The Catholic Church, sometimes referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2018. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution,  it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilization . 
According to the Catholic tradition, the history of the Catholic Church begins with Jesus Christ and his teachings (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30) and the Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by the Disciples of Jesus.
The Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in the world. Over one billion people are members of the Catholic Church. It is the world's largest religious group. It is part of the same Church started by Jesus Christ and his former protégé 2,000 years ago.
The Catholic Church in the United States is composed of ecclesiastical communities in full communion with the Holy See. With 23% of the United States population as of 2018, the Catholic Church is the country's second largest religious grouping, after Protestantism, and the country's largest Church or religious denomination.
The Catholic Church is "the Catholic Communion of Churches, both Roman and Eastern, or Oriental, that are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome." The church is also known by members as the People of God, the Body of Christ, the "Temple of the Holy Spirit", among other names.
The Catholic Church holds that the College of Bishops as a group is the successor of the College of Apostles. The Church also holds that uniquely among the apostles Saint Peter was granted a role of leadership and authority, giving the pope the right to govern the Church together with the bishops, and making his leadership necessary for the completion of the College. 
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In the Catholic Church, authority rests chiefly with the bishops, while priests and deacons serve as their assistants, co-workers or helpers. Accordingly, "hierarchy of the Catholic Church" is also used to refer to the bishops alone. The term "pope" was still used loosely until the sixth century, being at times assumed by other bishops.
The Roman Catholic Church sees baptism as the first and basic sacrament of Christian initiation. In the Western or Latin Church, baptism is usually conferred today by pouring water three times on the recipient's head, while reciting the baptismal formula: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Matthew 28:19).
Catholic Church sexual abuse cases are cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, nuns and members of religious orders.In the 20th and 21st centuries, the cases have involved many allegations, investigations, trials, convictions, and revelations about decades of attempts by Church officials to cover up reported incidents.
The new Catechism of the Catholic Church published in 1994 sets out the official position: The Seventh Commandment forbids acts or enterprises that.... lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity.