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Roman Catholic Church, The.

A. Name.

1. The name, which designates the Christian ch. with a hierarchy* headed by the pope,* was popularized by reformers who denied that Rome had exclusive claim to catholicity. Many reformers, including M. Luther,* regarded themselves as catholic* and held that the Roman, or W, ch. was only part of the catholic ch. (see also Western Christianity 500–1500).

2. RC scholars regard the name as appropriate since they hold that Peter was given the primacy (see Vatican Councils, 1 b) and that subsequent bps. of Rome were his successors. They debate whether the connection of Rome with the primacy was divinely intended from the beginning or an accident of hist. resulting from a disposition of providence but changeable in the future.

3. In a narrower sense, the name is applied to a local ch. at Rome whose bp. is also a primate of the universal ch.

B. Doctrine.

1. The RC ch. traces its origin to the apostles. Its doctrine is derived from Scripture and tradition.* Some RC theologians make Scripture and tradition joint sources; others regard Scripture as the only source and tradition as Spirit-guided interpretation and application. Differences on this point have produced significant differences in emphases in RC doctrine.

2. The canons and decrees of the Council of Trent* are usually regarded as definitive and basic for RC doctrine. But some modern RC theologians regard Trent as an overreaction to Luther. The council accepted the canonical books of the OT and NT with apocrypha. It asserted that apostolic traditions on faith and customs were to be received with the same feeling of piety and reverence (pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia) as Scripture. It rejected Pelagian denial of original sin and Luther's assertion that original sin remained after baptism.

3. The council spent much time on the doctrine of justification. It concluded that God's grace is necessary for the whole process of salvation. It developed 3 points: a. Justification is remission of sins. b. Justification involves inner renewal through infusion of grace, c. Justification assumes man's voluntary acceptance of grace. In RC dogmatics, point 1 is interpreted as referring to divine restoration of grace and gifts. Infusion of grace implies habitual orientation to God. Man's voluntary cooperation in his justification involves awareness on his part of his movement against sin and toward God.

4. The sacraments (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, order, and matrimony) are efficacious signs, est. by Christ to give grace by the rite itself (ex opere operato; see Grace, Means of, I, 8, and Opus operatum). The council affirmed the real presence (see Grace, Means of, IV, 3; Lutheran Confessions, A 2 [b]) in the Lord's Supper against H. Zwingli* and transubstantiation* against Luther. It held that the entire Christ is received under either species (bread or wine). The mass is the center of the mystery of salvation, is propitiatory, and is a commemoration and a rendering present of the sacrifice of the cross; it may be offered for the living or dead.

5. The council declared the existence of a hierarchy based on divine ordinance and est. by sacerdotal ordination.

6. The sacraments are at the center of spiritual life in RCm. All give sanctifying grace; each gives special grace.

7. Only a priest* can change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and pronounce absolution in the sacrament of penance. The sacrament of marriage is performed by the participants in the presence of a priest. But baptism may be administered in crises by anyone, including heretics.

8. Toward the end of the 19th and early in the 20th c. so-called modernism* became a concern of the papacy and led to Lamentabili (a 1907 decree of the Holy Office), Pascendi dominici gregis (a 1907 encyclical of Pius X [see Popes, 30]), and Sacrorum antistitum (a 1910 motu* proprio of Pius X).

9. At the same time the popes took interest in soc. questions, e.g., capital and labor, educ., and the family. Leo XIII (see Popes, 29) issued the encyclical Rerum novarum 1891 on the condition of labor. Pius XI (see Popes, 32) issued encyclicals on Christian educ., marriage, the Christian soc. order, and atheistic communism. RC leaders in the US gave increasing attention to soc. problems. The Nat. Cath. Welfare Conf., organized 1919, became the US Cath. Conf., Inc., 1966, active in civic-religious work.

10. Vatican Council II (see Vatican Councils, 2), 1962–65, began a new era for RCs and to some extent for Christendom. It neither set aside traditional doctrine nor resolved many doctrinal debates (e.g., on Scripture and tradition and on collegiality), but it did open a door for new interpretations. Its importance probably results more from emphases than from basic changes. It brought new insights into the doctrine of the ch.; encouraged dialog with non-RC Christians and adherents of non-Christian religions; discouraged judgmental approaches in such dialogs; provided for flexibility in liturgy; made significant pronouncements on religious freedom. It lagged behind some of the best contemporary RC theology, but opened doors for spiritual renewal and made possible some needed reform. See also Popes, 34, 35.

C. Structure.

1. Leadership in the RC Ch. centers in the papacy.* The pope has the sole and final authority in all matters of RC faith and life. He is aided in the administration of his office by cardinals,* who, in turn, lead the various congs. of the curia (see Curia, 2).

2. The ecumenical council, highest deliberative body, is rarely convened. Mems. with deliberative vote include cardinals, residential patriarchs, primates, abps. and residential bps., even if not yet consecrated; abbots or prelates nullius or exarchs, the abbot primate, abbott superiors of monastic congs., and heads of exempt clerical religious; titular bps. on invitation. An ecumenical council is convened by the pope, who determines matters to be treated and the order of business. The pope or his personal legate presides. Conciliar decrees obtain binding force only on papal ratification and may be promulgated only at the pope's word.

3. The RC Ch. is divided into jurisdictional areas. Jurisdiction is the power to rule, in distinction from the power to sanctify. Jurisdiction is divided into ordinary and delegated. Ordinary jurisdiction is attached to an office; delegated jurisdiction is attached to a person. The area is usually a diocese* and the ordinary a bishop.* Dioceses are usually autonomous except for limited cases reserved for curia or pope. Dioceses are grouped into provinces under an archbishop.*

4. Indep. abbeys comprise communities ruled by abbots. RCs not included in a diocese are usually ruled by a prelate nullius (see also Abbot). Sometimes such areas are under an apostolic administrator. Miss. territories are under authority of the Sacred Cong. for the Propagation of the Faith (see Curia, 2 f). A miss. area in the initial stage of ecclesiastical organization is called a prefecture apostolic. A miss. area over which a vicar apostolic exercises jurisdiction is called a vicariate apostolic. The head is usually a titular bp.

5. Early archdioceses in the US include Baltimore, Maryland, 1808; Portland (originally Oregon City), Oregon, 1846; Saint Louis, Missouri, 1847; Cincinnati, Ohio, 1850; New Orleans, Louisiana, 1850; New York, New York, 1850; San Francisco, California, 1853; Boston, Massachusetts, 1875; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1875; Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1875; Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1888; Dubuque, Iowa, 1893.

D. Hist. in Eur. after the Council of Trent.

1. The Council of Trent aimed at unifying RC doctrine and correcting abuses within the structure of the ch. A long struggle involving RCs, Luths., and Ref., and including wars, persecution, and intrigues, ensued.

2. Rome opposed emerging nationalism. The papacy lost pol. power and gradually shifted emphasis to supremacy in spiritual matters. Nationalism stressed the divine* right of kings (called Gallicanism* in Fr., Josephinism in Austria [see Joseph II and Josephinism], Febronianism* in Ger., regalism* in It.).

3. RC reform movements after the Reformation concentrated on the extirpation of Protestantism (see Counter Reformation). The Society* of Jesus gave special attention to the suppression of the Reformation. The Inquisition* was used against Prots. in RC countries. Both sides were guilty of cruelty.

4. In It. the Inquisition readily suppressed the Reformation. See also Italy, Religious History of, Before the Reformation.

5. In Spain,* which had also seen reform efforts before the Luth. Reformation,* Protestantism gained little ground and was readily suppressed.

6. In Fr., Huguenots* suffered bitter persecution that climaxed 1572 in the Bartholomew's* Day Massacre. The Edict of Nantes* granted some freedom of conscience to Prots. 1589, but it was revoked 1685. Laws were enacted against Prots. Thousands were expatriated. But by 1744 Huguenots were holding meetings of 10,000, and a 1787 edict reest. equality of rights (except the right to hold pub. office) and Prot. baptisms and marriages were declared valid. See also France, 10.

7. RCm suffered in the Fr. Revolution (see France, 5). The 1789 Assembly nationalized the ch. and its property and forbade religious discrimination (see France, 10). Dechristianization resulted in abolition of the Gregorian calendar 1793.

8. Reaction soon set in. The Directory permitted pub. worship 1795–97 but was repressive 1797–99. Napoleon* I forced the pope to sign the humiliating treaty of Tolentino 1797 and est. a concordat with the pope 1801 (see Concordat, 5), which included in its provisions: the state nominates bps., the pope appoints them; bps. appoint lower clergy, subject to govt. approval.

9. In England,* Henry* VIII broke with the pope and nationalized the ch. on basis of the 1534 of Supremacy, passed by parliament (see also Church and State, 9); 1535 he declared himself to be in terra supremum caput Anglicanae ecclesiae (”on earth the supreme head of the Angl. Ch.”).

He persecuted Prots. for disagreeing with traditional doctrine and RCs for denying his supremacy and opposing his confiscation of ch. lands. Protestantism became prominent under Edward VI (see England, B 4). RC reaction came under Mary* I. Elizabeth* I favored Protestantism. The 1559 Act of Supremacy called her “Supreme Governor of this realm, and of all other her highness's dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal.” The 1559 Act of Uniformity restored, and commanded to be used, the 2d Prayer Book of Edward VI (with some alterations) and made failure to attend ch. subject to fine. Some intractables were put to death. Attempts by RCs to put Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542–87; next heir to Eng. throne after children of Henry VIII) on the Eng. throne led Elizabeth to have Mary executed. Failure of Philip II (1527–98; son of Charles* V; king of Sp. 1556–98) to conquer Eng. with the “Invincible Armada” 1588 ended serious threats by the papacy to gain Eng. See also Elizabethan Settlement. James* I first used mild measures against RCs; but when the latter increased, parliament confirmed Elizabethan anti-RC laws, which James enforced. This led to the Gunpowder* Plot, which, in turn, led to increased oppression of RCs Charles* I, whose wife was RC, rarely enforced anti-RC laws. Charles II (1630–85; son of Charles I; king 1660–85) tried to assure restoration of RCm in Eng. by the 1670 treaty of Dover with Louis XIV* of Fr. This led the Eng. parliament to pass the Test* Act 1673 and the Papists' Disabling Act (excluded RCs from parliament; repealed 1829). James II (1633–1701; king of Eng., Scot., and Ireland 1685–88) became RC (probably before 1672) and ignored anti-RC laws; his attempts to restore RCm led to yrs. of subjection and degradation of RCs in England. William III (1650–1702; count of Nassau; prince of Orange; stadtholder of Holland 1672–1702; king of Eng. 1689–1702) was reared a Calvinist but broad in sympathies; the 1689 Act of Toleration suspended certain laws against Prots. (but RCs and disbelievers in the Trinity were excluded from benefits of this Act). The RC Emancipation Act was passed 1829.

10. In Germany,* M. Luther* and his supporters were put under the ban by the Edict of Worms.* Charles* V tried unsuccessfully to conquer the Prots. by force. See also Augsburg, Peace of; Passau, Convention of; Thirty Years' War; Westphalia, Peace of.

11. The abps. of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier (who were also secular princes; Ger.: geistliche Kurfürsten) led unsuccessful attempts to achieve indep. from Rome.

12. Vatican Council I (see Vatican Councils, 1) est. papal supremacy. See also Old Catholics.

13. In Scand., practically the whole ch. became Luth. Legal restrictions against RCs were removed in the 19th and 20th c.

14. In Austria the Counter* Reformation almost extinguished, which was also suppressed in Bohemia, Silesia, Livonia, and Carniola. Joseph II issued an edict of toleration 1781 (see also Joseph II and Josephinism).

15. In recent yrs. the laity has played a more active role in the RC Ch., which is trying (a) to indoctrinate its mems. on the church's position in soc. and moral issues, (b) to use the lay apostolate to disseminate RC principles on moral philos., (c) to involve the laity in governing processes of the ch.

E. Hist. in the US.

1. Juan Ponce de León (ca. 1460–1521; explorer; b. León, Sp.) discovered Florida 1513; a mass conducted there 1521 is regarded as probably the 1st in the US. Franciscans came to Florida 1528; 12 missionaries came with Hernando de Soto (ca. 1500–42; explorer; b. Barcarrota, Sp.) to Tampa Bay 1539. City of Saint Augustine was founded and the oldest RC miss. in the US est. 1565. Regarding Luths. martyred 1565 near Saint Augustine see Martyr. RC missionaries accompanied various Sp. and Fr. explorers. By 1600 they had entered what is now Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Early RC missionaries in US include Claude Jean Allouez (1622–89; Fr. Jesuit), John Altham (1589–1640; Eng. Jesuit), Louis Cancer de Barbastro (1500–49; Sp. Dominican), Jacques Gravier (1651–1708; Fr. Jesuit), Isaac Jogues (1607–46; Fr. Jesuit), Eusebio Francisco Kino (Chini; ca. 1645–1711; It. Jesuit), John Lalande (d. 1646; Fr. Jesuit brother), Antonio Margil (1657–1726; Sp. Franciscan), J. Marquette,* Zenobius Membre (1645–87; Fr. Franciscan), Juan de Padilla (d. 1542; Sp. Franciscan), Charles Raymbaut (1602–43; Fr. Jesuit), Junípero Serra (originally Miguel José; 1713–84; Franciscan; b. Majorca, Sp.), Andrew White (Eng. Jesuit; 1579–1656).

2. Two Jesuits were among first colonists of Maryland 1634. In Massachusetts, New Eng. was made a prefecture in charge of Fr. Capuchins 1630; the Mass Bay Co. enacted an anti-priest law 1647. The New Jersey const. practically excluded RCs from office 1776. The New Hampshire const. barred RCs from office 1784. Maryland adopted a religious toleration act 1649, but it was repealed 1654 as a result of Puritan influence. Pennsylvania extended toleration to all faiths 1682. Rhode Island granted freedom of conscience 1663 but barred RCs from office 1719.

3. J. Carroll* was appointed head of US missions 1784, when there were ca. 25,000 RCs in a US pop. of ca. 4 million. Some RCs were prominent in the Revolutionary War.

4. J. Carroll was appointed bp. Baltimore (diocese coextensive with the US) 1789, consecrated 1790. Sulpicians* est. the 1st RC sem. in the US at Baltimore 1791. A school (which grew into Georgetown U.) opened at Georgetown, Maryland, 1791; a secondary school for girls opened at Georgetown 1792. By the 1840s RCs operated more than 200 elementary schools in the US.

5. Lack of organization, nationalism (e.g., on the part of Germans and Irish), and other factors led to schisms in US RCm late in the 18th and early in the 19th c.

6. In the 19th and 20th c., opposition to RCm took on various forms and was reflected, e.g., in the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, the Ku Klux Klan from 1866, the Am. Protective Assoc. from 1887. Non-RCs feared that a vow of obedience to Rome endangered secular govt. Pol. opposition became pronounced during the A. E. Smith presidential campaign 1928 and was intensified over the so-called Roman Question, occasioned by the 1929 Lateran Agreement (see also Concordat, 7; Popes, 28). Election of RC J. F. Kennedy as US Pres. 1960 and actions of Vatican Council II (see Vatican Councils, 2), e.g., in its Declaration on Religious Freedom, helped decrease soc. and pol. opposition to RCm

7. Many RCs came to the US from Ireland, Ger., Fr., and E and S Eur. 1830–1900, raising the RC pop. in the US to ca. 12 million and presenting probems of acculturation.

8. US bps. met at Baltimore, Maryland, for 7 provincial councils 1829–49. They proclaimed Mary patroness of the US 1846. Three plenary councils at Baltimore: (a) 1852, drafted rules for parochial life, matters of ritual and ceremonies, financial matters, and teaching of doctrine; (b) 1866, condemned some current doctrinal errors and adopted rules regarding organization of dioceses, educ. and conduct of clergy, property management, parish duties, and gen. educ.; (c) 1884, prepared the Baltimore catechisms, required est. of parish schools, initiated action to est. Cath. U. of Am. in Washington, D. C., fixed 6 holy days of obligation to be observed in the US. See also Councils and Synods, 6.

9. In the Civil War RCs fought on both sides, but none were prominent in the movement for abolishing slavery. In the 19th c. the RC Ch. became known as a friend of labor. J. Gibbons* went to Rome to defend the Knights of Labor. The 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum included rejection of the theory that the govt. should not interfere in soc. and economic matters and held that poverty should be alleviated by charity and justice.

10. Near the end of the 19th c., Am. RCs were accused of neglecting contemplative virtues in favor of practical virtues and of watering down doctrine to gain converts. In Testem Benevolentiae (1899 apostolic letter of Leo XIII [see Popes, 29] to J. Gibbons) doctrine is described as a divine deposit to be adhered to at all times, though adaptations may be made in Christian life to suit time, place, and nat. customs.

11. The RC Ch. in the US was removed from mission status 1908 by the apostolic constitution Sapienti Consilio of Pius X (see Popes, 30).

12. Vatican Council II spelled out the doctrine of collegiality of bps. Other phenomena of change in the 2d half of the 20th c. include differences in trends and emphases in theol.; variations in interpretation and implementation of Vatican Council II directives; changes in the spiritual formation and life-style of the clergy. Much attention is given to race relations, poverty, peace, and ecumenism.

13. Many sisterhoods are active in the US, e.g., in educ. and hosp. work.

14. The RC parish school system has been threatened by decline in the no. of priests and nuns to staff them and by various financial pressures. Institutions of higher education are also fighting for survival. Problems arising out of celibacy require solution. Liturgical reforms have created divisions that portend serious long-term aftereffects. The larger role played by laity may require revamping of the pol. structure of the ch. Soc. and ethical issues relating to birth control are proving to be difficult and disturbing. EL, JWC, MAM, ACP

New Catholic Encyclopedia, prepared by an ed. staff at The Cath. U. of Am., Washington, D. C., 14 vols. plus index (New York, 1967); 1972 Catholic Almanac, ed. F. A. Foy (Huntington, Indiana, 1971). See also Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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