Why is Catholicism steeped in tradition and ritual?

At the Council of Trent in 1545, the Roman Catholic Church declared that tradition was equal in authority with the Bible. In the Second Vatican Council�s document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (Latin, "The Word of God"), it is written, "Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end." The Catholic Church's definition of tradition is simply the teachings of the Apostles passed on orally through their preaching, which is not to be confused with the erroneous customs of man, such as those of the Pharisees which Jesus refuted (Matthew 15:2-6, Mark 7:1-13). Scriptural support for this comes from 1 Corinthians 11:2, "I praise you... for holding to the traditions, just as I passed them on to you," and 2 Thessalonians 2:15, wherin the Apostle Paul admonishes the brothers to "stand firm and hold to the traditions we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." (The word "tradition" here is the Greek word didasko, meaning "teachings.") Ephesians 3:2-6 explains that the mystery of Christ is revealed by revelation of the Holy Spirit to his apostles and prophets. Therefore, Catholic bishops, who are the heirs of the original apostles, are granted the sacred right to interpret and expound on apostolic tradition, the insight also being of divine revelation. This is what is meant by tradition and scripture merging, whereby divine revelation to Catholic bishops is canonized in decrees and dogma, which is then on par with scripture. Although Catholic tradition may be based on the oral teachings of the apostles -- those which either weren't originally written by them or which were difficult to interpret by the way they were written -- the fact remains that the authority for recording and expounding the oral traditions has been that of the Roman Catholic Church, which believes that it has succeeded where the "whitewashed tombs" of the hypocritical Pharisees and teachers of the law had failed (Matthew 23:1-36), even though what is seen on the outside is still the same.

        "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 3:14-4:4)

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Reference sources: Catholic Answers (http://www.catholic.com); ReligiousTolerance.org - Early Christian History as Viewed by Roman Catholics (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_hirc.htm); Fast Facts on False Teachings - Roman Catholicism (chapter 14, pp 211-232), by Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, ©1994 by Harvest House Publishers; New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/); Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/)