"catholic" and "catholicism" redirect here. for other uses, see catholic church (disambiguation).
largest christian church, led by the bishop of rome
latin: ecclesia catholica
st. peter's basilica, vatican city
particular churches sui iuris
latin church, and 23 eastern catholic churches
ecclesiastical latin and native languages
western and eastern
jesus, according to sacred tradition
1st century holy land, roman empire
1.313 billion (2017)
part of catholic church
history of the catholic church
history of the papacy
four marks of the church
one true church
college of cardinals
divinum illud munus
realms beyond the states of the church
passion of jesus
crucifixion of jesus
harrowing of hell
blessed virgin mary
baptism of desire
outside the church there is no salvation
means of grace
college of bishops
deposit of faith
infallibility of the church
mystical body of christ
people of god
seven deadly sins
catechism of the catholic church
philosophy of canon law
anointing of the sick
politics (in the united states)
role in civilization
sex and gender roles
the age of discovery
links and resources
vatican city portal
the catholic church, sometimes referred to as the roman catholic church, is the largest christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised catholics worldwide as of 2017. as the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of western civilisation. the church is headed by the bishop of rome, known as the pope. its central administration is the holy see.
the christian beliefs of catholicism are found in the nicene creed. the catholic church teaches that it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church founded by jesus christ in his great commission,[note 1] that its bishops are the successors of christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to saint peter upon whom primacy was conferred by jesus christ. it maintains that it practises the original christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. the latin church, the twenty-three eastern catholic churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders, enclosed monastic orders and third orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.
of its seven sacraments the eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the mass. the church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and winebecome the body and blood of christ. the virgin mary is venerated in the catholic church as mother of god and queen of heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. its teaching includes divine mercy, sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the gospel as well as catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. the catholic church is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.
the catholic church has influenced western philosophy, culture, art, and science. catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora, and conversions. since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere due to secularisation in europe, and increased persecution in the middle east.
the catholic church shared communion with the eastern orthodox church until the east–west schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the pope. before the council of ephesus in ad 431 the church of the east also shared in this communion, as did the oriental orthodox churches before the council of chalcedon in ad 451, all separating primarily over differences inchristology. in the 16th century, the reformation and counter reformation led to further divisions with historic consequences.
from the late 20th century, the catholic church has received criticism from some for its teaching on sexuality, its inability to ordain women, as well as the handling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy.
The Catholic Church, sometimes referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.