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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [1]

Comprehends the religious doctrines and practices adopted and maintained by the church of Rome. The following summary, extracted chiefly from the decrees of the council of Trent, continued under Paul III. Julius III. and Pius IV. from the year 1545 to 1563, by successive sessions, and the creed of Pope Pius IV. subjoined to it, and bearing date November 1564, may not be unacceptable to the reader. One of the fundamental tenets strenuously maintained by popish writers, is, the infallibility of the church of Rome; though they are not agreed whether this privilege belongs to the pope or a general council, or to both united; but they pretend that an infallible living judge is absolutely necessary to determine controversies, and to secure peace in the christian church. However, Protestants allege, that the claim of infallibility in any church is not justified by the authority of Scripture, much less does it pertain to the church of Rome; and that it is inconsistent with the nature of religion, and the personal obligations of its professors; and that it has proved ineffectual to the end for which it is supposed to be granted, since popes and councils have disagreed in matters of importance, and they have been incapable, with the advantage of this pretended infallibility, of maintaining union and peace.

Another essential article of the popish creed is the supremacy of the pope, or his sovereign power over the universal church.

See Supremacy Farther; the doctrine of the seven sacraments is a peculiar and distinguishing doctrine of the church of Rome; these are baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony. The council of Trent (sess. 7.  Song of Solomon 1:1-17 .) pronounces an anathema on those who say that the sacraments are more or fewer than seven, or that any one of the above number is not truly and properly a sacrament. And yet it does not appear that they amounted to this number before the twelfth century, when Hugo de St. Victore and Peter Lombard, about the year 1144, taught that there were seven sacraments. The council of Florence, held in 1438, was the first council that determined this number. These sacraments confer grace, according to the decree of the council of Trent, (sess.7.  Song of Solomon 8:1-14 .) ex opere operato, by the mere administration of them: three of them, viz. baptism, confirmation, and orders, are said (c. 9.) to impress an indelible character, so that they cannot be repeated without sacrilege; and the efficacy of every sacrament depends on the intention of the priest by whom it is administered. (can. 11.)

Pope Pius expressly enjoins that all these sacraments should be administered according to the received and approved rites of the Catholic church. With regard to the eucharist, in particular, we may here observe, that the church of Rome holds the doctrine of trasubstantiation; the necessity of paying divine worship to Christ under the form of the consecrated bread or host; the propitiatory sacrifice of the mass, according to their ideas of which, Christ is truly and properly offered as a sacrifice as often as the priest says mass; it practises, likewise, solitary mass, in which the priest alone, who consecrates, communicates, and allows communion only in one kind, viz. the bread of the laity. Sess. 14. The doctrine of merits is another distinguishing tenet of popery; with regard to which the council of Trent has expressly decreed (sess. 6. can. 32.) that the good works of justified persons are truly meritorious; deserving not only an increase of grace, but eternal life and and increase of glory; and it has anathematized all who deny this doctrine. Of the same kind is the doctrine of satisfactions; which supposes that penitents may truly satisfy, by the afflictions they endure under the dispensations of Providence, or by voluntary penances to which they submit, for the temporal penalties of sin to which they are subject, even after the remission of their eternal punishment. Sess. 6, can. 30. and sess. 14. can. 3 and 9. In this connection we may mention the popish distinction of venial and mortal sins: the greatest evils arising from the former, are the temporary pains of purgatory; but no man, it is said, can obtain the pardon of the latter, without confessing to a priest, and performing the penances which he imposes.

The council of Trent (sess 14.  Song of Solomon 1:1-17 .) has expressly decreed, that every one is accursed who shall affirm that penance is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ in the universal church, for reconciling those Christians tot he Divine Majesty, who have fallen into sin after baptism; and this sacrament, it is declared, consists of two parts, the matter and the form: the matter is the act of the penitent, including contrition, confession, and satisfaction; the form of it is the act of absolution on the part of the priest. Accordingly it is enjoined, that it is the duty of every man who hath fallen after baptism, to confess his sins once a year, at least, to a priest; that this confession is to be secret; for public confession is neither commanded nor expedient: and that it must be exact and particular, including every kind and act of sin, with all the circumstances attending it. When the penitent has so done, the priest pronounces an absolution, which is not conditional or declarative only, but absolute and judicial. this secret or auricular confession was first decreed and established in the fourth council of Lateran, under Innocent III. in 1215. (cap. 21.) And the decree of this council was afterwards confirmed and enlarged in the council of Florence and in that of Trent, which ordains, that confession was instituted by Christ; that by the law of God it is necessary to salvation, and that it has always been practised in the Christian church.

As for the penances imposed on the penitent by way of satisfaction, they have been commonly the repetition of certain forms of devotion, as paternosters, or ave marias, the payment of stipulated sums, pilgrimages, fasts, or various species of corporal discipline. But the most formidable penance, in the estimation of many who have belonged to the Roman communion, has been the temporary pains of purgatory. But under all the penalties which are inflicted or threatened in the Romish church, it has provided relief by its indulgences, and by its prayers or masses for the dead, performed professedly for relieving and rescuing the souls that are detained in purgatory. Another article that has been long authoriatatively enjoined and observed in the church of Rome is the celibacy of her clergy. This was first enjoined at Rome by Gregory VII. about the year 1074, and established in England by Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, about the year 1175; though his predecessor Lanfranc had imposed it upon the prebendaries and clergy that lived in towns. And though the council of Trent was repeatedly petitioned by several princes and states to abolish this restraint, the obligation of celibacy was rather established than relaxed by this council; for they decreed, that marriage contracted after a vow of continence, is neither lawful nor valid; and thus deprived the church of the possibility of ever restoring marriage to the clergy.

For if marriage, after a vow, be in itself unlawful, the greatest authority upon earth cannot dispense with it, nor permit marriage to the clergy who have already vowed continence.

See Celibacy To the doctrines and practices above recited, may be farther added, the worship of images, of which Protestants accuse the Papists. But to this accusation the Papist replies, that he keeps images by him to preserve in his mind the memory of the persons represented by them; as people are wont to preserve the memory of their deceased friends by keeping their pictures. He is taught (he says) to use them so as to cast his eyes upon the pictures or images, and thence to raise his heart to the things represented; and there to employ it in meditation, love, and thanksgiving, desire of imitation, &c. as the object requires. These pictures or images have this advantage, that they inform the mind by one glance of what in reading might require a whole chapter: there being no other difference between them than that reading represents leisurely, and by degrees, and a picture all at once. Hence he finds a convenience in saying his prayers with some devout pictures before him, he being no sooner distracted, but the sight of these recalls his wandering thoughts to the right object; and as certainly brings something good into his mind, as an immodest picture disturbs his heart with filthy thoughts. And because he is sensible that these holy pictures and images represent and bring to his mind such objects as in his heart he loves, honours, and venerates, he cannot but upon that account love, honour, and respect the images themselves. The council of Trent likewise decreed, that all bishops and pastors who have the care of souls, do diligently instruct their flocks that it is good and profitable to desire the intercession of saints reigning with Christ in heaven.

And this decree the Papists endeavour to defend by the following observations: they confess that we have but one mediator of redemption: but affirm that it is acceptable to God that we should have many mediators of intercession. Moses (say they) was such a mediator for the Israelites; Job for his three friends; Stephen for his persecutors. The Romans were thus desired by St. Paul to be his mediators; so were the Corinthians; so the Ephesians (Ep. ad. Rom. Cor. Eph.) so almost every sick man desires the congregation to be his mediators, by remembering him in their prayers. And so the Papist desires the blessed in heaven to be his mediators: that is, that they would pray to God for him. But between these living and dead mediators there is no similarity: the living mediator is present, and certainly hears the request of those who desire him to intercede for them; the dead mediator is as certainly absent, and cannot possibly hear the requests of all those who at the same instant may be begging him to intercede for them, unless he be possessed of the divine attribute of omnipresence; and he who gives that attribute to any creature, is unquestionably guilty of idolatry. And as this decree is contrary to one of the first principles of natural religion, so does it receive no countenance from Scripture, or any Christian writer of the three first centuries. Other practices peculiar to the Papists are, the religious honour and respect that they pay to sacred relics: by which they understand not only the bodies and parts of the bodies of the saints, but any of those things that appertained to them, and which they touched; and the celebration of divine service in an unknown tongue: to which purpose the council of Trent hath denounced an anathema on any one who shall say that mass ought to be celebrated only in the vulgar tongue. (Sess. 25. and sess. 22, can. 9.)

Though the council of Lateran, under Innocent III. in 1215 (can. 9.) had expressly decreed, that, because, in many parts within the same city and diocese, there are many people of different manners and rites mixed together, but of one faith, the bishops of such cities of dioceses should provide fit men for celebrating divine offices, according to the diversity of tongues and rites, and for administering the sacraments. We shall only add, that the church of Rome maintains, that unwritten traditions ought to be added to the Holy Scriptures, in order to supply their defect, and to be regarded as of equal authority; that the books of the Apocrypha are canonical Scripture; that the Vulgate edition of the Bible is to be deemed authentic; and that the Scriptures are to be received and interpreted according to that sense which the holy mother church, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense, hath held, and doth hold, and according to the unanimous consent of the fathers. Such are the principal and distinguishing doctrines of popery, most of which have received the sanction of the council of Trent, and that of the creed of pope Pius IV. which is received, professed, and sworn to, by every one who enters into holy orders in the church of Rome; and at the close of this creed, we are told, that the faith contained in it is so absolutely and indispensably necessary, that no man can be saved without it.

See ANTICHRIST; Bowers's History of the Popes; Smith's Errors of the Church of Rome detected; Bennet's Confutation of Popery; Sermons at Salter's Hall against Popery; Bishop Burtnet's Travels, &c.; Moore's View of Society and Manners in Italy; Dr. Middleton's Letters from Rome; Stevenson's Historical and Critical View of some of the Doctrines of the Church of Rome.

Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection [2]

Lightfoot observes:– 'Yoke-fellows, indeed, are the Jew and Romanist above all people of the world, in a deluded fancying their own bravery and privilege above all the world besides. He that comes to read the Jewish writings, especially those that are of the nature of sermons, will find this to be the main stuffing of them, almost in every leaf and page. 'How choice a people is Israel! how dearly God is in love with Israel! what a happy thing it is to be of the seed of Abraham! how blessed the nation of the Jews above all nations!' And such stuff as this all along. And is not the style of the Romanists the very same tune? 'How holy the Church of Rome! what superiority and pre-eminence hath the church above all churches, and all the men in the world are heretics, and apostates, and cast-aways, if they be not Romanists.' Whereas if both these people would but impartially look upon themselves, they would see that there are such brands upon them as are upon no nation under heaven now extant.'

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(n.) The religion of the Roman Catholic Church, comprehending doctrines and practices; - generally used in an opprobrious sense.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [4]

literally means attachment to the religion or to the party of the pope; and in this sense the word is synonymous with the profession of the Roman Catholic religion. In its use, however, it has come to involve either the idea of' contempt or disparagement, or is intended to designate what are regarded by Protestants as the most exaggerated and superstitious among the doctrines and practices which they ascribe to Roman Catholics, and of which the principal are the infallibility of the Church; the supremacy of the pope; the doctrine of the seven sacraments-namely, baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony; the celibacy of the clergy; the worship of saints and the Virgin Mary, of pictures and images; prayers for the dead, intercession of saints, purgatory. unwritten traditions, etc. A proper distinction is made by some writers between popery and the papacy. Popery is the erroneous principle- salvation by man-in opposition to the truth of the Gospel, which is salvation by grace. The papacy is the secular organization in which this error is embodied. The one is the body, the other the animating and controlling spirit. (See Popish View).

The Church of Rome is charged with having departed from apostolic Christianity by requiring all who communicate with her to believe, as necessary to salvation:

1. That that man is accursed who does not kiss and honor and worship the holy images.

2. That the Virgin Mary and other saints are to be prayed to.

3. That, after consecration in the Lord's Supper, the bread is no longer bread, and the wine no longer wine.

4. That the clergyman should he excommunicated who, in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, gives the cup to the people.

5. That they are accursed who say that the clergy may marry.

6. That there is a purgatory that is, a place where souls which had died in repentance are purified by suffering.

7. That the Church of Rome is the mother and mistress of all churches.

8. That obedience is due from all churches to the bishop of Rome.

9. That they are accursed who deny that there are seven sacraments.

From these doctrines, contrary to Scripture and the primitive Church, have resulted these evil practices:

From the veneration of images has sprung the actual worship of them.

The invocation of the Blessed Virgin, and of other saints, has given rise to the greatest blasphemy and profaneness. The bread in the Eucharist has been worshipped as it were the eternal God. From the doctrine of purgatory has sprung that of indulgences, and the practice of persons paying sums of money to the Romish bishops and clergy to release the souls of their friends from the fabulous fire of purgatory.

We append a list of these principal heresies of the Church of Rome, and the time at which they were introduced:

Invocation of saints first taught with authority by a Council of Constantinople, A.D. 754.

Use of images and relics in religious worship first publicly affirmed and sanctioned in the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 787.

Compulsory celibacy of the clergy first enjoined publicly at the first Council of Late an, A.D. 1123.

Papal supremacy first publicly asserted by the fourth Council of Lateran, A.D. 1215.

Auricular confession first enjoined by Innocent III, at the fourth Council of Lateran, A.D. 1215.

Prayers in a foreign tongue first deliberately sanctioned by the Council of Trent, A.D. 1562.

Transubstantiation was first publicly insisted on by the fourth Council of Laterman, A.D. 1215.

Purgatory aid indulgences first set forth by the Council of Florence, A.). 1438.

Judicial absolution authorized by the Council of Trent, A.D. 1551. Apocrypha received as canonical at the Council of Trent, A.D. 1547.

Communion in one kind only, first authoritatively sanctioned by the Council of Constance, A.D. 1414.

The Roman number of the sacraments first settled by the Council of Trent, A.D. 1545.

This system of doctrine will be best understood by a reading of the creed of popery as adopted by pope Pius IV (q.v.), and published in 1564. (See Professio Fidei). It embodies the decisions of the Council of Trent. Every Roman Catholic is bound by it, and Romish officials swear to it. After repeating the Apostles' Creed, the form of the oath goes on:

"I most firmly admit and embrace apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, land all other constitutions and observances of the same Church. I also admit the sacred Scriptures according to tile sense which the holy mother Church has held and does hold, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures; nor will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the fathers. I profess, also, that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the salvation of mankind, though all ale not necessary for every one viz., baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, prenance, extreme unction, order, and matrimony; and that they confer grace; and of these, baptism, confirmation, and order cannot be reiterated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the ceremonies of the Catholic Church, received and approved in the solemn administration of all the above-said sacraments. I receive and embrace all and every one of the things which have been defined and declined in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin ad justification. I profess likewise that in the mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, aid substantially the body and blood, together with the son and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation. I confess, also, that under either kind alone, whole and entire, Christ and a true sacrament is received. I constantly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise that the saints leaning together with Christ are to be honored and invocated, that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to he venerated. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ and of the mother of God, ever virgin, and also of the other saints, are to be had and retained, and that due honor and veneration are to be given to them. I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church; and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people. I acknowledge the holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman bishop, the successor of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, and vicar of Jesus Christ. I also profess and undoubtedly receive all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and general councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent: and likewise I also condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever, condemned and anathematized by the Church. This true catholic faith, out of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, I, N., promise, vow, and swear most constantly to hold and profess the same whole and entire, with God's assistance, to the end of my life. Amen."

For literature, (See Romanism).