The Catholic Church has been in existence on the earth longer than any other Christian denomination. The Catholics can trace the Pope’s and the Catholic Church’s authority back to Peter at the time of Jesus Christ. Most other Christian churches broke away from the Catholic Church at one point in time or another. But, they still retain many of the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic Church.
If you examine the hierarchy of the Catholic Church you would find that it is very similar to the Church that Jesus Christ established when he set up his Church. Just as Peter was the head of the Church after Christ was crucified, the Church today has the Pope. Then there are the cardinals. The Bishops are like the apostles and then there are deacons and priests. Only men are able to participate in the leadership roles in the Church.
The Catholic Church rests on a foundation of four basic beliefs or tenets. These beliefs are: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Here are brief definitions of the beliefs to make them clearer:
One: One stands for the one true gospel of Jesus Christ. Although there are many principles within the gospel, there is only one true gospel and one true Church as Jesus Christ set it up. It also stands for the one body of Jesus Christ.
Holy: Holy means that the Catholic Church is perfect, pure and sanctified. Although the members and even the leadership are not perfect the church itself is perfect.
Catholic: The word Catholic can be traced back to the Greek word “katas” which means universal or whole. If you were to look at the statement of beliefs for some Protestant religions not just the Catholic Church, you would find the term “catholic” in them as well. When Jesus Christ was on the earth, he commanded his followers to take the gospel to the whole earth so that in theory all people would share one belief and faith.
Apostolic: Just as when Christ was on the earth, the Catholics set up a Church with apostles.
The Catholics in the world today number over 1 billion. The church is concerned that it is not growing as fast as some of the Protestant and other religions. They have also battled scandals regarding leaders who have been accused and convicted of crimes against children and also leaders who hid the evidence. Some believe that the Church needs to update its views on women in the priesthood and other societal issues. But, it is unlikely that a church that has been around for 2,000 years will change any time soon.