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The Catholic Faith Explained Lesson 1

In the same context there is mention of the practice of indulgences. An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. Prayers for the dead and indulgences have been envisioned as decreasing the "duration" of time the dead would spend in purgatory. Traditionally, most indulgences were measured in term of days, "quarantines" i. In Pope Paul VI 's revision of the rules concerning indulgences, these expressions were dropped, and replaced by the expression "partial indulgence", indicating that the person who gained such an indulgence for a pious action is granted, "in addition to the remission of temporal punishment acquired by the action itself, an equal remission of punishment through the intervention of the Church.

Historically, the practice of granting indulgences and the widespread [] associated abuses, which led to their being seen as increasingly bound up with money, with criticisms being directed against the "sale" of indulgences, were a source of controversy that was the immediate occasion of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and Switzerland.

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The Catholic Church teaches that it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church founded by Jesus. Concerning non-Catholics, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say:. Reformulated positively, this statement means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:. Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door.


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Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:.

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation. Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.

Catholics believe that the Catholic Church is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth. Catholic belief holds that the Church exists simultaneously on earth Church militant , in Purgatory Church suffering , and in Heaven Church triumphant ; thus Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the other saints are alive and part of the living Church. Section 8 of the Second Vatican Council 's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium , states that "this Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.

These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity. Faith of the Church Latin : fides Ecclesiae is a basic concept of Catholic theology which implies that not the faithful individual but the Catholic Church as a whole is considered to be the primary carrier of Christian faith.

According to Catholic teaching, the Church has received the complete faith by Jesus Christ through the apostles depositum fidei.

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Led by the Holy Spirit , as promised by Christ John , the Church progressively during the times "unpacks" and displays the germ of the creed , such keeping it actual and alive. May there be reductions or unbalances in single ages or regions, the Church as a whole, however, is trusted to be sustained in the truth and to maturate towards its complete understanding. Equally, in this concept, the act of believing, the personal devotion to the holy and inconceivable God , for the individual is participation in the devotion of the Church, which means in the devotion of Christ himself to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

The single faithful, in consequence, is invited to acquire the faith of the Church, as assiduously as possible, into his personal possession, nevertheless being aware of the insufficiency of isolated cogitation and listening to the common voice of the Church. Catholic belief holds that the church exists both on earth and in heaven simultaneously, and thus the Virgin Mary and the saints are alive and part of the living church. Prayers and devotions to Mary and the saints are common practices in Catholic life. These devotions are not worship , since only God is worshiped. The church teaches that the saints "do not cease to intercede with the Father for us.

So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped. She is given special honor and devotion above all other saints but this honor and devotion differs essentially from the adoration given to God. Men become bishops, priests or deacons through the sacrament of Holy Orders. Candidates to the priesthood must have a college degree in addition to another four years of theological training, including pastoral theology. The Catholic Church, following the Apostolic tradition, ordains only males. The bishops are believed to possess the fullness of Christian priesthood; priests and deacons participate in the ministry of the bishop.

As a body, the College of Bishops are considered to be the successors of the Apostles. Only bishops are allowed to perform the sacrament of holy orders.

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Many bishops head a diocese , which is divided into parishes. A parish is usually staffed by at least one priest. Beyond their pastoral activity, a priest may perform other functions, including study, research, teaching or office work. They may also be rectors or chaplains. Permanent deacons , those who do not seek priestly ordination, preach and teach. They may also baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services.

Upon completion of their formation program and acceptance by their local bishop, candidates receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. In August Pope Francis established the Study Commission on the Women's Diaconate , to determine whether ordaining women as deacons should be revived. This would include the deacon's role of preaching at the Eucharist. While deacons may be married, only celibate men are ordained as priests in the Latin Church. Apostolic succession is the belief that the pope and Catholic bishops are the spiritual successors of the original twelve apostles, through the historically unbroken chain of consecration see: Holy orders.

The pope is the spiritual head and leader of the Roman Catholic Church who makes use of the Roman Curia to assist him in governing. He is elected by the College of Cardinals who may choose from any male member of the church but who must be ordained a bishop before taking office. Since the 15th century, a current cardinal has always been elected. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth".

Regarding clerical celibacy, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:. All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.

In the Eastern Churches, a different discipline has been in force for many centuries. While bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry.


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The Catholic Church's discipline of mandatory celibacy for priests within the Latin Church while allowing very limited individual exceptions has been criticized for not following either the Protestant Reformation practice, which rejects mandatory celibacy, or the Eastern Catholic Churches 's and Eastern Orthodox Churches 's practice, which requires celibacy for bishops and priestmonks and excludes marriage by priests after ordination, but does allow married men to be ordained to the priesthood. Conversely, some young men in the United States are increasingly entering formation for the priesthood precisely because of the long-held, traditional teaching on priestly celibacy.

Catholic social teaching is based on the teaching of Jesus and commits Catholics to the welfare of all others. Although the Catholic Church operates numerous social ministries throughout the world, individual Catholics are also required to practice spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, immigrants or refugees, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and visiting those in prison. Spiritual works require the Catholic to share their knowledge with others, comfort those who suffer, have patience, forgive those who hurt them, give advice and correction to those who need it, and pray for the living and the dead.

Today, the official Church's position remains a focus of controversy and is fairly non-specific, stating only that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, specifically: [] the Church allows for the possibility that the human body developed from previous biological forms but it was by God's special providence that the immortal spirit was given to humankind.


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This view falls into the spectrum of viewpoints that are grouped under the concept of theistic evolution which is itself opposed by several other significant points-of-view; see Creation—evolution controversy for further discussion. The Eastern Catholic Churches have as their theological, spiritual, and liturgical patrimony the traditions of Eastern Christianity.

Thus, there are differences in emphasis, tone, and articulation of various aspects of Catholic theology between the Eastern and Latin churches, as in Mariology. Likewise, medieval Western scholasticism , that of Thomas Aquinas in particular, has had little reception in the East. While Eastern Catholics respect papal authority , and largely hold the same theological beliefs as Latin Catholics, Eastern theology differs on specific Marian beliefs.

The traditional Eastern expression of the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary , for instance, is the Dormition of the Theotokos , which emphasizes her falling asleep to be later assumed into heaven. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is a teaching of Eastern origin, but is expressed in the terminology of the Western Church.

The beliefs of other Christian denominations differ from those of Catholics to varying degrees. Eastern Orthodox belief differs mainly with regard to papal infallibility , the filioque clause, and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception , but is otherwise quite similar. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Study of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

For broader coverage of theology in all of Christianity, see Christian theology.

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