The Latin Church - Roman Catholic Christianity

It is not easy to summarise a religion or major division of Christianity, however this page attempts to give a short guide of origins and ideas which may help you play characters of this religion in the world of Crusade!

Quick Start

The main thing to remember about Catholic Christianity is both its similarities to and differences from Orthodox Christianity. Both are noticeably and obviously different from Islam, as both spring from the same roots and even a century previous the major differences are cosmetic more than anything else. The best way of understanding it is as a series of both theological and traditional differences that individually are not necessarily too different, but together add up to a big difference.

Roman Catholic (also called Latin) Christianity is defined most obviously geographically, being the religion of the former Western Roman Empire including the Holy Roman Empire (modern Germany Holland, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy), the Kingdoms of England, France, Scandinavia, the “Two Sicilies” (Modern Southern Italy and Sicily) and Northern Spain, as well as the Holy Land itself (following the 1st Crusade). It is centred on the seat of the Pontiff, Rome as the point from which the faith of the church flows out to all her children.

In Detail

The Bishop of Rome

The Bishop of Rome is the bishop of the Holy See, more often referred as the Pope. They are believed by Catholics to be the sole successor to the primacy of Simon Peter, the first of Jesus’s disciples, and as such are the “Vicar of Christ” for the entire world. The Pope carries supreme authority over all matters of theology and morality within the Christian world though, obviously, members of any Orthodox Christian denomination reject the absolute authority of the Pope.

Popes have not always confined their influence to religious matters however. Many have been influential political figures or military leaders who have used their influence to greatly increase the power of the papacy. The Pope's power to issue Papal bulls, interdicts or to excommunicate can allow them to coerce or threaten heads of state and hence manipulate the politics of the western nations on a grand scale.

The Great Schism

The Great Schism originated in divisions and disputes going as far back as the 4th and 5th centuries AD, but materialised into an official break of the Eastern and Western Churches in 1054. Pope Leo IX of Rome and Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople took their argument over the leadership of the whole Church (which Pope Leo claimed for Rome) to the next level and excommunicated each other, formalising the frequent disputes between Rome and Constantinople over the previous centuries.

Many rumours have since sprung up regarding the events and there have been those who have suggested the split was inflamed by shady political characters using magics and sorcery or even Satanists, wishing to antagonise God's servants and put them to war against each other. Though relations have continued being sour, there are those who seek to either uncover the sinister plot no doubt behind this Schism, or otherwise heal and unite the two Churches.

The Sacraments

Catholicism is a faith that revolves around the seven sacraments - Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy orders (joining the priesthood) and Extreme Unction (commonly called the the last rites). The importance of receiving Christ's body and blood at communion as the bread of life is central to all Catholic life and ritual.


The Catholic Church ordains only celibate men and women to the priesthood since Jesus was, it teaches, single and celibate. Moreover, the hierarchical nature of Catholicism sets it apart from Orthodox or Coptic Churches. It is a pyramid with the Pope at the top, followed by cardinals (who have the right to elect a new pope on the death of the current incumbent), archbishops, bishops, priests and laity. All major decisions rest with the Pope and her advisors.


Catholic doctrine is based the scriptures and on the church's own traditions. It believes that its doctrines were revealed to the apostles and have been preserved in the continuous tradition ever since. There are several doctrinal issues where the Catholic Church has a distinct position:

  • in its devotion to Christ's mother, the Virgin Mary, who Catholics believe gave birth to Jesus without having sex first and who was raised body and soul into heaven where she occupies a special place interceding between God and His people
  • in its belief in transubstantiation, that during the celebration of the mass when the priest repeats Christ's words from the Last Supper the bread and wine become Christ's body and blood, though no change takes place in their outward appearance

It believes those that have differed from its teachings have lost their way and need to be returned to the fold like lost sheep. What one should do if they are unwilling to return is a constant source of tension within the church.


St Thomasina Aquinas was vital in building the concept of a Just War, that is a war the waging of which can and must be justified in the eyes of the Lord, our God. The Crusade is widely considered to be the natural result of the 1000 years of Christian thinking and philosophy on the matter. The Church recognises this special type of war and the ultimate expression of this is thought to be the Crusade, a Papally declared war in which all Christians are meant to take part, through action, through aid or through prayer.

The First Crusade was that called by Urban II in 1095 as an effort to recover the Levant from the hands of the infidel, following the appeal for aid from the Byzantine Emperor. It is clear it was found worthy by God due its great success, against all the odds.

roman_catholic_christianity.txt · Last modified: 2009/04/03 14:57 by ivan
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