What follows is simply a number of citations from the Catholic Catechism on a number of Roman Catholic doctrines with minimal comment on a few of them.
"Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life" (CC, 1996).
"The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity" (CC, 2001).
"God's free initiative demands man's free response" (CC, 2002).
"With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator" (CC, 2007).
"The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit" (CC, 2008).
"Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life" (CC, 2010).
Forgiveness of Sins
"Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism. . . . Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that 'we too might walk in newness of life'" (977).
"When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them... Yet the grace of Baptism delivers no one from all the weakness of nature" (CC, 978).
See CC, 1990-91.
"Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life" (CC, 1992).
"...justification entails the sanctification of his whole being" (CC, 1995).
The Iconoclastic Controversy [The word iconoclastic = lit., "image-breaker"] was a significant factor in East-West relations in the early medieval period. Relics, images, statues and paintings of prominent biblical (primarily Christ, Mary, and angels) and historical figures were always present in the life of the church. The controversy erupted when people began to invest their worship and adoration in the image itself, attributing to the object a special sanctity and/or power. This appeared to many as a clear case of idolatry.
Initial opposition to the use of images or icons came from Leo III (a.d. 726), emperor in the east, who insisted that all such artifacts be removed from the churches (he believed their use was a clear violation of the Second Commandment). Their use was defended by Pope Gregory II as well as by the patriarch German of Constantinople (715-29) who distinguished between a profound religious "respect" or "veneration" (proskunesis) of an icon, which is permissible, and true "worship" (latreia) which is due unto God alone. Leo's son, Constantine V (741-75) brutally enforced his father's policy, resorting to torture and public humiliation of those who supported the use of icons.
John of Damascus, the last father of the Eastern church (675-749), also defended the use of icons, arguing that since God had made himself visible via the incarnation, it was his purpose to reveal himself through tangible, visible images, especially for the benefit of the uneducated. He wrote: "When we venerate icons, we do not offer veneration to matter, but by means of the icon, we venerate the person depicted."
Under the leadership of the Empress Irene (780-802), the Second Council of Nicea in 787 (also known as the Seventh Ecumenical Council) approved the honor and veneration of icons but insisted that adoration or worship (latreia) was reserved for God only. Unfortunately, when the results of this council were translated into Latin so that they might be communicated to the church in the West, the word adoratio (adoration) was used to render proskunesis (veneration). Since Charlemagne equated adoratio with true worship, he rejected the decrees of Nicea thereby adding to the rift between East and West.
The Catholic use of images is another instance of the incarnational principle at work.
"The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ. It cannot represent the invisible and incomprehensible God, but the incarnation of the Son of God has ushered in a new 'economy' of images" (CC, 1159).
"Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other" (CC, 1160).
"Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints" (CC, 2131).
"The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols.... The honor paid to images is a respectful veneration, not the adoration due to God alone" (CC, 2132).
Relics are the remains of saints: bones, hair, ashes, clothing, and other articles associated with their earthly life and ministry. Many believe that the grace of God operative in such saints remains in their bodies and such artifacts subsequent to death. Veneration of relics has often been a means for gaining an indulgence either for oneself or for the dead.
Cf. 2 Kings 13:21; Mark 5:25-34; Acts 19:11-12.
Saints and Prayers to/for the Dead
"By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors" (CC, 828).
The Catholic Church distinguishes between latria, the adoration and worship due to God alone, hyperdulia, the highest respect paid to a human, i.e., to Mary as the only "sinless" saint, and dulia, the honor and esteem and high respect due unto all the saints.
Catholics pray to the saints, asking that they in turn intercede on our behalf with God. They believe this is no different from asking a living believer to intercede on our behalf. Most Catholics acknowledge that there is no explicit biblical evidence for this. But see Rev. 5:8.
Indulgences and the Communion of Saints
"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead" (CC, 1471).
"In the communion of saints, 'a personal link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.' In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others" (CC, 1475).
"We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury... [which] is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. . . . This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body" (CC, 1476-77).
"Thus one obtains an indulgence when the Church opens for a believer "the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. . . . Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted" (CC, 1478-79).