Roman Catholicism

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Roman Catholicism
The official emblem of the Papacy (left) alongside a common Conciliar symbol (right), originally used by the Holy See during sede vacante.
TypeWestern Christianity
LanguageEcclesiastical Latin
FounderJesus Christ and Saint Peter

Roman Catholicism, or simply Catholicism, is one of the three major branches of Christianity along with Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Since 1909, it has been in schism, with a conciliar obedience based in the city of Rome and an episcopal–pontifical obedience based in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Both claim to be unbroken the legitimate authority over the single, undivided earthly Roman Catholic Church.

Since records began in the early 20th century, Catholicism has been the largest religious tradition in the world. The institutions of Catholicism have been considered inseparable from European history due to the enormous impact they have had on culture, literature, politics, and imperialism. While most of its core institutions are located in southern Europe, the majority of Roman Catholics are located in the Americas, Asia, and southern and western Africa. Mexico, the Philippines, and Colombia are considered the most populous Catholic states in the world.


Great Schism of 1908

In 1903, food shortages and increase in prices sparked bread riots across the Papal States. Demonstrations by citizens, peasants, and workers increasingly grew violent as the economic situation worsened. Secretary of State Lanfranco Chigi was assassinated on 17 February 1905 by republican sympathizers, consequentially triggering another wave of violence across the country. The same year, the Compagnia per la Riforma Repubblicana (lit. 'Society for Republican Reform'; CRR) was established, with its radical members advocating for the abolition of the State of the Church and its replacement with a democratic republic.

The Venetian army invaded the Papal States in 1908 due to security concerns, occupying the Adriatic apostolic provinces of Romagna and Marche. The principalities of Benevento and Pontecorvo revolted from the Papal States and allied with Venice shortly after. In the following weeks, the food riots became a famine, and civil unrest became a rebellion. In the August of 1908, Pope Boniface X was assassinated by insurgent Jacopo Marzullo while attempting to flee to Porto Ercole.

As a consequence, the Roman Curia, several cardinals, and members of the Papal nobility fled to Spain, where they were welcomed by King Ferdinand VIII. In 1909, the Treaty of Pontevedra affirmed the Holy See's right to several properties in Santiago de Compostela, including the Cathedral of Santiago, Gelmírez Palace, and Fonseca Palace. A new papal College of Cardinals was established the same year. A papal conclave was held in 1910, where the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church under Boniface X, Leonardo Teodorico Theodoli, was elected Pope Callixtus IV.

In Italy, the Latin Republic was declared, formally abolishing any Papal territories in Italy. The Patriarch of Venice convoked an ecumenical council in 1909, the Council of Rome, to discuss the future of the Roman Catholic Church and reform the Church's system of governance. From the outset, much of the Council's reforms were inspired by the writings of John of Paris, Henry of Segusio, Marsilius of Padua, and William of Ockham, which were pushed by liberal and republican theologians.

The College of Cardinals officially replaced the Holy See as the central organ of the Roman Catholic Church, claiming apostolic succession. The College was defined as legislator, having efficient cause of the law and the authority to determine and execute laws and delegate powers. It is said to represent the congregatio fidelium (body of the faithful, the Church), of which it is its valentior pars (prevailing part). The representatives, the cardinals, stand pars pro toto for the Church as a whole with plenitudo potestatis (fullness of power). Despite this, the Church is not considered to be without a caput (a head), as Jesus is considered the invisible and permanent head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Within the College, a council of the seven cardinal bishops, officially known as the Sacred Episcopal Council, is the pars principans (principal part) of the valentior pars. While it does not supersede the authority of the College as a whole, it maintains a higher status and certain responsibilities, such as the appointment of cardinals and the convocation of councils. The Council consists of the six titular suburbicarian bishops as well as the Patriarch of Venice. One among the Council is elected Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, who acts as the de facto leader of the Church, primus inter pares (first among equals). The Dean may also be referred to as the Procurator-General ad negotia. The Patriarch of Venice often fills the role of spokesperson and presides over celebrations and events.

The Apostolic Secretariat, created in 1910, is the administrative body of the Church, replacing the Roman Curia. It consists of numerous institutions that manage the daily affairs of the Church, its properties, and matters of justice. It is directly accountable to the College of Cardinals.

See also