Roman Catholicism

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I am a Catholic. Catholics are ‘Christians’ which means we are followers of Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man – the Son of God – our friend, Lord and saviour.

Catholics believe that Jesus Christ set up the church in the first century AD. The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘universal’. There are over a billion people worldwide who are members of the Catholic Church. It is made up of a large family of people from every race, colour and background. We are brought together by our ‘faith’ which means we all share a common vision and the same beliefs.

No matter what part of the world they live in, Catholics are said to be ‘in communion’ with one another . This means they are ‘united’ in a special way through their leaders who they believe to be specially chosen and appointed by God. In Oxford, my church is led by Dominican friars. They are part of a community of priests and preachers who teach in the university and live at Blackfriars. The head of the Catholic Church worldwide is Pope Benedict 16th. He is also the Bishop of Rome and, as such, Sovereign of the Vatican City State in Rome.

The Pope is often referred to as the ‘rock’ of the Church, or as the ‘Shepherd’ of the Church. Jesus Christ used that terminology when he appointed the apostle Peter the first head bishop of his Church, saying: ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona . . . Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.’

Catholics go to church to celebrate mass together. I go with my family on Sundays. Church means the gathering of the people of God. The Church building is the focal point for Catholic community gatherings, just as the Jewish community where I live has a Synagogue nearby in Richmond Road, and the Muslims have a Mosque on Marston Road, we go to the Dominican Priory on the Woodstock Road. I quite like going to mass. Sometimes I play my ‘cello in the music group. Church is a place where I have made friends.

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