- "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti"
- ―Pope Angelo II
|East Coast Catholic Church|
|Type of Government:||Theocratic|
|Motto:||Gloria Patri, et filio, et spiritui sancto, in saecula saeculorum|
|Founded by:||Pope Thomas|
|Enemies:||Born Again Nation, Church of Bomberism|
The history of the Catholic Church goes back thousands of years. Though much of its early days are unverifiable, tradition states that the prophet Jesus selected his disciple John as his successor, and that John was the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Originally practiced in secret by outcasts and the downtrodden, the group would gain mainstream acceptance and would go on to become the single most powerful Christian church in the world.
Catholicism came to the Americas in the earliest days of European colonization, as Spanish, Portuguese and French explorers and conquistadors often doubled as missionaries. In the United States specifically, the Maryland colony was established to be a home for Catholics. At the time, Catholics comprised slightly over 1% of the total American population. Thanks to waves of immigrants from Catholic countries in Central and South America and Ireland, Catholics comprised almost 25% of the total population by the early 21st century. The presence of the Catholic Church was particularly strong in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, with an overwhelming majority of residents self-described Catholics
In 2077, the Great War devastated the world. After the initial carnage, as people began to attempt to reestablish their lives, the largest question among most survivors' minds was simply: why? Most survivors- including many members of the Catholic Church- abandoned their religion in the wake of the nuclear apocalypse. Those that clung to their religion did so with fanatical fervor, believing themselves to be living through the end of days.
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heard in the ruins of Newark, New Jersey, was one such place. Led by Bishop Thomas McMillan, the parish held it together during the crazy days after the nuclear apocalypse. Tapping into the considerable Pre-War wealth of the church, the bishop was able to provide security and food to fifty or so survivors that came to the church. In the first few years after the Great War, the refugees of the basilica simply survived. After a few years, as their position in the Post-War world became more grounded, they transitioned from survival mode to rebuilding mode. While Bishop McMillan and the two other priests that survived the destruction were concerned with ensuring that their flock lived on, they were also concerned about the status of the organization they were a part of. Over the next few years, until the end of the century, groups were sent to churches in nearby cities- Elizabeth, Bayonne, and Jersey City, and New York City across the Hudson- to assess how much of the Catholic Church had survived. These groups recovered some holy relics and a handful of priests, monks, deacons, and nuns.
Pope Thomas (2099-2113)
In 2099, the surviving priests, monks, deacons, and nuns convened to discuss the future of their church. Based on first-hand evidence, along with the stories of other survivors, they came to the conclusion that the entire world had been destroyed. It was up to this group to not only rebuild the world, but rebuild the Catholic Church. In what has since become known as the Pan NY/NJ Conclave, these holy men and women voted to continue the legacy of the Roman Catholic Church on their own, without any kind of directive from the Vatican in Italy, believing the Vatican to have been destroyed. Bishop McMillan was elected the new pope by the council of six other priests, two deacons and three nuns. He took the papal name Thomas, after Thomas the Apostle, who tradition holds spread Christianity to India, then considered an mysterious and foreign land, much like the new pope believed that he would be doing himself. Over the next few decades, the survivors of the Pre-War Catholic Church would coalesce into the Post-War East Coast Catholic Church. Pope Thomas focused his papacy on rebuilding the church from the ground up. Under his watchful eye, church hierarchy was reestablished, dogma was reestablished, and outreach in the form of education and conversion began among the nearby survivors in northern New Jersey began. In 2113, Pope Thomas died in his sleep, leaving behind a legacy of a solid foundation for the East Coast Catholic Church to grow. He has since been canonized into sainthood.
Pope Gregory I (2113-2134)
Pope Thomas' death prompted the first change of power in the new church. Though the number of ordained members of the church almost tripled in size since the first conclave, from 12 to 30, the selection of the new pope went without any problems, and the shift to his successor, Pope Gregory, went smoothly. The new pope took the papal name Gregory, after St. Gregory the Dialogist because he was interested in dedicating his papacy to establishing and codifying the liturgy of the East Coast Catholic Church. He frequently held synods with the ever-growing clergy to discuss and debate the Holy Scriptures and how to translate what was contained within them into official dogma. Pope Gregory held more of these ecumenical councils than any other pope. His magnum opus was Rituals and Rites of the Catholic Church, a document that defined proper East Coast Catholic practice. Pope Gregory died in his sleep in 2134 and was succeeded by Pope Trent, whose papal name referenced the Council of Trent and the new pope's priority to tackle spiritual matters.
Pope Trent the Great (2134-2170)
Pope Trent has since become known as Pope Trent the Great, because his leadership kept the East Coast Catholic Church together during its most tumultuous period: the Great Fracture. The schism began because of a papal decree in which Pope Trent gave that declared that ghoulification was sinful and against the natural laws that God intended. Ghouls themselves were not necessarily evil, but their affliction was. At this point in its history, the East Coast Catholic Church counted a few hundred people as part of its flock, and more than a handful were ghouls. Among those ghouls was a young man by the name of Darius Dursley, who actually came to Basilica from the south looking for both a physical and psychological cure to his affliction. While he was not able to physically turned back into a man, he found solace in his condition due to the teachings of the church and became a priest. When Pope Trent ruled that ghoulification was a sin, Dursley was among the loudest voices criticizing him. Eventually, in 2165, after much political in-fighting and intrigue, Dursley and his faction within the church left the East Coast Catholic Church completely, with Pope Trent the great excommunicating the group.
Pope Thomas II (2170-2192)
Pope Trent the Great died in his sleep in 2170 and was succeded by Pope Thomas II, whose papal name referenced the founder of the ECCC, Pope Thomas. Like his namesake, the new Thomas was interested in outreach, education, and conversion, especially in the wake of the Great Fracture. Among the most notable things he did during his two-decade reign was the rennovation of the Sacred Heart Basilica, and the establishment of the Passaic Guard, a small bodyguard force to protect the pope and the state from outside threats. He died in his sleep in 2192 and was succeeded by Pope Angelo. Pope Angelo derived his papal name from the various angels, because he claimed that the East Coast Catholic Church needed to refocus more on spiritual matters and less on temporal and political issues.
Pope Angelo (2192-2198)
Angelo accomplished little, as he died mysteriously in his sleep after only six years as pope. A relatively healthy middle aged man, there is no reason why he should have died so young, let alone so suddenly. Rumors say that he was poisoned by a faction in the East Coast Catholic Church that was against some of his proposals to return the organization to focusing on spiritual matters, such as removing the requirement that tithes be paid, or that a larger percentage of money be spent on helping wastelanders and other settlements at no immediate benefit for the church. Lending credence to these rumors was the fact that his successor, Pope Matthew, was the prelate of the East Coast Catholic Church treasury.
Pope Matthew (2198-2215)
Owing to his expertise, the East Coast Catholic Church became extremely wealthy under Pope Matthew, as he overhauled and streamlined various various monetary regulations within the church. He accomplished very little else was done, however, and seemed content living in Post-War luxury in the Great Cross Cathedral. He died in his sleep in 2215 and was succeeded by Thomas III.
Pope Thomas III (2215-2229)
Pope Thomas III guided the church during the flowering of the New York/New Jersey area. Numerous nations, settlements, and organizations were founded or came into prominence during the period of his papacy, from 2215 to 2229, such as the Republic of Libeteria, Penn Sanctuary, and the National Pleasure League. In the case of the two Manhattan nation-states, he reached out with too heavy a hand, and inadvertently created distance with both. The pope demanded that both rising nations kiss his ring and swear fealty to the East Coast Catholic Church, and was rejected. In the case of the National Pleasure League, after learning of how they lived their depraved, he issued an official papal bull declaring members of the group and all that aided and abetted them sinners. According to speculation, he was getting ready to declare a crusade on them before he died in his sleep in 2229. He was succeeded by Pope Henry, who would go on to become known as Pope Henry the Martyred. Like Pope Trent the Great, he was assigned a special moniker to denote how important of a leader he was for the church.
Pope Henry the Martyred (2229-2263)
Almost immediately into his papacy, Pope Henry dealt with the enemies of the East Coast Catholic Church. According to conspiracy theorists, the pope invited high-ranking officials from the Federal Republic of Libeteria to Basilica in secrecy between 2230 and 2235. Though there are no accounts for what went on during those supposed meetings, Libeteria bombed the Pleasure Palace and effectively cut the head off of the NPL in 2235, leading many speculate that the meetings involved the federal republic acting on the East Coast Catholic Church's behalf in exchange for something; the fact that the nation established a colony in the ruins Union City, New Jersey, added fuel to their speculation. Whether or not such rumors are true is unknown, but with the National Pleasure League removed, it allowed Pope Henry to focus on other matters.
Around the same time frame, the Old Lords of New York and Born Again Nation became involved in a war in upstate New York and Connecticut. Born Again Nation was founded by Darius Dursley, the ghoul priest that had been excommunicated from the church almost a century beforehand. Showing the maxim "the enemy of your enemy is your friend", the pope sent emissaries to Lord Shaw, the leader of Albany and the most powerful member of the Old Lords. Though the East Coast Catholic Church could not openly support the Old Lords, the pope provided financial support to the organization as a means to strike at Born Again Nation and weaken the grip that the religion they were spreading had on the wastelanders of the Tri-State Area. Lord Shaw accepted the monetary contributions and even gave peerage and ennoblement to a young deacon tending a East Coast Catholic shrine in the ruins of Piermont, turning him from a simple country minister into the Lord of Boats
After the cold conflicts with the NPL and Born Again Nation ended, Pope Henry's papacy was marked by peace and tranquility. The East Coast Catholic Church continued to grow, counting among its flock thousands of individuals as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Virginia, and as far west as Pennsylvania- though how loyal and committed those individuals were to the ECCC, if at all, certainly differed from individual to individual. The organization had hundreds of ordained priests, deacons, and nuns, and six archbishops in charge of the different dioceses the church had influence in- New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and 'outlying territories'.
In 2263, Pope Henry was faced with another threat to the church, this time in the form of The Machinists. Unlike the previous threats to the East Coast Catholic Church, he was unable to stop this threat. In early spring, as the pope was taking a stroll through the gardens of the Sacred Heart Basilica, a buzzer- a Machinist flying robot- loaded with explosives crossed the Hudson and launched itself at the cleric, detonating itself when it was within range. Pope Henry was not killed instantly, but died of the wounds he sustained within the hour.
Pope David (2263-2281) & Pope Angelo II (2281-Present)
The Machinist threat was dealt with without much support from the East Coast Catholic Church, as the organization was reeling from the assassination of their leader. The assassination opened the eyes of the leaders of the church who, while not necessarily naive, had not really accepted the fact that the wasteland had grown up, and that the ECCC was simply one powerful organization in a sea of many other powerful organizations. Pope David spent the majority of his papacy addressing this, strengthing the administration of the church. He died in 2281, and was succeeded by Pope Angelo II. Pope Angelo II has led the church since.
The East Coast Catholic Church considers itself to be the true Catholic Church, a seamless continuation of church in Rome. They base their authority on their knowledge of canon law that has survived the Great War and the Holy Scriptures.
According to canon law, the savior was the "light of the world". The East Coast Catholic Church interpreted this as the nuclear annihilation that devastated the world during the Great War. Thus, in the opinion of the ECCC, their savior signaled his impending return. Only by uniting the world under the umbrella of the East Coast Catholic Church will their savior return, along with the spirits of the dead, to usher in a utopian golden age of peace and prosperity. As such, the ECCC believes that it must convert the rest of the surviving world.
The most controversial belief that the East Coast Catholic Church holds is that ghouls are unnatural, and that the process of ghoulification was sinful and against the laws of nature that God intended for the world. This naturally has created some cognitive dissonance, as there are many good ghouls in the world, and has since been streamlined into the flawed logic that the "sin" is evil, while the "sinner" who is afflicted by it is not.
Culture & Practices
Outside of Basilica, the East Coast Catholic Church has a presence in numerous regions and settlements on the east coast. Depending on the area, this presence can range from a simple shrine with or without someone tending it to a great cathedral tended by the most powerful members of the church. These enclaves outside of Basilica are known as parishes. Parishes exist within one of six diocese, large geographic areas governed by an archbishop. The ECCC recognizes six different diocese: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and 'outlying territories', consisting of the areas scattered across the United States tended to or inhabited by an East Coast Catholic.
The East Coast Catholic Church claims that there are four holy sacraments that personify the mission of their savior: baptism, confirmation, penance, and the anointing of the dead. Baptism occurs at or near birth and signals that a child's soul belongs to the savior, and the East Coast Catholic Church. Confirmation occurs when a young boy or girl begins puberty and signals that they are now men or women, responsible for their own spiritual growth and well-being. Penance takes place throughout the life of an individual, and consists of them admitting their sins to an East Coast Catholic Church priest and being forgiven for them. The anointing of the dead takes place after death, and is a ritual designed to send a departed soul to the afterlife.
Born Again Nation was born from a schism within the East Coast Catholic Church regarding the nature of ghoulification and whether or not it is sinful or not. As such, the two groups are hostile towards each other. Because the two sides peddle religion, and believe their truths to be absolute, the hostility runs even deeper. The East Coast Catholic Church considers Born Again Nation a heretical movement, with its founder one of the ultimate evils on the planet.
The church began their relationship with the Federal Republic of Libeteria off on the wrong foot, but since the two sides first came face to face, that relationship has strengthened. The nation as a whole has only partially accepted the teachings of the savior, and accepting the gospel as spread by the worshipers of St. Monica to the south to boot. The East Coast Catholic Church believes the smaller group will someday be in communion with them, and as a result, considers their acceptance of the St. Monica gospel to be a Trojan horse entrance into Libeteria.
The East Coast Catholic Church disapproves of the two largest cults active in the New York/New Jersey area: the Church of Bomberism and the Children of the Torch. They consider both religious movements dangerous, as they lead individuals down a path of false hope.
Over the years, stories have reached Basilica of other organizations across America claiming to represent the Catholic Church. Officially, they brush these claims off as "conjecture without any basis in reality," but in private, various Popes expressed enough interest and concern to dispatch official expeditions to uncover the truth. To date, the East Coast Catholic Church has not come in contact with other major religious groups claiming to represent the church, such as Jacksonia, El Punto de Trinidad, or the papacy in Soto La Marina.