Glossary of Church Terms
than 200 pages to the listing of titular sees, where it gives basic biographical
information about the bishops who hold them.
(court) is the name given to the person or persons who
exercise the church’s judicial powers. Each diocese has a diocesan tribunal,
used mainly to hear marriage cases. Each archdiocese has an archdiocesan
tribunal—a court of first trial—and a metropolitan tribunal, an appeals court
that reviews decisions of diocesan courts in that ecclesiastical province when
necessary. (The Catholic Church in Canada has a slightly different system,
with regional instead of metropolitan appeals courts.)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
membership organization of the Catholic bishops of the United States, through
which they act collegially on pastoral, liturgical and public policy matters
affecting the Catholic Church in the United States. Episcopal conferences
were recommended by the Second Vatican Council and have duties enumer-
ated in the 1983
Code of Canon Law
and the 1998 apostolic letter
. The USCCB traces its origins to the 1919 establishment of the National
Catholic Welfare Conference. In 1966, the conference was reorganized as the
canonical entity known as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and its
twin civil corporation known as the U.S. Catholic Conference. Another reor-
ganization in 2001 resulted in the USCCB.
, vespers is part of the Liturgy of the
Hours, the series of psalms, prayers and readings for different parts of the
day that Catholic priests and deacons are obligated to pray daily. Often a new
bishop will present his letter of appointment to the priests of the diocese dur-
ing a vespers service at the cathedral.
A priest, auxiliary bishop or coadjutor bishop who assists the
diocesan bishop in the governance of the entire diocese.
A promise made to God with sufficient knowledge and freedom. Its pur-
pose must be a moral good that, with God’s grace, can be achieved. The prom-
ises spouses make to each other when they marry are vows. Men and women
entering religious life take vows, typically of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Celibacy is not a vow; it should be described as a promise.