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Comparative Religion: The Catholics

This is a selection only of the principal attributes of the Roman Catholic faith as understood in period. It is by no means complete, but in general covers the points on which the Lutherans and other Protestants disagree with Rome.

Salvation is gained through faith in God, the prayers of the Church, the grace of the sacraments, and doing good works. Good works include both acts of mercy and major church building projects.

Only the Church, through its priests, can interpret God's will to Man. The laity do not read the Bible for themselves.

The source of the Church's authority is Scripture, the divinely inspired writings of the Church Fathers, and an amorphous thing called Sacred Tradition.

The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Grace is conferred by a sacrament simply from your participation in it, and your faith in its power.

The Pope, as the rightful heir of St. Peter, is the head of the Church. He is considered to be infallible in matters of faith and morals, although this is not yet dogma.

There is a half-way point between Heaven and Hell called Purgatory, where a person's sins are purged to make him worthy of Heaven. The prayers of the living can shorten a soul's stay in Purgatory, so it is good to pray for the dead.

The saints were more virtuous than they needed to be to get into Heaven, so there is this reserve of leftover grace available. Drafts on this reserve are called indulgences, and they are for sale.

Worship is directed to God but prayers are often addressed to one of the saints. The saints are Mankind's advocates before God the Father.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the most revered holy personage who is not actually divine. The Mother of God is thought to be more compassionate than the sternly just Father.

All rituals, simple or elaborate, are carried out in Latin. Priests cannot marry, and are required to remain celibate.

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26 March 2000 pkm