Portal:Catholicism

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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Latin and Eastern Churches that are in full communion with the pope as the Bishop of Rome and successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, united as the Catholic Church.

The first known written use of "Catholic Church" appears in a letter by Ignatius of Antioch c. AD 107 to the church of Smyrna, whose bishop, Polycarp, visited Ignatius during his journey to Rome as a prisoner, he wrote:

Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

— Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8

His use of "Catholic Church" suggests that it was already in current use, for he sees no need to explain himself and uses the expression as one already known to his readers, it gives expression to St. Paul's teaching that all baptized in Christ are one body in Christ (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:3–6, 12–16). Dissenting groups breaking away from this universal unity were already known to the Apostles: in his letters Paul refers to the "Judaizers" (those requiring observance of the Mosaic Law), and in his Book of Revelation St. John calls them "Nicolaitans". They believe that it is a small step for those faithful to the teaching of the Apostles to identify themselves as the Catholic Church ("the one Church everywhere"), and not to include those dissenting and breaking away from unity with her.

The term Catholic Christianity entered into Roman law by force of edict on 27 February AD 380:

It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of church[disambiguation needed]es. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of [as] our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven, shall decide to inflict.


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Knights of Columbus salute during the welcoming ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI on the South Lawn of the White House

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Roman Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in the United States in 1882, it is named in honor of Christopher Columbus and dedicated to the principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. There are more than 1.7 million members in 14,000 councils, with nearly 200 councils on college campuses. Membership is limited to "practical Catholic" men aged 18 or older. Councils have been chartered in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, the Philippines, Guam, Saipan, and most recently in Poland. The Knights' official junior organization, the Columbian Squires, has over 5,000 Circles. All the Order's ceremonials and business meetings are restricted to members though all other events are open to the public. A promise not to reveal any details of the ceremonials except to an equally qualified Knight is required to ensure their impact and meaning for new members; an additional clause subordinates the promise to that Knight's civil and religious duties.
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Credit: Raffaello Sanzio

The School of Athens or "Scuola di Atene" in Italian is one of the most famous paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1509 and 1510 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

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Gregory of Nazianzus

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – January 25, 389), also known as Saint Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th century Christian bishop of Constantinople. Gregory is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age, as a classically trained speaker and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the "Trinitarian Theologian." Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three persons of the Trinity.
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Coat of arms of the Diocese of Caithness

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An engraving of Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul
Saint Irenaeus (Greek: Ειρηναίος), (b. 2nd century; d. c 200) was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, now Lyons, France. He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology, he was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, who was said to be a disciple of John the Evangelist. Irenaeus's best-known book, Against Heresies, (c 180) is a detailed attack on Gnosticism, which was then a serious threat to the Church, and especially on the system of Valentinus. As the first great Catholic theologian, he emphasized the traditional elements in the Church, especially the episcopate, Scripture, and tradition. Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was to humbly accept one doctrinal authority--episcopal councils. Against the Gnostics, who said that they possessed a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles — and none of them was a Gnostic — and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. Irenaeus is the earliest witness to recognition of the canonical character of all four gospels.Irenaeus is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, his feast day is 28 June.Born in the first half of the 2nd century (the exact date is disputed: between the years 115 and 125 according to some, or 130 and 142 according to others), Irenaeus is thought to have been a Greek from Polycarp's hometown of Smyrna in Asia Minor, now İzmir, Turkey. Unlike many of his contemporary Christians, he was raised in a Christian family rather than converting as an adult.


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Patrick, Archbishop of Armagh

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Pope John XXIII

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Particular Churches (grouped by liturgical rite):
Latin Rite: Latin ChurchAlexandrian Rite: Coptic Catholic Church · Eritrean Catholic Church · Ethiopic Catholic ChurchArmenian Rite: Armenian Catholic Church
East Syrian Rite: Chaldean Catholic Church · Syro-Malabar Catholic ChurchWest Syrian Rite: Maronite Church · Syriac Catholic Church · Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Byzantine Rite: Albanian Greek Catholic Church · Belarusian Greek Catholic Church · Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church · Greek Byzantine Catholic Church
Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia · Hungarian Greek Catholic Church · Italo-Albanian Greek Catholic Church · Macedonian Byzantine-Catholic Church
Melkite Greek Catholic Church · Romanian Greek Catholic Church · Russian Greek Catholic Church · Ruthenian Catholic Church
Slovak Greek Catholic Church · Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

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  1. ^ Extract of English translation from Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 31, cited at Medieval Sourcebook: Theodosian Code XVI by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007, the full Latin text of the code is at IMPERATORIS THEODOSIANI CODEX Liber Decimus Sextus (170KB download), archived from George Mason University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007.