Episcopal conference

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An episcopal conference, sometimes called 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; more than forty ones existed before the Second Vatican Council.[1] They 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.[2] The operation, authority, and responsibilities of episcopal conferences are currently governed by the 1983 Code of Canon Law (see especially canons 447-459).[3] 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".[4]

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 authority to the conference, and remain immediate subject to the Pope for the governance of their respective dioceses.

On 9 September 2017, Pope Francis increased the authority of the episcopal conferences with a motu proprio titled Magnum principium which made it so starting 1 October 2017, the episcopal conferences will take over management responsibilities from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments with regards to liturgical translations,[5][6] though the congregation will assist in helping the conferences fulfill and promote this task.[5] 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 Sacrament, Cardinal Robert Sarah, clarifying that the Holy See and its departments would have limited authority to confirm liturgical translations recognized by a local episcopal conference,[7] thus retracting a claim which Sarah made on October 13, 2017.[8]

Episcopal conferences

A list of national episcopal conferences:[9]





North America

South America

Other episcopal bodies

In addition to the episcopal conferences as defined by the Holy See, there are a number of other regional groupings of bishops:[9]:1101–06

Synods of eastern rite churches

Synods of Bishops of the Patriarchal and Major Archiepiscopal Churches

  • 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

Assemblies of bishops

National assemblies of Hierarchs of Churches Sui Iuris (including eastern Catholic as well as Latin ordinaries)

  • 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
  • Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI)

International Meetings of Episcopal Conferences

See also


  1. ^ McAleese, Mary (2012), Quo Vadis?: Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law (Kindle ed.), Blackrock, Ireland: The Columba Press, locations 2463-2466, ISBN 978-1-85607-786-6 
  2. ^ The Limits of the Papacy, p. 97, by Patrick Granfield, Crossroad, New York, 1987. ISBN 0-8245-0839-4
  3. ^ Pope John Paul II, Apostolos Suos, 5.
  4. ^ John Paul II (21 May 1998), Apostolos suos; On the Theological and Juridical Nature of Episcopal Conferences, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, §22, archived from the original on 29 July 2015, retrieved 25 June 2015 
  5. ^ a b https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/09/09/170909a.html
  6. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/09/world/europe/pope-francis-liturgical-reform.html?mcubz=3
  7. ^ http://www.thecatholictelegraph.com/in-letter-to-cardinal-sarah-pope-clarifies-new-translation-norms/45928
  8. ^ http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-sarah-confirms-vatican-retains-last-word-on-translations
  9. ^ a b Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 2010 [Annuario Pontificio of 2010]. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2010. 
  10. ^ The Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa includes the bishops of Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.
  11. ^ The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference includes the bishops of South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland.
  12. ^ "UTEMELJENA BISKUPSKA KONFERENCIJA SR JUGOSLAVIJE" [Bishop's Conference of FR Yugoslavia Established]. Catholic Press Agency, Zagreb. 17 December 1997. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Priopćenje za javnost". International Bishops' Conference of Sts. Cyril and St. Methodius. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "XIII. plenarno zasjedanje BK Srbije i Crne Gore" [13th Plenary Meeting of the Bishops' Conference of Serbia and Montenegro]. Catholic Press Agency, Zagreb. 21 January 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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).

Further reading

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

External links

  • List of all episcopal conferences by Giga-Catholic Information
  • The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church by David M. Cheney
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