“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church.” Matthew 16:18
The Roman Catholic Church is one of the oldest religious institutions and is the largest Christian church in the world. Emperor Constantine, in 313 AD, legalized Christianity and the Catholic Church was made into the state church for the Roman Empire in 380 AD. The Catholic Church is led by the Pope (the Bishop of Rome), following a line of bishops from Saint Peter, an apostle and disciple of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church believes in:
- The Trinity: that there is one God in three person (Father, Son - Jesus, and Holy Spirit)
- The Bible: the sole and error free word of God
- Apostolicy: that the Catholic Church is the sole Christian Church
- Judgement: that God will judge each person upon their death
- Works of Mercy: that there are social and spiritual works that believers should do to obey Jesus
- Corporal Works: Aiding the poor (provide food, drink, clothing, shelter)
- Spiritual Works: Teaching others about Christ, praying for and comforting those in distress
There are seven sacraments that the Catholic Church recognizes: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper), Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony. In addition to the sacraments, Catholics believe in the importance of prayer and outline four types of prayers:
- Prayer of Blessing and Adoration
- Prayer of Petition: a request that God help with a need or problem
- Prayer of Intercession: a request that God would help others in need
- Prayer of Thanksgiving
Prayer to saints is common, in the belief that they would intercede with God on behalf of those praying. Saints are recognized in the Catholic Church as deceased believers who have:
- An investigation is made local to where the person died, reviewing their virtues.
- If the person is found to have the heroic virtues of faith, hope and charity they are recommended to the Pope.
- If the person was a martyr (died for their belief) the Pope can declare them as such. If the person was a confessor (did not die for their belief but confessed and bore witness to their faith), a miracle depending on the person’s intercessions must be proved (that is, by someone praying to the deceased for healing, or another miracle). If this happens, the person is given the title Blessed.
- To be canonized as a saint, there must be two miracles proven to be related to the person’s intersessions.