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What Catholics believe

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Though in agreement with most Protestants on certain points, Roman Catholics diverge with Protestants on critical points concerning salvation. With more than 74 million followers in North America, Catholics make up the largest Christian denomination on the continent. Following is some basic background on Catholicism:

— The Catholic Church was established as an institution around the fifth and sixth centuries. The current pope is Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger, installed April 24, 2005).

— North America has 74,517,041 members of Catholicism.

— The Catholic Church is headquartered in Vatican City.

Catholics believe:

— the same as Protestants about God’s nature and about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

— in the same 66 books of the Protestant Bible, but they also affirm the apocryphal texts. In addition, they hold that authority is found in the teachings of the apostles as they’ve been preserved in the Catholic Church apart from the Bible. Thus the office of the pope has “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church” (CCC, no. 882).

— “through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ” (CCC, no. 1213).

— priests can forgive sins

— grace is administered through sacraments during Eucharist (Mass).

— Mary was perfect. Catholics view her as a co-mediator of God’s grace and as a collaborator with the salvation of Jesus her Son (CCC, nos. 510, 973). According to Pope Paul VI, “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship” (CCC, no. 971).
Adapted from “Roman Catholicism” overview written by Bill Gorden, resourcing consultant for the North American Mission Board’s personal and mass evangelism team. For a more detailed overview, visit www.4truth.net and click on “denominations.” Quotes are from Catechism of the Catholic Church. Liguori, Mo.: Liguori Publications, 1994.

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