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Church, Articles on


The Church is considered in the Encyclopedia under a variety of aspects: theological, institutional, historical.

The principal articles concerning the theology of the Church are church, i (in the bible) and church, ii (theology of); see also communio. For discussion of the theological discipline that concerns the Church, see ecclesiology. In the area of dogmatic theology, the major areas are membership in the Church (communion of saints; incorporation in christ; incorporation into the church [membership]; mystical body; society [church as]; votum), the character of the Church (e.g., marks of the church; apostolicity; visibility of the church), and the structure and offices of the Church (e.g., teaching authority of the church [magisterium]; infallibility; laity, theology of; councils, general [ecumenical], theology of).

The Church as an institution is covered in a wide variety of articles concerning canon law. There are also sets of articles dealing with the papacy (e.g., papacy; popes, election of; pope; pronouncements, papal and curial; liber pontificalis), the Roman Curia (e.g., curia, roman; evangelization of peoples, congregation for the; pontifical biblical commission), bishops (e.g., episcopal conferences; bishop [in the church]), and laity (e.g., laity, formation and education of; christifideles laici; christian family movement). Religious orders receive special attention, with general articles on the orders (e.g., benedictines; benedictine spirituality; sulpicians; canons regular of st. augustine) and separate articles on individual congregations and religious houses; see also monasticism; poverty controversy; hermits, etc.

Many of the articles in the Encyclopedia deal with the history of the Church in some way. The biographies of popes, martyrs, and founders of religious orders, for example, provide indispensable information about the Church in their times and places. Other biographies, such as those of influential writers, musicians, or scientists, are included in the Encyclopedia because of the influence of such persons in the Church. The entries dealing with individual countries are principally accounts of the Church, or of Christianity in general, in those countries. For more on this topic, see missiology, articles on. The history of the Church is treated most explicitly in four articles: church, history of, i (early); church, history of, ii (medieval); church, history of, iii (early modern: 15001789); church, history of, iv (late modern: 17892002).

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