The Catholic Church in America is a "melting pot" like America itself. Its members are not all descendants of western European countries. They also come from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South and Central America. Others (for example, Eastern Rite Catho-
lics), in smaller numbers, come from eastern Europe. They bring all their own varied traditions. Yet the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, while allowing room for diversity, tends to produce a strong unity of belief and practice.
Religious celebrations may vary in terms of the types of music, such as Gregorian chant in a Catholic monastery or guitar-led hymns in a university chapel, but the ritual of a Catholic Mass remains essentially fixed throughout the Catholic world. When
American Catholics travel to Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice or Saint Vitus's Cathedral in Prague, despite the language differences, they feel at home: The basic structure of the Mass is familiar. With the central authority of the pope and bishops and with required church approval of religious teachings and practices, the Catholic Church tends to preserve a bond of unified faith among its members throughout the world.
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