Romanism is the system of Church government which makes the pope the one head and center of Christendom, with those doctrines and practices which are erroneously maintained as subsidiary to that headship. Thus the dogmas of papal infallibility, of temporal sovereignty, of the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin, of the seven sacraments, the celibacy of the clergy, and the system of indulgences are peculiar to the Church of Rome, and are known as supports of the papal power. They are therefore considered as parts of Romanism.
Again, Romanism may be used to describe the character of Latin Christianity, as distinguished from Teutonic Christianity. The former has a stricter sacerdotalism, more direction to the conscience, and in its subjects more implicit obedience, greater trustfulness, less of private judgment and of freedom, an inferior sense of personal responsibility, and (perhaps it must be added) a less keen sense of truth. There are also a more rigid ecclesiasticism, maintained by a celibate clergy subject to a foreign spiritual head; a fuller ritual; and a statelier ceremonial. This assumption of power, upon the one hand, and submission to it, on the other, necessitate the keeping of the people in a state of ignorance, and we therefore find Romanism to be the foe of intelligence, of free thought, free speech, and free action. It is a system craftily devised for the usurpation by the few of the rights of the many. See Bib. Sacra, 1, 139; 2, 451, 757; 8, 64; 19, 432; Blunt, Theol. Dict.; Elliott, Delineation of Romanisms; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines; Marriott, Testimony of the Catacombs; Meth. Quar. Rev. Oct. 1854; April, 1855, 1856; Jan. 1877; Palmer, Errors of Romanism; Whately, Essays on Romanism. SEE POPERY.