The term Roman Catholic Apostolic can raise some concerns for the community in general, and it is a very interesting topic. In this sense, if you want to know a little more about what the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church means, keep reading, this article is for you.
The Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church
The Roman Catholic Apostolic Church is one of the most recognized religions in the entire world, of great importance and international renown; as well as comprising a generous number of faithful and believers, and is considered the most important religion of all. This is the most recognized church by virtue of the fact that it legally depends on the Pope, and it is scattered throughout the world, so it is universal.
It should be noted that coerced baptism is practiced in this religion, which is carried out in the early years of childhood, when the person cannot choose or decide for himself whether or not he wants to be baptized, which is why it is still The exact number of true Catholics today is unknown.
In this sense, the number of Catholics that can be referred to is in proportion to the number of baptized people, which according to data collected by the 2010 Pontifical Yearbook, were around 1,166 million people, who of course were baptized in their early years. of life. This amount represents 17% of the world’s population.
Similarly, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church has a number of features that distinguish it from other Christian and religious groups, which are present throughout the world.
These features are characteristic and unique, together with its hierarchical structure, making this one of the most important and largest religions, which even today has the largest number of followers and believers. It should be noted that it is also the predominant religion in Latin America, since it was brought from the European continent at the time of colonization.
The Roman Catholic Apostolic Church proper is an important religious institution whose main seat, also known as the Apostolic See, is located in the capital of the Italian Republic: Rome. It is closely related to the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, which is located in the city-state of the Vatican, which is an enclave within Rome, Italy; This city is also the home of the Pope and is considered a world-class architectural and artistic treasure.
With regard to the Vatican, this is an independent state that has been recognized by the entire international community as such, and it should be noted that although it has a close relationship with the apostolic see, both figures are different in the following sense: the State of the The Vatican is a temporal power, while for Catholics the Apostolic See represents spiritual power. As mentioned before, the Vatican is the home of the Pope, who is the highest representation of him and responds to the honorific name of “his holiness of him”. It should be noted that the Pope who is currently regent is Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who is known as Pope Francis.
History and origin of the name
Outside of Catholicism, it is necessary to designate the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church as such or as the Roman Catholic Church, because there are people who maintain that the Churches of the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Churches recognize themselves. as part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”, which are also considered etymologically and literally Catholic.
Now, these are differentiated because they are not under the authority of the Pope, or also because they are people who come from countries in which speech has acquired this expression by virtue of the great use by Anglican communities, of Orthodox as well as other Protestants.
In addition to this, it should be mentioned that there are other churches that remain in full communion with the bishop of Rome, which have different liturgical traditions and consequently the term “Roman” is not added.
That is why the general term Catholic Church is used to encompass both the Eastern Churches and the Roman Church, both Catholic. However, there is also an extensive tradition according to which there are other terms that refer to the Catholic Church, among which the following stand out: Sacrament of Christ, People of God, Bride of Christ, Peter’s Boat, Jerusalem from above, Mystical Body of Christ, Building of God or Salvation Ship.
The Catholic Church understands herself and presents herself to the world as the entity that has been established by Jesus Christ, whose objective is to help travel the spiritual path towards God, through reciprocal love and under the fulfillment of the sacraments through which God grants grace to his believers, such as: baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, penance, marriage, priestly orders and anointing of the sick.
To this end, it is considered that the Catholic Church has the objective of developing, imparting and propagating Christian teachings, as well as seeking the unity of all the faithful throughout the world. In the same way, it must also establish the ministry of its priests in order to provide the grace of the sacraments to the faithful, for which the Catholic Church has an organization in the form of a pyramid. Therefore, it needs to maintain the unity of its faithful and that at the same time they obey the officially established doctrine.
In addition to this, this church considers itself as the only authentic church compared to other churches and Christian denominations that have emerged throughout history, since it is considered the only one that has been founded by Christ. Now, the magisterium of this church bases its teachings on Revelation, which is found explicit in the sacred scriptures and in sacred tradition.
It should also be mentioned that the elementary doctrine of the Catholic Church has its foundations in the Apostles’ Creed, which includes a set of formulas of faith that were elaborated during the first councils of history.
This creed can be systematically explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was approved in 1992 by Pope John Paul II. On the other hand, a distinctive character between Catholics and other Christian groups has to do with their acceptance of all the ecumenical councils in history, which goes from the Council of Nicaea I to the Council of Vatican II.
On the other hand, the Bishop of Rome, called Pope, is considered bishop of the entire Catholic Church, that is, doctor and pastor of all Christians, since he is considered to be the successor of the apostle Saint Peter. The procedure for the selection of popes has varied over the course of history, but since the 11th century it has been elected in a meeting called a conclave, which is carried out by the College of Cardinals.
There are also other aspects of Catholic doctrine that distinguish it from other Christian groups, such as the belief in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary, mother of Jesus. To this can be added the faith in the effective spiritual authority of the Catholic Church to forgive the sins of its faithful, as well as remit the temporal penalties that may arise, through the Sacrament of penance and indulgence.
Finally, it is pertinent to delimit another outstanding dogma that characterizes the Catholic Church, which is the belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; This is because through the change called transubstantiation, the bread and wine that are presented on the altar are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, respectively.
attributes of the catholic church
The Catholic Church has four inseparable attributes, also called notes, which have to do with its essential features and what is considered to be its mission; in this sense, it is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic”. Hence, Catholics profess their faith in these four attributes, through the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. Each of them is explained in detail below.
The Catholic Church itself is Holy, since its founder is holy and its goals and objectives are holy, despite all the faults and sins committed by the members who pilgrim on this Earth. It is also holy through its faithful, since they exercise a sanctifying action, and mainly those who have achieved a high level of virtue and consequently have been canonized by the same church.
In this sense, this church is holy because all its members are called to be saints, it contains in its entirety the means to achieve sanctification and salvation.
Regarding this attribute, it should be mentioned that the church is “one” by virtue of its origin: God himself, who is one according to Catholic doctrine. Similarly, it is “one” because of its founder: Christ. In this sense, the apostle Saint Paul refers to the church as the Body of Christ, in the first letter to the Corinthians, and the parts of the body are many, but the body remains one.
In another letter, this same apostle teaches a little about this attribute, calling on the people who are part of the church to maintain bonds of peace among themselves, and remain united in the same spirit.
Thus, one body and one spirit would remain, since they would have been called to the same vocation and hope. He is one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God, father of all, who is above all, acts and is in all. Christ himself teaches this unity of the church and at the same time prays that it be maintained, in the following words: “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you. May they also be one in us, so that the world believes that you have sent me.”
The church is Catholic because it is universal and seeks to announce the good news, in order to welcome all human beings, at any time and place, who accept its doctrine and receive baptism into its bosom. Thus, it is desired that wherever one of its members is found, the Catholic Church is present there. On the other hand, it is also considered catholic because Christ is present in it, which means that it receives from him the fullness of the means to attain salvation.
In this order of ideas, this church is Catholic because it is universal, that is, it is all over the world. Before Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, he spoke to his disciples the following words contemplated in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go, then, and make my disciples all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to fulfill all that I have commanded you. And I am with you until the end of the world.”
This mandate established by the Lord was understood from the rejection of the Jews, and the dispersion of all the apostles throughout the world that was known until then, which was the Roman Empire. In this sense, all of them were fulfilling the order of the Lord, taking his word around the world: Peter and Paul took the faith to Rome, Santiago the elder to Spain, Saint Bartholomew to the East. Later, when Juan was about to die at the end of the 1st century, it can be affirmed that the Church, due to its universality, was already Catholic, known throughout the world.
This is indicated by Saint Ignatius of Antioch in his letter addressed to the Smyrnotas, which was written around the year 110 and stipulates the following: “Where the Bishop is, there is the community, just as where Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church”. From these words it can be derived that the church is united as a mystical body that has Christ at its head.
As for the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, it was founded by Christ on the foundation of the apostle Peter and all the others. In this sense, the full apostolic college has authority and power towards it as long as it is in communion with Peter and his successors. It should be noted that the successors of Peter and the other apostles are the Pope and the Bishops, who exercise the same authority and the same power that they exercised in their times, by virtue of the fact that they were chosen and instituted by Christ.
This Roman Catholic Apostolic Church is also considered to be Missionary, because the Pope received the mandate from the apostles to teach the word of our Lord to the whole world. On the other hand, it is apostolic since it is founded on the succession of the apostles, as mentioned above. And consequently, the particular Churches that have been raised up in the territories are fully Catholic in the sense that they maintain their communion with the Church of Rome.
On the other hand, it is said that it is also Apostolic because it keeps and transmits from generation to generation, all those teachings that the apostles were in charge of preaching. These attributes can be found in all the particular churches that are part of the Roman Catholic Church, known as the Latin Rite; and the autonomous ritual churches, known as Eastern Rites.
In this sense, all these Churches comprise the aforementioned attributes, which are also considered essential characteristics, whose supreme authority is that of the Pope, who is the vicar of Christ on Earth, that is, his representative.
The church is then catholic since it is universal, and apostolic since it received from the apostles and their successors the mission of teaching all nations what Jesus taught. In addition to this, he confirms us in the faith through a pastor who is infallible, that is, who is not wrong, and he is the Pope. Now, the term “Romana” is also added to his name, since Peter chose Rome as his apostolic see, and consequently the Catholics who are directly subject to his directives have the same rite. called Latin.
The Roman Catholic Church has members in every country in the world, in some of which a large population can be found, or almost none in others. This organization is based on a hierarchical structure that maintains communion with the faithful, in which the clergy is divided into bishops, priests, and deacons. Each of the members of the clergy depends on a superior authority, which must exercise its government taking into consideration the community, with which it maintains an exchange of ideas by carrying out consultations and meetings.
On the other hand, as far as the territory is concerned, the Catholic Church is organized in dioceses or particular churches, each one of them under the authority of a bishop. Some of these Churches that have a higher rank, are called archdioceses, and are under the authority of an archbishop. In the Eastern Catholic Churches, these districts are called, respectively, eparchies and archeparchies. On the other hand, the Basilica of San Juan de Letrán, cathedral of Rome is the mother and head of all the Churches of the world, because it is the seat of the Roman Pontiff.
As of 2010, there were about 2,810 dioceses, of which 623 are archdioceses. It should be noted that the diocese of Rome is the Papal seat, which includes the Vatican City. In the same way there are nine patriarchates of which three are Latin and six are of Eastern rites; there are also nine patriarchal exarchates and five dependent patriarchal territories.
On the other hand, there are also other territories that are not considered dioceses, but that in practice function as such; these are the territorial prelatures and abbeys, which are ruled by a prelate or an abbot, respectively.
Now, there are currently approximately 46 territorial prelatures, of which more than 80% are in Latin American countries; and there are also eleven territorial abbeys, which are mostly in Italy, and a personal prelature, which is the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei whose headquarters are also in Italy. There are also 35 Military Ordinariates and 8 Ordinariates for those who are faithful to the Eastern Rites.
Regarding the government of the Roman Catholic Church, it should be mentioned that it is in charge of the bishops, who are helped by the priests. Now, with respect to each of the Catholic authorities, the following considerations should be made:
They are the people in charge of each of the dioceses, and their work is supported by the priests and deacons. It should be noted that no bishop has authority over another, even if he has been appointed cardinal, since each one reports directly to the Pope.
The cardinals are in charge of helping the Pope to carry out the pastoral action of the Catholic Church, and they also collaborate in the administration of the Vatican and the Roman Curia. Similarly, once the Pope dies, they are in charge of choosing the successor in an act called a conclave; Together, the cardinals make up the College of Cardinals, and are elected by the Pope directly in fulfillment of his functions.
This is the authority elected by the College of Cardinals in a meeting called a conclave. During the year 1817, the Vatican Council placed special emphasis on the existing doctrine related to papal infallibility, a characteristic that has generated multiple controversies. The Pope’s mission is to develop his ministry with the help of two large groups of people, who help him carry out his functions, which are the cardinals and the ecumenical council.
The Ecumenical Council is the assembly of all the bishops who exercise their functions in the world, which is presided over by the Pope. This council is convened every time the most important decisions must be made, as far as topics of faith and morals are concerned.
It should also be noted that the bishops who live in a given country can organize themselves in an episcopal conference, also called an assembly of ordinaries in the East, and they hold elective positions among the bishops who are part of the same nation. In the same way, there are also other forms of interdiocesan organization that are made up of several countries, and finally it can be counted as follows:
- 113 Episcopal Conferences.
- 6 Assemblies of Ordinaries.
- 6 Patriarchal Synods, one for each patriarchal church.
- 4 major archiepiscopal synods, one for each major archiepiscopal church.
- 2 church councils, which with Ethiopian and Ruthenian rites.
- 14 international conferences of various kinds.
Congregations and Orders
Although religious orders are not part of the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, they depend directly or indirectly on the Pope and the bishops, and can be classified as follows:
- Religious orders of diocesan law: These orders depend on the Bishop who governs the diocese in which they have been recognized.
- Religious orders of pontifical right: These depend directly on the Pope, but must work together with the bishops of the dioceses in which they act.
In this sense, religious orders and congregations are established according to the three basic vows that are: poverty, chastity and obedience. It should be noted that not all congregations take the vow of poverty, since some only make a commitment to utilitarian poverty.
Within the Catholic Church there are also many monastic religious orders of friars and nuns, and congregations and institutes of religious life whose members usually take vows of obedience, poverty and chastity; Be that as it may, the votes that have to be made are subject to the power of each institution.
Each one of the members of the religious orders and congregations dedicate their entire lives to God, and their objective is to save their own soul and be an example for the whole society of poverty, chastity and obedience. All these vows lived according to the particular charism that characterizes the constitution of each order or congregation. In addition to this, there are other religious practices such as fasting, meditation, prayer, penance and pilgrimage.
The Roman Catholic Apostolic Church is distributed throughout the world, and the following extensions stand out as equally important headquarters:
- Catholic Church in Andorra.
- Catholic Church in Spain.
- Catholic Church in France.
- Catholic Church in Morocco.
- Catholic Church in Monaco.
- Catholic Church in Portugal.
In order to fully understand what the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church means, it is necessary to take a brief tour of its history, since it is one of the oldest religions and has survived over the centuries and years. years. In this sense, this institution originated from the time of Christ, and his message was disclosed and disseminated by his disciples throughout the world.
On the other hand, this message broken up by all the countries in charge of the disciples and apostles of Jesus, has been maintained over the years thanks to the figure of the Pope, who is the successor of Saint Peter according to what the Catholic tradition stipulates. This important figure has gained great relevance over the years, which is why he is the highest authority of the institution, and is in charge of a large team and a series of responsibilities and commitments, which must be fully fulfilled in all the countries in which the church has a presence.
Thus, the precepts of the Catholic Church have endured over time and have acquired great power, which is maintained by the figure of the Pope and the bishops who collaborate in the exercise of their functions, both in Rome and in the rest of the world. . It should be noted that although the Vatican is the main seat of the Roman Catholic Church, it has a presence in all countries, with their respective authorities that are in communion with Rome and, consequently, continue with its precepts.
Next, a little is explained about the main events that have to do with the history of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, from its beginnings to our times.
By studying Catholic doctrine a little, it is understood that Jesus Christ formed a Christian community, which had a hierarchically organized structure, and a specific authority, which was directed by the apostles, mainly by Saint Peter. It is believed that later the apostles and early followers of Jesus Christ founded the organized church.
The oldest text that has been found, in which the term catholic or universal church is already used, consists of a letter written by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, which was addressed to the Smyrna a little after the year 100, and from The following words are extracted from it: “Wherever the bishop appears, there must be the people; just as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Evidently, he excluded the heretics of this church, against whom he also used very strong words, such as that they were beasts in human form and men with whom one should not even have any dealings. The same character Ignatius of Antioch stipulates a hierarchical structure based on three levels, which consisted of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
Later San Cipriano, who was Bishop of Carthage in the third century, refers to a monarchical hierarchy of seven degrees, whose highest position was occupied by the Bishop. It should also be noted that in this hierarchy the Bishop of Rome occupied a special place, since he was the successor of Saint Peter.
Some people allude that the Bishop of Rome came to have such a special position and a notorious importance, due to political reasons; the first of them due to the fact that Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, until it was changed to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine I the Great on May 11, 330.
On the other hand, another reason to recognize its importance is attributed to the well-known fact that the Bishop of Rome was the successor of Saint Peter, and it was Peter whom Jesus chose to entrust to him with the mission of confirming his companions in the faith, according to what is established in the Gospel of Saint Luke.
It is so much so that even in the first century, when the apostle John was still alive, the bishop of Rome between 89 and 97, who was Pope Clement, wrote to the Christian community of Corinth, in order to solve an internal problem that had that particular church. Other authors have maintained the absence of sufficient arguments to affirm that Peter was Bishop of Rome; but for its part, the tradition that affirms that Peter did go to Rome and died there as a martyr, is based on this letter of Saint Clement, which mentions his martyrdom.
By the 5th century, the Catholic Church had spread throughout almost the entire territory of the Roman Empire, covering an extension from Hispania to Syria, including the coastal areas located in the north of the African continent.
Over time, missions were carried out directed towards areas located in northern Europe, which reached Ireland, Great Britain and Germany, and later Scandinavia, Central Europe and Slavic populations, by the 11th century. Many of these missions included the task of instilling Christianity in the territories of the former Western Roman Empire, and it was possible to carry it out thanks to the monasteries, mainly the Benedictines.
On the other hand, the increase in the number of populations that converted to Islam led to a progressive decline of existing Catholicism in North Africa, which would become almost complete in the modern world. Later many Churches were divided, due to the great schism between their prayers of the West and the East, whose church called Orthodox Catholic, came to be called only by the last name, Orthodox; fact this that took place in the year 1054 as a result of the rivalries between the patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople.
Progressively, ecclesiastical universities were established, whose main subject was theology, but they also had faculties of art, law, and some even of medicine; which produced a remarkable cultural development during the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. In the same way, in the 13th century, mendicant orders began to be founded and developed, which greatly influenced the religious life of society.
At the end of the fourteenth century, the well-known Western Schism occurred, which caused strong tensions in the Catholic Church in the years 1378 to 1417, which generated new conciliarist ideas, of which it is said that the councils have even more authority than the Pope in certain aspects. At the Fifth Lateran Council held in 1516, conciliarism was condemned.
The Inquisition is the term used to designate a set of institutions dedicated to suppressing heresy, under the bosom and instruction of the Catholic Church. The first that is known was founded in 1184, under the name of the Medieval Inquisition, in an area in the south of France to combat the heresies of the Cathars, Albigensians, and Waldensians, and from this first inquisition all the others are derived. .
Later, in 1249, the first state Inquisition was established in the kingdom of Aragon, which later joined Castile to spread under the name of the Spanish Inquisition, which took place between 1478 and 1821 and was under the total control of the monarchy. Hispanic, so its scope of action extended to America. In this sense, the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821) and the Roman Inquisition (1542-1965), which also responded to the name of Holy Office, also had some importance.
During the course of the Modern Age, the Catholic Church was subject to great changes, among which we can highlight, on the one hand, the beginning of the expansion of the missions to many areas located in the African and Asian continents, also including the continent American by virtue of the trips made by Europeans to conquer territories. There are also certain internal tensions, and a deep spirit arises to request reforms and restructuring.
On the other hand, thanks to the invention of the printing press, a greater expansion and diffusion of the Bible and all its translations was possible, which made its circulation among Catholics living in different places easier. The rejection by the Pope also took place for reasons of political and economic independence, and Martin Luther’s rejection of the fact of charging money for indulgences; All this had as a consequence the emergence of the movement called Protestantism, in the year 1517.
In the same way, in this 16th century, the movement called Calvinism began in Switzerland, which later spread to other European countries. Then followed a major schism that was concatenated with the emergence of the Anglican Church born of the English Supremacy Act during the year 1534.
The well-known Pope John Paul II was characterized by his ideals against communism. For his part, Pope Benedict XVI was a prominent German theologian, who took care to represent one of the most prominent right-wing wings of the Vatican. And more recently, Pope Francis represents the Latin American church, so he too has leaned a little more toward helping the poorest and most needy.
In this sense, the main events within the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church that have taken place in the course of the contemporary age can be delimited in the following timeline:
- 1869-1870: Vatican Council I took place.
- 1870: The Papal States disappeared.
- 1878: The Pontificate of Leo XIII began.
- 1891: Leo XIII promulgated the Rerum Novarum encyclical, which was the first social encyclical within the Catholic Church, which deals with the issue of the labor problem.
- 1897: During this year Pope Leo XIII promulgated some restrictions in his Apostolic Constitution Officiorum, concerning the use of bibles translated into common languages.
- 1903: The pontificate of Saint Pius X began.
- 1914: The pontificate of Benedict XV began.
- 1917: A new Code of Canon Law was promulgated.
- 1922: The pontificate of Pius XI began.
- 1929: The Lateran Pacts were signed, through which the sovereign State of the Vatican City was born.
- 1939: The pontificate of Pius XII began.
- 1958: The pontificate of John XXIII began.
- 1962-1965: The Second Vatican Council took place.
- 1963: The pontificate of Paul VI began, who is in charge of continuing the Council and maintains the work of John XXIII.
- 1978: This was the year of the three Popes, since Paul VI dies and the pontificate of John Paul I begins, which only lasts 33 days; After his death, a second conclave was held, which generated the election of John Paul II as the new Pope. The pontificate of this important figure was mainly aimed at putting into practice the conclusions of the Second Vatican Council, and he also traveled to numerous countries in the world.
- 1981: During this year, specifically on May 13, Pope John Paul II suffered an attack in Saint Peter’s Square.
- 1983: The Code of Canon Law was promulgated, which was updated with the conclusions issued at the Second Vatican Council.
- 1992: The Catechism of the Catholic Church is published.
- 2000: The jubilee of the new millennium was held, which was decreed and celebrated by Pope John Paul II, who asked forgiveness for the mistakes made by all the children of the church.
2005: The papacy of Benedict XVI began, who promotes ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, in order to continue with the ideals put forward during the pontificate of John Paul II, in communion with the tradition of the church.
2013: A new conclave was held after the resignation of Benedict XVI, from which Pope Francis was elected, who wanted to be called that in honor of the saint of Assisi.
The Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, as well as its related institutions, manage to be financed through various ways, among which the following can be distinguished:
- Contributions from their own institutions or those that are linked to the Catholic Church itself.
- Economic returns that are received in the form of capital gains from companies or institutions, in which capital has been invested.
- Direct or indirect contributions or collections, which may be public or private.
- Financing from public coffers, from many of the countries in which the church is present.
- Other sources of financing.
The Institute for the Works of Religion, known as IOR by its acronym, is the main financial institution of the Catholic Church, and is popularly known as the Vatican Bank. It has been the subject of multiple scandals of various kinds, among which the events related to Banco Ambrosiano can be highlighted, due to the fact that it is not governed by the financial regulations of Italy by virtue of the extraterritoriality that characterizes the Vatican City. . Since then, the IOR has been under investigation and prosecution in certain countries.