Catholic Church

Emblem of the Holy See
Catholic Church
Latin: Ecclesia Catholica
Saint Peter's Basilica
Polity Episcopal [1]
Governance Holy See
Head Pope Francis
Administration Roman Curia
Dioceses Archdioceses: 640
Dioceses: 2,851
Parishes 221,700
Liturgy Particular churches and
liturgical rites
Headquarters Vatican City, Rome, Italy
Founder Jesus Christ, according to
Catholic tradition
Origin 1st century
Jerusalem, Judea
Roman Empire [2] [3]
Members 1.285 billion [4]
Clergy Bishops: 5,237
Priests: 415,792
Deacons: 44,566
Official website Holy See

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with more than 1.29 billion members worldwide. [4] As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. [5] Headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, the church's doctrines are summarised in the Nicene Creed. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, enclaved within Rome, Italy.

The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, [6] [7] [note 1] that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ. [10] It maintains that it practices the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. [11] The Latin Church and Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as institutes such as mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders, reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the Church. [12] [13]

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 wine become the body and blood of Christ. Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. [14] Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel and Catholic social teaching, which emphasises 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. [15]

The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, science, and art. The Catholic Church shared communion with the contemporary Eastern Orthodox Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the Pope, as well as with the Oriental Orthodox churches prior to the Chalcedonian schism in 451 over differences in Christology.

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 of Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East.

From the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticised for its doctrines on sexuality, its refusal to ordain women and its handling of sexual abuse cases.


The first use of the term "Catholic Church" (literally meaning "universal church") was by church father Saint Ignatius of Antioch in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans (circa 100 AD). [16] He died in Rome, with his relics located in the Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano.

Catholic (from Ancient Greek: καθολικός katholikos "universal") was first used to describe the church in the early 2nd century. [17] The first known use of the phrase "the catholic church" ( Greek: he katholike ekklesia) occurred in the letter written about 110 AD from Saint Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans. [note 2] In the Catechetical Lectures (c. 350) of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, the name "Catholic Church" was used to distinguish it from other groups that also call themselves "the church". [18] [19] The "Catholic" notion was further stressed in the edict De fide Catolica issued 380 by Theodosius I, the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire, when establishing the state church of the Roman Empire. [20]

Since the East–West Schism of 1054, the Eastern Church has taken the adjective "Orthodox" as its distinctive epithet (however, its official name continues to be the "Orthodox Catholic Church" [21]) and the Western Church in communion with the Holy See has similarly taken "Catholic", keeping that description also after the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, when those who ceased to be in communion became known as "Protestants". [22] [23]

The use of the adjective "Roman" to describe the Church as governed especially by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) became more widespread after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and into the Early Middle Ages (6th-10th century). "Roman Catholic Church" has occasionally been used by the Catholic Church, including in documents produced both by the Holy See [note 3] and by certain national episcopal conferences, [note 4] as well as appearing in the names of certain ecumenical bodies such as the International Anglican–Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.[ better source needed]

The name "Catholic Church" is usually applied in the church's own documents. Catholic Church is the only name used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and was the name with which Pope Paul VI signed the documents of the Second Vatican Council. [24] [25] [26]

Other Languages
Ænglisc: Rēmisc Cirice
aragonés: Ilesia Catolica
asturianu: Ilesia Católica
azərbaycanca: Roma-Katolik kilsəsi
Bân-lâm-gú: Thian-chú-kàu
Basa Banyumasan: Gereja Katolik Roma
башҡортса: Католик сиркәүе
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Каталіцкая Царква
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Iglesia romano catolico
Diné bizaad: Ééʼ neishoodii
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Ceṡa Catòlica
Esperanto: Katolika Eklezio
estremeñu: Elésia católica
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Katolik firgoz
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Thiên-chú-kau
Bahasa Indonesia: Gereja Katolik Roma
interlingua: Ecclesia Catholic
Kiswahili: Kanisa Katoliki
Lëtzebuergesch: Kathoulesch Kierch
مازِرونی: کاتولیک کلیسا
Bahasa Melayu: Gereja Roman Katolik
Baso Minangkabau: Gereja Katolik Roma
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Lò̤-mā-tiĕng-ciō-gáu
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ရိုမန်ကတ်သလစ်
Napulitano: Chiesia cattoleca
norsk nynorsk: Den katolske kyrkja
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Katolik cherkovi
پنجابی: کیتھولک چرچ
Piemontèis: Cesa Catòlica
português: Igreja Católica
Simple English: Catholic Church
српски / srpski: Католичка црква
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Katolička crkva
татарча/tatarça: Katolik çirkäw
West-Vlams: Katholieke kerke
吴语: 天主敎會
粵語: 天主教會
中文: 天主教會