Here we go again, still trying to respond to 10 Things Most Catholics Don’t Know:
4. Why we have an Apostles Creed and a Nicene Creed
The Apostles’ Creed is so ancient that it was composed before Christianity had fully worked out its doctrine. This creed does not explicitly address the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These beliefs are later defined in the Nicene Creed (adopted in 325 A.D. by the First Ecumenical Council in the city of Nicaea.) The Nicene Creed is accepted by the Roman, Orthodox and many Protestant Churches but the Apostles’ Creed is not used in the Eastern Church.
3. Why bishops have pointy hats and staffs.
First, the easy part. As pastors, their staffs recall those used by shepherds. The mitre, from the Greek “mitra” (headband, turban) seems to come, according to Wikipedia, from ancient Israel, “the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) wore a headress called the Mitznefet (often translated into English as “mitre”), which was wound around the head so as to form a broad, flat-topped turban.” The article goes on to point out that officials in the Byzantine Empire wore conical caps as symbols of their office and that the papal mitre and tiara probably developed from this but it didn’t appear in Rome until the 11th Century. The “beanie” that a bishop wears as well as his mitre is properly called a zuchetto and is a symbol of his rank in the Church.
2. How opposed the Teaching Church is to war and to the death penalty.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9) and we’re also told that “if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). Although there is much talk of the “Just War Theory,” it is clear that engaging in armed conflict must come as a last resort. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
Polling suggests that up to 75% of the U.S. public supports the death penalty. The Catechism of the Catholic Church does admit that the death penalty is possible in cases of extreme gravity, but in 1980 the American bishops declared, “”We believe that in the conditions of contemporary American society, the legitimate purposes of punishment do not justify the imposition of the death penalty.”
1. Why the Pope wears “a dress”
Because he would look silly in a clown’s outfit or in a firefighter’s uniform…