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Catholicism (from Greek καθολικισμός, katholikismos, "universal doctrine") and its adjectival form Catholic are used as broad terms for describing specific traditions in the Christian
churches in theology, doctrine, liturgy, ethics, and spirituality. "Catholicism" and "Catholic" in this sense refer to the practices of several Christian churches. This sense is to be
distinguished from the use of these words to refer to the Roman Catholic Church, that which is in full communion with the Holy, as well as the Orthodox Catholic Church (commonly
called the "Orthodox Church" or the "Eastern Orthodox Church"), which also considers itself the universal and apostolic church. In the sense of indicating historical continuity of faith
and practice from the first millennium, the term "catholic" is employed by many historic Protestant churches, which hold themselves to be "heirs of the apostolic faith". These Churches
consider themselves to be catholic, teaching that the term "designates the historic, orthodox mainstream of Christianity whose doctrine was defined by the ecumenical councils and
creeds" and as such, most Reformers "appealed to this catholic tradition and believed they were in continuity with it." Within the Anglican Communion, the Oxford Movement promoted
Anglo-Catholicism, which reemphasized the importance of doctrines such as the Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and apostolic succession.
Distinctive beliefs and practices
Catholicism includes the Roman Catholic Church, the various Churches of Eastern Christianity, the Old Catholic Church, Anglicanism, and at least some of the
"independent Catholic Churches" and, the beliefs and practices of Catholicism include:
Direct and continuous organizational descent from the original church founded by Jesus[Matthew 16:18], who, according to tradition, designated the Apostle Peter as its first leader.
The belief that Jesus Christ is Divine, a doctrine officially clarified in the First Council of Nicaea and expressed in the Nicene Creed.
Transubstantiation is the belief that the elements in the Eucharist become really, truly, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ at the consecration, resulting in the Real Presence of Christ, and that, because Christ himself is present in the sacrament, he is to be honoured in it with the worship known as Eucharistic adoration.
Possession of the "threefold ordained ministry" of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
All ministers are ordained by, and subject to, Bishops, who pass down sacramental authority by the "laying-on of hands", having themselves been ordained in a direct line of succession from the Apostles.
The belief is that the Church is the vessel and deposit of the fullness of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles from which the Scriptures were formed. This teaching is preserved in both written scripture and in unwritten tradition, neither being independent of the other.
A belief in the necessity and efficacy of sacraments.
The use of sacred images, candles, vestments and music, and often incense and water, in worship.
Veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus as the Blessed Virgin Mary or Theotokos (i.e., "God-bearer" or "Mother of God"), and veneration of the saints.
A distinction between adoration (latria) for God, and veneration (dulia) for saints. The term hyperdulia is used for a special veneration accorded to the Virgin Mary among the saints.
The use of prayer for the dead.
The acceptance of canonizations.
Requests to the departed saints for intercessory prayers.