Overview of Roman Catholic Faith

Faith Overview

The Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the western world with its history dating back over 2000 years. Today there are more than a billion Catholics in the world (one in six people is a baptised Catholic) with around five million living in England alone.

The Church defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity. Catholics believe in Jesus Christ and his message of love for all, peace and forgiveness. We also believe that all men and women are equal, because we are made in the image of God. We believe in justice and equality too as whatever we do to each other, we do to Christ.


Catholics are guided by the Church’s highest earthly authority in matters of faith, morality and Church governance – the Pope. The Pope is supported by local leaders in our individual dioceses – the Bishops – who meet regularly to pray and reflect on how best to interpret Christ’s teachings to the world today. Each Bishop is the leader of his diocese, a specific geographical area.

There are 22 dioceses in England and Wales. Together with priests, the Bishops are responsible for the spiritual growth of believers in their diocese. Catholics are encouraged to attend weekly mass and are under an obligation during the Easter season to attends the sacraments of reconciliation (formerly known as confession) and holy communion.


Catholic beliefs are based on the Bible and on traditions handed down from the time of the Apostles. The Catholic Church holds that there is one eternal God, who exists as a mutual indwelling of three persons: the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Those beliefs are summarised in the Nicene Creed and formally detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Formal Catholic worship, termed the liturgy, is regulated by Church authority. The Eucharist is one of the seven Church sacraments and the key part of every Catholic Mass.

Useful links

The website of the Catholic Church in England and Wales