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Glossary of Church Terms



pastoral council.

A parish or (arch)diocesan body that the pastor or

(arch)bishop consults concerning policies and major decisions in the gover-

nance of the local church. Such a council’s role is consultative and always sub-

ject to the final authority of the pastor or bishop.

presbyteral council.

Also known as the

priests’ council

, this is the principal

consultative body mandated by the

Code of Canon Law

to advise the diocesan

bishop in matters of pastoral governance. It consists of bishops and priests

serving the diocese.


May be a synonym for


or may refer to the collective

body of priests of a diocese or similar ecclesiastical jurisdiction.


(1) A grouping of an archdiocese, called the

metropolitan see

, and

the dioceses under it, called

suffragan sees

. The

Code of Canon Law

spells out

certain limited obligations and authority that the metropolitan archbishop has

with respect to the dioceses within his province. (2) A grouping of communi-

ties of a religious order under the jurisdiction of a provincial superior.

religious priest/diocesan priest.

Religious priests

are professed members of

a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their

respective orders. In pastoral ministry, they are under the jurisdiction of their

local bishop, as well as of the superiors of their order.


, or




are under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes

of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan posts and min-

istries or be released for service outside the diocese.

religious titles before names.

Of course you will follow your own publi-

cation’s style manual for use of religious titles before names. But in general,

Catholics refer to nuns as


, religious brothers as


and priests as


, and those religious titles take precedence over whatever job titles they

might hold, such as pastor, chancellor, vicar general, associate pastor, executive

director. The other chief religious titles for clerics are










and, for the head of a male monastic community,


. For

many members of religious orders, the short version of their order’s name may

precede the religious title:

Mercy Sister Mary Smith


Jesuit Father John Smith


Benedictine Brother Peter Smith

. In certain cases it may be better to use an

appositive phrase or some other approach:

Sister Janet Smith, a School Sister of

Notre Dame

, rather than

School Sister of Notre Dame Sister Janet Smith