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This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
In Catholicism, an abbess is the female superior of a community of nuns, which is often an abbey.
Abbot, meaning father, is an ecclesiastical title given to the male head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not the head of a monastery. The female equivalent is abbess.
An acolyte is an assistant or follower assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession. In many Christian denominations, an acolyte is anyone performing ceremonial duties such as lighting altar candles. In others, the term is used for one who has been inducted into a particular liturgical ministry, even when not performing those duties.
Baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. The synoptic gospels recount that John the Baptist baptised Jesus. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Baptism is also called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants. It has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations.
The baptism of Jesus is described in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. John's gospel does not directly describe Jesus' baptism.
A baptismal font is an article of church furniture used for baptism.
Cardinal Vicar is a title commonly given to the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome for the portion of the diocese within Italy. The official title, as given in the Annuario Pontificio, is "Vicar General of His Holiness".
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a catechism promulgated for the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in 1992. It sums up, in book form, the beliefs of the Catholic faithful.
A Chaplain of His Holiness is a priest to whom the Pope has granted this title. They are addressed as Monsignor and have certain privileges with respect to ecclesiastical dress and vestments.
A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.
A definitor is, in Latin, he who defines. In the Catholic Church, however, this is a title with different specific uses. There are secular definitors, who have a limited amount of oversight over a part of a diocese. There are also definitors in religious orders who generally provide counsel and assistance to the superiors general and provincial superiors of their order.
A dicastery is a department of the Roman Curia, the administration of the Holy See through which the pope directs the Roman Catholic Church. The most recent comprehensive constitution of the church, Pastor bonus (1988), includes this definition:
By the word "dicasteries" are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely, the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means 'carry before', 'be set above or over' or 'prefer'; hence, a prelate is one set over others.
In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. In some denominations, such as the Anglican Communion and Methodist Churches, confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace".
Personal prelature is a canonical structure of the Catholic Church which comprises a prelate, clergy and laity who undertake specific pastoral activities. The first personal prelature is Opus Dei. Personal prelatures, similar to dioceses and military ordinariates, are under the governance of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. These three types of ecclesiastical structures are composed of lay people served by their own secular clergy and prelate. Unlike dioceses which cover territories, personal prelatures—like military ordinariates—take charge of persons as regards some objectives regardless of where they live.
An ordinary is an officer of a church or civic authority who by reason of office has ordinary power to execute laws.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.
The Pastoral Provision, in the context of the Catholic Church in the United States, is a set of practices and norms by which bishops are authorized to provide spiritual care for Roman Catholics coming from the Anglican tradition, by establishing parishes for them and ordaining priests from among them. The Pastoral Provision still provides a way for individuals to become priest in territorial dioceses, even though Anglicanorum Coetibus was declared which led to the establishment of Personal Ordinariates, another mechanism for former Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.
The Plenary Councils of Baltimore were three national meetings of Catholic bishops in the United States in 1852, 1866 and 1884 in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney was established on 18 January 2002 by Pope John Paul II for traditionalist Catholic clergy and laity within the Diocese of Campos in Brazil. It is the only personal apostolic administration in existence, and the only Catholic Church jurisdiction devoted exclusively to celebrating the pre-1965 form of the Roman Rite. Its current Apostolic Administrator is Bishop Fernando Arêas Rifan.
A curia is an official body that governs a particular Church in the Catholic Church. These curias range from the relatively simple diocesan curia, to the larger patriarchal curias, to the Roman Curia, which is the central government of the Catholic Church. Other Roman Catholic bodies, such as religious institutes, may also have curias. For example, the Legion of Mary has a rank called the Curia. It stands above the Praesidium but below the Regia. The Curia is responsible for several Praesidia.
A canonical visitation is the act of an ecclesiastical superior who in the discharge of his office visits persons or places with a view to maintaining faith and discipline, and of correcting abuses. A person delegated to carry out such a visitation is called a visitor. When, in exceptional circumstances, the Holy See delegates an Apostolic visitor "to evaluate an ecclesiastical institute such as a seminary, diocese, or religious institute ... to assist the institute in question to improve the way in which it carries out its function in the life of the Church," this is known as an apostolic visitation.
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, sanctifying the world and representing the Church. Catholics trace the origins of the office of bishop to the apostles, who it is believed were endowed with a special charism by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Catholics believe this special charism has been transmitted through an unbroken succession of bishops by the laying on of hands in the sacrament of holy orders.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the lowest ecclesiastical subdivision in the Catholic episcopal polity, and the primary constituent unit of a diocese. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, parishes are constituted under cc. 515–552, entitled "Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars."
The Augustana Catholic Church (ACC), formerly the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church (ALCC) and the Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran (ECCL), is an American church in the Lutheran Evangelical Catholic tradition. The ACC says it is unique among Lutheran churches in that it is of both Lutheran and Anglo-Catholic heritage and has also been significantly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. The church was founded in 1997 by former members of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Its headquarters are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The ACC has long had a policy of seeking union with the Catholic Church and announced in 2011 that it would accept the conditions of Anglicanorum coetibus and join the personal ordinariates as they are established. Later developments on limitations of joining the ordinariate caused the ACC to hold their offer while they established intercommunion with groups such as the Old Roman Catholic Church of North America. The Church claims a membership in excess of 60,000 in 12 countries.
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome. The Bishop of Rome or the Roman Bishop is the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church. As the Holy See, the papacy is a sovereign entity with diplomatic relations, and civil jurisdiction over the Vatican City State located geographically within Rome. The Diocese of Rome is the metropolitan diocese of the Province of Rome, an ecclesiastical province in Italy. The first Bishop of Rome was Saint Peter in the first century. The incumbent since 13 March 2013 is Pope Francis.
Precedence signifies the right to enjoy a prerogative of honor before other persons; for example, to have the most distinguished place in a procession, a ceremony, or an assembly, to have the right to express an opinion, cast a vote, or append a signature before others, to perform the most honorable offices.
A personal ordinariate, sometimes called a "personal ordinariate for former Anglicans" or more informally an "Anglican ordinariate", is a canonical structure within the Catholic Church established in accordance with the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of 4 November 2009 and its complementary norms. The ordinariates were established in order to enable "groups of Anglicans" to join the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their liturgical and spiritual patrimony. They are juridically equivalent to a diocese, "a particular church in which and from which exists the one and unique Catholic Church", but may be erected in the same territory as other dioceses "by reason of the rite of the faithful or some similar reason".
A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite depends on the particular church the bishop belongs to. Thus "particular church" refers to an institution, and "liturgical rite" to its practices.
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter is a personal ordinariate of the Catholic Church—a jurisdiction within the Church, the equivalent of a diocese, for priests and laypeople from an Anglican background, that enables them to retain elements of their Anglican patrimony after entering the Catholic Church. Its territory extends over the United States and Canada. Former Methodists and former members of denominations such as the United Church of Canada are also included, as they are considered members of "ecclesial communion[s]" of "Anglican heritage".
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross is a personal ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church primarily within the territory of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for groups of Anglicans who desire full communion with the Catholic Church in Australia and Asia. As a personal ordinariate it is immediately subject to the Holy See in Rome. The motto of the ordinariate is Mea Gloria Fides.
The Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Sainte-Croix-de-Paris is an eparchy for the faithful in France of the Armenian Catholic Church sui iuris, which uses the Armenian Rite in Armenian, in full communion with the universal Pope of Rome.