Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian Church, with over 1 billion members, and currently headed by Pope Francis. Since becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, it has been persistently influential in Western and world culture, politics, and history. The Catholic Church's involvement in contemporary world affairs varies widely and has often embroiled it in controversy. Politically, it has denounced both communism and unrestrained capitalism and publicly condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Second Vatican Council's landmark re-envisioning of Catholic tradition sparked growing involvement in ecumenical projects and interreligious dialogue, as well as renewed emphasis on universal human dignity and religious freedom; recent efforts have expanded dialogue with Islam. The Church's positions on human sexuality and culture of life issues have aroused opposition, especially since Catholic organizations provide extensive social services in the developing world.

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