An episcopal conference, sometimes called a conference of bishops, is an official assembly of the bishops of the Catholic Church in a given territory. Episcopal conferences have long existed as informal entities. The first assembly of bishops to meet regularly, with its own legal structure and ecclesial leadership function, is the Swiss Bishops' Conference, which was founded in 1863. More than forty episcopal conferences existed before the Second Vatican Council. Their status was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council and further defined by Pope Paul VI's 1966 motu proprio, Ecclesiae sanctae.
Episcopal conferences are generally defined by geographic borders, often national ones, with all the bishops in a given country belonging to the same conference, although they may also include neighboring countries. Certain authority and tasks 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 immediate authority for the governance of their respective dioceses to the conference.
The operation, authority, and responsibilities of episcopal conferences are currently governed by the 1983 Code of Canon Law (see especially canons 447-459) In addition, there are assemblies of bishops which include the bishops of different rites in a nation, both Eastern Catholic and Latin Catholic; these are described in canon 322 §2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
The nature of episcopal conferences, and their magisterial authority in particular, was subsequently clarified by Pope John Paul II in his 1998 motu proprio, Apostolos suos, which stated that the declarations of such conferences "constitute authentic magisterium" when approved unanimously by the conference; otherwise the conference must achieve a two-thirds majority and seek the recognitio, that is, recognition of approval, of the Holy See, which they will not receive if the majority "is not substantial".
In the 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis expressed his concern that the intent of the Second Vatican Council, which would give episcopal conferences "genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated." On September 9, 2017, Pope Francis modified canon law, granting episcopal conferences specific authority "to faithfully prepare … approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See." The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which formerly had primary responsibility for translations, was ordered to "help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfil their task." On October 22, 2017, the Holy See released a letter that Pope Francis had sent to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, clarifying that the Holy See and its departments would have only limited authority to confirm liturgical translations recognized by a local episcopal conference. In late February, 2018, the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis undertook a consideration of the theological status of episcopal conferences, re-reading Pope John Paul II's Apostolos Suos in the light of Pope Francis's Evangelii Gaudium.
In addition to the episcopal conferences as defined by the Holy See, there are a number of other regional groupings of bishops::1101–06
Synods of Bishops of the Patriarchal and Major Archiepiscopal Churches
National assemblies of Hierarchs of Churches Sui Iuris (including eastern Catholic as well as Latin ordinaries)
The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position 'to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit'. Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.
The Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) is a Roman Catholic episcopal conference. Its members are bishops and archbishops from current and former British, Dutch, and French colonies and dependencies in the Caribbean (excluding Haiti), Central America, and northern South America. The conference's membership includes five archdioceses, fourteen dioceses, and two missions sui iuris. These particular Churches minister to Catholics in thirteen independent nations, six British Overseas Territories, three departments of France, three countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and 3 municipalities of the Netherlands proper.The bishop from an American insular area has been granted observer status. The episcopal conference is led by a president, who must be a diocesan ordinary and is elected by the membership of the conference for a three-year term. The conference also elects a vice president, who has the same qualifications as the president, and a treasurer, who can be a diocesan ordinary, a coadjutor bishop, or an auxiliary bishop. Additionally, a permanent board — consisting of the president, vice president, treasurer, the metropolitan archbishops and two other elected members — handles administrative issues between plenary meetings of the conference. The president of the conference is currently Gabriel Malzaire, Bishop of Roseau, while the vice president is Charles Jason Gordon, Archbishop of Port of Spain.The Holy See appoints an apostolic delegate to the Antilles Episcopal Conference, who also serves as the Apostolic nuncio (papal ambassador) to the independent nations of the conference, except Belize. The nunciature is located in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The current apostolic delegate is Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, who replaced Archbishop Nicola Girasoli after he was appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to Peru.Bishops' Conference of France
The Bishops' Conference of France (French: Conférence des évêques de France) (CEF) is the national episcopal conference of the bishops of the Catholic Church in France.Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) is the episcopal conference of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.Catholic Church in Chile
The Catholic Church in Chile is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, the curia in Rome, and the Episcopal Conference of Chile. There are 5 archdioceses, 18 dioceses, 2 territorial prelatures, 1 apostolic vicariate, 1 military ordinariate and a personal prelature (Opus Dei). The government observes the following Catholic Holy Days as national holidays (if on a week day): Good Friday, Christmas, Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Feast of the Assumption, and All Saints Day.
As of 2012, 66.6% of Chilean population over 15 years of age claims to be of Catholic creed – a decrease from the 70% reported by the 2002 census.Catholic Church in Equatorial Guinea
The Catholic Church in Equatorial Guinea is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.
Equatorial Guinea has one of the highest proportions of Catholics in Africa, a legacy of its status as a former Spanish colony. There are five dioceses, including one archdiocese.
In 2005, about 422,000 (87%) of the 485,000 inhabitants of Equatorial Guinea were member of the Catholic Church. Equatorial Guinea consists of a single ecclesiastical province, Malabo, with four suffragan dioceses in Bata, Ebebiyin, Evinayong and Mongomo. The Archdiocese of Malabo has the Archbishop of Malabo as metropolitan archbishop and spiritual leader of the catholic faithful of Equatorial Guinea. The current Archbishop of Malabo is Mgr Nsue Edjang Mayé, former bishop of Ebebiyin. The emeritus archbishop is Mgr Ildefonso Obama Obono.
The bishops are members of the Episcopal Conference of Equatorial Guinea (Conferencia Episcopal de Guinea Ecuatorial). President of the Episcopal Conference is Mgr Ildefonso Obama Obono, archbishop of Malabo. Furthermore, the Episcopal Conference is a member of the Association des Conferences Episcopales de l'Afrique Centrale and the Symposium des Conférences Épiscopales d'Afrique et de Madagascar.
On April 1, 2017, the Holy See erected two new dioceses in Equatorial Guinea. The Diocese of Evinayong was erected from territories formerly belonging to the Diocese of Bata and the Diocese of Mongomo was carved out of the current Diocese of Ebebiyin.The Apostolic Nuncio to Equatorial Guinea since January 25, 2010 is Archbishop Piero Pioppo, Titular Archbishop of Torcello.Catholic Church in Japan
The Catholic Church in Japan is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the pope in Rome. There are approximately 509,000 Catholics in Japan—just under 0.5% of the total population. There are 16 dioceses, including three archdioceses, with 1589 priests and 848 parishes in the country. The bishops of the dioceses form the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, the episcopal conference of the nation.
The current Apostolic nuncio to Japan is Indian Archbishop Joseph Chennoth. Archbishop Joseph Chennoth is the Holy See's ambassador to Japan as well as its delegate to the local church.
Christianity was introduced to Japan by the Jesuits, such as the Spaniard St. Francis Xavier and the Italian Alessandro Valignano. Portuguese Catholics founded the port of Nagasaki, considered at its founding to be an important Christian center in the Far East, though this distinction is now obsolete. There is a modern Japanese translation of the whole Bible by Federico Barbaro, an Italian missionary. Nowadays, a large number of Japanese Catholics are ethnic Japanese from Brazil and Peru.
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, a personal ordinariate within the Catholic Church originally created as a means for Anglicans to enter communion with Rome while maintaining their patrimony, has also begun to form in Japan. As of 2015, it has 2 congregations.Catholic Church in Niger
The Catholic Church in Niger is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.
There are around 16,000 Catholics in Niger, which is divided into two dioceses: the Diocese of Maradi (approximately 1,000) and the much larger Diocese of Niamey (approximately 15,000).
The bishops are members of the Conference of Bishops of Burkina Faso and of Niger. Séraphin François Rouamba is the President of the Episcopal Conference and also is Archbishop of Koupela (Burkina Faso). Furthermore, Niger is member of the Regional Episcopal Conference of Francophone West Africa and Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
Archbishop Vito Rallo is the Apostolic Nuncio of Niger, who is also nuncio to Burkina Faso.Catholic Church in São Tomé and Príncipe
The Catholic Church in São Tomé and Príncipe is part of the Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome and forms the largest religion in the country. A majority of the residents São Tomé and Príncipe adhere to Catholicism.
In 2005, about 118,000 (88%) residents of São Tome and Principe were members of the Catholic Church. The country consists of a single diocese, Diocese of São Tomé and Príncipe, which has Manuel António Mendes dos Santos as bishop since 2006. The bishop is a member of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé whose president of the Episcopal Conference is Gabriel Mbilingi, bishop of Lubango (Angola). Furthermore, one member of the Inter Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa and Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
The Nuncio of São Tome and Principe is Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, also Nuncio for Angola. The main Catholic church in the country is the Sé Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Graça in São Tomé.Episcopal Conference of Italy
The Italian Episcopal Conference (Italian: Conferenza Episcopale Italiana) is the episcopal conference of the Italian bishops of the Catholic Church, the official assembly of the bishops in Italy. The conference was founded in 1971 and carries out certain tasks and has the authority to set the liturgical norms for the Mass. Episcopal conferences receive their authority under universal law or particular mandates. Its president has been Angelo Bagnasco since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 March 2007.
It is the only episcopal conference for which the pope as Primate appoints the President and Secretary-General. In almost all other conferences the president is elected, while the secretary-general is elected in all others. Vatican sources suggested in August 2013 that Pope Francis, as part of a more general reform of the national bishops' conferences to promote collegiality, is considering allowing the Italian bishops to elect their own officers.A public domain version of the Bible in Italian is published by the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana.Episcopal Conference of Latin America
The Latin American Episcopal Council (Spanish: Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano), better known as CELAM, is a council of the Roman Catholic bishops of Latin America, created in 1955 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Based in Bogotá (Colombia), CELAM pushed the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) toward a more progressive stance. During the four next years, CELAM prepared 1968 Medellín Conference, in Colombia, officially supporting "base ecclesiastic communities" and the liberation theology propounded by Gustavo Gutiérrez in his 1972 essay, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation. In 1968, Bishop Samuel Ruiz of Chiapas, Mexico, was named president of the Department of Missions of CELAM.Episcopal Conference of Poland
Polish Episcopal Conference or Polish Bishop's Conference (Polish: Konferencja Episkopatu Polski) is the central organ of Catholic Church in Poland. It is composed of 3 cardinals, 32 archbishops and 122 bishops.
President – abp Stanisław Gądecki (since 12 March 2014)
Vicepresident – abp Marek Jędraszewski (since 13 March 2014)
Secretary general – bp Artur Miziński (since 10 June 2014)
President – abp Stanisław Gądecki
Vicepresident – abp Marek Jędraszewski
Primate of Poland – abp Wojciech Polak
Metropolitan Cardinals – card. Kazimierz Nycz
Secretary general – bp Artur Miziński
6 diocese bishops (chosen for 5 years) – abp Stanisław Budzik, abp Grzegorz Ryś, abp Józef Kupny, abp Wiktor Skworc, bp Andrzej Czaja
2 auxiliary bishops (chosen for 5 years) – bp Marek Mendyk, bp Piotr Turzyński
Commissions (only bishops can be members)
for the Doctrine of the Faith – head bp Andrzej Czaja
for Catholic Education – head bp Marek Mendyk
for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments – head bp Adam Bałabuch
for the Clergy – head abp Wojciech Polak
for Christian ministry – head abp Wiktor Skworc
for Missions – head bp Jerzy Mazur
Charity – head bp Wiesław Szlachetka
for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life – head bp Jacek Kiciński
Marian – head abp Wacław Depo
Bishops and religious superiors – head bp Artur Miziński
for Polish diaspora – head bp Wiesław Lechowicz
Revisions – head abp Wiktor Skworc
Councils (priests, religious and lay members allowed)
for Family – head bp Wiesław Śmigiel
Science – head abp Marek Jędraszewski
for Ecumenism – head bp Krzysztof Nitkiewicz
for Inter-Religious Dialogue – head bp Rafał Markowski
for the Laity – head bp Ryszard Kasyna
for Society problems – head abp Józef Kupny
for the Pastoral Care of Youth – head bp Marek Solarczyk
for Culture and Cultural Heritage – head bp Michał Janocha
for Social Communications – head abp Wacław Depo
for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants – head bp Krzysztof Zadarko
Law – head bp Ryszard Kasyna
Economical – head card. Kazimierz Nycz
Teams (priests, religious and lay members allowed)
for contacts with French Episcopal Conference – head bp Jan Piotrowski
for contacts with Lithuanian Episcopal Conference – head bp Romuald Kamiński
for contacts with German Episcopal Conference – head bp Jan Kopiec
for contacts with Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – head bp Marian Rojek
for contacts with Polish Ecumenical Council – head bp Krzysztof Nitkiewicz
for help Catholic Church in East – head bp Antoni Dydycz
for contacts with Russian Orthodox Church – head abp Wojciech Polak
for Scholarships – head bp Andrzej Dziuba
for Dialogue – bp Marian Rojek, bp Roman Pindel, bp Krzysztof Nitkiewicz, bp Jacek Jezierski, bp Henryk Wejman
for Alcohol Abstinence – head bp Tadeusz Bronakowski
for programmed television transmission of Masses – head abp Józef Górzyński
for Enthronement of Christ movements – head bp Andrzej Czaja
for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers – head bp Romuald Kamiński
Bioethics – head bp Józef Wróbel
for Sanctuary – head bp Henryk Ciereszko
for the Pastoral Care of Radio Maryja – head bp Wiesław Śmigiel
for Promoting the New Evangelization – head abp Grzegorz Ryś
for novelization Polish Episcopal Conference regulations – abp Stanisław Budzik, bp Piotr Libera, bp Artur Miziński
Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik
abp Stanisław BudzikEpiscopal Conference of Scandinavia
The Scandinavian Bishops Conference is an episcopal conference of Roman Catholic bishops covering the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. At present, it has 12 members who represent all five Catholic dioceses and all two territorial prelatures in the Nordic countries. It is unusual for bishops' conferences to be organised across several countries, but this reflects the fact that there are fewer than half a million Catholics in these countries. The Conference states as its tasks:
to further the common pastoral work in the region
to enable the bishops to consult with one another
to coordinate the work of the Church in the dioceses
to make possible common decisions on the regional level
to facilitate contacts with the Catholic Church in Europe and in the whole worldThe most important decision-making organ is the plenary session. This meets twice a year at different places in the Nordic dioceses and sometimes outside of Northern Europe. Besides that there is the Permanent Council which also meets twice a year to plan the plenary sessions and to decide on urgent matters. Between meetings it is the secretary general, currently Sister Anna Mirijam Kaschner, CPS, who coordinates the work and the contacts between the bishops.Episcopal Conference of Spain
The Spanish Episcopal Conference (SEC) is an administrative institution composed of all the bishops of the dioceses of Spain, in communion with the Roman Pontiff and under his authority. Its purpose is the joint exercise certain pastoral functions of the episcopate on the faithful of their territory, under common law and statutes, in order to promote the life of the Church, to strengthen its mission of evangelization and respond more effectively to the greater good that the Church should seek to men.Episcopal Conference of Ukraine
Catholic Bishops of Ukraine dividing into the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine (Ukrainian: Конференція Римсько-Католицьких Єпископів України, Latin: Conferentia episcoporum Ucrainae) and Synod of Bishops of Ukrainian Catholic Church (Byzantine rite) (Latin: Synod Ecclesiae Ucrainae Catholic (bycantini)). Both conferences are a member of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.German Bishops' Conference
The German Bishops' Conference (German: Deutsche Bischofskonferenz) is the episcopal conference of the bishops of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Germany. Members include diocesan bishops, coadjutors, auxiliary bishops, and diocesan administrators.Holy Synod of Catholic Bishops of Greece
The Holy Synod of Catholic Bishops of Greece (Greek: Ιερά Σύνοδος της Καθολικής Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος, Iera synodos tis Katholikis Ekklisias tis Ellados) is an association of Episcopal Conference of Roman Catholic bishops in Greece. It is a member of the Council of European Bishops 'Conferences and sends a representative to the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference
The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference (Irish: Comhdháil Easpag Caitliceach Éireann) is the episcopal conference of the Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland. The conference meets a number of times a year in Maynooth which is the location of St Patrick's College, Ireland's national seminary. While each bishop is autonomous in his own diocese, meetings of the conference give bishops a chance to discuss issues of mutual concern, or issues of national policy.List of Catholic dioceses (structured view)
As of May 31, 2018, the Catholic Church in its entirety comprises 3,160 ecclesiastical jurisdictions, including over 645 archdioceses and 2,236 dioceses, as well as apostolic vicariates, apostolic exarchates, apostolic administrations, apostolic prefectures, military ordinariates, personal ordinariates, personal prelatures, territorial prelatures, territorial abbacies and missions sui juris around the world.
In addition to these jurisdictions, there are 2,103 titular sees (bishoprics, archbishoprics and metropolitanates).
This is a structural list to show the relationships of each diocese to one another, grouped by ecclesiastical province, within each episcopal conference, within each continent or other geographical area.
The list needs regular updating and is incomplete, but as articles are written up, more will be added, and various aspects need to be regularly updated.United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC), it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic hierarchy (i.e., diocesan, coadjutor, and auxiliary bishops and the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter) in the United States and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses form their own episcopal conference, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference. The bishops in U.S. insular areas in the Pacific Ocean – the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam – are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.
The USCCB adopted its current name in July 2001. The organization is a registered corporation based in Washington, D.C. As with all bishops' conferences, certain decisions and acts of the USCCB must receive the recognitio, or approval of the Roman dicasteries, which are subject to the immediate and absolute authority of the Pope.
The current president is Galveston–Houston's archbishop, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. The current vice president is Los Angeles's archbishop, Archbishop José Horacio Gómez.
of the faithful