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."