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Catholic Culture: Traits, Norms, Traditions Essay

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Updated: Sep 17th, 2022

Humans were meant to be social beings and this can be traced back to ancient times where the Homo sapiens organized themselves into groups for survival. When individuals come together they develop similar habits from their lifestyle to the way they address various issues in life. These common behaviors include beliefs, customs, languages, rules, social activities, and group identities which are collectively defined as culture. Catholicism fits this definition because it is not only a denomination for worship gatherings but a society with specific traditions which have been followed by believers since its establishment.

Like any other widely-practiced culture, Catholicism has an elaborate history. Its origin can be traced back to the Roman Empire and the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in the 1st century. The difference between Catholic and other Christian denominations is that it follows extra traditions which are not drawn from the Bible. Over the centuries, the church has adopted complex theologies and a distinct organizational structure led by the papacy which is the oldest existing monarchy all over the globe (Féich and O’Connell 239). Since Catholicism is one of the oldest Christian cultures, it spreads and is recognizable in all parts of the world.

Consequently, Catholicism has several characteristics which define its members. First, as any other Christian culture, its religious practices are centered on Jesus who is recognized as the believers’ messiah. However, unlike other denominations, Catholics also base their faith on Mary, Jesus’ mother who intercedes on their behalf whenever they pray (Isacco et al. 330). Secondly, the church has an overall leader known as the Pope who is not only a link between God and the members but also the head of Vatican City. Additionally, the organizational structure of the community is top-bottom with bishops and cardinals in charge of various regions. Finally, Catholic churches widely use crucifixes in the places of worship and members can also have them as necklaces to symbolize Christ’s presence.

Aside from these traits, the Catholic culture has distinct beliefs and traditions. The church believes in the immortality of the soul and the accountability of one’s actions during death. Those who are right with God go to heaven while the unrighteous are punished. As a member, it is an individual’s obligation to attend masses every Sunday to have an experience with God (Féich and O’Connell 240). Another significant tradition is the observance of the fasting and abstinence laws during the Good Friday and Ash Wednesday celebrations. Finally, the church also encourages celibacy in service for God and has priests and nuns who do not marry and stay in convents (Féich and O’Connell 245). Everybody must follow these beliefs and norms to be acceptable members of the Catholic community.

Nonetheless, there are a number of contemporary issues which the Catholic culture faces today. First, there have been many cases reported about the priests who sexually abuse children. In 2015, the Pope created a tribunal to punish bishops who were found guilty (Boyette). Second, critics have accused the church of neglecting women in its leadership. The head of the Vatican clearly declined to endorse the ordination of ladies for high positions. Finally, the community has not been clear on its take regarding abortion. Even though in 2013 Pope Francis declared that priests would be able to forgive the sins of abortion, the church’s doctrines condemn anyone who participates in the practice (Boyette). These problems have always raised concerns among catholic believers.

I am a staunch member of the Catholic culture because I was born in the faith and the beliefs professed by the community. My parents are Catholics and so I had no choice when growing up but to be a part of the church. However, it is not the only reason because, as a grown-up, I have the liberty to pick any other religion. Going for masses every Sunday has been a part of my life. Despite the issues pointed out in the discussion, the traditions have shaped my relationships with others. Every culture has deficiencies but its traditions and beliefs are what brings the members together.

Works Cited

Boyette, Chris. ““. CNN, 2015. Web.

Féich, Pádraig Ó, and Michael O’Connell. “Changes in Roman Catholic Beliefs and Practices in Ireland Between 1981 and 2008 and the Emergence of the Liberal Catholic”. Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 30, no. 2, 2015, pp. 231-247.

Isacco, Anthony, et al. “How Religious Beliefs and Practices Influence the Psychological Health of Catholic Priests”. American Journal of Men’s Health, vol. 10, no. 4, 2015, pp. 325-337.

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