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In the 16th century, in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Church engaged in a process of substantial reform and renewal known as the Counter-Reformation.In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations due to the growth of Protestantism and also because of religious skepticism during and after the Enlightenment.All residents were ordered to give sacrifices or be punished.
Unlike most religions in the Roman Empire, Christianity required its adherents to renounce all other gods, a practice adopted from Judaism, see Idolatry.
Christians' refusal to join pagan celebrations meant they were unable to participate in much of public life, which caused non-Christians–including government authorities–to fear that the Christians were angering the gods and thereby threatening the peace and prosperity of the Empire.
In addition, the peculiar intimacy of Christian society and its secrecy about its religious practices spawned rumors that Christians were guilty of incest and cannibalism; the resulting persecutions, although usually local and sporadic, were a defining feature of Christian self-understanding until Christianity was legalized in the 4th century.
A series of more centrally organized persecutions of Christians emerged in the late 3rd century, when emperors decreed that the Empire's military, political, and economic crises were caused by angry gods.
The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent four centuries before.
Catholics believe that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ.That is, the Catholic Church considers the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, to be the successor to Saint Peter.question whether there was a formal link between Peter and the modern papacy, and Raymond E.Conditions in the Roman Empire facilitated the spread of new ideas.The empire's well-defined network of roads and waterways allowed easier travel, while the Pax Romana made it safe to travel from one region to another.Brown says that, while it is anachronistic to speak of Peter in terms of local bishop of Rome, Christians of that period would have looked on Peter as having "roles that would contribute in an essential way to the development of the role of the papacy in the subsequent church".