History of the Catholic Church | Wikipedia audio article

By | September 1, 2019

According to tradition, the history of the
Catholic Church begins with Jesus Christ and his teachings (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30) and the Catholic Church is a continuation
of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The Church considers its bishops to be the
successors to Jesus’s apostles and the Church’s leader, the Bishop of Rome (also known as
the Pope) to be the sole successor to Saint Peter, who ministered in Rome in the first
century AD, after his appointment by Jesus as head of the church. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began
congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. By the 3rd century, the bishop of Rome began
to act as a court of appeals for problems that other bishops could not resolve.Christianity
spread throughout the early Roman Empire, despite persecutions due to conflicts with
the pagan state religion. In 313, the struggles of the Early Church
were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I. In 380, under Emperor Theodosius I, Catholicism
became the state religion of the Roman Empire by the decree of the Emperor, which would
persist until the fall of the Western Empire, and later, with the Eastern Roman Empire,
until the Fall of Constantinople. During this time, the period of the Seven
Ecumenical Councils, there were considered five primary sees (jurisdictions within the
Catholic Church) according to Eusebius: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria,
known as the Pentarchy. The battles of Toulouse preserved the Catholic
west, even though Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople besieged. In the 11th century, already strained relations
between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin church in the West, developed
into the East-West Schism, partially due to conflicts over Papal Authority. The fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople
by renegade crusaders proved the final breach. Prior to and during the 16th century, the
Church engaged in a process of reform and renewal. Reform during the 16th century is known as
the Counter-Reformation. In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread
widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations
due to the growth of Protestantism and also because of religious skepticism during and
after the Enlightenment. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced
the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent four centuries
before.==Church beginnings=====
Origins===According to Catholic teaching, the Catholic
Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The New Testament records Jesus’ activities
and teaching, his appointment of the twelve Apostles, and his instructions to them to
continue his work. The Catholic Church teaches that the coming
of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, in an event known as Pentecost, signaled the beginning
of the public ministry of the Church. Catholics hold that Saint Peter was Rome’s
first bishop and the consecrator of Linus as its next bishop, thus starting the unbroken
line which includes the current pontiff, Pope Francis. That is, the Catholic Church maintains the
apostolic succession of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope – the successor to Saint Peter.In
the account of the Confession of Peter found in the Gospel of Matthew, Christ designates
Peter as the “rock” upon which Christ’s church will be built. While some scholars do state Peter was the
first Bishop of Rome, others say that the institution of the papacy is not dependent
on the idea that Peter was Bishop of Rome or even on his ever having been in Rome. Many scholars hold that a church structure
of plural presbyters/bishops persisted in Rome until the mid-2nd century, when the structure
of a single bishop and plural presbyters was adopted, and that later writers retrospectively
applied the term “bishop of Rome” to the most prominent members of the clergy in the earlier
period and also to Peter himself. On this basis, Oscar Cullmann and Henry Chadwick
question whether there was a formal link between Peter and the modern papacy, and Raymond E.
Brown says that, while it is anachronistic to speak of Peter in terms of local bishop
of Rome, Christians of that period would have looked on Peter as having “roles that would
contribute in an essential way to the development of the role of the papacy in the subsequent
church”. These roles, Brown says, “contributed enormously
to seeing the bishop of Rome, the bishop of the city where Peter died, and where Paul
witnessed to the truth of Christ, as the successor of Peter in care for the church universal”.===Early organization===
Conditions in the Roman Empire facilitated the spread of new ideas. The empire’s well-defined network of roads
and waterways allowed easier travel, while the Pax Romana made it safe to travel from
one region to another. The government had encouraged inhabitants,
especially those in urban areas, to learn Greek, and the common language allowed ideas
to be more easily expressed and understood. Jesus’s apostles gained converts in Jewish
communities around the Mediterranean Sea, and over 40 Christian communities had been
established by 100. Although most of these were in the Roman Empire,
notable Christian communities were also established in Armenia, Iran and along the Indian Malabar
Coast. The new religion was most successful in urban
areas, spreading first among slaves and people of low social standing, and then among aristocratic
women.At first, Christians continued to worship alongside Jewish believers, which historians
refer to as Jewish Christianity, but within twenty years of Jesus’s death, Sunday was
being regarded as the primary day of worship. As preachers such as Paul of Tarsus began
converting Gentiles, Christianity began growing away from Jewish practices to establish itself
as a separate religion, though the issue of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism is still debated
today. To resolve doctrinal differences among the
competing factions within the Church, in or around the year 50, the apostles convened
the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem. This council affirmed that Gentiles could
become Christians without adopting all of the Mosaic Law. Growing tensions soon led to a starker separation
that was virtually complete by the time Christians refused to join in the Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt
of 132, however some groups of Christians retained elements of Jewish practice.According
to some historians and scholars, the early Christian Church was very loosely organized,
resulting in diverse interpretations of Christian beliefs. In part to ensure a greater consistency in
their teachings, by the end of the 2nd century Christian communities had evolved a more structured
hierarchy, with a central bishop having authority over the clergy in his city, leading to the
development of the Metropolitan bishop. The organization of the Church began to mimic
that of the Empire; bishops in politically important cities exerted greater authority
over bishops in nearby cities. The churches in Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome
held the highest positions. Beginning in the 2nd century, bishops often
congregated in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. Duffy claims that by the 3rd century, the
bishop of Rome began to act as a court of appeals for problems that other bishops could
not resolve.Doctrine was further refined by a series of influential theologians and teachers,
known collectively as the Church Fathers. From the year 100 onward, proto-orthodox teachers
like Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus defined Catholic teaching in stark opposition to other
things, such as Gnosticism. In the first few centuries of its existence,
the Church formed its teachings and traditions into a systematic whole under the influence
of theological apologists such as Pope Clement I, Justin Martyr and Augustine of Hippo.===Persecutions===
Unlike most religions in the Roman Empire, Christianity required its adherents to renounce
all other gods, a practice adopted from Judaism. Christians’ refusal to join pagan celebrations
meant they were unable to participate in much of public life, which caused non-Christians–including
government authorities–to fear that the Christians were angering the gods and thereby
threatening the peace and prosperity of the Empire. In addition, the peculiar intimacy of Christian
society and its secrecy about its religious practices spawned rumors that Christians were
guilty of incest and cannibalism; the resulting persecutions, although usually local and sporadic,
were a defining feature of Christian self-understanding until Christianity was legalized in the 4th
century. A series of more centrally organized persecutions
of Christians emerged in the late 3rd century, when emperors decreed that the Empire’s military,
political, and economic crises were caused by angry gods. All residents were ordered to give sacrifices
or be punished. Jews were exempted as long as they paid the
Jewish Tax. Estimates of the number of Christians who
were executed ranges from a few hundred to 50,000. Many fled or renounced their beliefs. Disagreements over what role, if any, these
apostates should have in the Church led to the Donatist and Novatianist schisms. Relations between the Church and the Empire
were not consistent: “Tiberius wanted to have Christ placed in the Pantheon and refused
first of all to persecute the Christians. Later on his attitude changed. [-] How are we to explain the fact that men
like Trajan and above all Marcus Aurelius should have so relentlessly persecuted the
Christians? On the other hand Commodus and other villainous
emperors rather favoured them.” In spite of these persecutions, evangelization
efforts persisted, leading to the Edict of Milan which legalized Christianity in 313. By 380, Christianity had become the state
religion of the Roman Empire. Religious philosopher Simone Weil wrote: “By
the time of Constantine, the state of apocalyptic expectation must have worn rather thin. [The imminent coming of Christ, expectation
of the Last Day – constituted ‘a very great social danger.’] Besides, the spirit of the old law, so widely
separated from all mysticism, was not so very different from the Roman spirit itself. Rome could come to terms with the God of Hosts.”==Late antiquity==When Constantine became emperor of the Western
Roman Empire in 312, he attributed his victory to the Christian God. Many soldiers in his army were Christians,
and his army was his base of power. With Licinius, (Eastern Roman emperor), he
issued the Edict of Milan which mandated toleration of all religions in the empire. The edict had little effect on the attitudes
of the people. New laws were crafted to codify some Christian
beliefs and practices. Constantine’s biggest effect on Christianity
was his patronage. He gave large gifts of land and money to the
Church and offered tax exemptions and other special legal status to Church property and
personnel. These gifts and later ones combined to make
the Church the largest landowner in the West by the 6th century. Many of these gifts were funded through severe
taxation of pagan cults. Some pagan cults were forced to disband for
lack of funds; when this happened the Church took over the cult’s previous role of caring
for the poor. In a reflection of their increased standing
in the Empire, clergy began to adopt the dress of the royal household, including the cope.During
Constantine’s reign, approximately half of those who identified themselves as Christian
did not subscribe to the mainstream version of the faith. Constantine feared that disunity would displease
God and lead to trouble for the Empire, so he took military and judicial measures to
eliminate some sects. To resolve other disputes, Constantine began
the practice of calling ecumenical councils to determine binding interpretations of Church
doctrine.Decisions made at the Council of Nicea (325) about the divinity of Christ led
to a schism; the new religion, Arianism flourished outside the Roman Empire. Partially to distinguish themselves from Arians,
Catholic devotion to Mary became more prominent. This led to further schisms.In 380, mainstream
Christianity–as opposed to Arianism–became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Christianity became more associated with the
Empire, resulting in persecution for Christians living outside of the empire, as their rulers
feared Christians would revolt in favor of the Emperor. In 385, this new legal authority of the Church
resulted in the first use of capital punishment being pronounced as a sentence upon a Christian
‘heretic’, namely Priscillian.During this period, the Bible as it has come down to the
21st century was first officially laid out in Church Councils or Synods through the process
of official ‘canonization’. Prior to these Councils or Synods, the Bible
had already reached a form that was nearly identical to the form in which it is now found. According to some accounts, in 382 the Council
of Rome first officially recognized the Biblical canon, listing the accepted books of the Old
and New Testament, and in 391 the Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible was made. Other accounts list the Council of Carthage
of 397 as the Council that finalized the Biblical canon as it is known today. The Council of Ephesus in 431 clarified the
nature of Jesus’ incarnation, declaring that he was both fully man and fully God. Two decades later, the Council of Chalcedon
solidified Roman papal primacy which added to continuing breakdown in relations between
Rome and Constantinople, the seat of the Eastern Church. Also sparked were the Monophysite disagreements
over the precise nature of the incarnation of Jesus which led to the first of the various
Oriental Orthodox Churches breaking away from the Catholic Church.==Middle Ages=====
Early Middle Ages===After the fall of the Western Roman Empire
in 476, the Catholic faith competed with Arianism for the conversion of the barbarian tribes. The 496 conversion of Clovis I, pagan king
of the Franks, saw the beginning of a steady rise of the faith in the West. In 530, Saint Benedict wrote his Rule of St
Benedict as a practical guide for monastic community life. Its message spread to monasteries throughout
Europe. Monasteries became major conduits of civilization,
preserving craft and artistic skills while maintaining intellectual culture within their
schools, scriptoria and libraries. They functioned as agricultural, economic
and production centers as well as a focus for spiritual life. During this period the Visigoths and Lombards
moved away from Arianism for Catholicism. Pope Gregory the Great played a notable role
in these conversions and dramatically reformed the ecclesiastical structures and administration
which then launched renewed missionary efforts. Missionaries such as Augustine of Canterbury,
who was sent from Rome to begin the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, and, coming the other
way in the Hiberno-Scottish mission, Saints Colombanus, Boniface, Willibrord, Ansgar and
many others took Christianity into northern Europe and spread Catholicism among the Germanic,
and Slavic peoples, and reached the Vikings and other Scandinavians in later centuries. The Synod of Whitby of 664, though not as
decisive as sometimes claimed, was an important moment in the reintegration of the Celtic
Church of the British Isles into the Roman hierarchy, after having been effectively cut
off from contact with Rome by the pagan invaders. In the early 8th century, Byzantine iconoclasm
became a major source of conflict between the Eastern and Western parts of the Church. Byzantine emperors forbade the creation and
veneration of religious images, as violations of the Ten Commandments. Other major religions in the East such as
Judaism and Islam had similar prohibitions. Pope Gregory III vehemently disagreed. A new Empress Irene siding with the pope,
called for an Ecumenical Council. In 787, the fathers of the Second Council
of Nicaea “warmly received the papal delegates and his message”. At the conclusion, 300 bishops, who were led
by the representatives of Pope Hadrian I “adopted the Pope’s teaching”, in favor of icons. With the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope
Leo III in 800, his new title as Patricius Romanorum, and the handing over of the keys
to the Tomb of Saint Peter, the papacy had acquired a new protector in the West. This freed the pontiffs to some degree from
the power of the emperor in Constantinople but also led to a schism, because the emperors
and patriarchs of Constantinople interpreted themselves as the true descendants of the
Roman Empire dating back to the beginnings of the Church. Pope Nicholas I had refused to recognize Patriarch
Photios I of Constantinople, who in turn had attacked the pope as a heretic, because he
kept the filioque in the creed, which referred to the Holy Spirit emanating from God the
Father and the Son. The papacy was strengthened through this new
alliance, which in the long term created a new problem for the Popes, when in the Investiture
Controversy succeeding emperors sought to appoint bishops and even future popes. After the disintegration of the Carolingian
Empire and repeated incursions of Islamic forces into Italy, the papacy, without any
protection, entered a phase of major weakness.===High Middle Ages===The Cluniac reform of monasteries that began
in 910 placed abbots under the direct control of the pope rather than the secular control
of feudal lords, thus eliminating a major source of corruption. This sparked a great monastic renewal. Monasteries, convents and cathedrals still
operated virtually all schools and libraries, and often functioned as credit establishments
promoting economic growth. After 1100, some older cathedral schools split
into lower grammar schools and higher schools for advanced learning. First in Bologna, then at Paris and Oxford,
many of these higher schools developed into universities and became the direct ancestors
of modern Western institutions of learning. It was here where notable theologians worked
to explain the connection between human experience and faith. The most notable of these theologians, Thomas
Aquinas, produced Summa Theologica, a key intellectual achievement in its synthesis
of Aristotelian thought and the Gospel. Monastic contributions to western society
included the teaching of metallurgy, the introduction of new crops, the invention of musical notation
and the creation and preservation of literature.During the 11th century, the East–West schism permanently
divided Christianity. It arose over a dispute on whether Constantinople
or Rome held jurisdiction over the church in Sicily and led to mutual excommunications
in 1054. The Western (Latin) branch of Christianity
has since become known as the Catholic Church, while the Eastern (Greek) branch became known
as the Orthodox Church. The Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the
Council of Florence (1439) both failed to heal the schism. Some Eastern churches have since reunited
with the Catholic Church, and others claim never to have been out of communion with the
pope. Officially, the two churches remain in schism,
although excommunications were mutually lifted in 1965.The 11th century saw the Investiture
Controversy between Emperor and Pope over the right to make church appointments, the
first major phase of the struggle between Church and state in medieval Europe. The Papacy were the initial victors, but as
Italians divided between Guelphs and Ghibellines in factions that were often passed down through
families or states until the end of the Middle Ages, the dispute gradually weakened the Papacy,
not least by drawing it into politics. The Church also attempted to control, or exact
a price for, most marriages among the great by prohibiting, in 1059, marriages involving
consanguinity (blood kin) and affinity (kin by marriage) to the seventh degree of relationship. Under these rules, almost all great marriages
required a dispensation. The rules were relaxed to the fourth degree
in 1215 (now only the first degree is prohibited by the Church – a man cannot marry his stepdaughter,
for example). Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in
1095 when he received an appeal from Byzantine emperor Alexius I to help ward off a Turkish
invasion. Urban further believed that a Crusade might
help bring about reconciliation with Eastern Christianity. Fueled by reports of Muslim atrocities against
Christians, the series of military campaigns known as the Crusades began in 1096. They were intended to return the Holy Land
to Christian control. The goal was not permanently realized, and
episodes of brutality committed by the armies of both sides left a legacy of mutual distrust
between Muslims and Western and Eastern Christians. The sack of Constantinople during the Fourth
Crusade left Eastern Christians embittered, despite the fact that Pope Innocent III had
expressly forbidden any such attack. In 2001, Pope John Paul II apologized to the
Orthodox Christians for the sins of Catholics including the sacking of Constantinople in
1204.Two new orders of architecture emerged from the Church of this era. The earlier Romanesque style combined massive
walls, rounded arches and ceilings of masonry. To compensate for the absence of large windows,
interiors were brightly painted with scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints. Later, the Basilique Saint-Denis marked a
new trend in cathedral building when it utilized Gothic architecture. This style, with its large windows and high,
pointed arches, improved lighting and geometric harmony in a manner that was intended to direct
the worshiper’s mind to God who “orders all things”. In other developments, the 12th century saw
the founding of eight new monastic orders, many of them functioning as Military Knights
of the Crusades. Cistercian monk Bernard of Clairvaux exerted
great influence over the new orders and produced reforms to ensure purity of purpose. His influence led Pope Alexander III to begin
reforms that would lead to the establishment of canon law. In the following century, new mendicant orders
were founded by Francis of Assisi and Dominic de Guzmán which brought consecrated religious
life into urban settings.12th-century France witnessed the growth of Catharism in Languedoc. It was in connection with the struggle against
this heresy that the Inquisition originated. After the Cathars were accused of murdering
a papal legate in 1208, Pope Innocent III declared the Albigensian Crusade. Abuses committed during the crusade caused
Innocent III to informally institute the first papal inquisition to prevent future massacres
and root out the remaining Cathars. Formalized under Gregory IX, this Medieval
inquisition executed an average of three people per year for heresy at its height. Over time, other inquisitions were launched
by the Church or secular rulers to prosecute heretics, to respond to the threat of Moorish
invasion or for political purposes. The accused were encouraged to recant their
heresy and those who did not could be punished by penance, fines, imprisonment or execution
by burning. A growing sense of church-state conflicts
marked the 14th century. To escape instability in Rome, Clement V in
1309 became the first of seven popes to reside in the fortified city of Avignon in southern
France during a period known as the Avignon Papacy. The papacy returned to Rome in 1378 at the
urging of Catherine of Siena and others who felt the See of Peter should be in the Roman
church. With the death of Pope Gregory XI later that
year, the papal election was disputed between supporters of Italian and French-backed candidates
leading to the Western schism. For 38 years, separate claimants to the papal
throne sat in Rome and Avignon. Efforts at resolution further complicated
the issue when a third compromise pope was elected in 1409. The matter was finally resolved in 1417 at
the Council of Constance where the cardinals called upon all three claimants to the papal
throne to resign, and held a new election naming Martin V pope.==Renaissance and reforms=====
Discoveries and missionaries===Through the late 15th and early 16th centuries,
European missionaries and explorers spread Catholicism to the Americas, Asia, Africa
and Oceania. Pope Alexander VI, in the papal bull Inter
caetera, awarded colonial rights over most of the newly discovered lands to Spain and
Portugal. Under the patronato system, state authorities
controlled clerical appointments and no direct contact was allowed with the Vatican. On December 1511, the Dominican friar Antonio
de Montesinos openly rebuked the Spanish authorities governing Hispaniola for their mistreatment
of the American natives, telling them “… you are in mortal sin … for the cruelty and
tyranny you use in dealing with these innocent people”. King Ferdinand enacted the Laws of Burgos
and Valladolid in response. Enforcement was lax, and while some blame
the Church for not doing enough to liberate the Indians, others point to the Church as
the only voice raised on behalf of indigenous peoples. The issue resulted in a crisis of conscience
in 16th-century Spain. An outpouring of self-criticism and philosophical
reflection among Catholic theologians, most notably Francisco de Vitoria, led to debate
on the nature of human rights and the birth of modern international law.In 1521, through
the leadership and preaching of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first Catholics
were baptized in what became the first Christian nation in Southeast Asia, the Philippines. The following year, Franciscan missionaries
arrived in what is now Mexico, and sought to convert the Indians and to provide for
their well-being by establishing schools and hospitals. They taught the Indians better farming methods,
and easier ways of weaving and making pottery. Because some people questioned whether the
Indians were truly human and deserved baptism, Pope Paul III in the papal bull Veritas Ipsa
or Sublimis Deus (1537) confirmed that the Indians were deserving people. Afterward, the conversion effort gained momentum. Over the next 150 years, the missions expanded
into southwestern North America. The native people were legally defined as
children, and priests took on a paternalistic role, often enforced with corporal punishment. Elsewhere, in India, Portuguese missionaries
and the Spanish Jesuit Francis Xavier evangelized among non-Christians and a Christian community
which claimed to have been established by Thomas the Apostle.===Renaissance Church===
In Europe, the Renaissance marked a period of renewed interest in ancient and classical
learning. It also brought a re-examination of accepted
beliefs. Cathedrals and churches had long served as
picture books and art galleries for millions of the uneducated. The stained glass windows, frescoes, statues,
paintings and panels retold the stories of the saints and of biblical characters. The Church sponsored great Renaissance artists
like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, who created some of the world’s most famous artworks. The acceptance of humanism had its effects
on the Church, which embraced it as well. In 1509, a well known scholar of the age,
Erasmus, wrote The Praise of Folly, a work which captured a widely held unease about
corruption in the Church. The Papacy itself was questioned by conciliarism
expressed in the councils of Constance and the Basel. Real reforms during these ecumenical councils
and the Fifth Lateran Council were attempted several times but thwarted. They were seen as necessary but did not succeed
in large measure because of internal feuds within the Church, ongoing conflicts with
the Ottoman Empire and Saracenes and the simony and nepotism practiced in the Renaissance
Church of the 15th and early 16th centuries. As a result, rich, powerful and worldly men
like Roderigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) were able to win election to the papacy.===Reformation era wars===
The Fifth Lateran Council issued some but only minor reforms in March 1517. A few months later, on October 31, 1517, Martin
Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses in public, hoping to spark debate. His theses protested key points of Catholic
doctrine as well as the sale of indulgences. Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and others
also criticized Catholic teachings. These challenges, supported by powerful political
forces in the region, developed into the Protestant Reformation. In Germany, the Reformation led to war between
the Protestant Schmalkaldic League and the Catholic Emperor Charles V. The first nine-year
war ended in 1555 but continued tensions produced a far graver conflict, the Thirty Years’ War,
which broke out in 1618. In France, a series of conflicts termed the
French Wars of Religion was fought from 1562 to 1598 between the Huguenots and the forces
of the French Catholic League. A series of popes sided with and became financial
supporters of the Catholic League. This ended under Pope Clement VIII, who hesitantly
accepted King Henry IV’s 1598 Edict of Nantes, which granted civil and religious toleration
to Protestants.===England===
The English Reformation was ostensibly based on Henry VIII’s desire for annulment of his
marriage with Catherine of Aragon, and was initially more of a political, and later a
theological dispute. The Acts of Supremacy made the English monarch
head of the English church thereby establishing the Church of England. Then, beginning in 1536, some 825 monasteries
throughout England, Wales and Ireland were dissolved and Catholic churches were confiscated. When he died in 1547 all monasteries, friaries,
convents of nuns and shrines were destroyed or dissolved. Mary I of England reunited the Church of England
with Rome and, against the advice of the Spanish ambassador, persecuted Protestants during
the Marian Persecutions. After some provocation, the following monarch,
Elizabeth I enforced the Act of Supremacy. This prevented Catholics from becoming members
of professions, holding public office, voting or educating their children. Executions of Catholics under Elizabeth I,
who reigned much longer, then surpassed the Marian persecutions and persisted under subsequent
English monarchs. Penal laws were also enacted in Ireland but
were less effective than in England. In part because the Irish people associated
Catholicism with nationhood and national identity, they resisted persistent English efforts to
eliminate the Catholic Church.===Council of Trent===
Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, in his book The Reformation, A History noted that through
all the slaughter of the Reformation era emerged the valuable concept of religious toleration
and an improved Catholic Church which responded to doctrinal challenges and abuses highlighted
by the Reformation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563). The council became the driving-force of the
Counter-Reformation, and reaffirmed central Catholic doctrines such as transubstantiation,
and the requirement for love and hope as well as faith to attain salvation. It also reformed many other areas of importance
to the Church, most importantly by improving the education of the clergy and consolidating
the central jurisdiction of the Roman Curia. The criticisms of the Reformation were among
factors that sparked new religious orders including the Theatines, Barnabites and Jesuits,
some of which became the great missionary orders of later years. Spiritual renewal and reform were inspired
by many new saints like Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales and Philip Neri whose writings spawned
distinct schools of spirituality within the Church (Oratorians, Carmelites, Salesian),
etc. Improvement to the education of the laity
was another positive effect of the era, with a proliferation of secondary schools reinvigorating
higher studies such as history, philosophy and theology. To popularize Counter-Reformation teachings,
the Church encouraged the Baroque style in art, music and architecture. Baroque religious expression was stirring
and emotional, created to stimulate religious fervor.Elsewhere, Jesuit missionary Francis
Xavier introduced the Catholic Church in Japan, and by the end of the 16th century tens of
thousands of Japanese adhered. Church growth came to a halt in 1597 under
the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi who, in an effort to isolate the country from foreign influences,
launched a severe persecution of Christians. Japanese were forbidden to leave the country
and Europeans were forbidden to enter. Despite this, a minority Christian population
survived into the 19th century.==Baroque, Enlightenment and revolutions
Marian devotions===The Council of Trent generated a revival of
religious life and Marian devotions in the Catholic Church. During the Reformation, the Church had defended
its Marian beliefs against Protestant views. At the same time, the Catholic world was engaged
in ongoing Ottoman Wars in Europe against Turkey which were fought and won under the
auspices of the Virgin Mary. The victory at the Battle of Lepanto (1571)
was accredited to her “and signified the beginning of a strong resurgence of Marian devotions,
focusing especially on Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth and her powerful role as
mediatrix of many graces”. The Colloquium Marianum, an elite group, and
the Sodality of Our Lady based their activities on a virtuous life, free of cardinal sins. Pope Paul V and Gregory XV ruled in 1617 and
1622 to be inadmissible to state, that the virgin was conceived non-immaculate. Supporting the belief that she was born without
original sin, through the intended protection of God’s grace (aka Immaculate Conception). Alexander VII declared in 1661, that the soul
of Mary was free from original sin. Pope Clement XI ordered the feast of the Immaculata
for the whole Church in 1708. The feast of the Rosary was introduced in
1716, the feast of the Seven Sorrows in 1727. The Angelus prayer was strongly supported
by Pope Benedict XIII in 1724 and by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742. Popular Marian piety was even more colourful
and varied than ever before: Numerous Marian pilgrimages, Marian Salve devotions, new Marian
litanies, Marian theatre plays, Marian hymns, Marian processions. Marian fraternities, today mostly defunct,
had millions of members.===Enlightenment secularism===
The Enlightenment constituted a new challenge of the Church. Unlike the Protestant Reformation, which questioned
certain Christian doctrines, the enlightenment questioned Christianity as a whole. Generally, it elevated human reason above
divine revelation and down-graded religious authorities such as the papacy based on it. Parallel the Church attempted to fend off
Gallicanism and Councilarism, ideologies which threatened the papacy and structure of the
Church.Toward the latter part of the 17th century, Pope Innocent XI viewed the increasing
Turkish attacks against Europe, which were supported by France, as the major threat for
the Church. He built a Polish-Austrian coalition for the
Turkish defeat at Vienna in 1683. Scholars have called him a saintly pope because
he reformed abuses by the Church, including simony, nepotism and the lavish papal expenditures
that had caused him to inherit a papal debt of 50,000,000 scudi. By eliminating certain honorary posts and
introducing new fiscal policies, Innocent XI was able to regain control of the church’s
finances. In France, the Church battled Jansenism and
Gallicanism, which supported Conciliarism, and rejected papal primacy, demanding special
concessions for the Church in France. This weakened the Church’s ability to respond
to gallicanist thinkers such as Denis Diderot, who challenged fundamental doctrines of the
Church.In 1685 gallicanist King Louis XIV of France issued the Revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, ending a century of religious toleration. France forced Catholic theologians to support
conciliarism and deny Papal infallibility. The king threatened Pope Innocent XI with
a general council and a military take-over of the Papal state. The absolute French State used Gallicanism
to gain control of virtually all major Church appointments as well as many of the Church’s
properties. State authority over the Church became popular
in other countries as well. In Belgium and Germany, Gallicanism appeared
in the form of Febronianism, which rejected papal prerogatives in an equal fashion. Emperor Joseph II of Austria (1780–1790)
practiced Josephinism by regulating Church life, appointments, and massive confiscation
of Church properties.===Church in North America===
In what is now the Western United States, the Catholic Church expanded its missionary
activity but, until the 19th century, had to work in conjunction with the Spanish crown
and military. Junípero Serra, the Franciscan priest in
charge of this effort, founded a series of missions and presidios in California which
became important economic, political, and religious institutions. These missions brought grain, cattle and a
new political and religious order to the Indian tribes of California. Coastal and overland routes were established
from Mexico City and mission outposts in Texas and New Mexico that resulted 13 major California
missions by 1781. European visitors brought new diseases that
killed off a third of the native population. Mexico shut down the missions in the 1820s
and sold off the lands. Only in the 19th century, after the breakdown
of most Spanish and Portuguese colonies, was the Vatican able to take charge of Catholic
missionary activities through its Propaganda Fide organization.===Church in South America===
During this period the Church faced colonial abuses from the Portuguese and Spanish governments. In South America, the Jesuits protected native
peoples from enslavement by establishing semi-independent settlements called reductions. Pope Gregory XVI, challenging Spanish and
Portuguese sovereignty, appointed his own candidates as bishops in the colonies, condemned
slavery and the slave trade in 1839 (papal bull In supremo apostolatus), and approved
the ordination of native clergy in spite of government racism.===Jesuits=======Jesuits in India====
Christianity in India has a tradition of Thomas establishing the faith in Kerala. They are called St. Thomas Christians. The community was very small until the Jesuit
Francis Xavier (1502–1552) began missionary work. Roberto de Nobili (1577–1656), a Tuscan
Jesuit missionary to Southern India followed in his path. He pioneered inculturation, adopting many
Brahmin customs which were not, in his opinion, contrary to Christianity. He lived like a Brahmin, learned Sanskrit,
and presented Christianity as a part of Indian beliefs, not identical with the Portuguese
culture of the colonialists. He permitted the use of all customs, which
in his view did not directly contradict Christian teachings. By 1640 there were 40 000 Christians in Madurai
alone. In 1632, Pope Gregory XV gave permission for
this approach. But strong anti-Jesuit sentiments in Portugal,
France, and even in Rome, resulted in a reversal. This ended the successful Catholic missions
in India. On September 12, 1744, Benedict XIV forbade
the so-called Malabar rites in India, with the result that leading Indian castes, who
wanted to adhere to their traditional cultures, turned away from the Catholic Church.===French Revolution===The anti-clericalism of the French Revolution
saw the wholesale nationalisation of church property and attempts to establish a state-run
church. Large numbers of priests refused to take an
oath of compliance to the National Assembly, leading to the Church being outlawed and replaced
by a new religion of the worship of “Reason” but it never gained popularity. In this period, all monasteries were destroyed,
30,000 priests were exiled and hundreds more were killed. When Pope Pius VI sided against the revolution
in the First Coalition, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Italy. The 82-year-old pope was taken as a prisoner
to France in February 1799 and soon died. To win popular support for his rule, Napoleon
re-established the Catholic Church in France through the Concordat of 1801. The church lands were never returned, however
the priests and other religious were given salaries by the government, which maintained
church properties through tax revenues. Catholics were allowed to continue some of
their schools. The end of the Napoleonic wars, signaled by
the Congress of Vienna, brought Catholic revival and the return of the Papal States to the
pope; the Jesuits were restored.====19th-century France====
France remained basically Catholic. The census of 1872 counted 36 million people,
of whom 35.4 million were listed as Catholics, 600,000 as Protestants, 50,000 as Jews and
80,000 as freethinkers The Revolution failed to destroy the Catholic Church, and Napoleon’s
concordat of 1801 restored its status. The return of the Bourbons in 1814 brought
back many rich nobles and landowners who supported the Church, seeing it as a bastion of conservatism
and monarchism. However the monasteries with their vast land
holdings and political power were gone; much of the land had been sold to urban entrepreneurs
who lacked historic connections to the land and the peasants. Few new priests were trained in the 1790-1814
period, and many left the church. The result was that the number of parish clergy
plunged from 60,000 in 1790 to 25,000 in 1815, many of them elderly. Entire regions, especially around Paris, were
left with few priests. On the other hand, some traditional regions
held fast to the faith, led by local nobles and historic families. The comeback was slow—very slow in the larger
cities and industrial areas. With systematic missionary work and a new
emphasis on liturgy and devotions to the Virgin Mary, plus support from Napoleon III, there
was a comeback. In 1870 there were 56,500 priests, representing
a much younger and more dynamic force in the villages and towns, with a thick network of
schools, charities and lay organizations. Conservative Catholics held control of the
national government, 1820-1830, but most often played secondary political roles or had to
fight the assault from republicans, liberals, socialists and seculars.====Third Republic 1870-1940====
Throughout the lifetime of the Third Republic there were battles over the status of the
Catholic Church. The French clergy and bishops were closely
associated with the Monarchists and many of its hierarchy were from noble families. Republicans were based in the anticlerical
middle class who saw the Church’s alliance with the monarchists as a political threat
to republicanism, and a threat to the modern spirit of progress. The Republicans detested the church for its
political and class affiliations; for them, the church represented outmoded traditions,
superstition and monarchism. The Republicans were strengthened by Protestant
and Jewish support. Numerous laws were passed to weaken the Catholic
Church. In 1879, priests were excluded from the administrative
committees of hospitals and of boards of charity; in 1880, new measures were directed against
the religious congregations; from 1880 to 1890 came the substitution of lay women for
nuns in many hospitals. Napoleon’s 1801 Concordat continued in operation
but in 1881, the government cut off salaries to priests it disliked.The 1882 school laws
of Republican Jules Ferry set up a national system of public schools that taught strict
puritanical morality but no religion. For a while privately funded Catholic schools
were tolerated. Civil marriage became compulsory, divorce
was introduced and chaplains were removed from the army.When Leo XIII became pope in
1878 he tried to calm Church-State relations. In 1884 he told French bishops not to act
in a hostile manner to the State. In 1892 he issued an encyclical advising French
Catholics to rally to the Republic and defend the Church by participating in Republican
politics. This attempt at improving the relationship
failed. Deep-rooted suspicions remained on both sides
and were inflamed by the Dreyfus Affair. Catholics were for the most part anti-dreyfusard. The Assumptionists published anti-Semitic
and anti-republican articles in their journal La Croix. This infuriated Republican politicians, who
were eager to take revenge. Often they worked in alliance with Masonic
lodges. The Waldeck-Rousseau Ministry (1899–1902)
and the Combes Ministry (1902–05) fought with the Vatican over the appointment of bishops. Chaplains were removed from naval and military
hospitals (1903–04), and soldiers were ordered not to frequent Catholic clubs (1904). Combes as Prime Minister in 1902, was determined
to thoroughly defeat Catholicism. He closed down all parochial schools in France. Then he had parliament reject authorisation
of all religious orders. This meant that all fifty four orders were
dissolved and about 20,000 members immediately left France, many for Spain. In 1905 the 1801 Concordat was abrogated;
Church and State were finally separated. All Church property was confiscated. Public worship was given over to associations
of Catholic laymen who controlled access to churches. In practise, Masses and rituals continued. The Church was badly hurt and lost half its
priests. In the long run, however, it gained autonomy—for
the State no longer had a voice in choosing bishops and Gallicanism was dead.===Africa===
At the end of the 19th century, Catholic missionaries followed colonial governments into Africa
and built schools, hospitals, monasteries and churches.==Industrial age=====
First Vatican Council===Before the council, in 1854 Pope Pius IX with
the support of the overwhelming majority of Catholic Bishops, whom he had consulted between
1851–1853, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Eight years earlier, in 1846, the Pope had
granted the unanimous wish of the bishops from the United States, and declared the Immaculata
the patron of the USA.During First Vatican Council, some 108 council fathers requested
to add the words “Immaculate Virgin” to the Hail Mary. Some fathers requested, the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception to be included in the Creed of the Church, which was opposed by Pius IX
Many French Catholics wished the dogmatization of Papal infallibility and the assumption
of Mary by the ecumenical council. During Vatican One, nine mariological petitions
favoured a possible assumption dogma, which however was strongly opposed by some council
fathers, especially from Germany. In 1870, the First Vatican Council affirmed
the doctrine of papal infallibility when exercised in specifically defined pronouncements. Controversy over this and other issues resulted
in a very small breakaway movement called the Old Catholic Church.===Social teachings===The Industrial Revolution brought many concerns
about the deteriorating working and living conditions of urban workers. Influenced by the German Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel
Freiherr von Ketteler, in 1891 Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical Rerum novarum, which
set in context Catholic social teaching in terms that rejected socialism but advocated
the regulation of working conditions. Rerum novarum argued for the establishment
of a living wage and the right of workers to form trade unions.Quadragesimo anno was
issued by Pope Pius XI, on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Rerum novarum. Unlike Leo, who addressed mainly the condition
of workers, Pius XI concentrated on the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He called for the reconstruction of the social
order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity. He noted major dangers for human freedom and
dignity, arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism. The social teachings of Pope Pius XII repeat
these teachings, and apply them in greater detail not only to workers and owners of capital,
but also to other professions such as politicians, educators, house-wives, farmers, bookkeepers,
international organizations, and all aspects of life including the military. Going beyond Pius XI, he also defined social
teachings in the areas of medicine, psychology, sport, television, science, law and education. There is virtually no social issue, which
Pius XII did not address and relate to the Christian faith. He was called “the Pope of Technology, for
his willingness and ability to examine the social implications of technological advances. The dominant concern was the continued rights
and dignity of the individual. With the beginning of the space age at the
end of his pontificate, Pius XII explored the social implications of space exploration
and satellites on the social fabric of humanity asking for a new sense of community and solidarity
in light of existing papal teachings on subsidiarity.====Role of women’s institutes====Catholic women have played a prominent role
in providing education and health services in keeping with Catholic social teaching. Ancient orders like the Carmelites had engaged
in social work for centuries. The 19th century saw a new flowering of institutes
for women, dedicated to the provision of health and education services – of these the Salesian
Sisters of Don Bosco, Claretian Sisters and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary became among
the largest Catholic women’s religious institutes of all.The Sisters of Mercy was founded by
Catherine McAuley in Ireland in 1831, and her nuns went on to establish hospitals and
schools across the world. The Little Sisters of the Poor was founded
in the mid-19th century by Saint Jeanne Jugan near Rennes, France, to care for the many
impoverished elderly who lined the streets of French towns and cities. In Britain’s Australian colonies, Australia’s
first canonized Saint, Mary MacKillop, co-founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart
as an educative religious institute for the poor in 1866, going on to establish schools,
orphanages and refuges for the needy. In 1872, the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco
(also called Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) was founded by Maria Domenica Mazzarello. The teaching order was to become the modern
world’s largest institute for women, with around 14,000 members in 2012. Saint Marianne Cope opened and operated some
of the first general hospitals in the United States, instituting cleanliness standards
which influenced the development of America’s modern hospital system. Also in the United States, Saint Katharine
Drexel founded Xavier University of Louisiana to assist African and Native Americans.===Mariology===Popes have always highlighted the inner link
between the Virgin Mary as Mother of God and the full acceptance of Jesus Christ as Son
of God. Since the 19th century, they were highly important
for the development of mariology to explain the veneration of Mary through their decisions
not only in the area of Marian beliefs (Mariology) but also Marian practices and devotions. Before the 19th century, Popes promulgated
Marian veneration by authorizing new Marian feast days, prayers, initiatives, the acceptance
and support of Marian congregations. Since the 19th century, Popes begin to use
encyclicals more frequently. Thus Leo XIII, the Rosary Pope issued eleven
Marian encyclicals. Recent Popes promulgated the veneration of
the Blessed Virgin with two dogmas, Pius IX the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the
Assumption of Mary in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Pius XII also promulgated the new feast Queenship
of Mary celebrating Mary as Queen of Heaven and he introduced the first ever Marian year
in 1954, a second one was proclaimed by John Paul II. Pius IX, Pius XI and Pius XII facilitated
the veneration of Marian apparitions such as in Lourdes and Fátima. Later Popes such from John XXIII to Benedict
XVI promoted the visit to Marian shrines (Benedict XVI in 2007 and 2008). The Second Vatican Council highlighted the
importance of Marian veneration in Lumen gentium. During the Council, Paul VI proclaimed Mary
to be the Mother of the Church.===Anti-clericalism===The 20th century saw the rise of various politically
radical and anti-clerical governments. The 1926 Calles Law separating church and
state in Mexico led to the Cristero War in which over 3,000 priests were exiled or assassinated,
churches desecrated, services mocked, nuns raped and captured priests shot. In the Soviet Union following the 1917 Bolshevik
Revolution, persecution of the Church and Catholics continued well into the 1930s. In addition to the execution and exiling of
clerics, monks and laymen, the confiscation of religious implements and closure of churches
was common. During the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, the
Catholic hierarchy supported Francisco Franco’s rebel Nationalist forces against the Popular
Front government, citing Republican violence directed against the Church. The Church had been an active element in the
polarising politics of the years preceding the Civil War. Pope Pius XI referred to these three countries
as a “terrible triangle” and the failure to protest in Europe and the United States as
a “conspiracy of silence”.===Dictatorships=======
Italy====Pope Pius XI aimed to end the long breach
between the papacy and the Italian government and to gain recognition once more of the sovereign
independence of the Holy See. Most of the Papal States had been seized by
the armies of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy (1861–1878) in 1860 seeking Italian unification. Rome itself was seized by force in 1870 and
the pope became the “prisoner in the Vatican.” The Italian government’s policies had always
been anti-clerical until the First World War, when some compromises were reached. To bolster his own dictatorial Fascist regime,
Benito Mussolini was also eager for an agreement. Agreement was reached in 1929 with the Lateran
Treaties, which helped both sides. According to the terms of the first treaty,
Vatican City was given sovereignty as an independent nation in return for the Vatican relinquishing
its claim to the former territories of the Papal States. Pius XI thus became a head of a tiny state
with its own territory, army, radio station, and diplomatic representation. The Concordat of 1929 made Catholicism the
sole religion of Italy (although other religions were tolerated), paid salaries to priests
and bishops, recognized church marriages (previously couples had to have a civil ceremony), and
brought religious instruction into the public schools. In turn the bishops swore allegiance to the
Italian state, which had a veto power over their selection. The Church was not officially obligated to
support the Fascist regime; the strong differences remained but the seething hostility ended. The Church especially endorsed foreign policies
such as support for the anti-Communist side in the Spanish Civil War, and support for
the conquest of Ethiopia. Friction continued over the Catholic Action
youth network, which Mussolini wanted to merge into his Fascist youth group. A compromise was reached with only the Fascists
allowed to sponsor sports teams.Italy paid the Vatican 1750 million lira (about $100
million) for the seizures of church property since 1860. Pius XI invested the money in the stock markets
and real estate. To manage these investments, the Pope appointed
the lay-person Bernardino Nogara, who through shrewd investing in stocks, gold, and futures
markets, significantly increased the Catholic Church’s financial holdings. The income largely paid for the upkeep of
the expensive-to-maintain stock of historic buildings in the Vatican which previously
had been maintained through funds raised from the Papal States up until 1870. The Vatican’s relationship with Mussolini’s
government deteriorated drastically after 1930 as Mussolini’s totalitarian ambitions
began to impinge more and more on the autonomy of the Church. For example, the Fascists tried to absorb
the Church’s youth groups. In response Pius XI issued the encyclical
Non abbiamo bisogno (“We Have No Need)”) in 1931. It denounced the regime’s persecution of the
church in Italy and condemned “pagan worship of the State.”====Austria and Nazi Germany====The Vatican supported the Christian Socialists
in Austria, a country with a majority Catholic population but a powerful secular element. Pope Pius XI favored the regime of Engelbert
Dollfuss (1932–34), who wanted to remold society based on papal encyclicals. Dollfuss suppressed the anti-clerical elements
and the socialists, but was assassinated by the Austrian Nazis in 1934. His successor Kurt von Schuschnigg (1934–38)
was also pro-Catholic and received Vatican support. Germany annexed Austria in 1938 and imposed
its own policies.Pius XI was prepared to negotiate concordats with any country that was willing
to do so, thinking that written treaties were the best way to protect the Church’s rights
against governments increasingly inclined to interfere in such matters. Twelve concordats were signed during his reign
with various types of governments, including some German state governments. When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany
on 30 January 1933 and asked for a concordat, Pius XI accepted. The Concordat of 1933 included guarantees
of liberty for the Church in Nazi Germany, independence for Catholic organisations and
youth groups, and religious teaching in schools.Nazi ideology was spearheaded by Heinrich Himmler
and the SS. In the struggle for total control over German
minds and bodies, the SS developed an anti-religious agenda. No Catholic or Protestant chaplains were allowed
in its units (although they were allowed in the regular army). Himmler established a special unit to identify
and eliminate Catholic influences. The SS decided the German Catholic Church
was a serious threat to its hegemony and while it was too strong to be abolished it was partly
stripped of its influence, for example by closing its youth clubs and publications.After
repeated violations of the Concordat, Pope Pius XI issued the 1937 encyclical Mit brennender
Sorge which publicly condemned the Nazis’ persecution of the Church and their ideology
of neopaganism and racial superiority.===World War II===
After the Second World War began in September 1939, the Church condemned the invasion of
Poland and subsequent 1940 Nazi invasions. In the Holocaust, Pope Pius XII directed the
Church hierarchy to help protect Jews and Gypsies from the Nazis. While Pius XII has been credited with helping
to save hundreds of thousands of Jews. the Church has also been falsely accused of
encouraging antisemitism Albert Einstein, addressing the Catholic Church’s role during
the Holocaust, said the following: “Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came
in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted
of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the
newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom;
but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks… “Only the Church stood squarely across the
path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church
before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had
the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once
despised I now praise unreservedly.” This quote appeared in the December 23, 1940
issue of Time magazine on page 38. Other biased commentators accused Pius of
not doing enough to stop Nazi atrocities. Debate over the validity of these criticisms
continues to this day.==Post-Industrial age=====
Second Vatican Council===The Catholic Church engaged in a comprehensive
process of reform following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Intended as a continuation of Vatican I, under
Pope John XXIII the council developed into an engine of modernisation. It was tasked with making the historical teachings
of the Church clear to a modern world, and made pronouncements on topics including the
nature of the church, the mission of the laity and religious freedom. The council approved a revision of the liturgy
and permitted the Latin liturgical rites to use vernacular languages as well as Latin
during mass and other sacraments. Efforts by the Church to improve Christian
unity became a priority. In addition to finding common ground on certain
issues with Protestant churches, the Catholic Church has discussed the possibility of unity
with the Eastern Orthodox Church.====Reforms====
Changes to old rites and ceremonies following Vatican II produced a variety of responses. Some stopped going to church, while others
tried to preserve the old liturgy with the help of sympathetic priests. These formed the basis of today’s Traditionalist
Catholic groups, which believe that the reforms of Vatican II have gone too far. Liberal Catholics form another dissenting
group who feel that the Vatican II reforms did not go far enough. The liberal views of theologians such as Hans
Küng and Charles Curran, led to Church withdrawal of their authorization to teach as Catholics. According to Professor Thomas Bokenkotter,
most Catholics “accepted the changes more or less gracefully.” In 2007, Benedict XVI eased permission for
the optional old Mass to be celebrated upon request by the faithful.A new Codex Iuris
Canonici, called for by John XXIII, was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1983. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, includes numerous
reforms and alterations in Church law and Church discipline for the Latin Church. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law issued
by Benedict XV.===Theology=======
Liberation theology====In the 1960s, growing social awareness and
politicization in the Latin American Church gave birth to liberation theology. The Peruvian priest, Gustavo Gutiérrez, became
its primary proponent and, in 1979, the bishops’ conference in Mexico officially declared the
Latin American Church’s “preferential option for the poor”. Archbishop Óscar Romero, a supporter of the
movement, became the region’s most famous contemporary martyr in 1980, when he was murdered
while celebrating Mass by forces allied with the government. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI
(as Cardinal Ratzinger) denounced the movement. The Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff was
twice ordered to cease publishing and teaching. While Pope John Paul II was criticized for
his severity in dealing with proponents of the movement, he maintained that the Church,
in its efforts to champion the poor, should not do so by resorting to violence or partisan
politics. The movement is still alive in Latin America
today, though the Church now faces the challenge of Pentecostal revival in much of the region.===Sexuality and gender issues===
The sexual revolution of the 1960s brought challenging issues for the Church. Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae
reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s traditional view of marriage and marital relations and
asserted a continued proscription of artificial birth control. In addition, the encyclical reaffirmed the
sanctity of life from conception to natural death and asserted a continued condemnation
of both abortion and euthanasia as grave sins which were equivalent to murder.The efforts
to lead the Church to consider the ordination of women led Pope John Paul II to issue two
documents to explain Church teaching. Mulieris Dignitatem was issued in 1988 to
clarify women’s equally important and complementary role in the work of the Church. Then in 1994, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis explained
that the Church extends ordination only to men in order to follow the example of Jesus,
who chose only men for this specific duty.==Catholicism today=====Catholic-Orthodox dialogue===
In June 2004, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I’s visited Rome on the Feast of Saints Peter
and Paul (29 June) for another personal meeting with Pope John Paul II, for conversations
with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and for taking part in the
celebration for the feast day in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Patriarch’s partial participation in the
Eucharistic liturgy at which the Pope presided followed the program of the past visits of
Patriarch Dimitrios (1987) and Patriarch Bartholomew I himself: full participation in the Liturgy
of the Word, joint proclamation by the Pope and by the Patriarch of the profession of
faith according to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Greek and as the conclusion, the
final Blessing imparted by both the Pope and the Patriarch at the Altar of the Confessio. The Patriarch did not fully participate in
the Liturgy of the Eucharist involving the consecration and distribution of the Eucharist
itself.In accordance with the Catholic Church’s practice of including the clause when reciting
the Creed in Latin, but not when reciting the Creed in Greek, Popes John Paul II and
Benedict XVI have recited the Nicene Creed jointly with Patriarchs Demetrius I and Bartholomew
I in Greek without the Filioque clause. The action of these Patriarchs in reciting
the Creed together with the Popes has been strongly criticized by some elements of Eastern
Orthodoxy, such as the Metropolitan of Kalavryta, Greece, in November 2008The declaration of
Ravenna in 2007 re-asserted these beliefs, and re-stated the notion that the bishop of
Rome is indeed the protos, although future discussions are to be held on the concrete
ecclesiological exercise of papal primacy.===Sex abuse cases===Major lawsuits emerged in 2001 claiming that
priests had sexually abused minors. In response to the ensuing scandal, the Church
has established formal procedures to prevent abuse, encourage reporting of any abuse that
occurs and to handle such reports promptly, although groups representing victims have
disputed their effectiveness.Some priests resigned, others were defrocked and jailed,
and there were financial settlements with many victims. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
commissioned a comprehensive study that found that four percent of all priests who served
in the US from 1950 to 2002 had faced some sort of accusation of sexual misconduct.===Benedict XVI===
With the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the Church has so far seen largely a
continuation of the policies of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, with some notable exceptions:
Benedict decentralized beatifications and reverted the decision of his predecessor regarding
papal elections. In 2007, he set a Church record by approving
the beatification of 498 Spanish Martyrs. His first encyclical Deus caritas est discussed
love and sex in continued opposition to several other views on sexuality. Catholic attempts to improve ecumenical relations
with the Eastern Orthodox Church have been complicated by disputes over both doctrine
and the recent history of the Orthodox Eastern Catholic Churches, involving the return of
expropriated properties of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which the Orthodox Church took over
after World War II at the request of Joseph Stalin.===Francis===
With the election of Pope Francis in 2013, following the resignation of Benedict, Francis
is the current and first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first
from the Southern Hemisphere. Since his election to the papacy, he has displayed
a simpler and less formal approach to the office, choosing to reside in the Vatican
guesthouse rather than the papal residence. He has signalled numerous dramatic changes
in policy as well—for example removing conservatives from high Vatican positions, calling on bishops
to lead a simpler life, and taking a more pastoral attitude towards homosexuality.==See also====

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