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Catholicism is the largest Christian Church, claiming about 1.07 billion members as of 2003.[http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=32982]  Catholicism is structured into 22 distinct Churches, all of which are in communion with the [[Pope]].  Each Church within Catholicism is headed by a [[bishop]] known as a [[patriarch]].  A patriarch is responsible for ordaining new bishops and establishing new diocese.  The largest of these Churches is the [[Roman Catholic Church]], whose head is the Pope, bishop of Rome.
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Catholicism views itself as being in historical and doctrinal continuity with [[Jesus]] and the [[12 Apostles]].  This expresses itself in several ways within CatholicismCatholicism holds bishops are the successors to the apostles, and that all Catholic bishops can eventually trace their ordination back to one of the apostles (who in turn is traced back to Jesus).
'''Catholicism''' has two main meanings.  It is sometimes used to mean the [[Roman Catholic Church]]--the term is so used particularly by members of that church.  But the term is also used to describe the practices of a larger, more encompassing group of [[Christian]] denominations which view themselves as being in historical and doctrinal continuity with Catholic Christianity as it existed before the Great Schisms that separated the church universal into different communionsIt is taken from the word ''catholic'', used in the sense of universal, or all-embracing.


== Catholicism before the Schism with Eastern Orthodoxy ==
Catholicism is difficult to define precisely and somewhat controversial, because not all Christians understand the words 'catholic' and 'catholicism' in the same way.  The [[Nicene Creed|creed]]s that define the beliefs of the Christian faith refer to "one holy catholic (and apostolic) Church." Most churches kept the creeds and have considered themselves a part of a wider catholic, or Christian, church even after the [[Protestant Reformation]].
Before the Schism of 1066 Christianity existed as what is sometimes called "the great Church" with most Christians, apart from a few notable exceptions, living within the confines of the Roman Empire.  During the third and forth centuries the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire began to experience increased tension as they drifted apart culturally and linguistically. These changes would become solidified after the barbarian invasion and the eventual collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century.  The repercussions of this cultural split were felt within the religious outlooks of Eastern and Western Christians even before the 1066 schismIn what was formerly the Western Roman Empire, administrative power began to be consolidated in Rome by the Pope as most of the social services provided by the Empire began to collapse.  This would lead Pope Gregory the Great to establish a bureaucratic system known as the Vatican today.


While not officially part of the Roman Empire anymore, the Pope was canonically required to have his ordination approved by the Eastern Roman Emperor until the title was bestowed on Charlemagne in 800.  During this period the filioque would become uniformly added to the creed in the Western Church.  These two developments drove the Eastern and Western Church further apart.  Eventually, in 1066, the Eastern and Western Churches severed official ties.  This took place when a representative of the Pope attended the feast of St. Andrew in Byzantium.  During feastal liturgy he delivered a bull (without the Vatican's knowledge) excommunicating the Eastern Church for refusing to add the filioque to the creed and ordaining married men (which the Western Church had ceased to do by this point).  While the Easter Church excommunicated the Vatican's representative and not the Western Church, the two Churches had become too different in character to maintain any kind of official unity.  With the exception of the [[Maronite]] Catholic Church, Catholicism would remain a strictly Western Institution until after the Counter-Reformation.
So churchgoers within the same communion (or even within the same denomination) may see themselves as either catholic or protestantFurthermore, the rites, services and practices within catholic churches can vary greatly.


== Catholicism during the Middle Ages ==
The largest and best known of these churches is the [[Roman Catholic Church]], whose head is the Pope, the Bishop of RomeThe Roman Catholic Church claimed about 1.07 billion members in 22 distinct churches in communion with the Pope as of 2003 [http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=32982]Next in size are the [[Eastern Orthodox Church]]es and the churches of the [[Anglican Communion]].
During the Middle Ages in Western Europe the relationship between the secular and the religious, instead of being conceived of as two different spheres, was viewed as two different yet overlapping ways of codifying timeAs a result the Catholic Church had a large role to play in the organization of the public order. The Church, under prompting from the Byzantine Empire who was facing military threats from the Muslims, organized a series of military campaigns known as the crusadesWithin Western Europe however, the Church would also create The [[Peace of the Church]], which would limit the extent to which secular rulers would be able to go to war with one another.  This was applied with varying success.  Because of the loss of much of the infrastructure of the Roman Empire monasteries would be one of the few places where an education could be obtained, although there were a few secular schools usually located in royal palaces.  This would change towards the end of the Middle Ages.  Several factors contributed to this, the largest being the revitalization of European cities, the founding of the universities, and rise of [[mendicant]] religious orders.  Additionally, in the thirteenth century classical texts that had been lost in the West began to circulate again.


== Catholicism during the Renaissance ==
==Catholic beliefs==
The Renaissance was both a time of great discovery as well a time of political, religious, and social uncertainty.  Some of these the latter issues need to be explored to understand some of the events that occurred within Catholicism during the Renaissance and to understand the cultural milieu of the Reformation.  The capital of the Byzantine Empire fell during the fifteenth century. This caused an influx of refugees from the Byzantine Empire.  This had a destabilizing effect on Western European economies.  Also severe freezing affected crop production in Norther Europe.  Not only did this increase  These refugees also brought with them religious texts and patterns of spirituality that had been absent in Western Europe for quite some time.  During the renaissance there was a period during which there were three active Popes.  Many Church abuses began to develop during this period.  While there had always been some abuse within the Church, there were also active movements within the Church to reign it in (especially monastic reform).  However the sheer volume of abuse, the already depressed economic conditions, as well as a particularly several particularly corrupt Popes, made this especially troublesome.  During the 1510-20's Martin Luther began to protest many of these absuses and what he saw as theological problems with Church doctrine.  He was excommunicated 1521, and began the Protestant Reformation.
Among the beliefs common to Catholic Christians that may not be accepted by other Christians are
*The [[Apostolic Succession]]. Catholicism holds that bishops are the successors to the [[Twelve Apostles|apostles]], and that all Catholic bishops can ulimately trace their ordinations back to one of the Apostles specifically called by [[Jesus]]
*Divine presence in the Eucharist
*The [[Communion of Saints]]


== The Counter-Reformation and  Early Modern Period ==
In addition, the doctrine of [[Papal Infallibility]] has separated Christians in the Roman Catholic Church from some other Catholic Christians.
The counter-reformation (also known as the Catholic Reformation) was initiated by the Council of Trent.  The Council of Trent would redefine several key theological issues that had contributed to the spread of the Reformation, as well as defined several new dogmas, viz. that there are only seven Sacraments, that Justification is not by Faith only, and that both Scripture and tradition are authoritative for Catholics.  During the Counter-Reformation Cathoicism engaged in a series of reforms and new initiatives.  For example the period gave rise to several new Religious orders such as the Jesuits and the Ursaline Sisters.  The period also saw some of the first missionary efforts to take place since the crusades, most of which were along trade lines to the Americas and the Far East.  Catholicism during the early modern period would also face new challenges as the European economic and political situation transformed from feudal kingdoms and manor economies into capitalist nation-states.  During the 1700's, for example, the canonization of Saints was moved from the local diocese to the Vatican in order to ensure that it did not become a tool of political leaders.


== Vatican I ==
To further complicate matters, Catholic Christians may agree on some issues and not on others, causing further breaks in communionSo there are elements in some catholic congregations that are not present or acceptable in others. Among these divisive issues are:
Vatican I was an ecumenical council, as the Catholic Church understands it, which was called to resolve several issues such as Papal AuthorityAt Vatican I papal infallibility was defined dogma.


== Vatican II ==
*The ordination of female clergy
== Catholicism after Vatican II ==
*The number of [[sacrament]]s in the church
*Whether or not clergy are permitted to marry
*The status of Mary the mother of Jesus
*The ordination of [[homosexual]] clergy
*The acceptance of practicing homosexual members
== Other Catholic practices and traditions ==
 
 
*Devotions: prayers and meditations– these are practices held in common with other Christians, but often given more primacy in catholic practice.  Specifically catholic devotions include [[Veneration]] of saints and relics, use of Rosary beads, novenas and fasting
*[[Sign of the Cross|Crossing oneself]][http://www.kencollins.com/how-01.htm]
*Bows and Kneeling: genuflecting, neck bow, profound bow, metanoia, prostration
*Use of icons and statuary
 
==References==
<references/>

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Catholicism has two main meanings. It is sometimes used to mean the Roman Catholic Church--the term is so used particularly by members of that church. But the term is also used to describe the practices of a larger, more encompassing group of Christian denominations which view themselves as being in historical and doctrinal continuity with Catholic Christianity as it existed before the Great Schisms that separated the church universal into different communions. It is taken from the word catholic, used in the sense of universal, or all-embracing.

Catholicism is difficult to define precisely and somewhat controversial, because not all Christians understand the words 'catholic' and 'catholicism' in the same way. The creeds that define the beliefs of the Christian faith refer to "one holy catholic (and apostolic) Church." Most churches kept the creeds and have considered themselves a part of a wider catholic, or Christian, church even after the Protestant Reformation.

So churchgoers within the same communion (or even within the same denomination) may see themselves as either catholic or protestant. Furthermore, the rites, services and practices within catholic churches can vary greatly.

The largest and best known of these churches is the Roman Catholic Church, whose head is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church claimed about 1.07 billion members in 22 distinct churches in communion with the Pope as of 2003 [1]. Next in size are the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the churches of the Anglican Communion.

Catholic beliefs

Among the beliefs common to Catholic Christians that may not be accepted by other Christians are

  • The Apostolic Succession. Catholicism holds that bishops are the successors to the apostles, and that all Catholic bishops can ulimately trace their ordinations back to one of the Apostles specifically called by Jesus
  • Divine presence in the Eucharist
  • The Communion of Saints

In addition, the doctrine of Papal Infallibility has separated Christians in the Roman Catholic Church from some other Catholic Christians.

To further complicate matters, Catholic Christians may agree on some issues and not on others, causing further breaks in communion. So there are elements in some catholic congregations that are not present or acceptable in others. Among these divisive issues are:

  • The ordination of female clergy
  • The number of sacraments in the church
  • Whether or not clergy are permitted to marry
  • The status of Mary the mother of Jesus
  • The ordination of homosexual clergy
  • The acceptance of practicing homosexual members

Other Catholic practices and traditions

  • Devotions: prayers and meditations– these are practices held in common with other Christians, but often given more primacy in catholic practice. Specifically catholic devotions include Veneration of saints and relics, use of Rosary beads, novenas and fasting
  • Crossing oneself[2]
  • Bows and Kneeling: genuflecting, neck bow, profound bow, metanoia, prostration
  • Use of icons and statuary

References