The Eclesia dolo Cruzo Sacrado do Cruiso, or Church of the Sacred Cross of Cruis, commonly known as the Papaist Church is a major Cruisian religious denomination based in Lendosa. It has around fifty-five million followers in Lendosa, plus a large number in other countries (either affiliated with the Church directly, such as in Aethelnia, or affiliated with a independent entity which recognises Papaist doctrine, such as the Papaist Church of Cimera).
The Papaist Church considers its Pope, who is resident in the city of Gloria Libertatis, to be the rightful leader of all Cruisians. Theologically, the Papaist Church is generally considered stricter than most others, stressing the need for "doctrinal purity". It tends to be highly traditionalist, and its mode of worship is very formal and codified. Among the differences commonly observed between Papaists and many other Cruisan denominations are:
- Tradition — the Papaist Church places more emphasis on tradition and custom than, for example, the Church of Cruis. Papaists believe that interpretation of the scriptures should not be a matter of individual judgement — rather, adherents should be guided by the traditional interpretations which have been passed down through the Church from the original apostles.
- Apostolic succession — Papaists believe that there can be only one legitimate Cruisian church, and that its mandate is universal. Due to their belief that their church was founded directly by one of Cruis's apostles, acting on instructions from Cruis himself, the Papaists believe themselves to be that church. All Papaist priests see themselves as part of an unbroken chain beginning with Cruis, and reject the legitimacy of any priest who is not part of this succession. Further, the Papaists believe that their leader, the Pope, is the rightful leader of all Cruisans, as he is seen as the direct successor to Cruis's apostle.
- Intercession of the saints — the Papaists have traditionally believed that as well as praying to God, believers can call upon one of the many saints to intercede on their behalf. Traditionally, Santa Maria (Marya, the mother of Cruis) has been the most popular saint among Papaists. In recent times, the role of saints has been de-emphasised, but it remains more important in Papaism than in most other denominations.
- Neccessity of good works — unlike some Cruisan denominations, Papaists do not believe that faith alone (sola fide) is sufficient for salvation. While Papaists believe that faith is a necessary component of salvation, they say a person must also demonstrate their obedience to God's will through their actions.
- Glory of the church — most Papaists have traditionally believed that the Church, as God's instrument in the world, is deservous of praise, honour, and glory. This conflicts with the view held by some other denominations, which states that glory should be "for God alone", and that the Church must strive to be humble and austere.
The Papaist Church generally traces its history back to 1353 BP. According to the Church's teachings, Cruis sent apostles in all directions to spread his teachings, with one apostle in particular, who the Church names Marco, charged with laying the foundations for Cruis's church. The Papaist Church teaches that Marco travelled through Liliana (modern Estontetso and surrounding countries), but found it too corrupt and degenerate — he therefore moved onwards, arriving in the newer colonies on Lendia. There, says the Church, he found a honest and straightforward society free of the pettiness found elsewhere. He settled in the quiet town of Brancassa, and began to lay the foundations of Cruis's one true church. As the Papaist Church sees it, the church founded by the apostle Marco is the only church which has Cruis's full blessing. Others who have heard the word of Cruis have established their own religious structures to honour his teachings, and while the attempt is "admirable", other churches do not have the direct sanction from Cruis that the Papaists (through Marco) possess.
In terms of organisation, the early church was simple — the Bishop (later Archbishop) of Brancassa was the church's overall leader, with Bishops in other cities having broad autonomy in most matters. Groups of worshipers were largely self-administering, with few formal rules. Gradually, authority was centralised in the hands of the Archbishop of Brancassa, with the rationale being that as the direct successor to Marco, he should be highest authority in spiritual matters. The title of "Papa" (translated as Pope) was eventually accepted as an official term for the head of the Church — all previous Bishops and Archbishops of Brancassa were retroactively deemed to hold the title, with Marco recognised as the first.
Growth and "Captivity"
The Papaist Church was initially very small — Veldanism remained the island's primary faith, with Cruisanism a distant second. By the time of the Liliani invasion of Lendia in 1329 AP, approximately 5% of the island was Cruisian to some degree. The Liliani occupation was a time of mixed fortune for the Papaists — the Lilianis strongly promoted Cruisianism on the island, as it was their state religion, but they also ended the Papaist Church's independence, demanding that it submit to the supremacy of the Liliani emperor. The modern church refers to this period as "the Captivity".
Rise to prominence
Cruisanity continued to spread through Lendia, and by the time the Liliani occupation of Lendia ended in 714 BP, six centuries later, the proportion of Cruisans in Lendia had risen to roughly half. Upon independence, the church rejected any allegience to religious authorities in Liliana, and resumed its own doctrines. Most of the Cruisan population of the island followed it. The Church also began sending missionaries to the neighbouring island of Piolsa, which was still staunchly Veldanist — they did not meet with a great deal of success, but did establish a Cruisian foothold.
Over the course of the next few centuries, the Papaist Church built up its position, and began to gradually challenge Veldanist dominance of the government. Although many ordinary Lendians were now Cruisian, the country's elite remained predominantly Veldanist, and Veldanism was the official state religion. When it was proposed that Lendia form a federation with Piolsa, the Church was opposed, believing that uniting with a strongly Veldanist state would harm the position of Cruisians in Lendia. When federation was finally approved 473 BP, the resulting Lendosan Alliance was officially Veldanist, and tension continued. Violence broke out on several occasions, and some even talked of civil war. Eventually, however, it was agreed that the state would become secular in all matters, ending Veldanism's status as the official religion without having Cruisanism take its place.
Under the now-secular Lendosan Alliance, the Papaist Church continued to expand. In Lendia, it gradually overtook Veldanism as the largest religion, and made a significant amount of progress in Piolsa as well. The Plague disrupted the Church considerably, but with the restoration of political order, it eventually recovered. The reputation of the Church suffered, however, as corruption and decadence began to appear more frequently — bishops were frequently accused of colluding with the petty monarchs who now controlled Lendia and Piolsa, and despite drives by several Popes to "clense" the church, many ordinary citizens turned away. Two significant schisms occurred at this point, both led by people wishing to reform the Church. One group, believing that a more modern and progressive approach was needed, formed the Eclesia Libera, or Free Church — this denomination is loosely affiliated with the Archbishops of Cruishaven, whose teachings they took as an inspiration. Another group, believing that stricter moral control was needed, established what is now the Eclesia do Veneracano Verdadeiro, or Church of Truthful Worship. Neither group approaches the Papaist Church in size, but created considerable controversy when they split away.
The Lendian Revolution, which overthrew the various small monarchies on Lendia, had a significant impact on the Papaist Church, as hostility to "corrupt priests and greedy bishops" was a significant part of the revolutionary agenda. A number of senior bishops were executed by revolutionaries, and the Pope was forced to flee his palace. When the Empire was established, however, matters stabilised somewhat, and the position of the Church improved. The relationship between church and state became strong with the rise of Prince (later Emperor) Carigo, a popular and charismatic leader who emphasised the Church's role in maintaining "good values and social cohesion". At first, the Church was warmly disposed to Carigo, and formed something of a loose alliance — the Church frequently spoke out in favour of Carigo's policies, and Carigo's administration made a number of significant policy concessions to the Church. However, as Carigo's popularity began to fade, and his methods became more and more harsh, the Church began to distance itself from him. It eventually joined those speaking out against Carigo's increasingly authoritarian administration, and by virtue of its considerable influence, was seen as a significant factor in Carigo's decline. Carigo began jailing priests who took their criticism too far, and when it was rumoured that the Pope was planning to threaten him with excommunication, Carigo ordered military units loyal to him to attack the Papal palace, forcing the Pope to sign an agreement (the Antario Accords) not to become involved in politics. Carigo's move stunned the whole country, which had not believed that the matter would come to violence — his decision to use force against an unarmed target alienated most of the little support he had left, and his downfall occurred soon afterwards.
About 42% of the Lendosan population follow the Papaist Church, making it the largest religious denomination in the country. It also has a significant number of followers in other countries. Since taking a stand against Carigo, the Papaist Church has regained much of the moral authority it historically possessed. However, the modern age has brought a number of new challenges — attendance at religious services is declining, and the Church's strict intrepretation of theology is becoming less popular among the Church's adherents.