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   Roman Catholic Church Glossary
 
The following is a glossary of terms used by the Roman Catholic Church. The church headquarters is in Vatican City, Rome, a sovereign city-state.

Archbishop
In the Western church, the bishop of a diocese (archdiocese) who has authority limited and defined by canon law, over the bishops of the dioceses of a defined territory or province.
Archdiocese
One of the organizational units of the church headed respectively by archbishops and bishops, who have final responsibility for many activities within their jurisdictions and report directly to Rome.
Bishop
The supreme ecclesiastical ruler of a diocese. Bishops are the successors of the apostles, as the pope is the successor of St. Peter. Bishops are responsible for governing their flocks in the name of God as representatives of Christ; they are not delegates of the Holy See, though they are subject to its authority, and report directly to the pope.
Canon
1. A law or body of laws of a church; established rules or principles based on the books of the Bible and accepted as divinely inspired. 2. The chief category of canon in the Roman Catholic Church is of members of a cathedral chapter. A canon is appointed by the bishop with the advice of other canons. The rights and duties of canons vary from country to country and from diocese to diocese.
Cardinal
A member of the Sacred College of Cardinals; the counselors and assistants of the pope in the government of the Church.
College of Cardinals
Members of the church clergy who serve as principal counselors to the pope.
Diocese
The territory governed by a bishop. A diocese is divided into parishes and deaneries. Every diocese normally has a chapter of canons to help the bishop in the government of the diocese, and to rule it in his stead when he is absent. A diocese is a principal organizational unit of the church, headed respectively by archbishops and bishops, who have final responsibility for many activities within their jurisdictions and report directly to Rome.
Deacon
The second of the major orders and the third of the hierarchical orders. In Western churches, deacons minister at the altar and preach. His office is chiefly ceremonial; he sings the gospel at high Mass and assists the celebrant (bishop, cardinal, priest).
Dean
1. The usual name for the chief dignitary of a diocesan or collegiate chapter. A dean is appointed by the Holy See but has no greater powers than the other canons, except in certain German dioceses. 2. A senior priest who has the oversight of a group of parishes. His duties and rights vary from diocese to diocese but always include summoning and presiding at periodical meetings of the clergy of a deanery.
Deanery
1. The position, authority or jurisdiction of a dean. 2. The official residence of a dean.
Ecclesiastic
Cleric, person in holy orders, especially of the superior ranks.
Ecclesiastical
Of the church, or the clergy; used chiefly in early writings relating to Christianity.
Extreme Unction
A sacrament of the New Law (Roman Catholic) in which, by anointing with oil and the prayers of the priest, health of soul and, sometimes, of body is conferred on a baptized person who is in danger of death.
Holy See
Generally used as a term to indicate the pope as supreme pontiff, together with those associated with him in government at the church's headquarters.
Laity
All the people not included among the clergy; laymen collectively. Those who have membership in the Church without authority. The distinction of clergy and laity is of divine institution, although not all grades of clergy are divinely instituted. Lay persons cannot exercise the power of orders or jurisdiction, but they may be religious and rule their brethren in religion with dominative power, which is not jurisdiction.
Priest
The minister of divine worship, especially in its highest act, sacrifice. Since a sacrifice is offered in the mane of a whole religious society, the minister must be appointed by public authority. Roman Catholic priests are of two grades: Priests of the second order are given power to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, to baptize and to administer Extreme Unction. Priests of the first order, i.e., bishops possess the additional power of administering the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Order.
Pope
Since the 11th century, the title of the bishop of Rome, as the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church. As bishop of Rome, the pope is the successor of St. Peter, and therefore the visible head of the Church on earth, the vicegerent or deputy of Christ, and supreme ruler of all Roman Catholic Christians.
Synod
An ecclesiastical council.
Vicar
A cleric who takes the place of another in the exercise of an ecclesiastical office and acts in his name and with his authority, as determined by canon law, e.g. cardinal vicar (of the bishop of Rome), vicar apostolic (of the pope in missionary countries), vicar capitular (of the chapter when a diocese is vacant), vicar general (of a bishop in a deanery).

(Sources: A Catholic Dictionary, third edition. The Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, N.Y., 1997. The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, 29th edition. The Associated Press, New York, N.Y., 1994.Webster's New World Dictionary, third college edition. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1994.)


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