Of the world’s population of 7.8 billion, Christianity is the most widely practised religion in the world, with more than 2 billion followers. Next in popularity are 1.5 billion followers of Islam and 900 million Hindu. There are many beliefs that Christians have in common. There are however, not unsurprisingly, also many differences in the more than 21,000 Christian denominations.
Catholic ChristiansShow moreShow less
Catholicism is by far the largest branch of Christianity with an estimated 1.285 billion followers.
The Christian beliefs of Catholicism are found in the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church also teaches that it is the one true church and the bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to Saint Peter upon whom primacy was conferred by Christ.
Catholicism is based on 'seven sacraments'; seven practices which are said to communicate God's grace to believers. These practices being Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Of the seven sacraments, the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Its teaching includes Divine Mercy, sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel.
One of the sacraments is confession, where a person can confess their sins to a priest, express contrition and pay a penance. This may be doing a good deed, but commonly involves praying with the rosary. The person is then absolved from their sins. The priest is bound by the seal of the confessional, even if the person has committed a crime and is likely to do so again.