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Roman Catholicism

The Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination, with over a billion members. Its head-quarters are in Rome but it has congregations throughout the world. It claims to have an unbroken leadership first from Jesus Christ, through the apostle Peter to the pope by Apostolic Succession. The Protestant churches split away from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century based on differences in opinion of doctrine, especially the issue of Justification by faith alone versus Justification by faith plus works.

It is often erroneously referred to as the Roman Catholic Church or Romanism. This simply means the Roman Rite of the Mass or the fact that it is headquartered in Rome. There are several other rites, the Byzantine being the next largest.

History of Roman Catholicism

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Early Roman or Western Christainity

Roman Catholicism in the Dark Ages

Great Schism of 1054 AD

Reformation and Council of Trent

World-wide expansion of Roman Catholicism

First Vatican Council

In the late eighteen hundreds, with its temporal powers waning, pope Pius IX called a council, that is recognized as ecumenical by the Roman Catholic Church, but not by other denominations. The council convened in 1869 and 1870 in the Vatican, and stopped abruptly when Rome was taken by Italian forces, thus ending the era of the Papal states. The council essentially reaffirmed all that the Council of Trent had affirmed, as well as affirming papal infallibility.

Second Vatican Council

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II, was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1965. At least four future pontiffs took part in the council's opening session: Giovanni Battista Montini, who on succeeding Pope John XXIII took the name of Paul VI; Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I; Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II; and Father Joseph Ratzinger, present as a theological consultant, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

Recent History

Roman Catholic Hierarchy and the Papacy

The earthly leader of the Roman Catholic Church is the pope. The pope governs from the Vatican City in Rome, a sovereign state of which he is also the civil head of state[1]. Each pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals, a body composed of bishops elevated to the status of cardinal by the Pope. The pope is assisted in the Church's administration by the Roman Curia, or civil service. The Church community is governed according to formal regulations set out in the Code of Canon Law. The Church is divided worldwide into 2,782 regions called dioceses. These diocese are grouped into 1 of 23 particular rites - the Latin Rite being the most common, but with there being a further 22 Eastern rites. Each diocese is headed by a bishop and is divided into individual communities called parishes. Each parish is staffed by one or more priests. The parish itself is made up of the priests and the laity (general members / church-goers).

Roman Catholic Doctrine

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