Catholic Church

This article is about the church headed by the Pope. For churches with shared beliefs and traditions, see Catholicism. For other uses, see Catholic Church (disambiguation).
"Roman Catholic Church" redirects here. For other uses, see Roman Catholic Church (disambiguation).
Emblem of the Holy See
Catholic Church
Latin: Ecclesia catholica
Saint Peter's Basilica
Classification Catholic
Polity Episcopal [1]
Head Pope Francis
Administration Holy See
Roman Curia
College of Cardinals
Dioceses Archdioceses: 640
Dioceses: 2,851
Parishes 221,700
Headquarters Vatican City
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
Website Holy See

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with more than 1.28 billion members worldwide. [5] As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. [6] Headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, the church's doctrines are summarised in the Nicene Creed. Its central administration is located in Vatican City, enclaved within Rome, Italy.

The Catholic Church is notable within Western Christianity for its sacred tradition and seven sacraments. It teaches that it is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ, [7] [8] [note 1] that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter. The Catholic Church maintains that the doctrine on faith and morals that it declares as definitive is infallible. [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]

Among the sacraments, the principal one is the Eucharist, 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. The Catholic Church practises closed communion, with only baptised members in a state of grace ordinarily permitted to receive the Eucharist. [14]

The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Queen of Heaven and is honoured in numerous Marian devotions. The Catholic Church has defined four Marian dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, the dogma that Mary was conceived without original sin; her status as the Mother of God; her perpetual virginity; and her bodily assumption into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. [15]

The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, science, art and culture, and from the Middle Ages until the Modern Age acted as the principal force of unity in the Western world.

Catholic spiritual teaching includes spreading the Gospel while Catholic social teaching 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 medical services in the world. [16]

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 church father Saint Ignatius of Antioch first used the term "Catholic Church" (literally meaning "universal church") in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans around 100 AD. [17] He died in Rome, and his relics are located in the Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano.
Further information: Catholic (term) and Roman Catholic (term)

Catholic (from Ancient Greek: καθολικός katholikos "universal") was first used to describe the church in the early 2nd century. [18] The first known use of the phrase "the catholic church" (he katholike ekklesia) occurred in the letter from Saint Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans, written about 110 AD. [note 2] In the Catechetical Discourses of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (circa 350), the name "Catholic Church" was used to distinguish it from other groups that also call themselves the church. [19] [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.

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]

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-cuō-gáu
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ရိုမန်ကတ်သလစ်
Napulitano: Chiesia cattoleca
norsk bokmål: Den katolske kirke
norsk nynorsk: Den katolske kyrkja
پنجابی: کیتھولک چرچ
Piemontèis: Cesa Catòlica
português: Igreja Católica
Simple English: Catholic Church
کوردیی ناوەندی: کڵێسای کاتۆلیک
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