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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Latin and Eastern Churches that are in full communion with the pope as the Bishop of Rome and successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, united as the Catholic Church.

The first known written use of "Catholic Church" appears in a letter by Ignatius of Antioch c. AD 107 to the church of Smyrna, whose bishop, Polycarp, visited Ignatius during his journey to Rome as a prisoner. He wrote:

Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

— Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8

Ignatius of Antioch's' use of phrase "Catholic Church" suggests that it was already in current use, for he sees no need to explain himself and uses the expression as one already known to his readers. It gives expression to St. Paul's teaching that all baptized in Christ are one body in Christ (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:3–6, 12–16). Dissenting groups breaking away from this universal unity were already known to the Apostles: in his letters Paul refers to the "Judaizers" (those requiring observance of the Mosaic Law), and in his Book of Revelation St. John calls them "Nicolaitans". They believe that it is a small step for those faithful to the teaching of the Apostles to identify themselves as the Catholic Church ("the one Church everywhere"), and not to include those dissenting and breaking away from unity with her.

The term Catholic Christianity entered into Roman law by force of edict on 27 February AD 380:

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, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title 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 [as] our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven, shall decide to inflict.

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Pietro Ottoboni, the last Cardinal Nephew, painted by Francesco Trevisani

A cardinal-nephew (Latin: cardinalis nepos; Spanish: valido de su tío; French: prince de fortune) is a cardinal elevated by a pope who is that cardinal's uncle, or more generally, his relative. The practice of creating cardinal-nephews originated in the Middle Ages, and reached its apex during the 16th and 17th centuries Pope Boniface IX, the second pope of the Western Schism, did not appoint cardinal-nephews. Until Pope Innocent XII, the only other exceptions were: Pope Innocent XI (who attempted to abolish the practice), popes who did not appoint cardinals (Pope Pius III, Pope Marcellus II, Pope Urban VII, Pope Leo XI), and Pope Adrian VI (who appointed one cardinal).The institution of the cardinal-nephew evolved over seven centuries, tracking developments in the history of the Papacy and the styles of individual popes. From 1566 until 1692, a cardinal-nephew held the curial office of the Superintendent of the Ecclesiastical State, known as the Cardinal Nephew, and thus the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The curial office of the Cardinal Nephew as well as the institution of the cardinal-nephew declined as the power of the Cardinal Secretary of State increased and the temporal power of popes decreased in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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Credit: Chowells

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (usually shortened to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, England. It replaced the Pro-Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Copperas Hill. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool, the mother church of Liverpool's Catholics, and the metropolitan church of the ecclesiastical Northern Province.

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1722 facsimile of first page of Cotton manuscript of Asser's 'Life of King Alfred'

Asser (d. 908/909) was a Welsh monk from St. David's, Dyfed, who became Bishop of Sherborne in the 890s. In about 885 he was asked by Alfred the Great to leave St. David's and join the circle of learned men which Alfred was recruiting for his court. After spending a year at Caerwent due to an illness, he accepted. In 893 Asser wrote a biography of Alfred, called the Life of King Alfred. The manuscript survived to modern times in only one copy, which was part of the Cotton library. That copy was destroyed in a fire in 1731, but transcriptions that had been made earlier, allied with material from Asser's work that was included by other early writers, have enabled the work to be reconstructed. The biography is now the main source of information about Alfred's life, and provides far more information about Alfred than is known about any other early English ruler. Asser also assisted Alfred in his translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care, and possibly with other works. Asser is sometimes cited as a source for the legend of Alfred having founded the University of Oxford, which is now known to be false. A short passage making this claim was interpolated by William Camden into his 1603 edition of Asser's Life. Doubts have also been raised periodically about whether the entire Life is a forgery, written by a slightly later writer, but it is now almost universally accepted as genuine.

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Rosary and scapular

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Feast Day of March 18

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem was a distinguished theologian of the early Church (ca. 313–386). Little is known of his life before he became bishop. Cyril was ordained a deacon by Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem about 335, and priest some eight years later by Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem. About the end of the year 350, he succeeded St. Maximus in the See of Jerusalem.

Cyril took at first a rather moderate position, distinctly averse from Arianism. Though his theology was at first somewhat indefinite in phraseology, he undoubtedly gave a thorough adhesion to the Nicene orthodoxy, but was by no means eager to accept the uncompromising term homooussios. Even if he does avoid the debatable term homooussios, he expresses its sense in many passages, which exclude equally Patripassianism, Sabellianism, and the formula "there was a time when the Son was not" attributed to Arius.

Separating from his metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea, a partisan of Arius, Cyril took the side of the Eusebians, the "right wing" of the post-Nicene conciliation party, and thus got into difficulties with his superior, which were increased by Acacius's jealousy of the importance assigned to Cyril's See by the Council of Nicaea. A council held under Acacius's influence in 358 deposed Cyril and forced him to retire to Tarsus. The Council of Seleucia in the following year, at which Cyril was present, deposed Acacius. In 360 the process was reversed through the metropolitan's court influence, and Cyril suffered another year's exile from Jerusalem, until Emperor Julian's accession allowed him to return. The Arian Emperor Valens banished him once more in 367. Cyril was able to return, once more, at the accession of Emperor Gratian, after which he remained undisturbed until his death in 386.

Cyril's jurisdiction over Jerusalem was expressly confirmed by the First Council of Constantinople (381), at which he was present. At that council, he voted for acceptance of the term homooussios, having been finally convinced that there was no better alternative.




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Robert Bellarmine, SJ, Doctor of the Church
Robert Bellarmine Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office

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Divine Mercy

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  1. ^ 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. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007.