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In parallel to the diocesan structure are a variety of religious institutes that function autonomously, often subject only to the authority of the pope, though sometimes subject to the local bishop.

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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.

His ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the "Holy See" (Sancta Sedes in Latin), or the "Apostolic See" (meaning the see of the apostle Peter).

survey has answered this question by breaking down the similarities and differences these Catholics have with non-practicing Catholics and with Americans as a whole.“It should come as no surprise that Catholics who regularly attend Mass support the Church’s position in the greatest numbers,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus said Aug. “But to measure accurately what Catholics really believe, this survey highlights the importance of looking at the level of Catholic practice in this country when discussing Catholics’ opinions on issues.”Pope Francis is popular with the American public ahead of his September visit.

By comparison, only 42 percent of non-practicing Catholics said regular Mass attendance is important, while 61 percent said receiving the sacraments is important.

But respondents’ stated religious practice showed differences in Catholics’ views of other aspects of faith and morals.

About 65 percent of practicing Catholics said the Eucharist is “the true presence of Jesus Christ,” but a similar number of non-practicing Catholics said it is “a symbol.”Another 72 percent of practicing Catholics said it is important to go to Confession at least once a year, compared to about 40 percent of non-practicing Catholics. The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic fraternal organization with almost 1.9 million members worldwide.

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 gold cross on a monde (globe) surmounting the tiara symbolises the sovereignty of Jesus.

There are three levels of clergy, the episcopate, composed of bishops who hold jurisdiction over a geographic area called a diocese or eparchy; the presbyterate, composed of priests ordained by bishops and who work in local diocese or religious orders; and the diaconate, composed of deacons who assist bishops and priests in a variety of ministerial roles.

Ultimately leading the entire Catholic Church is the Bishop of Rome, commonly called the pope, whose jurisdiction is called the Holy See.

About 83 percent of practicing Catholics said it is important to belong to a parish, compared to 48 percent of non-practicing Catholics.