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Catechism of the Catholic Church

The episcopal college and its head, the Pope

880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, "he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them." 398 Just as "by the Lord's institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another." 399

881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. 400 "The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head." 401 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church's very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." 402 "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." 403

883 "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff." 404

884 "The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council." 405 But "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor." 406

885 "This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled under one head." 407

886 "The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches." 408 As such, they "exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them," 409 assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches. 410 The bishops exercise this care first "by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church," and so contributing "to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches." 411 They extend it especially to the poor, 412 to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.

887 Neighboring particular Churches who share the same culture form ecclesiastical provinces or larger groupings called patriarchates or regions. 413 The bishops of these groupings can meet in synods or provincial councils. "In a like fashion, the episcopal conferences at the present time are in a position to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegiate spirit." 414

Notes:

398 LG 19; cf. Lk 6:13; Jn 21:15-17.

399 LG 22; cf. CIC, can. 330.

400 Cf. Mt 16:18-19; Jn 21:15-17.

401 LG 22 § 2.

402 LG 23.

403 LG 22; cf. CD 2, 9.

404 LG 22; cf. CIC, can 336.

405 CIC, can. 337 § 1.

406 LG 22.

407 LG 22.

408 LG 23.

409 LG 23.

410 Cf. CD 3.

411 LG 23.

412 Cf. Gal 2:10.

413 Cf. Apostolic Constitutions 34.

414 LG 23 § 3.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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