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.
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Catholicism is by far the largest branch of Christianity with an estimated 1.285 billion followers.
The history of how the Catholic clergy has been a large part of Catholicism
The Catholic clergy has been a part of Catholicism since the religion was founded. Priests, cardinals, and the pope are well known symbols that have served the community and God for centuries. They have influenced the Christian world for centuries.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, from the 4th century on, celibacy began to be enforced on priests. However, the Catholic church had centuries of child and sexual abuse at the hands of priests that is only now beginning to be exposed. The Catholic church covered up for the molester priests (and some nuns) for decades and publicly vilified the victims, often threatening excommunication for them and their families if they would not withdraw allegations. Their solution to the problem was often to move the priest to a new parish. The priests were largely protected by the Catholic belief in the infallibility of the church – the Holy Spirit preserves the church from error.