Catholic Church is the strongest and most influential religious organization of humanity, that together with the xenoschismatics and several other, smaller heresies, is also the most widespread (and the most branched out) religion of Mankind. With 1/3 to 2/5 of inhabitants of the Confederation of Mankind being it adherents. It is also one of Mankind's greatest enigma. It has its own plans for the future of Mankind, and seems to know a lot of things that aren't a common knowledge. Officially it lacks military forces on their own, however not only it can rely on support of many countries (entire Res Publica Christiana are pretty much sattelite countries of the Church), but it also possesses a number of fanatically loyal militant military orders that can be trusted when it comes to providing military support.
Contrary to general opinion, the supreme power of Catholic Church lies in the hands of Permanent Council, composed of several thousands highest ranked clergy of the Church, hailing from every possible member-church. It is the Council from which the new Pope is elected, it is also the Council that makes decisions about the neocrusades, anathemas, excommunications and interdicts, with Pope being its theoretical head, that also announces its decisions. Normally, overwhelming majority of the Council actually doesn't reside on New Vatican, rather than that remaining in their seats throughout the Galaxy. The day-to-day works are done through their deputies working together with the Pope (which, due to his authority, gaves him surprisingly large power). When there is something important to decide, he has to call for a general meeting, with all members of the Council participating. Popes are elected via the voting procedure called Conclave. During Conclave members of the Council (or their deputies) elect new pope from themselves. Power of their votes depends on number of adherents of their groups, with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy being two strongest groups. Conclaves rarely are long, mainly because candidates are in most cses chosen earlier, with deputies always knowing whom 'their' Church would like to see as next pope. Below the level of Council the Catholic Church is heavily splintered into dozens of different Churches. Two strongest were already mentioned, but also majority of protestants is included, not to mention a variety of Eastern Churches and new denominations, that rose after Third World War or even after the Catholic Church was created. All of them have their own structures, going down into the level of singular parishes, spread around ten thousand planets in hundreds of systems (with even local mining installations mostly having resident priests).
Catholic Church theoretically does not possess neither army nor navy. However, considering the number of its adherents, it is fully capable of amassing powerful military potential at will, simply by calling its members to arms. The number of mercenary groups, religious orders and whole countries (from Res Publica Christiana ) ready to answer such call is astounding. As such it can easily field great armies and fleets, filled with religious devotion and composed entirely of volunteers believing that if they will die, they will go to Heaven, making it power no to be trifled with. Logistics, coordination between various commanders and variety of weapon types used are their biggest disadvantage.
History of the Catholic Church
Christianity grew during the long and hard years of 21st to 24th century, years of unprecedented disasters and wars on scale previously unimaginable. Years during which many people, disillusioned with mundane powers of the world, started searching for something other they can rely on. Something stable in a world permanently changing. Not to mention the issue of Wall of Faith. When United States nearly collapsed after Yellowstone exploded, it were the various religious organisations that formed majority of relief groups, with government actually giving them resources and military support, weakened to the point of not being able to achieve it by itself. When Western Europe collapsed into totalitarianism and ethnic cleansings after the Islamic War, it was the Catholic Church that opposed this changes the loudest, with many of its adherents dying martyr's death. After all world powers collapsed in the aftermath of Fourth World War, it were the religious groups that formed the core of the attempts to send relief to decimated areas of the world. With this, Christianity regained it's past moral authority, weakened during the baleful flirt with liberalism in early 21st Century. As people become more and more disillusioned with the world they seen in front of themselves – one ridden with wars both civil and international, epidemies, famine and natural disasters – they started searching for the answers in religion, beginning the period of resurgence of religion throughout the world. Not only Christianity benefitted from it, but in fact all religions, including many new ones made by people who were dissatisfied with already existing faiths. As such, when the Frontier was settled, surprisingly many of the colonists were religious. Of course, equally as many were atheists, but those who actually believed were many... and their faith was strong. Then the Solar War ended with atomic cleansing on remaining holdouts of Nationalists (many of them religious zealots). And things slightly deteriorated. For the faithful in Outer Colonies it was a shock. They didn't leave Earth so far ago to not remember it at all, there were many of them who were born on it... mostly in places that underwent atomic cleansings. The humanity's greatest atrocity, commited on faithful by atheists. Many began to search for answers to their question in their history, only to find even more abominable atheist regimes - like Third Reich, USSR, People's Republic of China or even Revolutionary France - using genocidal methods to purge the world of 'outdated' ideas like religion. Christians - and in fact a number of other religions - decided that they were done with being the punching back. Christian attempt led to the Council of New Jerusalem in year 2400. This world was a safe refugee for a number of Christian groups that escaped the Earth during the Unification Wars, taking many relics and ancient texts with them. After they were joined by the (now exiled from Earth) pope, their combined authority succeeded in organizing an ecumenical Council of the faithful. The Council deliberated for four months, nearly perpetually. With hundreds of clergy and secular having to start from actually organizing themselves into a working council. Soon first breakouts occured, with many surviving denominations - like Jehova's Witness or Mormonism - decided to not be Christian due to being too divergent. The rest worked relentlesly, slowly but surely closing the gaps between them, accepting the most basic doctrines of the new, united Church, with a common enemy of extremist groups working like a great mean of unification. Finally, the Catholic Church was created, one finally truly common. With dozens of different theologies and liturgies, but with several pillars that held entirety together - including the staunch opposition to extremist ideologies (including atheism as a whole, a clear sign of the time, but also fascism, communism, socialism, and anarchism), the need for the religion to be represented in politics to protect the Faithful, the belief in godhood of Jesus Christ, lack of acceptance for slavery, geneengineering of sentient species, cerebral implants with surveillance capabilities, religious or racial intolerance, abortion, euthanasia, certain forms of anticonception, orbital bombardment of civilian targets, forcible mental resculpting, destroying environment of habitable planets and sapient AI creation. The unity, achieved with great efforts, collapsed unfortunately quite quickly, for in 2462 (after merely fifteen years) were many sects seceeded following the meeting with yatevians and doctrinal question of existence of soul among aliens. The schism occured following the decision made on Fourth Vatican Council - with Neocatholic Church deciding to accept divine origin of all creatures capable of understanding the Gospel, together the need for the Church to share the gift of salvation with all sort of sentient life. Those that disagreed, seceeded, creating second Catholic Church, that however soon splintered further, into many local churches commonly dubbed the xenoschismatics.
Demography and Population
Exact number of the adherents of Catholic Church is unknown, believed to be more than 2 trilion humans, Variants and assimilated aliens. This is mostly due to many sufficiently anti-Catholic states that suppressed the spread of this religion or even claim that it doesn't exist in their territory (while it does), which leaves no confirmed statistics. Permanent Council includes many clergy of both Variant and alien origins. To this day three Variants, one transhuman (mechanist), and one alien (berserk) were elected as popes, which leaves no major group of Confederation inhabitants unrepresented in the highest echelons of the Church.
Catholic Church believes that the universe was created by an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent God that also created the Mankind (though some of the clergy suspect that 'Adam and Eve' might as well be referring to the much older alien species, in fact the first one to develop sapience). The issue of the reasoning behind the Creation is actually up to a debate, as while the most common explanation can be summed up to Him creating the world to be inhabited by his creations that He could love (after all it's hard to be incarnated love and goodness when there is noone to love and no way of showing your good will). Of course, making entire Creation love Him unconditionially would just make it a slavery with extra steps. That's why it's the intrinsic part of God's love that He made it possible for his children to reject his love. This is the source of all evil in the world, from the evil godless ideologies of modern Mankind to the things such as creation or even usage of superweapons such as berserks, shoggoth plague or, probably, yatevians. Various member-Churches accent with different intensity, but there is always the Devil that is trying to subvert the God's works and spread the evil in various ways. Interestingly enough, there is recently (in the aftermath of the first contact with the Choir of the Righteous) a trend of associating the Archenemy with the Devil. For now it's nothing official, though.
The entire Catholic Church is widely divided over details of the theology and approach to the Bible - debates and rivalry between member Churches are rather intense. However, there are certain basic elements on which no differences and no debates are allowed. There are fields where any major divergency will lead to unavoidable excommunication until a sufficient penance will be done. This is actually less of problem that one might believe, as with 28th Century education, all such divergent ideas are essentially gone from Catholic societies - the only field when this might be a serious problem are countries that are divided between the Church and some other religions. The dogmas of the Catholic Church are: 1. Pro-Life Approach. Euthanasia, abortion, and most forms of anticonception are unconditionally banned in majority of Res Publica Christiana countries, they are also typically opposed zealously by majority of Catholics in non-RPC countries. There is a number of moral reasons for that, but it is also an issue of such things simply no longer having any real justification, if only due to advancement of technology. Euthanasia is no longer 'needed' when the number of actually deadly diseases and defficiencies has fallen so low, and something as simple as mentalsculpt treatment can pretty much switch off the feeling of pain. There are very few diseases that make you bedridden when you can give the person in question an exoskeleton to do the walking for them. Loneliness isn't an issue when people are no longer overworked enough to not be able to visit, and there are many relief groups and programs directed at making the sick and elderly that do not receive any visitors be neither bored nor alone. Abortion is no longer 'needed', because there are always well-funded orphanages ready to take in the child, and if mother for some reason really doesn't want to give birth, children can be safely extracted and placed in the artificial womb, even in rather early stages of pregnancy. What's more, extramarital affairs are rare, and genetic defficiencies are even rarer. Anticonception in the world where the space for population growth is practically unlimited and the country is capable of supporting the larger families (or they can simply support themselves) is also irrational. With most hormonal anticonception having some negative side-effects, going for it is equally irrational. Especially when you can install an absolutely minor cybernetic implant that will monitor all that pesky details in real-time and will tell you with 99,99% certainty whether the woman is fertile or not - with absolutely no adverse effects to anyone's body. 2.Representation of Morality in politics - Too many horrible things happened in the past, merely because the faithful either couldn't act or refused to do it out of some misguided belief in separation of religion and state. This ended with the New Jerusalem Council. No deals can be made with countries that are evil - there can be only war, and short periods of peace when RPC countries are gathering strength for the next confrontation. Countries following inhuman ideologies cannot be reasoned with. Communism, socialism, anarchism, fascism and nazism, and (interestingly enough) state atheism are all opposed. This means that the countries of Res Publica Christiana do not maintain diplomatic relations with the New Comintern, Fifth International and Pact of Steel. Relationship with the Equality Front is a bit more complicated, as while it is opposed by the RPC and the Church and there are no RPC embassies in the EF countries, their countries are at least recognized, and from time to time envoys are sent (instead of soldiers). This belief also includes the idea of morality being represented in interior politics, as the tenets of the Catholic Church teachings are to be manifested in politics as laws. Pressure (even direct) of the clergy upon the rulers is expected and supported - the very idea that Church shouldn't have a saying in politics is seen as abhorrent and suicidal. 3. Jesus Christ is a God - To be considered 'Christian', the member-churches of the Catholic Church have to venerate Jesus Christ as a God. No other option is allowed in any form. This is actually the pretty much one and only theological dogma common to entire Catholic Church that remains undebatable. 4. Opposition to slavery - No slavery or any other form of law-enforced exploitation is allowed, save for making the criminals work (and only when they truly are criminals, as intentionally making other person be branded as criminals to gain workforce is ground for immediate excommunication. Slavery is also actively suppressed in other countries as well, even if they aren't Catholic. 5. Moderate Technophobia - A number of technologies not covered by the Icarus Accord (that the Church supports with great zeal) are considered abhorrent by the Catholic Church and banned. This include any sort of permanent intra-cerebral implants, any implant with surveillance capability, going beyond the barrier of 50% cyborgization, creation of Dolls optimized for any other work than computers or administration, and mass-scale destruction of habitable (but uncolonized) planets and destruction of their environment. 6. Equality of Mankind before God - Every man is born equal. God makes no distinction between the king and a slave, or human, Variant, transhuman, and sufficiently humanlike alien. Of course, they are all equal in the eyes of God. This doesn't mean that they have to be equal in their life - in fact, Church tends to prefer a slightly hierarchic societies, where hierarchy is typically built upon the skills and morality. It means that while the society can or even should be divided, no part of it should be looked down upon or even be discriminated against. This is one of the reasons while for example nobility of Catholic monarchies is always open for people who turn out to possess both skills and necessary moral standing to be inducted into it. 7. General Outline of Morality - The differences between the churches can go pretty far, but certain things aren't allowed to stray too far from the foundation. Chastity, no support for extramarital affairs, temperance instead of hedonism, no recognition for homosexual relationships (though it doesn't matter they are suppressed, they are typically 'tolerated' but simply not officially recognized), and so on. Marriages are also for life, and only the religious ones count (there is a small minority of members that look through the fingers on secular marriages, but they are 'lower' than the religious ones, and divorce is still highly disliked).
Political Influence & Intrigue
Catholic Church has a very simple agenda – spreading faith in God throughout the stars, wiping out all false faiths and doctrines, including atheism, and all other religions that humans created during its search for the divine. It is achieved by dual method of missionary work and neocrusades. If the heathen country is peaceful, refrains from persecuting believers and has no problem with Catholic missionaries, conversion attempts will be limited to those 'civil' ones. Catholic Church will gladly send missionaries that will be respecting local laws, limiting themselves to vocally protesting those that are incompatible with Catholic Church doctrines, while avoiding all types of violence. If needed, Catholic Church will gladly provide aid (as it also does in already converted worlds), sending not only priests but also doctors and relief in case of disaster, not to mention offering military support in case of problems with pirates and so on that local government in incapable of fixing. Over time, as number of the faithful grows, Catholic Church will promote political and society ideals in accordance to the Church doctrine. Including ban on abortions and euthanasia, market liberal economies with limited (but existing) social programs targeted in helping the poor, respect for civil rights and personal property, and either monarchism or democracy. It will also staunchly oppose all manners of intolerance, including religious (with persecutions seen as unreasonable, with peaceful conversion being prefered as Catholic Church long ago condemned forced conversions) and racial (which also includes other species), not to mention abominable practices like geneengineering of sentient beings or slavery. Development of some other things (such as nobility) isn't mandatory. Second route is taken in case of local government opposing the missionary work in militant way, by persecuting converts and missionaries or – in later step – delegalizing or attempting to purge prochurch political parties. When news of that reach the Synod, it will react with ultimatum, demanding the persecutions to end. If the reaction will not be favourable, the next step will be proclamation of Neocrusade and call for all ablebodied Christian to join the war to liberate their brothers in faith from their oppresors.
Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.Capital: New Vatican
Official Languages: Variety
Faction: Res Public Christiana
Current ruler: His Holiness Pius XIX
Adherents: Est. >2 000 000 000 000.
- Religious, Organised Religion
- Permeated Organizations