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Catholicism

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The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has a hierarchy, just as any other structured environment. Having a hierarchy helps the Church lead the faithful at local and increasingly higher levels. The parish is at the most basic [more…]

Celibacy and the Catholic Church

Celibacy is the formal and solemn oath to never enter the married state. In the Catholic Church, men who take Holy Orders and become priests and women who become nuns take a vow of celibacy. Celibate men [more…]

The Catholic Church and the Sexual Abuse Issue

Catholic priests have been under fire for widespread and much publicized cases of sexual abuse of children. The unconscionable actions of a very small minority of deviant clergy and a few bishops who merely [more…]

The Role of Women in the Catholic Church

Many women play active roles in the Catholic Church, but few of them have sanctioned titles. Even becoming a nun doesn’t get you the boon of the sacrament of Holy Orders — only men can be ordained. [more…]

Spiritual Seasons of the Catholic Church Calendar

The liturgical year, or Church calendar, of the Catholic Church is as different from the calendar year as the fiscal year is for most people. The Catholic liturgical year revolves around two feasts: Christmas [more…]

The Use of Color in the Catholic Liturgical Year

The sense of sight, including color, plays an important role in Catholic worship. The colors of a Catholic priest’s vestments help the faithful know that certain celebrations are at hand. [more…]

The Catholic Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism is the one sacrament that all Christian denominations share in common. In the Catholic Church, infants are baptized to welcome them into the Catholic faith and to free them from the original sin [more…]

The Catholic Sacrament of Holy Communion

Of all seven sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is the most central and important to Catholicism. Holy Communion is offered at every Mass, and in fact, the ritual of the Mass is largely [more…]

The Catholic Sacrament of Penance

Catholics believe that the Church heals in the Sacrament of Penance. The Sacrament of Penance (or Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession) is for spiritual healing. Catholics believe Jesus left the Sacrament [more…]

The Role of Catholic Bishops and Archbishops

In the Catholic Church, archbishops and bishops rank below cardinals. Becoming a bishop is the third and fullest level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The first level is the ordination of a deacon, the [more…]

The Role of Priests in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, a parish priest (also known as a pastor) is a priest appointed by the bishop to represent him to the local parish, which is a collection of neighborhoods in one small region of [more…]

The Role of Catholic Monks and Nuns

Monks and nuns inhabit the lowest rung of the hierarchy in the Catholic Church. Religious brothers and sisters aren’t members of the clergy, but they aren’t members of the lay faithful, either. They’re [more…]

Vatican City, Home of the Catholic Church

The head of the Catholic Church, the pope, is also the head of the smallest independent nation in the world — Vatican City. Vatican City covers only 0.2 square miles [more…]

Catholic Gestures Explained

Catholics express reverence and respect with several gestures. If you’re Catholic, you perform the sign of the cross, you kneel at the proper times during Mass, and you genuflect as a matter of course. [more…]

Catholic Symbols Explained

Every religion has its sacred symbols, and Catholicism may have more symbols than other religions. The cross that represents what Jesus suffered for his followers is a common Christian symbol, but Catholics [more…]

The Catholic Church and Contraception

The Catholic Church believes that artificial contraception is sinful and immoral and may frustrate a divine plan to bring a new life into the world. Instead of using birth control methods such as the pill [more…]

The Catholic Church and Homosexuality

The Catholic Church respects and loves the homosexual person the same as it does the heterosexual. Catholicism teaches that homosexual people must be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. [more…]

The Catholic Worship Service: The Mass

The Mass, the formal, official worship service of Catholicism, is the most important and sacred act of worship in the Catholic Church. Going to Mass is the only way a Catholic can fulfill the Third Commandment [more…]

A Look at Key Catholic Prayers

Catholics say many of the same prayers other religions do, with some variations. The key Catholic prayers are either part of the Mass, during which many prayers are sung, or part of praying the rosary. [more…]

Celebrating Catholic Mass in the Local Language

From 1563 until 1965, the Catholic Mass was said entirely in Latin. Now, Catholics worldwide celebrate the Mass in their own native language. That huge change resulted from Vatican II, more formally known [more…]

Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church

On holy days of obligation, Catholics are obliged to participate in Mass. Every Sunday is a holy day of obligation, as are six other days throughout the year. In the United States, these holy days of obligation [more…]

The Split that Created Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Catholics

Eastern Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics are the result of what is known as the East-West Schism (or Great Schism) of 1054, when medieval Christianity split into two branches. [more…]

Catholicism and the Ten Commandments

According to Exodus in the Old Testament, God issued his own set of laws (the Ten Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are considered [more…]

Catholicism and Natural Moral Law

A pillar of the Catholic set of laws is its understanding of natural moral law, which addresses laws that aren’t written but nevertheless known by all men and women who have the use of reason. It uses [more…]

Catholicism and Human Positive Law

People create human laws — not God or nature. The Catholic Church maintains that natural and divine laws are immutable and eternal, because they come from God. However, human laws — whether they come from [more…]

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