Caphiric Catholic Church
|Caphirium Ecclesia Catholica|
|Patriarch of Venceia |
and All Sarpedon
|Abp. Jenius Gaius|
|Language||Caphiric Latin and Latin|
|Headquarters||Saint Paugenia's Cathedral|
|Founder||Jesus Christ, according to sacred tradition|
|Reunion||Catholic Church (2017)|
|Separated from||Catholic Church (1615)|
|This article is part of a series on|
The Caphiric Catholic Church, formerly and commonly known as the Imperial Church of Caphiria, is a particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church. It is by far the largest particular church, with nearly a billion congregants, and the only one to worship in the Caphiric Rite. It is the established church and was the de facto state religion of the Imperium of Caphiria for over three centuries. The primate of the church is the Patriarch of Venceia and All Sarpedon.
Caphiria played a significant role in the second wave of Christian proselytization during the Middle Ages. Imperator Marius Oratonius was baptized into the Catholic Church in 1079, and all Caphiria would be nominally Christianized by the end of the 12th century. Caphiria's significant territorial expansion during the Late Middle Ages was officially sanctioned by the Pope, who granted the Imperators the title "Protector of Christendom." While the Popes were increasingly assertive of their temporal and spiritual authority in Levantia during this time, the Caphiric Church was left alone, as the Papacy depended on the tithes and prestige afforded by the Sarpedonian bishoprics. The relationship between the Popes and the Imperators began to break down due to the emerging Protestant Revolt in the early 16th century. Caphiria was insulated from the struggle, but theological tensions with the Urceopolitan church had long simmered beneath the surface. The Imperators took advantage of ecclesiastical division and the Pope's focus on crushing Protestantism to increase imperial authority. The Caphiric church's position was further weakened by the growth of classicism in Caphiria, which called for a Christianity that conformed to ancient Caphirian virtues and would restore the ministerial positions enjoyed by the Imperator during the Principate. The triumph of the Counter-reformation and the resulting growth of Urcean influence in Levantia and over the Church further strained relations. Beginning in the early 1550s, Caphiria began to protestant refugees. The first official step toward schism was in 1560, when the clergy was required to make an oath of loyalty to the Imperator. The process was completed with the Great Schism of 1615, when Pius XII took the title pontifex maximus by acclimation of the Caphirian bishops. The Church continued largely unchanged for a decade until The Reformations of 1627 introduced many reforms to the Church and inflamed traditional Catholic believers. For many years after the Schism, pro-Catholic factions continued to challenge the leadership of the new Caphiric Church. These factions, and the people that supported the Catholic Church still, were known as Traditionalists and were heavily persecuted and executed under heresy laws. This period is known as the Months of Bloody Sundays as it was common practice for the Imperator to simply execute any people who were not coming to church in protest. Traditionalists were executed under legislation that punished anyone judged guilty of heresy against the Caphiric Church. The Church embraced the Caphiric Pyramid and Venceism among other dogmas during this period. While it remains Catholic, these reformations contributed to distinct, partially protestantized, theological and liturgical expressions in the Caphiric Church.
Beginning in the late 2000s, the detente between Urcea and Caphiria led to a renewed ecumenical dialogue between the Caphirian and Catholic Churches. in 2017, the Eight Points Agreement was signed by the Imperator and Pope, facilitating the restoration of full communion and the preservation of the Caphiric church's autonomy and spiritual patrimony. The Agreement also formally erected the Caphiric Church as a particular church within Catholicism with its own canon law set and unique liturgical rite.
Virtually all Caphiric Catholics live within the Imperium of Caphiria, or former Caphirian territories. Full participation in the sacramental life of each church is available to all communicant members. Due to the historical link to Caphiria, some member churches are known as "Caphiric Catholic," such as the Caphiric Church of Zaclaria.
The Caphiric Church is divided into dioceses and archdioceses. It is under the ultimate authority of the Patriarch of Venceia and All Sarpedon, the highest authority within the Caphiric Church who answers only to the Pope. During the schismatic era, the Imperator himself was the head of the Caphiric Church in his position of Pontifex Maximus, and the Church was managed by the College of Pontiffs, which was abolished following the Eight Points Agreement. While it received no legal replacement within the Caphirian Government, the Caphiric Episcopal Conference replaced it in its role as a consultative body of the Caphiric Church. The Conference answers to the Patriarch of Venceia and All Sarpedon and has no conciliar authority beyond that which is delegated to it by the Patriarch.
The Patriarch of Venceia and All Sarpedon is the supreme authority of the Caphiric Church. As per the Eight Points Agreement, the Patriarch is nominated directly by the Imperator of Caphiria and approved by the Pope. The Patriarch may issue or alter the canon of law within the Church on his prerogative. In his capacity as Patriarch of Venceia, he is the ordinary of the Venceian Archdiocese and is responsible for the leadership of the Caphiric Church. As Patriarch of All Sarpedon, he is nominally the highest ranking cleric on the continent. However, this authority is symbolic mainly as Latin Rite and other particular churches fall outside his jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the Patriarch is to serve as a focal point of Christian unity for people in Sarpedon.
As the Eight Points Agreement provides that the Imperator or Government of Caphiria may appoint bishops with Papal confirmation, the Patriarch also practically functions as the highest religious advisor for the Caphirian government and is responsible for selecting names that the Government selects for bishops. With the abolition of the Ministry of the Church, the Patriarch serves as de facto head minister for religious affairs in Caphiria.
Much like the Catholic Church globally, the Caphiric Church is divided into jurisdictions under the control of a single bishop known as dioceses. The Caphiric Church employs many moderately small dioceses, unlike most other countries abroad. During the schismatic era, the bishops were viewed as a means of oversight and influence throughout the country. They were employed as a kind of quasi-civil service, providing both teaching and material benefits alongside the civil government. Accordingly, within the Caphiric Church in modern Caphiria, there are 1,092 dioceses, nearly 200 more than Urcea despite Caphiria being half the size in terms of population. A minority of dioceses have become effectively titular dioceses as the geographical area has depopulated in the last 400 years.
Within the Caphiric Church, monasticism is generally prohibited, with a few notable exceptions. Monastic orders were standard in Caphiria before the schism. Still, with the schism, their lands were seized, and the monks within were pressed into service as military chaplains and other similar duties. The orders were not reestablished following the end of the schism.
Nature of Christ
consists of all believers
Grace, Predestination, and Free Will
The Caphirian Church, in its official statements on grace laid out in the Imperial Catechism and the several synods of Venceia, claims to adhere closely to the doctrine of grace laid out by the Church Father St. Augustine. While St. Augustine is of the foremost importance throughout the universal Catholic Church, the Caphiric church developed before and during the schism with Urceopolis a particular attachment to the teachings of Augustine. Moreover, debates over justification played an important role in galvanizing the support of the Caphiric clergy for the Imperator's efforts to gain governorship over the church. Many theologians of the Renaissance, such as Elmo of Bridhavn, had softened or rejected Augustine's teachings on grace in favor of a stronger view of free will and merit. The Protestant Reformation in Levantia had prompted further opposition to Saint Augustine's doctrines, as they became associated with the views of Protestant reformers like Jean Cauvin. The Caphiric church, largely isolated from these developments, felt increasingly alienated from Levantine soteriology. Growing discontent came to a head in 1608, when the Holy See abolished the Congregatio de Auxiliis, a commission originally established to development and clarify the view of the Catholic Church regarding justification, by declaring that both the strict supporters of the traditional Augustinian-Thomistic position and those with a stronger view of the will, the Molinists, would be permitted in perpetuity to hold and to promote their opinions. This decision, and a concomitant decree of the Inquisition that forbid the circulation of books discussing efficacious grace, was received with great dismay in Caphiria. It was believed that this move had turned a heretofore established doctrine of the Catholic Church into a matter of opinion, and was the first step in a broader conspiracy, spearheaded by the Jesuits, to revive the heresy of Pelagianism. Bosseutus, the Bishop of Meldis, and preacher to the imperial court, wrote in a missive to the Imperator that "if the doctrine contrary to Augustine's comes to be established in the episcopate, all is lost! It is up to you to destroy that doctrine, and following your orders I will do all in my power to help; I consecrate my life to that work."
Law and Gospel
Theology of the Cross
Communion of Saints
The Caphiric Church holds a high Mariology, ascribing to her the title of Mother of God while ascribing to the ideas of the Assumption, Immaculate Conception, and perpetual virginity of Mary.
The Caphiric church teaches that the sacraments are efficacious signs of grace instituted by Jesus Christ in the New Covenant for the succor of his Church on earth. The numbering of the sacraments was controversial in the early post-Reformation church. Ritualists argued that there were seven sacraments (though within this group, there were divisions on whether all sacraments were equal), while pietists, more closely aligned with the theology of the Levantine Reformation, argued that only the Eucharist and Baptism were sacraments. The ritualist party was eventually victorious with the support of the imperial government and eventually reached a compromise on the division of the sacraments into ecclesiastical sacraments: Confirmation, Extreme Unction, and Matrimony, which they saw as instituted by the Church, and evangelical sacraments: Ordination, Baptism, the Eucharist, and Penance, which they saw as instituted clearly by Jesus Christ in Sacred Scripture. The Caphiric Church has always taught that only presbyters ordained in the line of the Apostles can administer valid sacraments and that sacraments are valid ex opere operato, regardless of the spiritual state of the presbyter administering them.
The Caphiric understanding of the ecclesiastical sacraments as "instituted by the Church" was a source of controversy during the negotiations leading up to the Eight Points Agreement. Some within the Catholic and Caphiric churches contended that this meant that such sacraments were without inherent efficacy and were in opposition to the Catholic doctrine that Christ established all sacraments. The understanding reached affirmed that the ecclesiastical sacraments were established by Christ and had inherent efficacy. However, the Caphiric church could teach that this establishment by Christ was through the Church and not personal. The Caphiric Church also continues to emphasize the unique character of the evangelical sacraments as imparting direct, personal grace necessary for salvation.
The Caphiric Church teaches ordination to be a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ by the selection of his Twelve Apostles. The Church teaches that the authority conveyed by ordination allows for the formation and practice of the ecclesiastical sacraments. The sacrament of ordination, like all other Caphiric sacraments, follows the practice of the global Catholic Church, but this was not always so. Ordination was the only sacrament significantly altered during the schismatic period. As part of the 1627 Reforms, a new language was introduced to the sacrament. The sacrament was amended to include that any efficacious change to one's person - the change which makes a person into a priest or bishop - could not take place unless sworn belief in the articles of the 1627 Reformation was present, which included a faith testimonial regarding the status of the Imperator within the Christian church. Critically, it had language that consecration or ordination could not take place without Imperial authority, implying that the Imperator, in his power, could confer the sacrament. The sacrament also included a loyalty oath at the beginning of the sacrament. Apostolic succession was also altered, as many new bishops were consecrated by the Imperator, who received no episcopal consecration and instead was proclaimed to have the authority of a bishop by order of the Senate.
The changes made to the sacrament were viewed as defective by the global Catholic Church, and the priesthood orders of the Imperial Church were considered invalid. A central point of the Eight Points Agreement required all Imperial clergy to be reconsecrated or reordained, as appropriate, using the sacrament used by the global Catholic Church. Since the reconciliation of the churches, the Caphiric Church has adopted the form of ordination used abroad.
Worship and Practice
The liturgy of the Caphiric Church is the Caphiric Rite, a form unique to the Church. It has the same theological basis as the conventional global Catholic mass but with many enculturated elements gained during the schismatic period. The liturgical service in the Caphiric Church is known as a hostia. Hostia in the Caphiric Church also deemphasizes the communal shared element of the liturgy while emphasizing its sacrificial nature, with language centering on the true sacrifice at Calvary as being represented on the altar. While this belief is in line with the teaching of the Church, the phrasing of the Caphiric liturgy makes it the focal point. Accordingly, scripture is deemphasized within the Caphiric liturgy. Unlike the reformed global Catholic mass, the Gospel reading is accompanied only by a reading of the Old Testament, of which many additional references are made within the liturgy.
The emphasis on the sacrificial element of the hostia was the result of two distinct developments during the schismatic period. Socially and politically, the newly independent Imperial Church began to re-emphasize a kind of transactional religion similar to the mythological religions of pre-Christian times, namely that if the whole people offered the sacrifice, God would continue to bless and protect Caphiria;. At the same time, teachings on this subject have been deemphasized since the Eight Points Agreement, and the concept of quid pro quo remains the popular conception of the function of religion among a majority of Caphirians. The second development was a period of "ressourcement" in the late 1600s which "reintroduced" to the liturgy elements of the Old Testament temple sacrifices. Accordingly, many additional references to temple practices were introduced within the liturgy's text, the clothes of the clergy were changed to reflect contemporary understandings of ancient Jewish practice, decoration mirrored descriptions of the temple, and critically the Altar of Burning was introduced into the liturgy and churches. This Altar, a protruding indented slab, is where the central Eucharistic sacrament occurs. Still, following the distribution of communion, most of the remaining consecrated bread is burned in what the Caphiric Church calls "a way for the people to participate in the eternal sacrifice of the Son to the Father in the timeless tradition given to Moses and the prophets"; this process creates Sacred Ash, a substance used throughout Caphirian religious life. As a result, only a tiny amount of the consecrated bread is stored within the tabernacle. The bread used in the Caphiric Rite is leavened bread as opposed to the unleavened bread used within the Latin Rite.
The Caphiric Church embraces many of the same devotions of the global Catholic Church, including those from before the schism and many miraculous ones during the schism.
The Credo - the statement of orthodox faith within the liturgy formulated by early Church councils - remains in use in the Caphiric Church and is repeated at each liturgy. During the schismatic era, various minor alterations were made to the creed. The most dramatic was the alteration of the conclusion of the creed, which added a paragraph known as the "Imperial Credo" after the profession of belief in the Holy Spirit but before that of the profession of belief in the Church. This language was included to coincide with the adoption of the Caphiric Pyramid as church dogma in 1810 but remained in the creed after its removal from church teaching. The pre-2017 Caphiric credo is reproduced below in Ænglish, with schismatic additions in italics.
- I believe in one God,
- the Father almighty,
- maker of heaven and earth,
- of all things visible and invisible.
- I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
- the Only Begotten Son of God,
- born of the Father before all ages.
- God from God, Light from Light,
- true God from true God,
- begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
- through him all things were made.
- For us men and for our salvation
- he came down from heaven,
- and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
- and became man.
- For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
- he suffered death and was buried,
- and rose again on the third day
- in accordance with the Scriptures.
- He ascended into heaven
- and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- He will come again in glory
- to judge the living and the dead
- and his kingdom will have no end.
- I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
- who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
- who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
- who has spoken through the prophets and through the authority on earth.
- I believe in the sacred responsibility of the Imperator,
- Who from the Father receives power and dominion,
- From the son Grace,
- And from the Holy Spirit wisdom.
- I believe in one, holy, imperial, catholic and apostolic Church.
- I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
- and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
- and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Writings of the Latter Fathers
In addition to the writings of the Church Fathers that are held in esteem throughout Catholicism, a series of writings from the generation of the time of the schism, as well as from the time immediately before it, are revered by Caphiric Catholics. These texts, known as the Writings of the Latter Fathers, dealt with Catholicism in Caphiria and its relationship to the contemporary world of the 16th and 17th centuries. The texts include treatises refuting certain elements of Protestantism while leaving the door open for others, as well as condemnations of the errors of Islam and ultramontanism. Many of these texts were prohibited or refuted by orthodox Catholic authorities and writers at the time, but since the schism, many of these texts have been allowed. Most of them have been reconciled with orthodox belief, though a handful of writers - the strictest adherents of Venceism - have been removed from scholarly and spiritual circulation.
Calendar and Major feasts
The Caphiric Rite adapted the liturgical calendar originally used by the Coscivian Rite after the Great Schism of 1615, which itself was based on the precepts and calendar of the Old Testament. The adoption of this calendar was part of broader efforts within Caphiric Christianity to adapt the structure and worship patterns of ancient Jewish people as described in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, among other places. After the reunion with Urceopolis, the existing calendar has been provisionally maintained, with modifications to be made should the cause of any post-split saint on the Caphiric calendar be lacking. Although the Caphiric calendar observes many feasts established by the Old Testament, structurally, the only significant difference between the Levantine and Caphirian calendars is feria. In the Caphirian calendar, due to the reforms carried out following the schism, a feria (plural: feriae) refers to Sundays and feast days (as the term was used in the pagan era). In the Levantine calendar, a feria is a weekday without a feast.
Several feasts enjoy significantly more prominence in the Caphiric world than they do in the rest of Christendom: Martinmas, Saint George's Day, and Michaelmas are all public holidays and are the most important public holidays outside of Christmas, Easter, and All Saints. All three commemorate military saints, a reflection of the high degree of militarization in Caphirian society. Michaelmas is the primary armed forces day in Caphiria and is marked yearly by a military parade in Venceia. Martinmas is a remembrance day for all Caphirian war dead, while Saint George's Day commemorates Caphiria's various historical military triumphs.
The Caphiric Church shares adoration and intercessory prayer for most of the same saints as the Catholic Church abroad and several dozen saints of Caphiria who were canonized during the period of the schism.
The largest of the unique devotional cults of the Caphiric Church is that of the cult of "Saint" Pontius Pilate, the official responsible for condemning Jesus to his crucifixion despite hesitancy to do so. According to popular Caphiric legend, Pilate later repented of his failure to save Jesus but was told by a vision of Christ that he was necessary to accomplish his will. After that time, Pilate became a committed Christian. The Saint Pilate cult and legends emphasize the struggle of earthly authority always to choose rightly while stating that even poor decisions by civic leaders may serve God's will in some form, teaching emphasized by the Caphiric Church.
Most Caphiric churches eschew the traditional basilica or long cruciform designs standard in churches in Levantia, instead opting for "short" cruciform designs, making most of the body of the church essentially a square. Many ancient churches, and a few modern builds, are constructed in the round, having been adaptations of pre-Christian temples. The basic layout of a Caphiric church is not essentially different than that of the rest of the Occidental Catholic Church, with a location for the lay faithful to stand, an elevated altar typically facing eastward, and a tabernacle for retaining the consecrated bread.
Several key differences exist within the worship space, however. Large and ornate rood screens are present in nearly every Caphiric church, separating the nave from the sanctuary. Most different about Caphiric Churches is a large stone basin in front of the altar and tabernacle, the Altar of Burning, wherein most of the remaining consecrated bread is burnt towards the end of the hostia. It separates the "Gospel" and "Prophets" sides of the main altar from which the Gospel and Old Testament readings, respectively, are read. A tabernacle typically centers the main altar in the shape of the biblical description of the Ark of the Covenant, and accordingly, most can be moved despite their large size and weight. A tradition in the 1800s provided that a monstrance displaying the consecrated host would be placed in the "mercy seat" atop the tabernacle, and this design is not uncommon throughout Caphiria. On each side of the tabernacle typically sits a lampstand in the form of the ancient Jewish menorah, with the lampstand being lit to denote a high or low hostia, similar to the function of altar candles within a Latin Rite mass. Beginning in the late 1700s, the rood screens would often be accompanied by a veil intended to emulate the temple veil, and the veil would be closed when hostia was not being offered; this symbolized the sanctuary becoming a new holy of holies.
Pews are uncommon in most Caphiric churches despite becoming the norm in Levantia. Accordingly, the Caphiric Rite liturgy has looser but still defined rubrics for participation by lay people. In their place, most Caphiric churches have benches, typically of stone or marble, lining the interior walls of the church building. During most parts of the liturgy, the elderly, children, and others may remain seated as the need presents itself.
The clergy of the Caphiric Church is ordained or consecrated within the Catholic Church and functions on a hierarchical basis, with deacons, priests, and bishops comprising the basic types of clergy. Following the Eight Points Agreement, all clergy of the Caphiric Church received a conditional ordination or consecration due to possible defects in those sacraments during the schismatic era.
During the schismatic period, clergy within the Caphiric Church were emphasized as servants of the state and public, given their role as pro-aedile. Accordingly, all priests were elevated to the social rank of equite. The Eight Points Agreement and subsequent negotiations abolished the automatic tier of equite as it was anticipated that many foreign priests would enter the country. Following the Agreement, a process was set up whereby native-born clerics with a confirmed heritage could still receive the rank of equite upon request.
Unlike the rest of the Catholic Church, clerics within the Caphiric Church are permitted to hold public office.
Within the Caphiric Church and according to its canon law as a particular church within the Catholic Church, priests can marry before ordinating to the priesthood. During the schismatic period, it became legal for priests to take wives, and it also became socially expected that the first son of a priest would also become a priest. It was the legal norm for sons to succeed fathers as the heads of parishes. Accordingly, more than two-thirds of priests in Caphiria are "hereditary priests." Any additional sons of priests were expected, as members of the equite class, to enter public service or some other high-level social obligation.
Priests and clergy of the Caphiric Church have two styles of dress that are wholly unique to the Caphiric Rite. Outside of hostia or other church functions, priests - as magistrates - are entitled to wear a toga for everyday use. The clerical toga has a bright scarlet fringe, symbolizing the role of the clerics in the sacrifice of the altar, calling to mind both the blood of the Old Testament sacrifice and the fire employed within the Caphiric Rite.
Within the liturgy, there are several different pieces of clothing worn, mainly attempting to reproduce the vestments of the high priest as described within the Old Testament and adapted within the Christian setting, but without headwear of any kind. In this setting, a priest wears an alb - a long white garment symbolizing the pristine state of the soul after baptism. Above the alb but below the rest of the vestments, the priest wears a blue stole, symbolizing the blue robes of the priests as described in the book of Exodus. Above these, the priest wears linen chausble which is reminiscent of the ephod as described in the Old Testament, with alternating patterns of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet. The chasuble-ephod, which does not extend over the arms or shoulders of the priest, is often embroidered with different patterns such as crosses and scriptural scenes. The priest also wears a sash in the form of a belt in the same material as the chasuble. In addition to these vestments, which are to be worn by all clergy during a hostia, the celebrant wears a priestly breastplate based on the one described in Exodus. The Caphiric Breastplate has nine stones within it rather than twelve, and the breastplates do not have any required type of stones. On the stones, a matrix of words is written in Latin, with the top row reading "FATHER - SON - SPIRIT," the second row reading "SON - SPIRIT - FATHER," and the third-row reading "SPIRIT - FATHER - SON," with the overall matrix of the words symbolizing the infinite nature of the Trinity. In most cases, the breastplate is secured to the chasuble through faux onyx stones, emulating Exodus. Still, in prestigious churches, it is not uncommon to find elaborate onyx shoulder pieces.
Priestly magisterial duties
All clerics within the Caphiric Church are invested with a minor magistracy of Caphiria upon their ordination, symbolizing their responsibility to the State but also their role as a "minister of the public good." The magistracies vary based on the level of the cleric, with most priests being invested as pro-aediles, though rarely some are invested instead as nominal decemvirs or other positions.
Social Teaching and Role
Abortion and Birth control
The Caphiric Church, as part of the global Catholic Church, teaches that abortion is a "moral evil" and that contraception is an "intrinsic evil." During the schismatic period when the Imperial Church functioned independently, views on both topics were mixed, and the Imperial Church had no definitive teaching on either matter. The prevailing view represented a coalition between "moralists" - those who viewed both practices as morally wrong - and the "nationalists," who believed that suppression of birth rates made Caphiria weaker, an act that itself was morally wrong. While these two groups never managed to create official Church teaching prohibiting the practices, they nonetheless succeeded in preventing the Church from approving of them on several occasions.
Though the Caphiric Church teaches and professes the position of the global Church on these issues, Church leadership has made a pastoral decision to deemphasize these teachings to remain relevant within Caphirian society.