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Roman Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Western and Eastern churches which are in full communion with the Pope of Rome as the claimed successor of St. Peter the Apostle, united together as the Catholic Church. The term Roman Catholic was defined by the Roman Emperor Theodosius on February 27 AD 380 in the Theodosian Code XVI.i.2: "It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one Deity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Roman Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven shall decide to inflict." [Extract of English translation from Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 31, cited at Medieval Sourcebook: Theodosian Code XVI by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007. The full Latin text of the code is at IMPERATORIS THEODOSIANI CODEX Liber Decimus Sextus (170KB download), archived from George Mason University. trieved Jan 5, 2007.]

Catholicism General
For the organization of the church in single countries see here

Canonically, each Catholic Church is sui iuris or autonomous with respect to other Catholic Churches, whether Eastern or Latin, though all accept the spiritual and juridical authority of the Pope. Thus a Maronite Catholic is normally subject only to a Maronite bishop, not, for example to a Ukrainian or Latin Catholic bishop. However, if in a country the members of some particular Church are so few that no hierarchy of their own has been established there, their spiritual care is entrusted to a bishop of another ritual Church. This holds also for Latin Catholics: in Eritrea, they are placed in the care of bishops of the Ethiopic Catholic Church. Theologically, all the particular Churches can be viewed as "sister churches." According to the Second Vatican Council these Eastern Churches, along with the larger Latin Church share "equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mark 16:15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff."


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Western Church

The Latin Rite is one of the 23 sui iuris particular Churches within the Roman Catholic Church. This particular Church developed in western Europew and north Africaw, where, from antiquityw to the Renaissancew, Latinw was the language of education and culture, and so also of the liturgy.

The term "Latin Rite" was once clearly synonymous with "Western Church", a term that some continue to use exclusively of the Church in communion with the see of Rome. In this sense, "Western Church" is opposed to the "Eastern Catholic Churches" (plural), whose liturgies use the languages dominant in their areas at the time of their formation, or modern languages such as Arabic. However, except in the context of the Catholic Church, "Western Church" is most frequently understood as synonymous with "Western Christianity" and as opposed instead to "Eastern Christianity", making it necessary in such contexts to use the more specific term "Western Catholic Church". "Latin Church" is yet another term used for the particular Church in question. This term appears, for instance, in the opening canon of both the 1917w and the 1983w editions of the Code of Canon Law.

The Latin Church or Rite is now present in all continents and is the majority Rite or particular Church within the Catholic Church, comprising roughly 98% of its membership.

The term "Latin rite" is used also, in singular or plural ("a Latin rite" or "(the) Latin rites"), to refer to one or more of the forms of sacred liturgy used in different parts of this Latin Church. (See Latin liturgical rites.) They include the widely used Roman Rite, the Ambrosian Rite of Milan and neighbouring areas, and the Mozarabic Rite, in limited use in Spain, above all at Toledow. The Roman Rite replaced other Latin liturgical rites at various times: the Carolingian emperors favoured it in their territory; Pope Pius V in 1570 suppressed those with an antiquity of less than two centuries; and several religious orders abandoned theirs after the Second Vatican Council, when languages other than Latin began to be generally used in the Latin-Rite liturgies.

Some treat the term "Roman Catholic" as synonymous with "Latin Rite", a usage not found in official documents of the Catholic Church itself, such as the encyclicals Divini illius Magistri and Humani generis, in which "Roman Catholic Church" means the whole Catholic Church without distinction. Pope John Paul II too treated "Roman Catholic Church " as equivalent to "Catholic Church" in his talk at the general audience of 26 June 1985.

The Latin Church is distinguished from the other sui iuris Churches not only by the use of the aforementioned liturgies, but also by customs, practices and Canon law distinct from those of the Eastern Churches. Canon law for the Latin Church was codified in the Code of Canon Law, of which there have been two editions, the first promulgated by Pope Benedict XV in 1917, and the second by Pope John Paul II in 1983. The canon law that the Eastern Catholic Churches have in common has been codified in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches of 1990.

In the Latin Church, Confirmation and Eucharist are normally administered only to people who have reached the age of reason, while in the Eastern Churches they are administered immediately after baptism, even for an infant. Celibacy is obligatory for priests in the Latin Church, though in the Eastern Catholic Churches ordination to priesthood (but not to the episcopate) may be conferred on married men. Bishops in the Latin Church are appointed by the Pope through the local Apostolic delegate and various dicasteries of the Roman Curia, while the synods of Eastern patriarchal and major archiepiscopal Churches elect bishops for their own territory (though not outside it), receiving from the Pope only letters of acknowledgement.

While the Eastern Catholic and Latin Rite Catholics all affirm the same dogmas, they have different traditions for describing such conce

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Eastern Churches


The Eastern Catholic Churches are in full communion of faith and of acceptance of authority of the see of Rome, but retain their distinctive liturgical rites, laws and customs, traditional devotions and have their own theological emphases. Terminology may vary: for instance, diocese and eparchy, vicar general and protosyncellus, confirmation and chrismation are respectively Western and Eastern terms for the same realities. The sacraments ("mysteries") of baptism and chrismation are generally administered, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, one immediately after the other. Infants who are baptized and chrismated are also given the Eucharist.

The Holy See's Annuario Pontificio gives the following list of Eastern Catholic Churches and of countries (or other political areas) in which they possess an episcopal ecclesiastical jurisdiction (date of reunion in parenthesis):

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