Roman Catholic Church

By Alex Bradley


Origins - History

San Pierto DomeThe apostles of Jesus Christ formed the beginnings of the Christian Church. They helped spread the Gospel and provided structure for the early Church. It is hard to differentiate the beginnings of the Roman Catholic church from that of the early Christian church. The apostle, Peter, also known as Simon, was of central importance. The Church was organized and presided over by Peter.

In 313, the Roman Catholic Church was legally recognized by the Roman Emperor Constantine, and, in 380 it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, it remained united until 1054. At this time, the Eastern Orthodox Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church, which from that point on would be identified as the western Church. There were many reasons for the schism, but the major issue concerned the Pope's claim of primacy. 

    The next schism that occurred in the Roman Catholic Church was in the sixteenth century, with the Protestant Reformation. Roman Catholics, however, "regard the [Roman Catholic] Church under the successor of Peter as the one, universal Church; other Christians are held to be 'in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.'" Said differently, "for Roman Catholicism . . . the Catholic church and the Catholic tradition are normative for other Christian churches and traditions." 

The Roman Catholic Church has held three councils since the Reformation -- the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Vatican I Council (1869-1870), and the Vatican II Council (1962-1965). These three councils, in addition to the pope, defined the Church's beliefs.

The Council of Trent began the Counter-Reformation and differentiated between the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church from those of the Reformers. Trent "articulated Catholic doctrine on nature and grace . . . defined the seven sacraments, created the Index of Forbidden Books, and established seminaries for the education and formation of future priests."

The next council, Vatican I, asserted the infallibility and primacy of the pope, declaring that the "infallible teachings of the people are irreformable, that is, not subject to the consent of any higher ecclesiastical body or authority."

And finally, Vatican II brought forth drastic changes, such as the use of the vernacular in the church, greater participation of the laity in worship, and a new spirit of cooperation with Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy

Roman Catholicism is a world religion. According to Huston Smith, "Every religion mixes universal principles with local peculiarities. The former, when lifted out and made clear, speak to what is generically human in us all. The latter, rich compounds of rites and legends, are not easy for outsiders to comprehend." In studying world religions, we benefit and grow from being able to see the world through different perspectives.So what is the structure of the roman catholic church and it beliefs?

Organization - Structure of the Church

The Roman Catholic Church is organized as an authoritative hierarchy. At the head of the Roman Catholic Church is the Pope, who is said to be a successor of Peter. For a list of all the popes (266)  in chronological order visit: .It is said that the Roman catholic church is Apocalyptic as it is guided and sanctified  by the apostles through there teachings and successor. When a pope dies, the College of Cardinals elect his successor. Cardinals are appointed by the Pope and make up the advisory board of the church.

    The Church is divided into Dioceses, which are the "fundamental unit's of organization in the Roman Catholic Church," and are each headed by a bishop named by the Pope. The bishops' duties include administering the sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation and controlling his assigned diocese. Each of the dioceses are divided into Parishes which are headed by a priest


Central Beliefs - Worship


A basic summary of belief s of catholic church can be round in the 

Nicene creed.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,

 God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. 

Through him all things were made. For us men and our salvation he came down from heaven: 

by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became a man. 

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. 

On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen

In addition they also belief in many different Christian traditions such as the trinity of god.

The beliefs of Roman Catholics are defined by the Pope, who, when he speaks on these beliefs and morals, is considered infallible. Official church doctrines emanating from the teaching of the Pope are called  encyclicals.

Roman Catholicism states that because of original sin, man is inherently sinful and needs to be saved. This original sin is described in the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. Jesus Christ died on the cross as atonement for Adam's failure and assures Roman Catholics eternal life with God in Heaven. Salvation may only be achieved through God's grace.

During mass, Catholics believe that the bread and wine that they consume has been changed into the body and blood of Christ. The Mass is the center of Catholic worship.

Easter and Christmas are the two most important high holy days celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church. Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ