Catholic Community

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Photo:  Fernando Mendes PedroCC BY-NC-SA - Some Rights Reserved

​Catholicism is the religion practiced by the majority of the Portuguese population. Portugal has currently 7 million Catholic, corresponding to 79.5% of the population.

More than religious belief, Catholicism is a system of value, expression and culture that since the beginning of the Portuguese nation was crucial for enhancing what the Portuguese population is and feels. The establishment of dioceses in Portugal is directly related to the most relevant facts in the country´s history: the foundation of the nation (1139); the maritime expansion (1415-1542); the reforms carried out by Marquês de Pombal (1750-1777); the First Republic (1910-1926); the New State (1933-1974) and the April Revolution in 1974. Beyond this issue that reflects the importance of the diocese in the political, social and cultural `mosaic` of Portugal, the parish (while being a territorial division and belonging to one diocese) matched the political and administrative division of national territory.

It is essentially within the parish that the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church exerted (and still exerts) its actions towards parishioners, a catechetical and assistant-role action, whether spiritual or material. In fact, the sacralization of the community´s everyday life was felt for centuries. The Catholics belonging to one parish participated and still participate, together or individually, in the sacramental practices – in masses, confession, communion and accompanying processions, integrating themselves as a whole into the Church, as has been the case in the past, and despite of ongoing transformations of several political and social reforms that led to the growing secularization of society and to forwarding to the state competences that until then were attributed to the Church.

The Roman Catholic Apostolic Church sought to adapt to modern times. The Second Vatican Council, that took place in years 1961-1965, reflects that new direction that generated a significant pastoral change in the Church and a simplification of the liturgy. Other values of relevant meaning were asserted, disseminated and applied by the Catholic community: religious freedom, ecumenism, tolerance for the non-Christians and the apostolate of the laity, fundamental values that at present still govern the Church and are of great relevance for the whole Catholic community.

In Porto the role played by the diocese was, over the city´s history, of key importance for its institutional, economic, social, cultural and artistic development.
Porto´s diocese originated in the Suebi and Visighotic period (6 AC) as it is proven by the then Bishop of Portucale, Constâncio, in the Third Council of Toledo, that took place in 589. Besides this historical fact that testifies the diocese´s ancestry, others should be considered, in particular the extensive privileges obtained by the diocesan bishops, that predate the foundation of nationality, with a special mention to the donation of Porto and its border given, in 1120, by the Countess D. Teresa to the Bishop D. Hugo who, in turn, granted the Porto´s population the first Foral in 1123. This framework of ecclesiastical privileges, with some alterations regarding the statute taking place in the reign of D. João I, would last until the reforms of the forals that were undertaken during the ruling of D. Manuel I, at the beginning of the 16th century. Other events of political and social nature, as referred to, marked the life of Porto´s Diocese: the Portuguese discoveries, the Pombal reform, the liberal ideals, the establishment of the Republic, the New State and the April Revolution in 1974.

Porto is an episcopal city, submitted to Braga, currently including 26 municipalities, 7 pastoral regions, 34 deaneries and 477 parishes, encompassing a community composed of 2 million people.

Endowed with plentiful revenues, Porto`s Mitre and Chapter have always attained, among other important cultural and social interventions, an artistic patrimony of exceptional quality, promoting the artistic development in its fullness, most importantly during the Baroque period, and creating the presence of an elite group of both national and foreign artists who granted quality and erudition on the works that they produced, transforming some of them into masterpieces of Portuguese art.

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Published 16-01-2014
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