Roman Catholic Church, the name popularly given to the body of Christians throughout the world in communion with the bishop of Rome. It is not assumed by the church herself. The holy Roman church is understood of the local church of Rome; but the term Roman is used, especially in French documents, as one of the characteristics of the church, which is styled Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, because the see of Rome is its centre. In the congress of Vienna Cardinal Consalvi objected to the joint use of the terms "Roman Catholic," but was willing that they should be separately applied to the church, which is Roman by reason of its necessary dependence on the see of Rome, and Catholic on account of its universal diffusion. It is not confined to those of the Latin rite, but includes all of every rite who acknowledge the bishop of Rome as their head under Christ. Nearly 200,000,000 are estimated to belong to it. About 183 archbishops, 693 bishops, and 122 vicars apostolic compose the hierarchy. - The chief doctrines of the church regard the unity of the divine nature in three distinct divine persons, and the incarnation of the second divine person through the mysterious operation of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and his death on the cross for the expiation of the sins of mankind.
The belief of the incarnation is the ground and motive of the high veneration which is entertained for the Virgin, who is styled Mother of God, because Christ her son is God incarnate. To her is ascribed all sanctity and perfection which can be bestowed on a mere creature, and she is held to have been free from all stain of sin by a special privilege granted her that she might be worthy of the dignity for which she was divinely chosen. The mystery of the redemption is prominent in the teaching and worship of the church. Christ suffered and died, as man, to atone for the sin of our first parents, and the sins of all mankind. As all humanity fell in the first Adam, so in him, the second Adam, all humanity is restored. His death fully expiated the guilt of sin, and presented an atonement in every respect perfect. Yet all men are not justified and saved, but those only to whom the redemption is applied by means divinely prescribed. Baptism is believed to be chiefly a remedy for original sin, applicable even to infants. Adults having the use of reason must believe in Christ and repent of sin, in order to receive the benefit of the atonement.
From those who have forfeited baptismal grace, fruits of penance are required as evidences of their sincere conversion to God, and as conditions to entitle them to the application of the merits of Christ. Nothing that man can do, unassisted by God's saving grace, can take away the guilt of sin, or prove an adequate satisfaction for it; but God requires the humiliation of the sinner, and accepts his penitential works, which derive value from the ransom offered by Christ. They add nothing to it, but they become acceptable through it. Christ is the essential Mediator, through whose blood we must sue for pardon and salvation. - The worship of the church is given to God only, the one eternal Being in the three divine persons, and the incarnate Word, God consub-stantial to the Father. Inferior religious honor, which may be called worship in a qualified sense, is given to the Virgin Mary, on account of the gifts and graces with which God has endowed her, and her exalted dignity as Mother of God incarnate. The angels, that is, incorporeal spirits reigning with God, are honored as his creatures, in whom his perfections are reflected, and as his messengers, through whom he has manifested his will.
Saints, those who have proved faithful in the divine service to the end, and are already crowned with glory in the kingdom of God, are venerated likewise for their triumphant virtue; the martyrs especially, who died amid torments rather than deny Christ, and the virgins, who throughout life preserved the purity of their affections, are deemed worthy of high honor. But there is an essential difference between the honor given to the creatures of God and that which belongs to God alone. He receives the submission of the understanding and the will, the homage of the affections. He is acknowledged to be the essential Being, the supreme Lord, the beginning and the end of all things. Sacrifice is given to him only, in token of his being the sole source of being and life. Prayer, in its strict acceptation, can be addressed to him only, the Giver of every good gift. Grace and salvation depend on his bounty and mercy. Litanies and prayers to the saints are only appeals to them to intercede with God for us through Jesus Christ. They are not supposed to be omniscient or omnipresent, but to know in God the pious desires as well as the penitential sighs of the faithful.
Respect is paid to the crucifix, which recalls to our mind the sufferings of Christ for our redemption, but it does not terminate in the symbol or material object. The kissing of the image, the bending of the knee, the prostration of the body in the ceremonial of Good Friday, are all directed to Christ the Redeemer. So the images of the saints awake the remembrance of their virtues. The bowing of the head to a statue, or the burning of incense before a shrine, is referred to the saint whose memory is honored for his love of God and his zeal for the divine glory. Relics, that is, objects used by the saints, or particles of their remains, are venerated for the relation they bear to them. - The fall of the first parents of the human race is the fundamental doctrine on which the belief of the mystery of redemption depends. They were created in innocence, and raised to a state beyond the powers of nature, being constituted just and holy by a communication of divine grace, and rendered capable of immortality. The prohibition to eat of a certain tree in the garden in which they were placed was intended to exercise their obedience, that their dependence on the Creator might be manifested.
If they had been faithful, they would have transmitted to their descendants the supernatural gifts with which they had been endowed; but their disobedience involved the forfeiture of them for their posterity, as well as for themselves. Original sin is that transgression which is common to the whole human family, each one being estranged from God and liable to his wrath, in consequence of the act of the heads of the race. The natural powers have been weakened by the fall. The freedom of the human will remains, but it is less vigorous than in our first parents. Our nature is not vitiated and depraved, but it is prone to evil and exposed to violent temptation. It is despoiled of supernatural gifts, cast down from the exalted position to which it had been gratuitously raised, and deprived of the special providence destined to it in the beginning. A redeemer was given us, in the person of Christ, who, being God-man, atoned by his sufferings for the sin of our first parents, and merited for us all grace by which temptation may be overcome. - Actual sin is the wilful transgression of the divine law by individuals having the use of reason.
It supposes advertence to the malice of the action and the consent of the will deliberately given, although the advertence and consent may not be full, since sins of ignorance occur. The omission to perform duties positively prescribed is also sinful. The design to do evil is criminal even as the act, and the wilful contemplation of forbidden acts may imply guilt on account of the danger of consenting to them. Mortal sin is any act, speech, desire, or thought grievously opposed to the natural or divine law. Sins which imply no direct or grievous opposition to the law of God are styled venial, because their pardon is easily obtained, since they do not separate the soul from God. Slight impatience, rash words, vain self-complacency, may be venial. Deliberate hatred, gross calumny, acts of violence, not to speak of drunkenness, lust, and murder, are mortal sins. The distinction of sins is not derived from the individual who commits them, although they may be aggravated by his personal obligations. Forgiveness of sins, even the most heinous, is promised to the penitent. Sorrow for having committed them is a necessary disposition in order to obtain it.
Perfect sorrow, which is called contrition, springs from divine love, and leads us to detest sin as opposed to the goodness of God and to his essential perfection. Attrition is sorrow of a less perfect kind, arising from an experience of the evil consequences of sin, and a dread of the punishments which await it hereafter. If it weans the heart from sin, and inspires an effectual detestation of it, so as to be accompanied with a firm resolution of amendment, it is held to . be useful and salutary, and such as may dispose for pardon in the sacrament of penance. No degree of anguish of mind can insure our reconciliation with God so long as we are not firmly determined to shun sin and the occasions of relapse. The forgiveness of sin properly belongs to God, who is offended. Christ, as God-man, forgave sin, and authorized the apostles to impart forgiveness or withhold it. In virtue of this commission the power of forgiveness is exercised by bishops and priests, as delegates of Christ. The power is judicial, since they may bind or loose, retain or remit; on which account a confession of sin is required from every applicant for its exercise.
When this is made with sincerity, humility, sorrow, a willingness to repair the wrong committed, and a determination to shun the occasions of sin, the priest absolves the penitent. This absolution is a judicial sentence, deriving its force from the divine institution. - The sacraments are rites instituted by Christ our Lord as instruments and means of grace, to apply to our souls the merits of his sufferings and death. ' They are said to contain and confer grace, technically ex opere operato, because they are effectual means divinely chosen to impart it, where no obstacle is presented by the receiver. Certain dispositions, however, are required on the part of adults who desire to partake of them. Faith and compunction are necessary on the part of the applicant for baptism. Sorrow with a firm purpose of amendment is likewise required from the professed penitent. The strengthening grace of the Holy Spirit is granted, by the laying on of hands with prayer, to the baptized believer whose heart is free from wilful sin. Sin is forgiven to the dying man who with penitence and hope receives the mystic unction, and for whom the prayer of faith is offered up.
The imposition of hands is available for the communication of sacerdotal power, even to the unworthy candidate; but grace is given to him who is called by God, and who with humility corresponds to the divine vocation. Marriage is a great mystery, the image of the union of Christ and the church, to be celebrated with purity of affection. The eucharist, the chief sacrament, is to be approached with hearts cleansed from sin, under penalty of becoming guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, and incurring condemnation. - The elevation of man to the rank of adopted child of God, and coheir with Christ to God's kingdom, the beatific vision and the eternal union through it with the Godhead, form a destiny transcending the conception and exigency of nature. All help vouchsafed of God to man toward the attainment of this destiny or end must needs be supernatural, like that end itself. This help is called grace. It is God's free gift, by which the mind is enlightened and the will is strengthened, is necessary to conceive a good thought, and still more to undertake or perform any work directed to salvation. This is proffered to all, but is actually dispensed according to a just yet incomprehensible disposition of Divine Providence, with wonderful variety.
It does not interfere with the freedom of the human will, which it moves and aids, without imposing necessity. The grace which moves to prayer, if complied with, is usually followed by the grace of action, which enables us to perform our duty. What is beyond our actual strength becomes practically possible, if not easy, by means of the help thus afforded. To God properly belongs the glory of any good which we perform, because our sufficiency, our power, is from him; but to us the reward is promised, inasmuch as we might resist his impulse by abusing our freedom. It is not easy to reconcile the exercise of free will with the divine foresight. We cannot understand how it is possible for us to act independently, and of our own determination, when God from eternity has foreseen our action. It is sufficient for us to know and feel our freedom, without sounding the depths of divine knowledge. The church, having declared the necessity of grace for all supernatural acts, and for the beginning or first thought directed to such an end, has abstained from deciding the controversies of the schools regarding the modes of reconciling the freedom of the human will with such necessity, and with the divine foreknowledge.
It suffices then to admit that without the grace of Christ we can do nothing, and to hold that we can do all things in him who strengthens us. The grace of God is not given to the elect alone, since Christ did not die for them only. God wishes all men to be saved, and grants graces remotely, if not proximately, sufficient for this end. The divine commandments are not impossible. If great difficulty be experienced in their fulfilment, even occasionally by just men, grace can be obtained by prayer by which it may be removed, so that what may appear impossible to nature may be rendered easy by grace. - Everlasting beatitude, consisting in the contemplation and enjoyment of God, is the reward promised by him on condition of the fulfilment of his commandments, and bestowed gratuitously on baptized infants or others incapable of personal acts. The punishment of grievous sin is eternal. All guilty of such, who die unrepentant, are for ever separated from God, and suffer torments. Those who die guilty of slight faults, or debtors to divine justice, are withheld for a time from the enjoyment of heaven.
The glory of heaven is immediately attained by baptized infants dying before the use of reason, by adults dying immediately after baptism, by martyrs, and by all who die with perfect love of God, and free from sin or debt of punishment. The soul only is admitted to happiness. The body is subject to dissolution, but is to be raised at the end of time, in order to be reunited to the soul and made partaker of its glory. The degrees of beatitude vary according to the greater or less love of God which distinguishes each of the elect, even as star differs from star in brightness. All the saints, however, will be perfectly happy, because free from all suffering or pain, from all passion or inordinate desire, and rejoicing in the fulfilment of the divine will. We are not called on to scrutinize the divine decrees with regard to election to glory. Its attainment supposes cooperation and fidelity to grace on the part of adults. It is imparted as a reward. God cannot predestine any to torments without reference to their demerits and offences, since punishment is to be inflicted only for transgression. - The teaching of Christ our Lord becomes known to us especially by the preaching of the ministry, tracing back their commission to his apostles.
Solemn definitions of faith are the most authoritative forms of this preaching. They are declarations not merely of doctrines contained in the written word, but of revealed truths, whether written or unwritten. Christ himself left nothing in writing; several of his apostles wrote much, and two other sacred writers composed narratives of his life and teaching; but many things belong to the deposit of doctrine which were not explicitly placed on record. The body of bishops feel themselves authorized to propose as revealed truth whatever has come down from the beginning in the church, and been generally acknowledged to appertain to doctrine. In cases of difficulty, when doubts have been raised with regard to some tenet, they feel themselves competent to examine the evidence, and decide whether the doctrine has been revealed. After a definition, it is no longer allowed to question a truth sealed with their approval. Infallibility in judgment is claimed for the body of bishops in union with their head, the bishop of Rome. By it is meant the providential guidance of the Holy Spirit, by which they are directed and enlightened in doctrinal decisions, that they may not mistake error for truth, or propose as divinely revealed what lacks the seal of divine authority.
The same infallibility which Christ promised to the church is claimed for the head of the church, when, in the performance of his office of teacher and pastor of the whole of Christ's flock, he defines ex cathedra a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal church. (See Infallibility.) These doctrinal definitions or judgments of the Roman pontiff are of themselves final, and irreformable even before the acquiescence of the episcopal body. - The divine Scriptures are acknowledged by the church as the word of inspiration, written under the impulse of the Spirit of God, and to be received with all faith and reverence. The books of the Old Testament contained in the Jewish canon are admitted, to which are added certain other books written before the coming of Christ, and known to the Jews, especially those of Alexandria, but not fully recognized as of binding authority. These are accepted by the church on ancient testimony, usage, and tradition derived from the apostles. The books of the New Testament contained in the canon include some of which doubt was entertained in the early ages.
The canon of the council of Carthage held in 397, and that of Innocent I. and Gelasius in the following century, are followed in the list of sacred books adopted by the council of Trent. The church claims the supreme authority of determining the meaning of the Scriptures, in conformity with the general teaching of the fathers, that is, the ancient Christian writers. - Faith, according to the Roman Catholic view, is the assent of the human mind to divine truth proposed and attested by the church of God. The fact of revelation is essential, since no persuasion, however strong, can give to opinion the character of a revealed truth. It must be propounded by the church, in order to be regarded as a point of Catholic belief. Revelations made to an individual challenge the assent of his mind to the truth manifested to him; but an authoritative declaration by a divinely appointed teacher, the church, the pillar and ground of the truth, is necessary to afford certainty of the fact of revelation to men generally. The assent of the mind must be given to all revealed truth, for the authority of God is alike vouchsafed for all, and the testimony of the church extends to all.
Faith is necessary to salvation, so that without it it is impossible to please God. The wanton and proud rejection of a single point of revealed doctrine involves the wreck of faith. Want of opportunity of instruction, insufficiency of evidence proposed, weakness of understanding, and unavoidable prepossessions arising from birth and education may extenuate or excuse the denial of some doctrine, not recognized as revealed. Hence invincible ignorance is admitted by divines in respect to many not actual professors of Catholic doctrine, although God only can determine with certainty the individuals for whom such plea may be available. The exclusive language of church formularies, which declare that without Catholic faith none can be saved, receives this mild interpretation. All baptized children are claimed by the church as her own, since baptism is the sacrament of regeneration, and they continue such until by their wilful profession of condemned error they forfeit their birthright. - The natural law, as manifested by reason and declared in the decalogue, is the foundation of moral theology. The development of it in the New Testament guides theologians in their examination of duties and rights. The writings of the fathers illustrate many points.
The decisions by popes and councils of matters submitted to their judgment are necessarily followed. Moral theology is the scientific discussion of all matters appertaining to conduct, and is consequently most comprehensive, since it embraces whatever has reference to vice or virtue, to the general principles of right, to the obligations of every station in life, and to the infinite variety of circumstances in which individuals may be placed. Much is necessarily left open for dispute in a science which comprises every imaginable case that may wear a moral aspect, on which account complaints are made of the latitude of theological opinions, favorable to relaxation of morals; but it is considered of no small importance that the great principles of morality should be broadly stated and steadily maintained. Confessors study casuistry, as physicians study maladies and infirmities, to understand human disorders, and apply the remedies. - The principles of the Catholic church with regard to civil duties are highly conservative. She is indifferent to forms of government and social institutions, and is content to exercise a salutary influence on society, by inculcating those maxims of right and order which are found in the gospel.
She feels bound to respect established authority, and to enforce by moral suasion obedience to those in high station. The early apologists of Christianity confidently appealed to the persecutors themselves as witnesses of the loyalty and submission of the faithful. In the middle ages the church was occasionally in conflict with the civil power, because, being acknowledged by princes and peoples as the representative of God, she sought- to restrain the passions of rulers, who called themselves her children, by the laws and, maxims of Christ, and to regulate society by the divine law. In the present state of the world, divided into so many independent kingdoms and states, and into opposite sects, she confines her efforts for the moral control of nations to proclaiming the revealed doctrines, and teaching that religion is the only secure basis and strong bond of society. - By discipline Catholics understand all that appertains to the government of the church, the administration of the sacraments, and the observances and practices of religion. The essential worship consists in the sacrifice of the mass, which, although mystical and commemorative, is real and propitiatory, being a bloodless continuation of the bloody sacrifice of the cross.
Vespers, that is, evening prayer, are solemnly sung, the psalms of David being employed in the divine praise, with the song of the Virgin Mary, and pious hymns, and prayers. Other portions of the divine office are sung in the cathedral churches of Catholic countries at various hours each day, by clergymen called canons, devoted to this duty. Besides the Lord's day, or Sunday, which from the apostolic times has been set apart for divine worship, in place of the Jewish sabbath, festivals are celebrated to honor the divine mysteries, and present them to the devout contemplation of the faithful. Many are solemnized in honor of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and saints of every class, whose virtues are thus set before the faithful for their imitation. Fasting is also a part of church discipline. Forty days before Easter are devoted to this exercise, in commemoration of the fast of our Lord during that period. Ember days, namely, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, in each of the four seasons, are observed as fasts to obtain the divine blessing for the seasons, and worthy ministers for the church, ordinations being held at those times. The eve of great solemnities is observed by fasting, in order to prepare by penance for their celebration.
Abstinence is observed on each Friday of the year, and in many countries on Saturday. All these penitential observances are matters of church law, which admits of dispensation. The rites of the mass, and the ceremonies used in the administration of the sacraments, appertain to discipline, which admits of variety and change, although great deference is shown for ancient usage. This serves to connect, ancient and modern times, and to manifest harmony in faith and worship. For this reason the Latin liturgy, used from early times in the Roman church, is still employed by the celebrant, although instructions are given in the vernacular language, and facilities are afforded to the faithful for praying in a manner suited to their capacity. The chief points of practice on which changes have taken place in the course of ages are the manner of administering baptism and the eucharist, as also penitential discipline. The solemn mode of baptism was originally by immersion. The candidates used to descend into fonts or streams, or rivers, and sink beneath the waters under the pressure of the hands of the minister. In cases of necessity and danger, less solemn modes were used, which, from being frequent, at length after the lapse of ages became universal.
In like manner the eucharist, having been instituted by our Lord under the forms of bread and wine, was generally administered under both kinds for many ages. Exceptional cases were always admitted, which at length proved so numerous as to supersede altogether the ancient usage. The church claims the right to regulate, at her just discretion, whatever regards the manner of administering the sacraments, while she holds their substance to be inviolable. Penance for sin was always enjoined, and was proportioned to the degree of the guilt. It became a regular system about the 3d century. In the East it received a great check in the time of Nectarius, the predecessor of St. Chrysostom, the office of public penitentiary having been abolished at Constantinople in consequence of a scandal. In the West it was observed with more or less rigor for several ages, but was effectually set aside by the indulgences granted in the 12th and 13th centuries to volunteers in the wars called the crusades. The penitential canons ceased to be applied even in the tribunal of penance, and milder remedies were offered to those who were found unwilling to submit to the severe injunctions of the ancients. Penitential discipline is now almost exclusively confined to the sacrament.
Indulgence, or the relaxation of penitential rigor in favor of fervent penitents, was granted by the bishops on certain conditions regulated by the penitential canons. After the change of discipline, indulgences assumed a new form. They were no longer necessary to release from the obligation of the ecclesiastical law, which had gone into desuetude, and were not directed to the forgiveness of sin, which needed the sacramental remedy; but they were offered to the penitents to aid them in satisfying divine justice, by applying to them the superabundant satisfaction of Christ and his saints. They served as incentives to works of piety, such as almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. - The organization of the church consists in its government by bishops, each in charge of a special flock, or portion of the faithful, with subordination one to another, and the dependence of all on the bishop of Rome, as shepherd of the whole fold of Christ. The episcopal character is the same in all bishops, but governing authority, which is called jurisdiction, is possessed in various degrees - in its fulness by the pope, who is the fountain, the streams of which flow to all others.
He alone has apostolic authority, which may be everywhere exercised, with due regard to the local prelate, and which is suited to every emergency. During the vacancy of the Roman see, this plenitude of jurisdiction is believed to reside in the cardinals governing ad interim. Each bishop governs his own diocese, not as papal vicar, but as ordinary, that is, proper ruler, although in some things his authority is enlarged as delegate apostolic. Several dioceses form a province, which is governed by an archbishop, who however is not allowed to interfere with his suffragans unless when appealed to, or when a council over which he presides deems a visitation necessary. Many ecclesiastical provinces sometimes are united as a nation by means of a primate, who ranks above other prelates. The title of patriarch was given in the early church to the bishop of Alexandria, the see of St. Mark the disciple of Peter, and to the bishop of Antioch, which Peter had governed for some years. Jerusalem also received this title, and even Constantinople. At present there is scarcely a vestige of patriarchal power in these ancient churches, although the title is given to some bishops in partibus infidelium, but rather with a view to keeping up the remembrance of the authority than to its exercise.
Even the patriarchal prerogative of the pope is swallowed up in his primacy, so that he seldom appears as patriarch of the West, choosing rather to rest on his supreme authority. The six senior cardinals derive their titles from suburbicarian churches. There are, besides Rome, nine patriarchal dignities, viz., Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch (where there are four, for the Maronite, Melchite, Syrian, and Latin rites respectively), Jerusalem, Babylon (of the Chaldean rite), Cilicia (of the Armenian rite), the East Indies, Lisbon, and Venice. The episcopal sees in both hemispheres are technically distinguished as belonging either to the Latin rite or to the oriental rites. Of the former, some are immediately subject to the see of Rome in its patriarchal capacity, or because the titulars are bishops in partibus infidelium. This category comprises 10 archiepiscopal sees in Europe, Amalfi, Camerino, Catania, Cosenza, Ferrara, Gaëta, Lucca, Rossano, Spoleto, and Udine, and two in Asia, Babylon and Smyrna; and 81 episcopal sees, together with Ispahan in Persia, Port Louis in Africa, St. John (Newfoundland) and Harbor Grace in America, and Auckland, Dunedin, and Wellington in Oceania. Of sees not immediately subject to Rome, there are in Europe 84 metropolitan sees, the heads of so many ecclesiastical provinces, with 406 suffragan sees.
In Asia, the Latin metropolitan sees of Goa and Smyrna have respectively four and two suffragans. In Africa, Algeria forms a separate province, with an archbishop at Algiers and suffragans at Constantine and Oran. The African sees of Angola, Angra, Funchal, Cape Verd, and St. Thomas (Guinea) are suffragan to Lisbon; the bishopric of the Canaries is suffragan to Seville, and that of Réunion to Bordeaux. The 30 ecclesiastical provinces of North and South America comprise 165 sees, of which 135 are suffragan. British America has 22 bishops with 5 metropolitans, and the United States have 56 dioceses, 10 metropolitan sees, and 6 vicariates apostolic. The episcopal sees of Guadeloupe and Martinique are suffragan to the archbishopric of Bordeaux. Oceania has two ecclesiastical provinces, that of Manila with 4 suffragans, and that of Sydney in Australia with 9. The churches belonging to the various oriental rites in communion with the Roman pontiff comprise 13 Graeco-Ruthenian sees, of which 2 are in Russia, 1 in Prussia, and 10 in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy; one Graeco-Roumanian metropolis, with 3 suffragan sees, also in the Austro - Hungarian monarchy; an Armenian metropolitan see at Leopoldstadt in Hungary; in Asia, the Armenian patriarchate of Cilicia, with the Armenian metropolitan sees of Aleppo, Caesarea, Marash, Mardin, and Melitene (Ma-latiah), and 11 suffragan dioceses; the Graeco-Melchite patriarchate of Antioch, with the archbishoprics of Aleppo, Damascus, Emesa (Horns), and Tyre, and 9 suffragan sees; the patriarchate of the Syrian rite at Antioch, with metropolitans at Aleppo, Babylon, Damascus, and Mosul, and 8 suffragans in various cities, including Alexandria; the Syro-Chaldean church, with a patriarch at Babylon, 4 archbishops, and 7 bishops; and the Syro-Maronites, with a patriarch at Antioch, 5 archbishops, and 3 bishops, including one in Cyprus. The Egyptian as well as the Abyssinian Copts have no regular hierarchy, but depend respectively on vicars apostolic resident among them.
The Bulgarian Greeks are also under the jurisdiction of a bishop consecrated in 1865, with the title of apostolic administrator. Of the Asiatic Catholics, the Melchites are the most energetic and devoted. Besides the above episcopal functionaries, there is a large class of bishops called vicars apostolic, who superintend the spiritual welfare of the Catholics wherever it is not found practicable to establish sees and a regular hierarchy. There are 2 vicariates in the German empire, 1 in Gibraltar, 3 in Scotland, 1 in Sweden, 21 in the Chinese empire, 14 in the adjacent kingdoms, 23 in India and Bur-mah, and others in Asia Minor, Abyssinia, the Galla country, Madagascar, and among the various tribes and settlements along the entire seaboard of Africa. In America there are vicariates apostolic in the valley of the Mackenzie, British Columbia, Lower California, the Antilles, British and Dutch Guiana, and in the territories and at various other points in the United States. Vicars apostolic also preside over the missionary labors of the chief island groups of Oceania. At other points in European and other countries, where the presence of a bishop is either undesirable or unnecessary, priests with special faculties, denominated prefects apostolic, minister to the wants of scattered Catholics. They are to be found in Iceland, Norway, Schleswig, and Switzerland, on the most dangerous Asiatic and African missions, etc.
There is no dependence or connection between the members of the hierarchy in the various portions of the world, under different civil rulers, but all are linked together in unity by means of Rome, the common centre. The general government of the church is carried on at Rome, where the pope is assisted by the body of cardinals, several of whom compose standing committees to examine and prepare the matters for final action. Nearly 30 belong to the congregation of propaganda, which is charged with a general superintendence of missionary countries. The appointment of bishops is made on the recommendation of the local prelates, with the advice of the cardinals. In several monarchies the nomination is given to the sovereign, with a power of rejecting or confirming reserved to the pontiff. - The religious orders in the church are like corporations in a civil government, having special exemptions and privileges. They derive them from the pope, who, in virtue of his apostolical authority, exempts the members from the jurisdiction of the bishops in what regards their domestic discipline, but leaves them dependent on them for faculties to be exercised in behalf of the faithful.
Their privileges, however, are moderated and regulated in such a manner as not to weaken the diocesan authority, or favor insubordination, but only to encourage religious discipline and promote piety. The superior greatly lightens the burden of episcopal solicitude by training and watching over the members of the community, who themselves are rewarded for the restrictions to which they voluntarily subject themselves, by the security which is given them to pursue unmolested the path they have chosen. (See Monachism.) - The history of the church begins with the pastoral commission given after Christ's resurrection to the apostle Peter, who, according to Catholic ecclesiastical traditions, sealed his apostolic labors with martyrdom at Rome in the year 67, on the same day as the apostle Paul. This event attached his office to this see. Clement, bishop of Rome, wrote to the Corinthians, in the name of the church, at the close of this century, while St. John was still alive, remonstrating with them on a schism which had broken out among them. The labors of the several apostles are not known in full detail. The apostle Paul labored more than all others, and with marked success. St. James, who is called the brother of the Lord, presided as bishop at Jerusalem, and died a martyr.
St. John passed the latter years of his life in Asia, and terminated his course at Ephesus. St. Mark, the evangelist, founded the church at Alexandria. At the close of the apostolic age the Christian religion was widely spread, chiefly throughout Asia Minor and some more distant provinces, Greece, the adjacent islands, Italy, and Egypt. Gaul is believed to have been partially evangelized in that age, and Spain is said to have been visited by the apostle Paul, who purposed making this journey, and, as the national tradition will have it, by St. James. In the early part of the 2d century the countries on the left bank of the Rhine, as far as Belgium, had received the gospel, as St. Ire-naeus testifies. This bishop succeeded St. Pho-tinus, disciple of St. Polycarp, at Lyons in 178. Britain received missionaries under Eleu-therius, bishop of Rome, about the same time. A council of 70 African bishops was held at Carthage toward the end of the century; and 90 bishops assembled in Numidia. The relations of the bishops generally to Rome, on account of its higher chieftaincy, are distinctly stated by Irenaeus, who, however, earnestly remonstrated with Pope Victor on his determination to cut off various Asiatic churches from communion for their attachment to the usage of celebrating Easter on the same day as the Jews. In the middle of the 3d century a synod of Spanish bishops deposed Martial of Leon and Basilides of Astorga for criminal weakness in the persecution during the reign of Decius. The acts of various councils of African bishops are known, especially from the writings of St. Cyprian, who warmly resisted the decree of Pope Stephen by which the repetition of baptism conferred by sectaries was forbidden.
The controversy finally resulted in the following century in the acquiescence of the church generally in the decree, which was supported by the council of Nice. The 4th century, after some scenes of persecution, witnessed the triumph of Christianity by the conversion of the emperor Constantine.' Although he decidedly favored it, and lent his power to its support, nevertheless he is believed not to have received baptism until the approach of death. By his mandate a council of bishops was called at Nice, where about 318 convened in the year 325, and proclaimed Christ to be God, consubstantial to the Father. Sylvester, the bishop of Rome, was prevented by old age from being present, but Hosius, bishop of Cordova, and two priests represented him. The Nicene symbol met with great opposition on the part of bishops who had received the doctrines of Arius, and were supported by Constantius, the successor of Constantine. A council of bishops at Rimini, under imperial influence and constraint, consented to suppress the term which proved so offensive, and the occasion of so much strife; but on recovering their liberty they retracted, and Pope Liberius annulled their acts by the authority of St. Peter. The 5th century was illustrious for the pontificate of St. Leo, whose prayers were believed to have turned away the wrath of Attila, advancing to destroy Rome. His exposition of the mystery of the incarnation crowned the efforts of his predecessors for the maintenance of the faith, and received the homage of the bishops assembled at Chalcedon. "This," they cried, "is the faith of the fathers.
We all have this faith. Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo." At Nice the fathers developed the meaning of the apostolic symbol by phrases and clauses necessary to meet the subtleties of innovators. At Constantinople a special statement was inserted in the creed to place the divinity of the Holy Spirit beyond dispute. At Ephesus the bishops inflicted excommunication on Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, for obstinacy in resisting the authority of Pope Celestine, who condemned his errors. At Chalcedon the letter of St. Leo was adopted as the symbol of orthodoxy, and subscription to it was exacted, under the same penalty. Those councils served to define with precision the revealed mysteries, and were generally subsidiary to the papal action. The acts of those of Nice and Constantinople are not preserved in their integrity, but the extant records of those of Ephesus and Chalcedon show that the legates of the pontiff led the way, and the fathers followed his authority. At the close of the 6th century Gregory the Great, bishop of Rome, conceived the idea of evangelizing the Angles, or English, who had settled in Britain without adopting the Christian faith of its former inhabitants. The mission of the monk Augustin, at the head of a band of his brethren, proved eminently successful.
A see was founded at Canterbury, and the church was fully organized with close dependence on the chair of Peter. The 7th century was marked by the general diffusion of the faith in England, and the more perfect organization of the English hierarchy. In the 8th century the Germans in great numbers were brought to the faith by the preaching of Boniface, called also Winifrid, an English missionary. He distinguished himself by his devoted attachment to the apostolic see, to which he made a solemn oath of duty. Various other missionaries, from Ireland especially, preached the faith about the same time with like success. It spread also toward the regions of the north, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland. The scandals of the 10th century disfigured the church, since unworthy men struggled to occupy the papal chair, or to place in it their relatives and adherents. The influence of the emperors of the West had greatly declined, and some Italian nobles aspired to the pontificate. The intrusion of one or two youths and of several men of licentious habits disgraced the high office; but after a time men of wisdom and piety were once more at the helm.
Hildebrand attained to the pontificate in 1073, under the name of Gregory VII. With all his zeal and the authority of his office, he condemned the marriage of the clergy, which from toleration had become not unfrequent. He resisted the emperor Henry IV., who disposed of bishoprics, abbacies, and other high offices, for corrupt considerations. The inveterate character of these abuses and the imperial influence involved the pontiff in a long and fierce struggle, in which he seemed to succumb, dying in exile, but in reality overcame, leaving his successors to reap the fruits of his labors. The contest between the popes and the emperors continued, with intervals of rest, throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. Investitures were in the beginning of this period the chief subject of disputes, the popes resisting the claims of the emperors to invest bishops with the temporalities of their sees, by delivering to them the ring and crosier, chief symbols of episcopal authority. The opportunity thus furnished for promoting unworthy men, courtiers, and favorites, determined the popes to vigorous resistance; and although Paschal II. yielded for a moment to imperial violence, on the recovery of his liberty he retracted his consent, and humbled himself for his weakness.
Innocent IV., in the middle of the 13th century, in the council of Lyons deposed the emperor Frederick II. for various acts of simony, sacrilege, and tyranny, fol-. lowing out the principles and the example of Gregory VII., who was the first to proceed to a similar deposition. The 14th century is remarkable for the removal of the papal chair to Avignon by Clement V., who, in the distracted state of Rome, accepted the protection of the French king. His example was followed by his successors for nearly 70 years, popularly styled by the Romans the Babylonish captivity. These French popes were bishops of Rome, which they governed by cardinal vicars acting in their name. The restoration of the chair to that city was followed by a schism, formed by French cardinals, who elected Clement VII. in opposition to Urban VI., the pope residing at Rome. An attempt to terminate the rupture by setting aside both claimants resulted in the election of Alexander V. in the council of Pisa, and the three pretendants had their respective followers. At length, in the council of Constance, opened in 1414, Martin V. was chosen (1417) and acknowledged.
The Greeks returned for a short time to the communion of the Roman see in the council of Florence held in 1439, but were drawn back by the persevering efforts of Mark, bishop of Ephesus, who resisted every influence employed by his colleagues and by the Greek emperor at the council. Constantinople a few years afterward fell under the power of the Turks, and the degradation alike of the eastern church and empire was consummated. Some popes of doubtful fame appeared in the decline of the 15th century, and one of acknowledged depravity at its close. The warlike career of Julius II. and the golden age of Leo X. were not calculated to restore the high character for austerity and zeal which the pontiffs had generally borne. The bold monk of Wittenberg appeared on occasion of the indulgences which Leo offered to contributors to the grand fabric of St. Peter's. The rivalry of two religious orders added fuel to theological disputes, which on the part of Luther were marked by great boldness. He soon became a leader, and before he was fully aware he was the head of a sect inculcating principles subversive of the papal authority, and more successful than its predecessors in the 13th and 15th centuries, the sects of Albigenses and Hussites. A number of minor sects soon appeared, and a vast portion of the Catholic world, perhaps fully a third, was drawn away from obedience to the Roman see.
Henry VIII., king of England, from a champion of the faith, became an enemy when his desires for a divorce were thwarted by Clement VII. The progress of the reformation was soon arrested by the zeal of many devoted men, founders of various religious institutes, especially by the followers of Ignatius Loyola, whose labors caused a considerable reaction in favor of the church of Rome. These labors proved more effective than the more violent intervention of Charles V., Philip II., or the inquisition. The saintly Pius V., the stern Sixtus V., and others of less marked character, performed well the duties of their office. The religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries ended with the triumph of Catholicism in France and a partial victory of Protestantism in the Netherlands and Germany.
The subtleties of Jansenius, bishop of Ypres, annoyed the church in the 17th and 18th centuries, his followers, after his example, employing the authority of Augustine to countenance doctrines decidedly Calvinistic. The French church especially was harassed by these doctrinal disputes. They prevailed throughout the early part of the 18th century, and prepared the way for the triumph of infidelity in the revolution. In the present century there is a manifest reaction. The church of France, after much persecution, is intimately united with the see of Peter. In the German empire since 1870 a serious conflict has arisen with the civil power; but now (1875) a compromise seems likely to be made. (See Germany; also Italy, Spain, and Switzerland).