Roman Catholicism, Christian travel

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Romanesque Jesus

and history
Catholic: from a Greek term meaning "in general" or "on the whole." In the Early Church it was used to express the universal nature of Christianity and to indicate that the belief and practice of a Church was such that it had been "everywhere and always accepted by all." Thus it became identified with orthodoxy. Today the term is often used to mean "universal."


Gothic Jesus

Renaissance Jesus


Roman Catholicism: in the past it was relatively easy to describe Catholicism. Twentieth century developments make this a much more complex task. The dogmatic formulation may be found in the decrees of the Council of Trent, the Creed of Pope Pious IV, the decrees of the Vatican Councils, Papal utterances claiming infalibility, and the body of Roman Catholic Canon Law.

Alongside these there are the liturgy, and the hierarchically organization of the Church. Roman Catholicism claims that the sacraments which are ministered by the Church are channels of grace that flow from God to the recipient. There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Mass, Holy Orders, Penance, Matrimony, Extreme Unction.

The focal point of traditional Roman Catholic worship is the Mass. It is interpreted as transsubstantiation, a dogma first promulgated in 1215 asserting that the substance of the bread and wine used in the ritual actually become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Confession to priests has played a key role in Roman Catholicism which alongside the doctrine of purgatory led to the practice of the sale of indulgences in the sixteenth century.

Another prominent feature of Catholicism involves the role of Mary. this is something many Protestants find objectionable, but Catholics respond by reminding them of Bible verses like Luke 1.28 where an angel addresses Mary: "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."

Copyright Irving Hexham 1999