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How to Cover the Catholic Church

churches as churches. Christian churches which share partially in the historic

apostolic communities of Christian discipleship, but which in the Catholic

Church’s perspective do not have the fullness of apostolic succession in their

bishops or ordained ministry, are called

ecclesial communions

, rather than

churches. This position, strongly affirmed by the world’s Catholic bishops at

the Second Vatican Council and reaffirmed in numerous church documents

since then, remains a topic of considerable disagreement in ecumenical dia-

logues. In Catholic teaching the church embraces all its members—not only

those still living on earth, but also those in heaven or purgatory. The ancient

teaching that outside the church there is no salvation (

extra ecclesiam nulla


) has been officially nuanced in church teaching to include many who

do not explicitly embrace the church and all its teachings, or even many who

join no Christian religion. The teaching affirms the central role and responsi-

bility of the church to reach out to all people with the Gospel message while

acknowledging that those who have not been apprised or convinced of that

message may still be saved if they live upright lives in accord with their own

convictions and understanding of God.


In Catholic usage, a collective term referring to all those ordained—

bishops, priests and deacons—who administer the rites of the church.






A bishop appointed to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist

the diocesan bishop. Unlike an auxiliary bishop—see

auxiliary bishop


has the right of succession, meaning that he automatically becomes the new

bishop when the diocesan bishop retires or dies. By canon law, he is also vicar

general of the diocese. If the diocese is an archdiocese, he is called



instead of

coadjutor bishop

. In recent years a growing number of

U.S. bishops in larger dioceses or archdioceses have requested and received

a coadjutor in the final year or two before their retirement, in order to famil-

iarize their successor with the workings of the (arch)diocese before he has to

take over the reins.

College of Cardinals.

A group of men chosen by the pope as his chief advis-

ers. Most are heads of major dioceses around the world or of the major depart-

ments of the Vatican, or are retired from such posts. In the interregnum fol-

lowing the death of the pope, the College of Cardinals administers the church,

and those under the age of 80 meet in a conclave to elect a new pope.