Number of Worldwide Members:
The Roman Catholic church denomination is the largest Christian group in the world today with more than a billion followers constituting about half of the world's Christian population.
Roman Catholic Church Founding:
The New Testament disciples of Jesus Christ provided the beginning origins of the Roman Catholic church. As early as 380 AD, the Roman Empire declared the Catholic church to be the official religion of the Empire. For the first thousand years of Christianity no other established denominations existed, only "the one, holy, Catholic Church." For more about Catholic history visit Roman Catholic Denomination - Brief History.
Prominent Roman Catholic Church Founders:
Although many (including Catholics) claim that the Apostle Peter was the first Pope, some historians give this title to the Roman Bishop Leo I (440-461). He was the first to claim ultimate authority over all of Christendom. Likewise, non-Catholics generally agree that the Roman Catholic church as an institution began when Gregory I was appointed as bishop of Rome in AD 590. Gregory strongly influenced the organization of the papal system and standardized the liturgy and theology of the Roman Catholic church.
Roman Catholicism is by far the largest worldwide Christian denomination. It is the majority religion of Italy, Spain, and nearly all Latin American countries. In America it is the largest individual Christian denomination, encompassing about 25 percent of the population.
Roman Catholic Church Governing Body:
The Roman Catholic church structure is hierarchical, headed by the pope in Rome. Its government is run by the cardinals living in Rome, and is concerned with matters of wide significance. The Church is organized and divided by diocese, with bishop and archbishops, overseeing these territories. With certain restrictions, the pope names the bishops. Dioceses are made up of parishes, each of which has a church and a priest. The pope controls bishops mainly by general legislation.
• Learn more about the Organization of the Catholic Church.
Sacred or Distinguishing Text:
Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Roman Catholic Church Beliefs and Practices:
The best summary of Roman Catholic beliefs is found in the Nicene Creed. For more about what Catholics believe, visit Roman Catholic Denomination - Beliefs and Practices.
Roman Catholic Church Resources:
(Sources: ReligiousTolerance.org, ReligionFacts.com, AllRefer.com, and the Religious Movements Web site of the University of Virginia.)