The Origin Of The Roman Catholic Church

When was a Roman Catholic Church made? In order to understand its birth, first we need to follow the process on how the early church in Rome, which had been persecuted, obtained recognition from the Roman Empire. The church in Rome kept the undefiled truth of the early church in its initial stage but later accepted various gods of Rome and religious customs when it became acknowledged as a Roman religion and this gave birth to the Roman Catholic Church that has the characteristics of Roman polytheism. 

The Apostle Paul preached the gospel of Christ to Palestine, Asia Minor, Greece and finally in Rome. The church in Rome was not welcomed in its initial stage. It was because of the monotheism of Christianity and the polytheism of Rome conflicted with each other. The Romans believed that everything – humans, places and goods – was inhabited by divinity. As they accepted folk beliefs of the people they conquered, far more various gods and religions prospered in Rome. Christian monotheism that appeared in this age ran counter to the polytheistic concept of Rome, especially as the Roman emperors approved all the religions of the people they conquered in order to rule over them and to achieve their political purposes. This came into conflict with Christianity so the Roman emperors persecuted the Christians. 

The early church was oppressed by many emperors but there was a turning point during the reign of Emperor Constantine in the 3rd century. In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine proclaimed the Edict of Milan. The addict approved Christianity as a legal religion of Rome and gave legal privileges and immunity from military duty and taxes to the Christian clergy. There was the political goal of Constantine underlying such kinds of preferential treatment. It was Mithras, the sun-worship religion that was diffused throughout Rome but all the Roman emperors deified themselves and forced people to worship them. Some of the nobility were fascinated by the Egyptian mystery religion so Rome suffered from religious dissension within itself. At this, Constantine tried to make the best use of Christianity that had spread throughout the whole region of Rome despite all sorts of persecution. This was because he thought that Christianity could solidify his empire. By approving Christianity as a national religion of Rome, Constantine tried to seek the unity of the Roman Empire under one religion. Thanks to Constantine’s pro-christian policies, many believers of the polytheistic religions of Rome streamed into the Christian Church. This tightened Constantine’s political grip and Christianity positioned itself as the religion of Rome, expunging persecution and contempt it had received so far. However, the indiscreet conversion they did, without having any kind of understanding or faith, rather produced an adverse effect – the influx of pagan customs into the church. 

Those who were tainted with polytheism of Rome looked as if they had converted but in actuality it wasn’t easy for them to get rid of the religious rites and institutions of worshiping the sun, the moon and the stars and various gods and goddesses which they had worshiped since their forefathers. The church in Rome sought for solutions to dis-burden the pagans when they converted to Christianity. It was to bring in things similar to the gods that the pagans had believed into the church. They thought they would increase the number of pagan converts by doing that. For the Christian bishops introduced, with but slight alterations into the Christian worship, those rights and institutions by which formerly the Greeks and Romans and others had manifested their piety and reverence towards their imaginary deities, supposing that the people would more readily embrace Christianity if they perceive the rights handed down to them from their fathers still existing unchanged among the Christians. 

The church in Rome that had been persecuted and despised wanted to put their roots down in Rome as an approved religion even if they had to be mixed up with Roman polytheism. It was because they wanted to keep their faith in comfort, being freed from the extreme pain of persecution. To attract more pagans, the church in Rome tried to Christianize various kinds of pagan gods to suit the Bible. One of the most representative things among them was accepting pagan customs of the sun god worship tradition. The church in Rome identified Jesus with the sun god. Inside of the church was decorated with various kinds of sun images and the idea to worship the sun was established as if it were the truth of the church. All judges, city people and craftsmen shall rest on the venerable day of the sun. Constantine’s edict in 321 AD played an important role in making the sun god worship faith, to put its roots down in the church. Constantine continued to identify the sun with the Christian God in some way when in 321 AD, Constantine made the first day of the week of holiday. He called it the venerable day of the sun – Sunday. The Christian Church took over many pagan ideas and images from sun worship, for example came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the 25th of December, the birthday of the sun. As the sun god worship mingled in with Christianity, the church in Rome was deprived of its purity of the early church and changed its appearance to the Roman Catholic Church.