Glossary of Church Terms
Refers to a bishop or groups of bishops, or to the form of church
governance in which ordained bishops have authority.
A priest or auxiliary bishop who assists the diocesan bishop
in a specific part of the diocese, over certain groups in the diocese, or over cer-
tain areas of church affairs. Some large dioceses, for example, are divided geo-
graphically into several vicariates or regions, with an episcopal vicar for each;
some dioceses have episcopal vicars for clergy or religious or for Catholics of
certain racial or ethnic groups. See
A penalty or censure by which a baptized Catholic is
excluded from the communion of the faithful for committing and remain-
ing obstinate in certain serious offenses specified in canon law. Even though
excommunicated, the person is still responsible for fulfillment of the normal
obligations of a Catholic.
Church authorization, given by the law itself or by a church superior,
to perform certain official church acts. In some rare cases a member of the
clergy will be denied certain faculties, such as hearing confessions or preach-
ing during the liturgy, because of public positions taken that are not in accord
with church teaching.
A diocesan body mandated by the
Code of Canon Law
is charged with preparing the annual diocesan budget and annually review-
ing diocesan expenses and revenues. The finance council must be consulted
for financial transactions of a given dollar level undertaken by the bishop and
must give its consent to transactions at another dollar threshold. The thresh-
old amounts are established periodically by an agreement with the Holy See
and are currently subject to annual inflation changes determined by the cost
of living index.
In Catholic usage, the term is used most commonly to refer col-
lectively to the bishops of the world or a particular region. In technical uses,
however, it may refer to all those who are ordained: deacons and priests as
well as bishops. In the canon law of the Eastern Catholic churches,
is a term regularly used to describe the bishops of a church when describing
their collective authority or function.