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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.
Most religious institutes only have male or female members but some have both.
In the 2,000-year history of the church, several complementary expressions of the Christian faith emerged throughout the world, most prominently, the Western and Eastern Christian traditions.
The Catholic Church continues these traditions, through constituent autonomous particular churches, also known as "churches sui iuris" (Latin: ").
The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, science, and art.
The Holy See also confers orders, decorations and medals, such as the orders of chivalry in the Middle Ages.
While the famous Saint Peter's Basilica is located in Vatican City, above the traditional site of Saint Peter's tomb, the papal cathedral for the Diocese of Rome is Saint John Lateran, located within the city of Rome, though enjoying extraterritorial privileges accredited to the Holy See.
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).