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General Usage
The term "bishop" is used on this site to indicate anyone who is included in the databases. There are a few people included who are not actually bishops - these include a few Cardinals and ordinaries that are not also bishops. (For example, "Prefectures" are often led by a non-bishop ordinary.) In some cases, curial officials that often become bishops later are also listed.
A Bishop is the ecclesial leader of a diocese. He has received the fullness of priestly ordination and is chief pastor of the area. The local bishop is fully responsible for the flock entrusted to his care. Other bishops have, at most, extremely limited authority beyond their own diocese. The one obvious exception is the Pope, who has ordinary authority in every diocese. (See also: Catholic Encyclopedia - Bishops)
An Archbishop is simply the title given to a Bishop of an Archdiocese. In some cases, the bishop of a diocese may be given the honorary personal title of archbishop. (See also: Catholic Encyclopedia - Archbishops)
An Auxiliary Bishop is an assistant to the bishop of the diocese to which they are assigned. Generally, their responsibilities are defined by the bishop. Auxiliary Bishops are assigned "Titular" Sees, which are historical dioceses that are no longer in existance. (See also: Catholic Encyclopedia - Auxiliary Bishops)
This is a special type of Auxiliary Bishop. They have more authority than a regular Auxiliary, but not as much as the bishop. Usually they have a "right of succession" which means that when the current bishop leaves office (by Death, Resignation, etc.) the Coadjutor automatically becomes the new bishop. Note that the "right of succession" while common now, has not always been so. No attempt is being made to indicate whether a Coadjutor had a "right of succession" on the site. It is sometimes used to help ease the transition from one bishop to the next as it allows them to work together before the new bishop takes over all responsibility. Before 1978, Coadjutor bishops were normally assigned a titular see, but that is no longer the case.
A Bishop Emeritus is a bishop that is no longer acting as the leader of the diocese due to advanced age, ill health, etc. According to Canon Law (4011) bishops are required to submit their resignations upon reaching the age of 75 which can then be accepted (or not) by the Holy Father. Sometimes bishops request and are granted an earlier resignation (4012) due to ill health, etc. Prior to 1971, they were often assigned titular sees, but that is now rare.
An Ordinary is the ecclesial leader of a specified jurisdiction. For example, in the case of a diocese, its bishop.
An Abbot is the ordinary of an Abbey. Some abbeys have additional territory associated with them and in this case the Abbot is effectively the ordinary for the whole included area.
Vicar Apostolic
The ordinary of a Vicariate. Until recently (2019) they were normally assigned a titular see. That is no longer the case.
A Cardinal is usually a bishop with some the additional job of serving as an advisor to the Pope. Some cardinals work full time in the "Roman Curia" while others serve as bishops of dioceses. When the Holy See becomes vacant (at the death or resignation of the Holy Father) those cardinals which are under the age of 80 at that time, will gather together in Rome for a "conclave". This gathering operates in secret and elects the new Pope, usually from their own ranks.
The lowest of the three classes of Cardinals. Often assigned to Cardinals who primarily work in the Roman Curia.
The middle of the three classes of Cardinals. Often assigned to Cardinals who are the ordinary of a diocese or archdiocese. This is the largest class of cardinals.
The highest of the three classes of Cardinals. There are only 7 Cardinal-Bishop traditional titles (suburbican sees) and one of those (Ostia) is assigned to the Dean in addition to his other Cardinal-Bishop title. In 2018 several lower Cardinal Titles were elevated to Cardinal-Bishop titles "pro hac vice". Eastern Catholic Church Patriarchs that are also Cardinals are Cardinal-Bishops but do not receive a new title. (This is not the case with Western Patriarchs.)
The bishop of a patriarchal see. He is the leader of that Eastern Catholic Church or the ordinary of a Western Patriarchal See (such as Venice).
The bishop of a primatial see. He is the honorary "first among equals" of the bishops of a country. Not all countries have primates, for example, the United States of America. Primates are generally not indicated on the website.
Holy Father
The Pope. Currently Pope Francis.
Major Archbishop
The archbishop of a major archdiocese, which is to say the leader of a Major Archiepiscopal Eastern Catholic Church.
Titular Bishop
Every bishop is assigned a diocese. Bishops that are not the ordinary of a diocese, are assigned a "Titular See", which are historical dioceses that are no longer in existance. The ordinaries of jurisdictions below the class of diocese (such as vicariates) are often assigned titular sees also. (See also: Catholic Encyclopedia - In Partibus Infidelium)


General Usage
The term "diocese" is used on this site to indicate any ecclesial jurisdiction. In most cases a diocese is a specific geographic area. Dioceses within the same Particular Church do not normally overlap.
A jurisdiction covering a specific geographic area.
A diocese with a slighly higher rank. Normally it is also a "metropolitan" meaning the head of an ecclesial Province.
Normally, a diocese within a province other than the metropolitan (the head of the province). For a metropolian, its suffragans are all the other dioceses within its province.
The head of an ecclesial province. Normally, the archdiocese within a province. For a diocese, its metropolitan is the head of its province.
The equivalent of a diocese for an Eastern Catholc Church.
Prefecture Apostolic
A jurisdiction like a diocese but of a lower class. These are often used when the area is just being developed and is mostly being staffed by missionaries.
Apostolic Exarchate
Similar to an Vicariate but for an Eastern Catholic Church.
Apostolic Administration
An early jurisdiction. Often will become a diocese eventually as the Church develops in that area.
Military Ordinatiate
A "personal" jurisdiction which serves the members of the armed forces of a particular country whereever in the world they happen to be serving.
Another jurisdiction that tends to be "personal" in nature. In other words, for a particular class of individuals (such as the Anglican Ordinariates).
Territorial Prelature
Another lower class jurisdiction. Often in countries with a very small Catholic population.
The equivalent of an archdiocese for an Eastern Catholic Church.
Mission "Sui Iuris"
Yet another lower class jurisdiction.
Territorial Abbey
An abbey together with some territory nearby which functions like a diocese. The abbot (head of the abbey) is the ordinary for the jurisdiction. These are fairly rare with about a dozen currently around the world, mostly in Italy.
Suburbicarian See
One of seven dioceses that surround Rome. Traditionally they have been assigned to a Cardinal-Bishop. In modern times, they also have a bishop like a normal diocese.
Patriarchal See
Major Archbishophoric
Vicariate Apostolic
sorry, not ready yet



This web site has two very different types of regions. The first, a world region, is a group of countries. The world is divided into 7 regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas (North, Central, and South). The second meaning is a national region which is a group of dioceses within a country. The Bishops' Conferences of some of the larger countries (Brazil, Canada, Italy, Mexico, USA) have sub-divided their country into regions for their own internal use.
A tradition is a liturgical tradition - meaning a structure of the liturgical life in a Church. There are six major traditions: Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Byzantine, Chaldean, and Western. The Western Tradition includes the Roman Rite (which includes the Latin Rite and a few other minor ones).
The term has a variety of common meanings. Besides those, it can also refer to an Eastern Catholic Church. They are often grouped by Tradition and are fully in union with the Pope in Rome. The have their own organizational schemes.
The term Rite usually means Tradition, often referring to a liturgical tradition. Sometimes it is used to mean an Eastern Catholic Church.
Principal Consecrator
This is the primary bishop who consecrates (creates, ordains) a new bishop.
Principal Co-Consecrator
This is a bishop who assists the primary bishop in consecrating a new bishop. Normally there are two principal co-consecrators for a given bishop. Very often additional bishops are present at a consecration (Co-Consecrators), but they are rarely recorded.
Episcopal Lineage / Apostolic Succession
The "Episcopal Lineage" or "Apostolic Succession" is simply a list tracing back a bishop's principal consecrator and then that bishop's principal consecrator, etc. This information is not always listed - most often because I simply have not had the time to add the information (or have not yet discovered it). The lineage, in theory, should be traceable back to one of the apostles. However, several factors make this impossible. First, my databases of bishops is quite limited - mostly because of the resources (time and money) it takes to research and add historical bishops. Over the years the databases have expanded incredibly and I hope this will continue for years to come. Second, in many cases the sources for consecration data are hard to find - especially in the 17th century and earlier. Generally I rely on other researchers (notably Charles Bransom) for consecration information. (See also the list of sources.)


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[ Comments/Corrections ] Copyright David M. Cheney, 1996-2019
Revised: 9 Oct 2019