July 6, 2022
Catholic Church, sometimes called the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion/billion baptized Catholics worldwide in the year 2017. As the world's oldest and largest functioning international institution continuum it played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilization. The church is headed by the bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See. The Christian beliefs of Catholicism are based on the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of the apostles of Christ, and that the pope is the successor of St. bestowed by Jesus. She claims that she practices the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, handed down by sacred tradition. The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic churches and institutes, such as mendicant orders, closed monastic orders, and third orders, reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church. . The Church teaches that through the consecration of a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honored in dogmas and devotions. Her teachings include Divine Mercy, sanctification by faith, and evangelization of the Gospel, as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasizes voluntary support for the sick, poor, and afflicted through bodily and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of education and health in the world. The Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, art and science. Catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora and conversions. Since the 20th century, most have resided in the southern hemisphere due to secularization in Europe and increased persecution in the Middle East. The Catholic Church shared communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the Great Schism in 1054, particularly disputing the authority of the pope. Prior to the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431, the Church of the East also participated in this communion, as did the Eastern Orthodox churches before the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, all separated primarily by differences in Christology. In the 16th century, the Reformation led to Protestantism which also broke with Catholics. Since the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticized for its teachings on sexuality, its absence of female priests and its handling of cases of child sexual abuse involving clergy.