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(2,112 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Wendebourg, Dorothea
1. Catholicism 1.1. The Catholic episcopateThe word bishop (from Greek  epískopos, “overseer”) denotes (1) in the New Testament a member of a community’s governing body; (2) beginning in the 2nd century, the head of an urban Christian congregation, who governs it with the help of presbyters and deacons; (3) from late antiquity to the present, the head of a sizable district (Diocese), the diocesan bishop. Besides governance of their own dioceses, bishops in the third sense also have responsibilities withi…
Date: 2019-10-14


(12,033 words)

Author(s): Wendebourg, Dorothea | Schilling, Johannes | Strohm, Christoph | Null, John Ashley | Friedrich, Martin | Et al.
1. Historical survey 1.1. Terminology and early modern interpretationSince the mid-19th century,  Reformation (from Latin  reformatio, “restoration,” “transformation”) has been a specialized term for one side of the 16th-century events that tore Western Christendom apart into mutually antagonistic confessional churches; its antonym, denoting the other side, is  Counter-Reformation.Previously the term had carried the general meaning of “reform.” In the ecclesiastical and political reform movements of the late Middle Ages, we find both  reformatio and the verb  reform…
Date: 2021-03-15

Protestant churches

(8,726 words)

Author(s): Wendebourg, Dorothea
1. Initial phase: 16th century After the Roman Church rejected the Reformation, western Christendom split into the Roman Catholic confessional church (see Catholic Reformation) and the Protestant churches (in some respects also differing from each other). Launched with the goal of evangelical renewal of the whole (western) church, the Reformation movement discovered that the ecclesiastical authorities took its demands for reform in preaching, doctrine, and structure as an attack on fundamental elemen…
Date: 2021-03-15

Deacon, deaconess

(827 words)

Author(s): Wendebourg, Dorothea
Over the course of late antiquity and the middle ages, the diaconate (Lat. diaconatus, “Service [in the Church],” office of the deacon; from Greek  diákonos, “servant [of the Church]”) -- an office restricted to men -- emerged as the lowest degree of clerical office and as an interim role on the road to priesthood. The modern Roman Catholic Church maintains this structure. On the other hand, the thinkers of the Reformation rejected it for two reasons: they dismissed the concept of a hierarchical order, with its implica…
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,927 words)

Author(s): Mertens, Benedikt | Wendebourg, Dorothea | Prokschi, Rudolf | Hacker, Sebastian Maximilian
1. DefinitionThe terms  monasticismmonk, and  monastic, all from Greek  mónachos (“living alone”), stand for a celibate way of life (Celibacy) characterized by withdrawal from the social environment and concentrated focus on the divine sphere; it is native to many religious traditions. In the western (Latin) Church, monasticism constitutes the oldest form of Christian order (Order [association]) – though not the only form, as in the Eastern Church. Monastic orders include above all the Benedictines and Cistercians, who emerged under the influence of the  Rule of Benedict o…
Date: 2020-04-06


(5,036 words)

Author(s): Bärsch, Jürgen | Wendebourg, Dorothea | Felmy, Karl Christian | Loeser, Martin
1. Catholic 1.1. Scope and meaningIn the Catholic context, public worship, specifically liturgy (Greek leitourgía, "congregational act of worship"; German Gottesdienst, "divine service"), is a general term referring to gatherings in which the Church performs rituals to commemorate salvation granted by God through Jesus Christ and offers him worship, thanks, and prayer. The Mass (re-enacting in sacramental form the death and resurrection of Christ) is the central focus and epitome of this practice. The term "ac…
Date: 2023-11-22