Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

EPISCOPACY

Divine institution of bishops as successors of the Apostles. By virtue of divine right, therefore, bishops possess an ordinary power of government over their dioceses. The episcopal power is ordinary because it belongs to the episcopal office. It is an immediate power because it is exercised in the bishop's own name and not at the order of a superior. Thus bishops are not mere delegates or agents of the Pope, nor his mere vicars or representatives. They are autonomous pastors of the flock entrusted to them even though they are subordinated to the Pope.

The episcopal power is inherent in the bishops' ordination, though it must be activated by collegial union with the Pope and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy. It is a true pastoral power that embraces all the ecclesiastical powers belonging to the exercise of this office, namely the teaching, ruling, judging, and, when necessary, punishing refractory members of their dioceses. It is, however, a power that is limited locally and materially, since it extends only to a definite segment of the Church and is circumscribed by the papal authority, which is superior to that of any bishop in his diocese. (Etym. Latin episcopus, bishop; from Greek episkopos, overseer.)

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

New HHS Mandate must truly eliminate complicity 6 hours ago
Self-Esteem: Beyond Pop Psychology 13 hours ago
Government Crackdowns on God and Nature July 22
A legislative mockery: Massachusetts lawmakers rush to replace unconstitutional 'buffer zone' bill July 22
Gay and Transgendered: What Comes Next? July 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Vatican issues working document for Synod of Bishops on the family CWN - June 26
New management, new changes coming for reformed Vatican bank CWN - July 8
Sweeping reforms to Vatican's media, financial operations CWN - July 9
‘Even Genghis Khan didn’t do this’: Mosul emptied of Christians CWN - July 21