be in a state of grace, which for those who have reached the age of reason means that they should first be cleansed spiritually by the sacrament of Penance; they should also have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to show in their lives that they are Christians. Sony VAIO VPCS123FGB Battery
For Catholics, the Eucharist is the sacrament which completes Christian initiation. It is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and a banquet in which Christ himself is consumed. The Eucharistic sacrifice always includes prayers, readings from the Bible, Sony VAIO VPCS125EC Battery
consecration of wheat bread and grape wine and communion by at least some of the participants (in particular the priest) in the consecrated elements, which by the consecration become, in a way surpassing understanding, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a change known as transubstantiation. Sony VAIO VPCS128EC Battery