Glossary of Church Terms
The shared responsibility and authority that the whole college of
bishops, headed by the pope, has for the teaching, sanctification and govern-
ment of the church.
The gathering of the world’s Catholic cardinals, after the death or
resignation of a pope, to elect a new pope. Only cardinals under the age of 80
are allowed into a conclave under current church rules.
(1) A term used for some Vatican departments that are respon-
sible for important areas of church life, such as worship and sacraments, the
clergy, and saints’ causes. (2) The proper legal term for some institutes of men
or women religious, all of which are commonly called
difference between a religious congregation and a religious order is technical
and rarely of significance in news reporting. (3) Any gathering of Christians
A meeting of cardinals in Rome. It can be an
attended only by cardinals in Rome at the time of the meeting, or an
, to which all cardinals around the world are summoned.
The personnel and offices through which (1) the pope administers the
affairs of the universal church (the Roman Curia), or (2) a bishop administers
the affairs of a diocese (the diocesan curia). The principal officials of a dioc-
esan curia are the vicar general, the chancellor, officials of the diocesan tribu-
nal or court, examiners, consultors, auditors and notaries. When referring to
the Roman Curia,
used alone are usually capitalized
when referring to the U.S. Senate), but
is not capitalized in
reference to a diocesan curia unless it is part of a full proper name.
In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three
ranks in ordained ministry. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are
. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called
. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, but only
unmarried men committed to lifelong celibacy can be ordained deacons if
they are planning to become priests.