In the UNITED STATES, Catholicism struggles to maintain its hold in light of the widespread scandal of priests accused of pedophilia.
Catholics oppose the dictums and prestige of the Roman church hierarchy.
Jesuits are devoted to schools and education.
The national shrine for Catholics is the Church of Mary Immaculate of Washington.
The United States has diplomatic relations with the Vatican, but not a concordat.
In the United States, there are some 18,400 members of religious orders (friars and nuns); Benedictine nuns number about 7,000.
This great number of religious people, and the existence of local religious orders, such as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Coloured People, founded by St.
Katharine Drexel in 1891, seem to portend a positive Catholic force in the United States.
Yet, despite these numbers, the number of Catholics in the United States has declined steadily since 1980.
And there is a crisis of vocation, mainly in female institutions: American women do not like the secondary role that the Catholic Church reserves for women.
Catholic presence in Central and South America is very strong, a result of the heritage of Spanish and Portuguese colonization.
Catholics have a good number of universities and schools, even if some nations have a laic state tradition.
BRAZIL today has the greatest number of Catholic bishops and dioceses (266) in the world.
Catholicism is sometimes mixed with ancient pagan cults, forming a very special way to practice the religion.
Great monuments testify to the Catholic faith of Latin Americans: The great statue of Christ on Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro in Brazil) is one of the more famous religious monuments in the world.
The shrines of Our Lady of Guadalupe in MEXICO (125 dioceses), Our Lady Aparecida in Brazil, Our Lady of Lujan in ARGENTINA (70 dioceses), and Our Lady of Altagracia in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (12 dioceses) are very famous.
Also in the other nations of Latin America there are vibrant Catholic communities with their own traditions and devotions, such as St.
Rose of Lima and St.
Turibio of Mogrovejo in PERU (45 dioceses); Our Lady of Carmel in CHILE (27 dioceses), and others in BOLIVIA (18 dioceses), ECUADOR (24 dioceses), VENEZUELA (39 dioceses), COLOMBIA (75 dioceses), URUGUAY (10 dioceses), PARAGUAY (15 dioceses), GUATEMALA (14 dioceses), PANAMA (8 dioceses), HAITI (9 dioceses), COSTA RICA (7 dioceses), HONDURAS (7 dioceses), EL SALVADOR (9 dioceses), CUBA (11 dioceses), and NICARAGUA (8 dioceses).
A theological movement, called Theology of Liberation, has developed in the second half of the 20th century to address pervasive social problems of Latin America.
The Vatican opposed the movement's political aims, particularly using violence to fight for the social needs of the poor, and its adherence to Marxist ideology.
Because there is a low number of priests in Brazil, a new catholic society called "Comunita di Base" has been created.
In this society, a democratically elected lay person is the head of the religious community, hence allowing for the development of the Theology of Liberation.
Sometimes, these poor communities are abandoned by the official Catholic hierarchy.
AUSTRALIA (32 dioceses) has a good number of Catholics, the great part descendants of emigrants from Italy and other nations with a Catholic majority.
A very important religious and cultural center is the Benedictine Abbey and the town of New Norcia, founded by Benedictine monks in the 19th century.
A relevant Catholic presence is also found in NEW ZEALAND (7 dioceses) and in PAPUA NEW GUINEA (19 dioceses), where there is a great veneration for blessed Peter To-Rot, the first local resident to be beatified.
The SOLOMON ISLANDS (3 dioceses) and the other islands of the Pacific (17 dioceses) have Catholic communities, too.#