Research Papers on Catholicism
Research Papers on Catholicism for religion courses can be custom written to include whatever information a student needs. As one of the founding Christian faiths, Catholicism is frequently studied but not well understood in today's world. Have Paper Masters write your research paper today and learn what it means to be Catholic.
Defining Catholicism for Research Purposes
Your research paper on Catholicism will want to define Catholicism and flush out exactly what it means to be a Catholic. Theologian Jaroslav Pelikan has catalogued the spiritual claims made by the fathers of the early church on exactly what Catholicism is. Those claims were as follows:
- The church was seen as one; that is, it asserted that it possessed the one true doctrine
- The church was holy—for Christ was seen as being present in it
- The church was universal; i.e. it contained many individual churches, but all were seen as making up only one church
- The church was apostolic; it claimed that Christ had transmitted truth to the apostles and that they, in turn, had transmitted the truth to the church
These are parlous times for the American Catholic Church. Mistakes have been made—very serious mistakes—by American prelates with respect to shielding pedophile priests. This issue has seized the headlines of late, but other grave issues confront the church as well, e.g. clerical celibacy, the exclusion of women from the priesthood, and abortion. These problems will not be easily resolved because the question of how to resolve them, as well as the question of who will resolve them, is politically complex. On the one hand, since Vatican II regional churches have enjoyed—even on some doctrinal matters—a certain limited, but real, autonomy from Rome. This has given American Bishops great latitude in attempting to meet at least some of the specific needs of the American laity. On the other hand, the church, taken as a whole, has been perceived as, in the words of Peter Seewald, “a threatening, ossified tribuna.”
Catholicism and The Pope
The Holy Father, John Paul II, while greatly admired for his personal qualities by American Catholics, is also considered by many of them to be too conservative on issues important to the American laity. Rev. John O’Grady notes, “Some American Catholics feel deceived or deserted by their church. Others think that Pope John Paul II has reversed the positions of the Vatican Council (Vatican II) and returned to a church similar to that which existed prior to 1962.” In such an atmosphere Rome has come to be seen by many as “part of the problem.”
What it Means to Be Catholic
To be a Catholic is to be part of something that makes grand claims that embody high aspirations. There is a distinction to be made between the church as a bureaucratic and earthly institution, and the Church as spiritual entity. For a believing Catholic the latter is far, far more important than the former, the former being merely a tool of the latter. This is not to denigrate the bureaucratic and organizational aspects of the church. The church’s early emphasis on hierarchy and organization played an important role in its survival. St. Paul was a person with an uncanny ability to organize and much of the subject matter of his letters had to do with organization, hierarchy, and the need to present a united front to the surrounding world.
But bureaucracy is the church in the world; there is, so Catholics believe, another aspect of the church which utterly transcends its organizational modus operendum. In the City of God, St. Augustine catalogued the Pauline claims that the church constituted the body of Christ.
These were enormous, far reaching claims. The doctrine that the church is the body of Christ is a particularly cosmic claim. It takes the church out of history and makes it something eternal. The other four claims, likewise, represent the conceptualization of the church’s meaning and role that, if accepted, make the church one of the central facts of all human life.