What Are Catholic Beliefs?

What Are Catholic Beliefs?

Catholicism is relatively simple to understand due to a large number of recited prayers, statements of belief, and a centralized structure built around the infallibility of their church leader, the Pope.

Whereas other spiritual traditions like Buddhism reject the kind of patriarchal order found in most Christian sects, Catholicism is a well-ordered system with very little variation from church to church or family to family.

The Basics

Catholicism is considered the first Christian denomination, since it was started by the apostle Peter who is considered the first Pope. When Jesus picked Peter to be the head of the church following Jesus’ death, he created Catholicism. Since the Catholic church keeps good records of their Popes and Bishops and can trace a direct path back to Peter, followers of Catholicism feel they have a direct linage to God. A church gets a lot of authority when they can present direct evidence of their relationship with their deity. Thus, Catholics feel pretty strongly about church dogma and tradition, as part of that tradition involves Jesus, their savior.

Sacred Texts of Catholicism

The Bible is really the big sacred text of Catholicism and all of Christianity. The Bible is a collection of texts written over a large period of time — some chronicle the history of the church or its main figures, while some books are collections of proverbs or rules on living. Toss in a smattering of romantic poetry and the occasional apocryphal text (favored by Catholics but not by any other Christian denomination) and you’ve got the Holy Bible.

The Bible is often cited as the most popular book in the world or the most printed book in the world, but regardless of printing statistics it cannot be denied that the Bible is one of the major influences on Western culture.

Catholic Dogma

Consumption of the Host at Catholic Mass is one of the major tenets of the Catholic church. Catholicism, above all other Christian faiths, puts emphasis on consuming the metaphorical “body and blood” of Jesus Christ on a weekly basis. Many people take Communion (as this procedure is called) multiple times a week or even every day. It is seen as a necessary spiritual ritual.

Another big part of Catholic dogma — a belief in a plane of existence known as Purgatory. Think of Purgatory as the middle place between heaven and hell. Catholics believe that some people (who are on God’s “good side” but not good enough to go to heaven) will be judged in Purgatory for some time before being allowed entrance to heaven. This is a controversial belief among Christians and leads to much disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Catholicism has a long and rich tradition — much longer than any other Christian faith — and millions of followers worldwide. The whole world looks to the Vatican and the teachings of the Pope, even world leaders who want nothing to do with Catholicism. Even though the church has been criticized lately for actions outside the realm of individual control, Catholicism is a proud faith with very specific beliefs and a solid moral code.

This post is part of a series of articles about Religious Beliefs. The other posts in this series are: