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Roman Catholicism refers to the dogma promulgated by the Roman Catholic Church, the largest Christian sect in the world. It is estimated that one billion people worldwide practice Catholicism. The major countries that have Catholicism as their primary religion are:
Roman Catholicism traces its roots to Jesus Christ and His commissioning of Peter to be his "rock" upon which he would build his church. Tradition holds that Peter traveled to Rome where he became that city's first bishop before being executed by the Romans. Catholicism was persecuted under various Roman emperors until Constantine converted in AD 325 and made it the state religion of the empire. From there, the religion advanced across Europe becoming the dominant religion on the Continent until Martin Luther challenged many of its practices.
Roman Catholicism and Power
During the Italian Renaissance, the Roman Catholic Church reached the pinnacle of its power, commissioning great works of architecture, such as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, and magnificent frescos, such as the Sistine Chapel, also at the Vatican.
The challenge of Protestantism forced Roman Catholicism to retreat, and its response at the Council of Trent was a conservative coalescing that did not change until the Second Vatican Council in 1962 began to modernize many Church practices and make Roman Catholicism more accessible to the faithful across the globe.
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