Catholicism Information

Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.

Although for many the term usually refers to Christians and churches belonging to the Roman Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See, for others it refers to continuity "back to the earliest churches", as claimed even by churches in dispute with one another over doctrine and practice such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Old Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. The claim of continuity may be based on Apostolic Succession, especially in conjunction with adherence to the Nicene Creed. In this sense of indicating historical continuity, the term "catholicism" is at times employed to mark a contrast to Protestantism, which tends to look instead to the Bible as interpreted by the 16th-century Protestant Reformation as its ultimate standard. It was thus used by the Oxford Movement.

According to Richard McBrien, Catholicism is distinguished from other forms of Christianity in its particular understanding and commitment to tradition, the sacraments, the mediation between God, communion, and the See of Rome. According to Orthodox leaders like Bishop Kallistos Ware, the Orthodox Church has these things as well, though the primacy of the See of Rome is only honorific, showing non-jurisdictional respect for the Bishop of Rome as the "first among equals" and "Patriarch of the West." Catholicism, according to Mc Brien's paradigm, includes a monastic life, religious orders, a religious appreciation of the arts, a communal understanding of sin and redemption, and missionary activity.

Wikipedia, Catholicism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholicism (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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