The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with more than 1.25 billion members worldwide. One of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation.〔O'Collins, p. v (preface).〕 Headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, its doctrines are summarised in the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church is also distinguished by its celebration of the seven sacraments.
The Catholic Church teaches that it is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ,〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Vatican congregation reaffirms truth, oneness of Catholic Church )〕 that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter. The Church maintains that the doctrine on faith and morals that it declares as definitive is infallible.〔(Second Vatican Council, ''Lumen gentium'', 25 )〕〔''Catechism of the Catholic Church'', para. 890: "The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:"〕 The Latin Church, the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches and religious institutes such as the Jesuits, mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders, reflect a variety of theological emphases in the Church.〔Colin Gunton. "Christianity among the Religions in the Encyclopedia of Religion", Religious Studies, Vol. 24, number 1, page 14. In a review of an article from the Encyclopedia of Religion, Gunton writes: "()he article (Catholicism in the encyclopedia ) rightly suggests caution, suggesting at the outset that Roman Catholicism is marked by several different doctrinal, theological and liturgical emphases."〕
Of the seven sacraments, the principal one is the Eucharist, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest, bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=''CCC 1333,1375—1376, 1416'' )〕 The Catholic Church practises closed communion, with only baptised members in a state of grace ordinarily permitted to receive it.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=''CCC'', 1399 )〕
The Catholic Church venerates Mary as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven and practises numerous Marian devotions.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=''CCC 963-975'' )〕 It has defined four Marian dogmatic teachings: her immaculate conception without original sin, her status as the Mother of God, her perpetual virginity and her bodily assumption into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.
Catholic spiritual teaching includes spreading the Gospel while Catholic social teaching emphasises support for the sick, the poor and the afflicted through corporal works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and medical services in the world.
In the late 20th century, the Catholic Church was criticised for its doctrines on sexuality and the ordination of women and its handling of sexual abuse cases.
== Name ==
The word ''catholic'' is derived from the Greek word καθολικός (''katholikos''), which means "universal". ''Katholikos'' is associated with the adverb καθόλου (''katholou''), a contraction of the phrase καθ' ὅλου (''kath' holou''), which means "according to the whole".〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Catholic ) Entries from multiple reference works.〕
''Catholic'' was first used to describe the Christian church in the early 2nd century.〔MacCulloch, ''Christianity'', p. 127.〕 The first known use of the phrase "the catholic church" (''he katholike ekklesia'') occurred in the letter from St Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written about 110 AD. In the Catechetical Discourses of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the name "Catholic Church" is used to distinguish it from other groups that also call themselves the Church.
Since the East–West Schism of 1054, the Eastern Church has taken the adjective "Orthodox" as its distinctive epithet, and the Western Church in communion with the Holy See has similarly taken "Catholic", keeping that description also after the 16th-century Reformation, when those that ceased to be in communion became known as Protestants.〔"catholic, adj. and n." Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press, June 2014. Web. 7 August 2014. Excerpt: "After the separation of East and West 'Catholic' was assumed as its descriptive epithet by the Western or Latin Church, as 'Orthodox' was by the Eastern or Greek. At the Reformation the term 'Catholic' was claimed as its exclusive right by the body remaining under the Roman obedience, in opposition to the 'Protestant' or 'Reformed' National Churches. These, however, also retained the term, giving it, for the most part, a wider and more ideal or absolute sense, as the attribute of no single community, but only of the whole communion of the saved and saintly in all churches and ages. In England, it was claimed that the Church, even as Reformed, was the national branch of the 'Catholic Church' in its proper historical sense." Note: The full text of the OED definition of "catholic" can be consulted here.〕〔McBrien, Richard (2008). ''The Church''. Harper Collins. p. xvii. Online version available (Browseinside.harpercollins.com ). Quote: "()he use of the adjective 'Catholic' as a modifier of 'Church' became divisive only after the East–West Schism... and the Protestant Reformation. … In the former case, the Western Church claimed for itself the title ''Catholic'' Church, while the East appropriated the name ''Orthodox'' Church. In the latter case, those in communion with the Bishop of Rome retained the adjective "Catholic", while the churches that broke with the Papacy were called ''Protestant''."〕
The name "Catholic Church" is the most common designation used in official church documents.〔(''Catechism of the Catholic Church'' ). Vatican.va. Retrieved 1 May 2009.〕 It is also the name which Pope Paul VI used when signing documents of the Second Vatican Council.〔The Vatican. (Documents of the II Vatican Council ). Retrieved 4 May 2009. Note: The Pope's signature appears in the Latin version.〕 However, documents produced both by the Holy See〔Examples uses of "Roman Catholic" by the Holy See: the encyclicals (''Divini Illius Magistri'' ) of Pope Pius XI and (''Humani generis'' ) of Pope Pius XII; joint declarations signed by Pope Benedict XVI with (Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on 23 November 2006 ) and (Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople on 30 November 2006. )〕 and by certain national episcopal conferences〔Example use of "Roman" Catholic by a bishop's conference: ''The Baltimore Catechism'', an official catechism authorised by the Catholic bishops of the United States, states: "That is why we are called Roman Catholics; to show that we are united to the real successor of St Peter" (Question 118) and refers to the Church as the "Roman Catholic Church" under Questions 114 and 131 ((Baltimore Catechism). )〕 occasionally refer to the Church as the Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism of Pope Pius X, published in 1908, also used the term "Roman" to distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian communities which are not in full communion with the Holy See.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=The Catechism of St Pius X, The Ninth Article of the Creed, Question 20 )〕
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