In the Catholic Church, universal positive ecclesiastical laws, based upon either immutable divine and natural law, or changeable circumstantial and merely positive law, derive formal authority and promulgation from the office of pope who, as Supreme Pontiff, possesses the totality of legislative, executive and judicial power in his person.
Canon law concerns the Catholic Church's life and organisation and is distinct from civil law.
Catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora, and conversions.
Since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere due to secularisation in Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East.
For advice and assistance in governing, the pope may turn to the College of Cardinals.
The canon law of the Catholic Church is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities to regulate the church's external organisation and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics towards the church's mission.
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven." Jesus to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew, The crossed gold and silver keys of the Holy See symbolise the keys of Simon Peter, representing the power of the papal office to loose and bind.
The triple crown papal tiara symbolises the triple power of the Pope as "father of kings", "governor of the world" and "Vicar of Christ".
The "Catholic" notion was further stressed in the edict De fide Catolica issued 380 by Theodosius I, the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire, when establishing the state church of the Roman Empire.) and the Western Church in communion with the Holy See has similarly taken "Catholic", keeping that description also after the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, when those who ceased to be in communion became known as "Protestants".
The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ, The church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.
The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions.
Most religious institutes only have male or female members but some have both.
Additionally, lay members aid many liturgical functions during worship services. The Catholic Church holds that Christ instituted the papacy upon giving the keys of Heaven to Saint Peter.
The Catholic Church continues these traditions, through constituent autonomous particular churches, also known as "churches sui iuris" (Latin: ").