What is Catholicism? The etymology of the word catholic comes from the Greek word “katholikos” which means universal. Catholicism is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in 1st century AD and was recorded in the New Testament to have appointed one of his disciples lead in continuation of the teachings of his church.
Over a period of time, decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, his disciples, also called bishops, spread out across the world to form a universal church whose primary leader was the apostle Peter. Today, in the Vatican City, the bishop of Rome or also known as the pope is considered as the sole successor of St Peter.
A Brief History.
In the early stages of Christianity, Christians continued to worship alongside Jewish believers and within 20 years of Jesus’s death, Sunday became the primary day of worship. Christianity started growing away from Jewish practices and began to establish itself as a separate religion. As time went by, issues of the doctrinal differences grew and eventually the apostles convened to resolves these problems. This convention was called the Council of Jerusalem.
This council agreed that Gentiles be converted to Christianity without having to adopt all of Mosaic Law. Tensions between Christians and Jews soon led to a complete separation when Christians refused to join the Jewish revolt of 132.
Because of the lack of organization in the early Christian Church, the interpretations and beliefs of the Christians were so diverse that by the end of the 2nd century, Christian communities had evolved into a more structured hierarchy, with bishops and a central bishop overseeing and leading the Christian community. These bishops often had conventions to resolve any policy and doctrinal issues.
The history of Catholicism has many different aspects that at times political favors and corruption lead to the breaking of different factions and reformation of the church. Many members of the church abused the power of their position. There were also many members of the church who challenged the doctrines of the church that caused the reformation of the church.
Today, there are over a billion members of the Catholic Church. Depending on where in the world you are Catholics are viewed both in a positive and negative light. What is more important is that the Catholic Church, like many other churches, reaches out to help feed the hungry and serve the poor. We can not alter history but the church has given many contributions to help especially the poor. It has many outreach programs and the leaders of the church still encourage its members to look out for the less fortunate because we are all brothers and sisters in God’s eyes.
John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.