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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:
Catholicism – largest denomination of Christianity. Catholicism encompasses the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.
Catholicism can be described as all of the following:
History of the Catholic Church – the church says that its bishops are the successors to the Apostles of Jesus, and that the Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, is the sole successor to Saint Peter, who is believed to have been appointed head of the church in the New Testament and who is said to have ministered in Rome.
Catholic Church hierarchy – the Catholic Church is composed of dioceses, each overseen by a bishop. Dioceses are divided into individual communities called parishes, each staffed by one or more priests. Priests may be assisted by deacons.
Catechism of the Catholic Church – catechism promulgated for the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in 1992. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a compendium of Catholic doctrine that serves as a reference text for teaching and particularly for preparing local catechisms. Modeled on the "Roman Catechism," promulgated in 1566 by the Council of Trent, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is divided into four parts of unequal length: the profession of faith, the celebration of the Christian mystery, life in Christ, and Christian prayer. A catechism is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult converts.
Sacraments of the Catholic Church – Roman Catholic teaching holds that there are seven sacraments which Christ instituted and entrusted to the Church. 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).
Mariology – theological study of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mariology methodically presents teachings about her to other parts of the faith, such as teachings about Jesus, redemption and grace. Christian Mariology aims to connect scripture, tradition and the teachings of the Church on Mary.
Doctor of the Church – title given by a variety of Christian churches to individuals whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.
Religious institute – "a society in which members...pronounce public vows...and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common".
Particular Church – In Catholic canon law, a particular Church (Latin: ecclesia particularis) is an ecclesiastical community headed by a bishop or someone recognised as the equivalent of a bishop.
The Latin Church is the largest sui iuris particular Church within the Catholic Church and the only non-Eastern one.
Liturgy – customary public worship by a specific religious group, according to its particular beliefs, customs and traditions. See Catholic liturgy.
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The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-Rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches, are 23 Eastern Christian autonomous particular churches of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope in Rome. Although they are distinct theologically, liturgically, and historically from the Latin Church, they are all in full communion with it and with each other. Eastern Catholics are a distinct minority within the Catholic Church; of the 1.3 billion Catholics in communion with the Pope, approximately 18 million are members of the eastern churches.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide as of 2019. It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilization. The church consists of 24 sui iuris churches, including the Latin Church and 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, which comprise almost 3,500 dioceses and eparchies located around the world. The pope, who is the bishop of Rome, is the chief pastor of the church. The bishopric of Rome, known as the Holy See, is the central governing authority of the church. The administrative body of the Holy See, the Roman Curia, has its principal offices in Vatican City, a small enclave of the Italian city of Rome, of which the pope is head of state.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.
Catholic Mariology is Mariology in Catholic theology. According to the Immaculate Conception taught by the Catholic Church, she was conceived and born without sin, hence Mary is seen as having a singular dignity above the saints, receiving a higher level of veneration than all angelic spirits and blessed souls in heaven. Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art, music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
The Roman Rite is the most common manner of performing ecclesiastical services of the Latin Church, the largest of the sui iuris particular churches that comprise the Catholic Church. The Roman Rite governs liturgical rites such as the Roman Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours as well as the manner in which sacraments and blessings are performed. It developed in the Latin language in the city of Rome and, while distinct Latin liturgical rites such as the Ambrosian Rite remain, the Roman Rite has gradually been adopted almost everywhere in the Latin Church. In medieval times there were numerous local variants, even if all of them did not amount to distinct rites, yet uniformity increased as a result of the invention of printing and in obedience to the decrees of the Council of Trent of 1545–63. Several Latin liturgical rites that survived into the 20th century were abandoned voluntarily after the Second Vatican Council. The Roman Rite is now the most widespread liturgical rite not only in the Catholic Church but in Christianity as a whole.
Catholicity is a concept pertaining to beliefs and practices that are widely accepted by numerous Christian denominations, most notably by those Christian denominations that describe themselves as catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed formulated at the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."
The priesthood is the office of the ministers of religion, who have been commissioned ("ordained") with the Holy orders of the Catholic Church. Technically, bishops are a priestly order as well; however, in layman's terms priest refers only to presbyters and pastors. The church's doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised (lay) members as the "common priesthood", which can be confused with the ministerial priesthood of the consecrated clergy.
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, sanctifying the world and representing the Church. Catholics trace the origins of the office of bishop to the apostles, who it is believed were endowed with a special charism and office by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Catholics believe this special charism and office has been transmitted through an unbroken succession of bishops by the laying on of hands in the sacrament of holy orders.
Catholic theology is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings, and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on canonical scripture, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. This article serves as an introduction to various topics in Catholic theology, with links to where fuller coverage is found.
Mariology is the theological study of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mariology seeks to relate doctrine or dogma about Mary to other doctrines of the faith, such as those concerning Jesus and notions about redemption, intercession and grace. Christian Mariology aims to place the role of the historic Mary in the context of scripture, tradition and the teachings of the Church on Mary. In terms of social history, Mariology may be broadly defined as the study of devotion to and thinking about Mary throughout the history of Christianity.
The post-Vatican II history of the Catholic Church is the recent history of the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).
The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have been in a state of official schism from one another, with a few short-lived reunifications since the East–West Schism of 1054. That original schism was exacerbated by historical and language differences, and the ensuing theological differences between the Western and Eastern churches.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Christianity:
In the liturgical traditions of the Catholic Church, the term ordination refers to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons. The teaching of the Catholic Church on ordination, as expressed in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, is that only a Catholic male validly receives ordination, and "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." In other words, the male priesthood is not considered by the church a matter of policy but an unalterable requirement of God. As with priests and bishops, the church ordains only men as deacons.
Women play significant roles in the life of the Catholic Church, although excluded from the Catholic hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons. In the history of the Catholic Church, the church often influenced social attitudes toward women. Influential Catholic women have included theologians, abbesses, monarchs, missionaries, mystics, martyrs, scientists, nurses, hospital administrators, educationalists, religious sisters, Doctors of the Church, and canonised saints. Women constitute the majority of members of consecrated life in the Catholic Church: in 2010, there were around 721,935 professed women religious. Motherhood and family are given an exalted status in Catholicism, with The Blessed Virgin Mary holding a special place of veneration.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church. Some terms used in everyday English have a different meaning in the context of the Catholic faith, including brother, confession, confirmation, exemption, faithful, father, ordinary, religious, sister, venerable, and vow.
There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition.
A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite depends on the particular church the bishop belongs to. Thus "particular church" refers to an institution, and "liturgical rite" to its ritual practices.
The Latin Church is the largest autonomous particular church within the Catholic Church, whose members constitute the vast majority of the 1.3 billion Christians in communion with the Pope in Rome. The Latin Church is one of 24 churches sui iuris in communion with the pope; the other 23 are referred to as the Eastern Catholic Churches, and have approximately 18 million members combined. The Latin Church traditionally employs the Latin liturgical rites, which since the mid-twentieth century are very often translated into the vernacular language. The predominant liturgical rite is the Roman Rite, elements of which have been practiced since the fourth century.