Saturday, June 13, 2015

Catholic Church, Est. 33 A.D.

I have often seen shirts, signs, and other propaganda (this is not necessarily a bad word, e.g. Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide) that say “Catholic Church” or even “Roman Catholic Church,” and then “Est. 33 A.D.” or something to this effect. The message being that the Roman Catholic Church was established on the Day of Pentecost after Christ ascended into heaven. Some such propaganda even suggests that it was Christ Himself who established the Catholic Church in 33 A.D. There is some validity to this, but it is a bit complex, so most don’t understand it. How it is generally understood, particularly by the manufacturers of these products, likely gives Roman Catholics a feeling of superiority, other catholics in acknowledged union with the Roman Church some feelings of inferiority or even offence, and the rests of orthodox catholics some offence and even bitterness. Not a good message to foster feelings of unity among the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

To counter this, I thought I’d compile my own list of the most major Churches with their approximate year of establishment and who established them. Obviously there were many more Churches that were established, but these were the most significant and influencal:
  • Virgin made Church, Est. 17 B.C. by the Holy Spirit
  • Church of Jerusalem, Est. 33 A.D. by the Holy Spirit in cooperation with His spouse, the Virgin made Church, became Church of Aelia Capitolina in 135 A.D. and Church of Jerusalem again in 325 A.D.
  • Church of Antioch, Est. 34 A.D. by St. Peter
  • Church of Byzantium, Est. 38 A.D. by St. Andrew, became Church of Constantinople in 330 A.D.
  • Church of Georgia, Est. 38-52? A.D. by St. Andrew
  • Church of Armenia, Est. 40-60? A.D. by St. Bartholomew and St. Jude
  • Church of Ethiopia, Est. 42-52? A.D. by St. Philip the Evangelist
  • Church of Muziris, Est. 52 A.D. by St. Thomas (The history of this Church gets very convoluted, particularly when the Church of Rome began subjecting Saint Thomas Christians after the Portuguese came to India in 1498.)
  • Church of Dnieper, Est. 55 A.D. by St. Andrew, became Church of Kiev in 988 A.D., moved and became Church of Vladimir in 1299 A.D., moved and became Church of Moscow in 1325 A.D.
  • Church of Rome, Est. 58 A.D. by St. Peter and St. Paul
  • Church of Alexandria, Est. 60 A.D. by St. Mark

As you can see, the Roman Church was established after quite a number of other major Churches. The first major Church established after the original one in Jerusalem was the Church of Antioch. This is where Christians were first called “Christians” and also where they were first called “Catholics.” St. Peter was likely still there when they began calling themselves “Christians,” but had left for Rome and was dead by the time they began calling themselves “Catholics.” The first known use of this word was by a Successor of Saint Peter, St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote:
Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

This one to the left is an interesting one as it has the Jerusalem Cross on it. The origins of this cross come from the First Crusade and was used as the armorial of the Kingdom of Jerusalem throughout its duration from 1099 to 1291 A.D. The First Crusade was supposed involve catholics from the Church of Rome going down to free catholics of the Church of Jerusalem and the Church of Antioch from the Muslim conquest. Rather than freeing the Church of Jerusalem and the Church of Antioch, the Principality of Antioch and Kingdom of Jerusalem under the control of the Church of Rome were created. This further embittered the catholics of the more ancient Churches of Jerusalem and Antioch towards the Church of Rome. This embitterment was quite entrenched after catholics of the Church of Rome sacked Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade and established the Latin Empire of Constantinople. I really don't think using the armorial of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in this context is a good way to foster feelings of unity in the Church, particularly with catholics from the Church of Jerusalem, which was established 25 years before the Church of Rome, and 1066 years before Roman Catholics established the Kingdom of Jerusalem over them.

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