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The branch of Christianity headed by the pope. The Roman Catholic Church is governed by a hierarchy with the pope at the top and, at the lower levels, bishops and priests. The sacraments of Communion and confession are especially important in the Roman Catholic Church; Catholics also differ from most Protestants in emphasizing veneration of the saints, especially Mary, the mother of Jesus, and seeking the intercession of the saints (praying to them so that they will in turn pray to God). The Roman Catholic Church leadership strongly opposes abortion and artificial means of birth control.
Note: Roman Catholicism is the dominant faith in Europe around the Mediterranean Sea, in much of eastern Europe, in Ireland, and in Latin America.
Christian church that has been the decisive spiritual force in the history of Western civilization. Along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism, it is one of the three major branches of Christianity.