The Catholic Church:The First 2000 Years: A Popular Survey and Study Guide to Church History


They follow His teachings as set out in the New Testament and place their trust in God's promise of eternal life with Him. Catholicism, however, is distinct from other Christian churches in both its organisation and its teaching. The Catholic Church ordains only celibate men to the priesthood since Jesus was, it teaches, male and celibate.

In the Protestant churches married and female clergy are the norm.

Orthodoxy allows married men to become priests but not bishops. Moreover, the hierarchical nature of Catholicism sets it apart from other Christian churches. It is a pyramid with the Pope at the top, followed by cardinals who have the right to elect a new pope on the death of the current incumbent , archbishops, bishops, priests , deacons and laity. Traditionally clerics were seen as having a higher calling than the laity but, since the landmark Second Vatican Council, both laity and clergy have been regarded as jointly 'the people of God'. That same reforming council stressed the need for popes and bishops to consult widely before pronouncing on matters of faith, but in practice they retain the unfettered power to teach on such questions.

All major decisions rest with the Pope and his advisors. In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. Catholic doctrine is based the scriptures and on the church's own traditions.

Roman Catholic Church

It believes that its doctrines were revealed to the apostles and have been preserved in the continuous tradition ever since. There are several doctrinal issues where the Catholic Church has a distinct position:. Catholicism's stance on abortion is part of its wider and keystone teaching on the dignity of the human person which informs its understanding on all issues. So while much has been written of Catholicism's outspoken stance of sexual morality, and more generally of its tendency post-Reformation to regard anything modern as negative, less has been written of its social gospel, often called its 'best kept secret'.

Yet contemporary Catholicism embraces a distinctive set of social principles - supporting the rights of workers, opposing unfettered capitalism, defending the rights of oppressed people, campaigning for a more equal global trading and political balance between the countries of the industrial north to the developing south - that stretch back through landmark papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum to Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. Catholicism is a faith that revolves around the seven sacraments - baptism, reconciliation, Eucharist , confirmation , marriage , holy orders joining the priesthood and the sacrament of the sick once called extreme unction or the last rites.

The importance of receiving Christ's body and blood at communion as the bread of life is central. The Catholic Church places great emphasis on moral law and is strong in its devotion to saints. It embraces a mystical dimension - most clearly visible in its liturgy - which sits uneasily with the modern secular and scientific world.

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At various Marian shrines around the world, for instance, the Catholic Church believes that a small number of miracle cures of illness have been effected. Great emphasis is placed on the ascetic tradition of religious life as either separation from worldly concerns or, in the words of Pope John Paul II - as 'a sign of contradiction' in contemporary culture. Catholicism retains from earliest times a strong sense of sin and correspondingly of God's redeeming love. The recent history of Catholicism has been one of successes and failures. Its previous Pope, the charismatic Polish-born Pope John Paul II, was widely hailed as the 'spark from heaven' who ignited the revolutions that swept away the Iron Curtain in the late s.

In the developing world, its congregations grow apace and its seminaries and convents have no shortage of vocations to the religious life. In Europe and North and South America, however, numbers of churchgoers have dwindled and papal authority has been questioned. There has been a marked exodus from the priesthood and female religious orders since the s. Traditional ministries in running schools and hospitals have had to be abandoned for lack of clergy and nuns, while a series of scandals involving first the finances of the Vatican and later the behaviour of paedophile priests has dented its moral authority.

A study suggests that most practising Catholics are ignoring the Church's teachings on contraception and sex. The contraceptive pill is used by This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. The census counted 36 million people, of whom The Revolution failed to destroy the Catholic Church, and Napoleon's concordat of restored its status.

The return of the Bourbons in 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 period, and many left the church. The result was that the number of parish clergy plunged from 60, in to 25, in , many of them elderly.

Christianity in the 19th century

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 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 there were 56, priests, representing a much younger and more dynamic force in the villages and towns, with a thick network of schools, charities and lay organizations.

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 , priests were excluded from the administrative committees of hospitals and of boards of charity. In , new measures were directed against the religious congregations. From to came the substitution of lay women for nuns in many hospitals. Napoleon's Concordat continued in operation but in , the government cut off salaries to priests it disliked. The school laws of Republican Jules Ferry set up a national system of public schools that taught strict puritanical morality but no religion.

Civil marriage became compulsory, divorce was introduced and chaplains were removed from the army. In he told French bishops not to act in a hostile manner to the State. In 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 — and the Combes Ministry —05 fought with the Vatican over the appointment of bishops. Chaplains were removed from naval and military hospitals —04 , and soldiers were ordered not to frequent Catholic clubs Combes as Prime Minister in , 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, members immediately left France, many for Spain. In the Concordat was abrogated; Church and State were separated. All Church property was confiscated. Public worship was given over to associations of Catholic laymen who controlled access to churches.

History & Apologetics: Recent Catholic Church History Books

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. Among Catholics there was a sharp increase in popular pilgrimages. In alone, half a million pilgrims made a pilgrimage to the city of Trier in the Rhineland to view the Seamless robe of Jesus , said to be the robe that Jesus wore on the way to his crucifixion. Catholic bishops in Germany had historically been largely independent Of Rome, but now the Vatican exerted increasing control, a new " ultramontanism " of Catholics highly loyal to Rome.

The government passed laws to require that these children always be raised as Protestants, contrary to Napoleonic law that had previously prevailed and allowed the parents to make the decision. It put the Catholic Archbishop under house arrest. In , the new King Frederick William IV sought reconciliation and ended the controversy by agreeing to most of the Catholic demands.

However Catholic memories remained deep and led to a sense that Catholics always needed to stick together in the face of an untrustworthy government. After Chancellor Otto von Bismarck Bismarck would not tolerate any base of power outside Germany—in Rome—having a say in German affairs. He launched a Kulturkampf "culture war" against the power of the pope and the Catholic Church in , but only in Prussia. This gained strong support from German liberals, who saw the Catholic Church as the bastion of reaction and their greatest enemy.

The Catholic element, in turn, saw in the National-Liberals as its worst enemy and formed the Center Party. Catholics, although nearly a third of the national population, were seldom allowed to hold major positions in the Imperial government, or the Prussian government. Most of the Kulturkampf was fought out in Prussia, but Imperial Germany passed the Pulpit Law which made it a crime for any cleric to discuss public issues in a way that displeased the government.

Nearly all Catholic bishops, clergy, and laymen rejected the legality of the new laws, and were defiant facing the increasingly heavy penalties and imprisonments imposed by Bismarck's government. Historian Anthony Steinhoff reports the casualty totals:. Bismarck underestimated the resolve of the Catholic Church and did not foresee the extremes that this struggle would entail.

In the following elections, the Center Party won a quarter of the seats in the Imperial Diet. The Center Party gained strength and became an ally of Bismarck, especially when he attacked socialism. On February 7, , Pope Pius IX issued the papal constitution Ad Universalis Ecclesiae , dealing with the conditions for admission to Catholic religious orders of men in which solemn vows were prescribed.

The doctrine of papal primacy was further developed in at the First Vatican Council , which declared that "in the disposition of God the Roman church holds the preeminence of ordinary power over all the other churches". This council also affirmed the dogma of papal infallibility , declaring that the infallibility of the Christian community extends to the pope himself, when he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church , and of papal supremacy supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope. The most substantial body of defined doctrine on the subject is found in Pastor aeternus , the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ of Vatican Council I.

This document declares that "in the disposition of God the Roman church holds the preeminence of ordinary power over all the other churches.

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The council defined a twofold primacy of Peter, one in papal teaching on faith and morals the charism of infallibility , and the other a primacy of jurisdiction involving government and discipline of the Church, submission to both being necessary to Catholic faith and salvation. Paul Collins argues that " the doctrine of papal primacy as formulated by the First Vatican Council has led to the exercise of untrammelled papal power and has become a major stumbling block in ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox who consider the definition to be heresy and Protestants.

Before the council in , Pius IX, with the support of the overwhelming majority of bishops, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. 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 , 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. Before the 19th century, popes promulgated Marian veneration by authorizing new Marian feast days , prayers , initiatives, and the acceptance and support of Marian congregations. Recent popes promulgated the veneration of the Blessed Virgin with two dogmas: In many revolutionary movements the church was denounced for its links with the established regimes. Liberals in particular targeted the Catholic Church is the great enemy.

Thus, for example, after the French Revolution and the Mexican Revolution there was a distinct anti-clerical tone in those countries that exists to this day. Socialism in particular was in many cases openly hostile to religion; Karl Marx condemned all religion as the " opium of the people ," as he considered it a false sense of hope in an afterlife withholding the people from facing their worldly situation. In the History of Latin America , a succession of anti-clerical liberal regimes came to power beginning in the s.

The confiscation of Church properties and restrictions on priests and bishops generally accompanied secularist, reforms. 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. 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 papal bull In supremo apostolatus , and approved the ordination of native clergy in spite of government racism.

By the close of the 19th century, new technologies and superior weaponry had allowed European powers to gain control of most of the African interior. At the time, the only possibility open to Africans for a western education was through Christian missionaries. At the same time, it was placed under the control of the tsar by the Church reform of Peter I in the 18th century.

Its governing body was the Most Holy Synod , which was run by an official titled Ober-Procurator appointed by the tsar. The church was involved in the various campaigns of russification , [49] and accused of involvement in anti-Jewish pogroms. The church, like the tsarist state, was seen as an enemy of the people by the Bolsheviks and other Russian revolutionaries.

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The census counted 36 million people, of whom The stirrings of pietism on the Continent, and evangelicalism in Britain expanded enormously, leading the devout away from an emphasis on formality and ritual and toward an inner sensibility toward personal relationship to Christ. Recent popes promulgated the veneration of the Blessed Virgin with two dogmas: Historian Anthony Steinhoff reports the casualty totals:. Contents Machine derived contents note:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For a broader coverage of this topic, see History of Christianity of the Late Modern era. Christianity in the 18th century and Christianity in the 20th century. Prussian Union of churches. Earlier he had helped found the Netherlands Missionary Society. In , he had gone to South Africa to work as a missionary among the Xhosa. He will sail for India in [52] - The Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society votes to publish a missionary magazine. Now known as The American Baptist , the periodical is the oldest religious magazine in the U.

She thus becomes the first single woman missionary in the history of modern missions. He is one of the first modern missionaries to that country. Book of Mormon also published in Louis, Missouri seeking information on the "palefaces' religion" [85] - Teava, former cannibal and pioneer Pacific Islander missionary, is commissioned by John Williams to work on the Samoan island of Manono Church of Christ Disciples organized, made up of Presbyterians in distress over Protestant factionalism and decline of fervor persecution of Old Lutherans: His dying appeal was: Initially, their story of a snow-covered peak near the equator was scoffed at.

Thomas Valpy French , came to India in , founded St. John's College, Agra , and became first Bishop of Lahore in They are sent to Africa on a ship the Kandaze which had been built entirely from donations. Steinhauer's missionary work had actually begun 15 years earlier in when he was assigned to Lac La Pluie to assist in translating, teaching and interpreting the Ojibwa and Cree languages. Salvation Army founded in London by William Booth Methodist preacher William Booth founds the Salvation Army , vowing to bring the gospel into the streets to the most desperate and needy - Charles Haddon Spurgeon invents The Wordless Book , which is widely used in cross-cultural evangelism; [] Theodore Jonas Meyer — , a converted Jew serving as a Presbyterian missionary in Italy , nurses those dying in a cholera epidemic until he himself falls prey to the disease.

Barely surviving, he becomes a peacemaker between Catholics and Protestants ; Robert Thomas, the first Protestant martyr in Korea , is beheaded giving a Bible to his executioner. The Italian Army enters Rome. Papal States ceased to exist. Petersburg , Russia, and the beginning of an evangelical awakening among the St. He assumed the name of Philip McKay. That part of Africa was then known as the White Man's Grave.

The only woman on board that ship is year-old Mary Slessor , a missionary. During that time he published a book: It was so well-written that one critic wrote, " Robinson Crusoe has turned missionary, lived years in Mongolia, and wrote a book about it.

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This book is a popular overview and study guide to the history of the Catholic Church. Written for non-scholarly readers with little historical background. , English, Book edition: The Catholic Church: the first 2, years: a popular survey and study guide to church history / Martha Rasmussen. Rasmussen.

Zaire Christian and Missionary Alliance mission field opens. Polhill-Turner -- go to China as missionaries with the China Inland Mission [] Baltimore Catechism - Student Volunteer Movement launched as university and seminary students at Moody's conference grounds at Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, sign the Princeton Pledge which says: William Cassidy, a Toronto medical doctor, was ordained as the Christian and Missionary Alliance 's first missionary preacher.

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Unfortunately, en route to China, he died of smallpox. However, Cassidy's death has been called the "spark that ignited the Alliance missionary blaze. Mott as chairman and Robert Wilder as traveling secretary. The movement's motto, coined by Wilder, was: She married a Danish missionary, William Rasmussen, whom she met during the voyage.

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The work of Canadian Baptists led to the guarantee of freedom of religion in Bolivia in Schleiermacher and the beginnings of modern theology Fortress Press, Its Origin, Nature, and Mission The Nineteenth Century in Europe: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Presbyterian historian Matzko notes that "Oliver Cowdery claimed that Smith had been 'awakened' during a sermon by the Methodist minister George Lane. The Cambridge history of Christianity 8: Between recognition and assimilation," National Identities, March , Vol.

The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, — Ross, The failure of Bismarck's Kulturkampf: Catholicism and state power in imperial Germany, Leighton, "Mary and the Catholic Church in England, — The Second Vatican Council, by presenting Mary in the mystery of Christ, also finds the path to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Church. Mary, as the Mother of Christ, is in a particular way united with the Church, "which the Lord established as his own body.

The life of William Carey, D.