Episcopal Conference

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In the Roman Catholic Church, an Episcopal Conference, Conference of Bishops, or National Conference of Bishops is an official assembly of all the bishops of a given territory. Episcopal conferences have long existed as informal entities, but were first established as formal bodies by the Second Vatican Council (Christus Dominus, 38), and implemented by Pope Paul VI's 1966 motu proprio Ecclesiae sanctae.[1] The operation, authority, and responsibilities of episcopal conferences are currently governed by the 1983 Code of Canon Law (see especially canons 447-459).[2]

The nature of episcopal conferences, and their magisterial authority in particular, was subsequently clarified by Pope John Paul II's 1998 motu proprio Apostolos suos which stated that conferences of bishops do not participate in the teaching authority of the college of bishops although individual bishops do as they are members of the college of bishops which maintains unity with and under the Bishop of Rome, that is, the Pope. Consequently, a conference of bishops cannot make doctrinal declarations unless it receives two-thirds approval of the individual bishops of the conference and receives the subsequent recognitio, that is, recognition of approval, of the Holy See. Thus, while a conference of bishops can assist the individual bishops of the conference it cannot substitute for the authority which they individually possess.

Episcopal conferences are generally defined by geographic borders, with all the bishops in a given country belonging to the same conference — which might also include neighboring countries. Certain tasks and authority are assigned to episcopal conferences, particularly with regard to setting the liturgical norms for the Mass. Episcopal conferences receive their authority under universal law or particular mandates. In certain circumstances, as defined by canon law, the decisions of an episcopal conference are subject to ratification from the Holy See. Individual bishops do not relinquish their authority to the conference, and remain responsible for the governance of their respective diocese.

Episcopal Conferences[edit]

This list is based on that found in the Annuario Pontifico per l'anno 2010 (Città di Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2010).

Africa[edit]

Asia[edit]

Europe[edit]

Oceania[edit]

North America[edit]

South America[edit]

Similar bodies[edit]

In addition to the episcopal conferences as defined by the Holy See, there are a number of other regional groupings of bishops:[7]

  • Synods of Bishops of the Patriarchal and Major Archiepiscopal Churches and Assemblies of Hierarchs of Churches Sui Iuris
    • Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church
    • Synod of the Chaldean Church
    • Synod of the Catholic Coptic Church
    • Synod of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church
    • Synod of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church
    • Synod of the Romanian Church
    • Synod of the Syrian Catholic Church
    • Synod of the Syro-Malabarese Church
    • Synod of the Syro-Malankarese Church
    • Council of the Ethiopian Church
    • Council of the Ruthenian Church, U.S.A.
    • Council of the Slovakian Church
    • Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt
    • Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Iraq
    • Assembly of the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon
    • Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchs of Syria
    • Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
    • Iranian Episcopal Conference

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Limits of the Papacy, p. 97, by Patrick Granfield, Crossroad, New York, 1987. ISBN 0-8245-0839-4
  2. ^ Pope John Paul II, Apostolos Suos, 5.
  3. ^ The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference includes the bishops of South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland.
  4. ^ The International Bishops' Conference of Sts. Cyril and St. Methodius includes the bishops of Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
  5. ^ The Episcopal Conference of the Pacific is made up of the bishops of Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, and three U.S. dependencies (U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Territory of American Samoa, and U.S. Territory of Guam). Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici (C.E. PAC.). GCatholic website. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  6. ^ The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops includes the bishop of the U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands, but not the bishops of the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the three U.S. dependencies in the Pacific (U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Territory of American Samoa, and U.S. Territory of Guam).
  7. ^ Cf. Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 2010 pages 1101-06.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sullivan, Francis. "The Teaching Authority of Episcopal Conferences", Theological Studies, v. 63, 2002, pp. 472–493.

External links[edit]