The Alephite Catholic Church
The Alephite Catholic Church is the predominant religion of Capitollium, representing 90% of the population by conservative estimates that are unverifiable since the government keeps no statistics. It is also called the Gunnish Catholic Church, and this usage, though popular, is incorrect. It is in communication with the Twentish Catholic Church. Both Churches recognize their apostolic legitimacy and the sanctity of their respective rites, but are not considered in full communion yet. The two, technically, are churches within the same Catholic Church. Patriarch Carroll, the Alephite leader, has made it clear that if the Twentish Cardinal takes the ancient title of pope, he will give him submit to his authority.
St. Phillip the Shipwright, a nobleman of the small Alephite people, landed on the shores of Gunnlandia in approximately 50 A.D. The Alephites, who were a Nosterran people living in Palestine, were fleeing persecution of their Christian faith by local authorities. In Gunnlandia, St. Phillip forged a safe haven for several thousand Alephites in the Capitollium Valley, where his son Christopher erected Seven Cities known as the Citadels. After the Alephites were conquered by the Dalmyrics (see the article History of Gunnlandia) they converted their new masters. The Dalmyrics, in turn, gradually converted the invading Northmen. Beginning with Sweyn I in 893, every Gunnish monarch (see List of Gunnish Monarchs) has been Alephite Catholic. The Church, though not in communication with the Twentish until the late Middle Ages, never formally split from their brother Christian churches.
The Alephite monks were responsible for writing much of Gunnish history. Religion played a prominent role in state affairs until the fascist takeover in the 1930s, when the rightist government brutally repressed it. Underground movements remained popular and the Church made a full renewal in 2000 after the Revolution.
In the early 2000s, during the Israel-Palestine (War) Conflict, Capitollium cooperated with Twente in seizing and safeguarding the Patrimonium, sacred lands common to both faiths. Currently, the Free Republic administers to Shahlep in the south while the Holy See administers to Patrimonium in the north.
Twentish or Not?
There is currently an ecumenical movement intended to reunited the Alephite Catholic Church and the Gunnish Rite with the Twentish Catholic Church. Differences abound, but there are no doctrinal differences. Among the minor discrepancies are that Alephite priests do not take vows of celibacy, but they must be male. Also, Alephite Liturgies of the Eucharist are conducted in Latin, and Gregorian chant is still used to a great extent. Otherwise, Alephite masses are casual, and are often outdoors.
The Church is lead by the Alephite Patriarch of Shahlep, who is currently Eamon Carroll. A synod of Alephite Bishops is called upon the death of the Patriarch to elect his successor. All ordained Alephite bishops are entitled to attend the Synod.
The Patriarch also appoints several Prelates for matters of State (he is the cheif of state of Shahlep), Security, Propogation of the Faith, Doctrine, and Ecumenism.
The Church Today
The Church is a powerful institution that is extremely active in domestic and international affairs. For almost a year, the former Patriarch Fergus Howe ruled Capitollium in the First Citizens' stead, after the Church averted Civil War. It was able to wield such power because of its prestige. The Church gains 10% of the gross annual income of the Gunnlandian Chamber of Commerce, which it distributes in a charitable fashion.
Lately, some accuse the Church of meddling in politics in favor of the Libertarian Party. Patriarch Carroll, though he believes in greater social justice, has spoken out in support of the Party, saying "God hath given men Free Will, and who is any human leader to take that gift?". Even the Church's greatest critics, however, do not postulate the Church is anything but independent.