The '''Roman Catholic Church''' is headed by the [[Pope]] (Supreme Pontiff), the Bishop of Rome, currently [[Pope Benedict XVI]]. It is the largest [[Christian]] denomination in the world, with more than 1.3 billion officially Baptized adherents (In the United States more than 64 million.) The [[Roman]] Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the western world. The Roman Catholic faith teaches that the Pope is the successor of [[St. Peter]], the 'rock' (Mat 16:18) upon whom Jesus built his church. The term [[Catholic Church]] is, literally, the ''Universal Church'' of [[Jesus Christ]] (from the Greek ''katholikos'', "universal").
''"The chief teachings of the Catholic church are: [[God]]’s objective existence; God’s interest in individual human beings, who can enter into relations with God (through prayer); the Trinity; the divinity of Jesus; the immortality of the [[soul]] of each human being, each one being accountable at death for his or her actions in life, with the award of heaven or hell; the resurrection of the dead; the historicity of the [[Gospels]]; and the divine commission of the church. In addition the Roman Catholic Church stresses that since the members, living and dead, share in each other’s merits, the [[Virgin Mary]] and other saints and the dead in purgatory are never forgotten." '' <ref> [http://www.bartleby.com/65/ro/RomanCat.html The Columbia Encyclopedia]</ref> The presence of Christ is believed to be present in the Eucharist, the bread and wine is Jesus himself. Another essential belief is the veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus as the Blessed Virgin Mary and veneration of the saints.
The principal sources for the essential beliefs of the Catholic Church are the Sacred Scriptures (the Bible), Sacred Tradition, and Living Magisterium of the Church.