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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Western and Eastern Churches that are in full communion with the pope as the Bishop of Rome and successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, united as the Catholic Church.

The first known written use of "Catholic Church" appears in a letter by St.Ignatius of Antioch about A.D. 107 to the church of Smyrna, whose bishop, Polycarp, visited Ignatius during his journey to Rome as a prisoner: in his letter to Smyrna, Ignatius wrote, "Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. 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." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8) His use of "Catholic Church" suggests that it was already in current use, for he sees no need to explain himself and uses the expression as one already known to his readers. It gives expression to St. Paul's teaching that all baptized in Christ are one body in Christ (Gal.3:28; Eph.4:3-6, 12-16). Dissenting groups breaking away from this universal unity were already known to the Apostles: in his letters Paul refers to the "Judaizers" (those requiring observance of the Jewish Law), and in his Book of Revelation St. John calls them "Nicolaitans". It is a small step for those faithful to the teaching of the Apostles to identify themselves as the Catholic Church ("the one Church everywhere"), and not to include those dissenting and breaking away from unity with her.

The term Catholic Christianity entered into Roman law by force of edict under the Roman Emperor Theodosius on February 27 AD 380 in the Theodosian Code XVI.i.2: "It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of [as] our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven, shall decide to inflict."

[Extract of English translation from Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 31, cited at Medieval Sourcebook: Theodosian Code XVI by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007. The full Latin text of the code is at IMPERATORIS THEODOSIANI CODEX Liber Decimus Sextus (170KB download), archived from George Mason University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007.]

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Missionaries of Charity pray in their home for street children

The Roman Catholic Church in Afghanistan is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. There are very few Catholics in this overwhelmingly Islamic country - just over 100 attend mass in its only chapel - and freedom of religion has been difficult to obtain in recent times, especially under the former Taliban regime. On 16 May 2002, Pope John Paul II established a mission sui iuris for Afghanistan with Father Giuseppe Moretti as its first superior. The only Catholic church in the country is the chapel at the Italian embassy in Kabul. In 2004, the Missionaries of Charity arrived in Kabul to carry out humanitarian work. Legend from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and other ancient documents suggests that Saint Thomas preached in Bactria, which is today northern Afghanistan. The Nestorians planted Christianity in the area, and there have been 9 bishops and dioceses in the region, including Herat (424-1310), Farah (544-1057), Kandahar, and Balkh. This early establishment of the Church was overcome by Muslim invasions in the 7th century, though the territory was not substantially controlled by Muslims until the 9th and 10th centuries.

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Oil-on-panel portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527)
Thomas More was a lawyer and political figure in 16th century England, best remembered as Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor.

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Selected biography

Elias Zoghby (January 9, 1912 – January 16, 2008) was the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Baalbek and a leading advocate of Catholic-Orthodox ecumenism. He is best known for his ecumenical interventions during Vatican II and his 1995 Profession of Faith, known as the Zoghby Initiative, which attempted to re-establish communion between the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church while maintaining communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Zoghby's views on topics such as Catholic–Orthodox "double communion" and dissolution of marriage were controversial. Critics labeled him the enfant terrible of his church, while supporters lauded him as an energetic visionary who sought to re-unite the Eastern Churches. Elias Zoghby was born on January 9, 1912 in Cairo. His mother, Hanne Ishak Yared, was a Melkite Greek Catholic and his father, Abdallah Mikail Zoghby, was Antiochian Orthodox convert and former Maronite Catholic.

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Church of St. Casimir the Prince

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Feast Day of August 22

According to a legend of the early fifth century, St. Symphorian of Autun was beheaded, while still a young man, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. He was the son of a senator named Faustus. He studied at Autun and was brought before the provincial governor Heraclius for not worshipping the pagan goddess Cybele. Symphorian is said to have asked for tools to destroy the statue. He was arrested and flogged and because he was from a noble family, he was given a chance to recant. Symphorian was offered bribes to do so, but he declined.

His mother, the Blessed Augusta (?), encourged him on his way to execution, 22 August 178, and was present at her son's death.

According to a legendary passio of Saint Benignus of Dijon, Symphorian was a young nobleman who was converted by Benignus at Autun.

Bishop Euphronius (d. 490) built a handsome church over his grave, connected with a monastery, which belonged to the Congregation of Sainte-Geneviève from 1656 until its suppression in 1791. Abbot Germanus later became Bishop of Paris, where he dedicated a chapel to the saint. Genesius of Clermont built a church dedicated to him at Clermont.

St. Symphorian is the patron saint of Autun. His veneration spread at an early date through the empire of the Franks. His cult was especially popular at Tours; St. Gregory of Tours relates a miracle wrought by the saint.

There is a St. Symphorian's at Veryan, Cornwall and another at Durrington in Sussex, now a suburb of the town of Worthing.
Attributes: young man being dragged to martyrdom while his mother encourages him.
Patronage: Autun; children; students; against eye problems, against syphilis

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Selected quote

Henry Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster
Praise consists in the love of God, in wonder at the goodness of God, in recognition of the gifts of God, in seeing God in all things He gives us, ay, and even in the things that He refuses to us; so as to see our whole life in the light of God; and seeing this, to bless Him, adore Him, and glorify Him.

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