17.05.2018 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Catholicism is a religion that hinges on seven sacraments. It’s one of the branches of Christianity.

The Catholic (Christian) Church was a decisive spiritual force in the history of western civilization. Along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism, it is one of the three main branches of Christianity.

The history of catholicism

The Catholic Church was formed during the 1st millennium A.D. in the Western Roman Empire, and it played an important role in the history of Western civilization.

The Roman Catholic Church dominated the world in the Middle Ages and was so strict at that time that many people suffered because of it. That is the reason why the movement called the Reformation began.

Initially, its goal was to bring the Roman Catholic Church back to its roots and to end false teachings and practices. However, the Roman Catholic Church rejected reform and persecuted the reformers. These then founded their own churches. Hence Protestant churches became dominant in Northern Europe and North America, and later, thanks to missionary activities, they spread throughout the world.

The essence of catholicism

Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Protestants share many basic Christian beliefs, especially about the Trinity, the Resurrection and the ancient ecumenical councils. The Catholic faith is based on the Holy Scripture and canons, administering seven sacraments:

  • Baptism
  • Marriage
  • Anointing with chrism (Confirmation)
  • Eucharist
  • Penance
  • Anointing of the sick
  • Holy orders

Deeply religious Catholics adhere to the following principles:

  • They believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church. This is due to the notion that the Pope holds the Throne of Saint Peter and he is Christ’s only Viceroy on Earth.
  • They are convinced that the Holy Scripture does not provide sufficient guidance and is not an authority; in addition to it, they adhere to ancient oral traditions.
  • Roman Catholics believe in purgatory and an afterlife where the sins of a Christian are purified, usually through suffering. This includes punishment for sins committed during one’s earthly life.
  • They adhere to the idea of “the treasure of merit.” This is like a “bank” of grace, where the merits of Jesus Christ and his saints are stored, and hence can be accessed. This is inexhaustible due to the endless merits of Christ. Catholics pray to Christ or other saints, begging them for such benefits.
     It is important to understand that Catholics do not worship saints. They seek to honour them while acknowledging only one God who is worthy of worship.
  • They observe the vow of chastity. This has been a mandatory policy since the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which ordered priests to orally confess their sins at least once a year (and to annually participate in the Holy Communion).
  • They believe in the transformation (consubstantiation) of bread and wine through prayers. When a priest proclaims the words of prayer, bread and wine change to become Christ’s Body and Blood.
  • They kneel and worship the consecrated bread and wine during Holy Communion. They place the consecrated host in a special paten and use it in religious processions.
  • Catholics believe in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary and her entering Heaven while living. Moreover, they believe that her body was taken to heaven at the end of her earthly life, and her dead body cannot be found on earth. Along with Orthodox Christians and some Protestants, Catholics believe that Mary remained a lifelong virgin even after the birth of Jesus Christ.

Features of catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church is known for its social attitudes, especially concerning the family. Abortion is prohibited, as is the use of artificial contraception. Couples interested in family planning are encouraged to engage in natural methods.

Roman Catholicism recognizes the seven sacraments that are the means of grace in Christian life. Like Protestants, Catholics embrace baptism and eucharist sacraments. They also practice the ordinances of confirmation, reconciliation (repentance), anointing of the sick, marriage, and ordination.

Traditional Roman Catholic theology distinguishes between mortal and forgivable sins. Forgivable sins are minor sins that do not curse the soul. Mortal sins are serious sins that truly separate man from God and lead to a person going to hell if he/she does not receive forgiveness before death.

The difference between catholicism and orthodoxy

What are the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy?

Christianity is an important world religion, emanating from the life, teachings and death of Jesus. Catholicism is the largest of the three main branches of Christianity. Thus, all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics. About 1.3 billion of the estimated 2.3 billion Christians in the world are Catholics. In general, Catholicism differs from other Christian churches in its beliefs about the sacraments, the presence of the Bible, the peculiarity of traditions, the importance of the Virgin Mary and the saints, as well as the papacy. The Pope is the visible head of the Catholic Church worldwide.

Catholic states and countries

Catholic states and countries

Catholicism is the largest (by the number of believers) branch of Christianity. There are almost 1.3 billion Catholics in the world. Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, the United States, and Italy are the leading countries in terms of the population of Catholic believers.

Catholicism is the main religion in Europe.

Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Ireland and Malta are all countries where Catholicism has developed most. Catholics also make up the majority of the population in Germany and the Netherlands and in Switzerland, they make up half of the total population of the country.

Catholicism is also common in the Western hemisphere. Representatives of this belief can be found in South and Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, and the United States.

In Asia, Catholicism is prevalent in the Philippines and East Timor. Vietnam, South Korea, China and The Lebanon also have a significant number of Catholics within their territories. Catholicism has also reached Africa —there are about 200 million believers on that continent. The number of Catholics prevails over Protestants in both Australia and New Zealand.