Structure of the Catholic Church

Structure of the Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is organised in a worldwide hierarchy under the pope. Pope is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and head of state of Vatican City. The Pope nominates Bishops to every region of the world. Bishops are governors of the church. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome. A Bishop is responsible for teaching the faith and ruling the church. Diocese is the territory of administration of a Bishop. A cardinal is a Bishop appointed by the Pope to serve in the College of Cardinals, the body empowered to elect someone to the papacy. Approximately, for every 100 Bishops, one Cardinal will be selected. Archbishop is an elevated Bishop. Archbishop administers Archdiocese. The highest-ranking bishop is patriarch. Some senior Roman Catholic Archbishops are also called Patriarchs. Archbishops and Bishops administer individual dioceses as successors of the twelve apostles. As such they are responsible for the appointment and supervision of parish priests, and the oversight of all church affairs within their diocese. A parish is a territorial unit that was usually historically served by a local church. The Catholic Church is organised into local hierarchies within each nation, or group of smaller nations. National Conferences of bishops co-ordinate local policy within each nation. The Catholic Church is organised into local hierarchies within each nation, or group of smaller nations. National Conferences of bishops co-ordinate local policy within each nation.

As of 3 December 2008, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction statistics is as follows; 13 Patriarchate, 536 Metropolitan Archdiocese, 79 Archdiocese, 2,165 Diocese.

A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder’s religious practice. They follow a form of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. They do so for the purpose of imitating Jesus more closely, mainly but not exclusively by observing evangelical chastity, poverty and obedience, which are the three evangelical counsels of perfection. A Religious Order is characterized by an authority structure where a Superior General has jurisdiction over the order’s dependent communities. Pontifical Council Cor Unum is the dicastery (Department) responsible for coordinating the charitable activities of the Catholic Church.

There are two principal types of Catholic religious orders. Members of congregations (such as the Congregation of Holy Cross) take simple vows, while members of orders proper (such as the Society of Jesus) take solemn vows. The term congregation sometimes also applies to branches of an order such as for women in addition to the pre-existing one for men, or tertiaries. Additionally, a number of generic terms, which are not always exclusively defined, exist to define groups of orders and congregations, such as mendicant orders or canons regular. As well particular or familiar names exist for religious such as Brother and Sister, whereas older terms including Monk and Nun are now more infrequently used. Technically Nuns are religious women who profess solemn vows rather than simple vows.

The religious orders could be Contemplative orders” (such as Benedictines, Carmelites, Trappists, Carthusians, Cistercians, etc.) are those who primarily focus is to grow in union with God for the love of God and the salvation souls. Such communities typically have little interaction with society. “Active” orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, Missionaries of Charity, etc.) are those who tend to have more direct interaction with the world than contemplative orders. While still principally prayer-centered, active orders generally dedicate more time to certain apostolates, such as feeding the hungry, teaching, preaching, missions, youth retreats, and various forms of service to the community.

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