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The Catholic Church marks its history from Christ's appointment of the Apostle Peter as the first pope, and holds to a line of succession from one pope to another. The Church began small, and was centered in Jerusalem. As more and more people came into the Church, it spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, Christianity was illegal and strongly persecuted. When the last apostle died, the Apostolic era ended and the Early Church began. Around 313 BCE, Emperor Constantine made the Christian Church legal. Around 390 BCE, the Church established the final canon of the Bible. From 591 to 1517 BCE, the Middle Ages brought a period of decay. From the second half of the second century, the word "catholic" came to mean "orthodox," or non-heritical, as Catholics claimed to teach the whole truth, and to represent the whole (universal) Church, while heresy resulted from an exaggeration of one truth, and was essentially partial or local. Over the first thousand years of the Church's history, there were many false teachings that were known as heresies. Because of this, the Church was forced to clarify and define its doctrine. In 1054 BCE, the Eastern Church split from the Western Church, and is referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 1517 BCE, a monk by the name of Martin Luther attempted to bring about reform in the Catholic Church and, although this was not his intent, he ended up bringing about the Protestant Reformation and a new system of theology. Nevertheless, from the 16th century on, the Catholic Church has continued to grow, in influence and in numbers. Over the years, Catholic leaders have been both heroic and cowardly but, to Catholics, the Church is still the bride of Christ and at the end of time, the Church will still be standing. "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." -- Matthew 16:18.

 

 

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