the largest denominational group within Christianity, composed of those Christians who acknowledge the supreme authority of the bishop of Rome, the pope, in matters of faith. The word catholic (Greek katholikos) means "universal" and has been used to designate the church since its beginnings, when it was the only Christian church. The church has had a critical influence on the development of European art and culture and on the introduction of European values in the New World. Its total membership in the early 1990s was about 958.4 million (about 17 percent of the world population). The Roman Catholic Church has its greatest populations in Europe and Latin America (Mexico's population is 80-90 percent Catholic) but also has significant membership in other parts of the world.