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== == Answer 6/June/09 The following is an outline of how the Catholic Church is organised/governed: Parish This is the local level; each parish is headed by pastor, possibly assisted by other clergy. A parish has a council, a group of people elected the people; the council advises the clergy on almost all parish matters. The parish is where most Catholics experience Church through such things as worship, Scripture groups, youth organisations, funerals, weddings and social gatherings Diocese Parishes are grouped into a diocese, which is headed by a bishop who is regarded as the spiritual father of the diocese. It is his calling to make sure things run smoothly in his area. He is assisted by a council of priests and several offices such religious education, Catholic schools and justice + peace. A bishop is officially chosen by the Pope, but this is done only after the Pope's representative in a particular country, has done a significant amount of listening and searching. Province If there are quite a few dioceses in a country, they are arranged into geographical provinces, each headed by an archbishop (and honorary title). The province simply provides the opportunity for dioceses to collaborate. Sometimes their bishops make a joint statement on an issue that affects their area in a particular way e.g. the bishops of Southern California on the matter of illegal immigrants. Conference This refers to all the bishops of a particular country. They are responsible for a variety of matters including, but not limited to: speaking out on national matters of justice, liturgical adaptations within the nation, approving translations of The Bible for use in the country and establishing relevant policies to be followed nationally e.g. Canon Law states that a boy may not marry until he is 16 and girl until she is 14; a national conference can establish its own age limits. The Curia The Roman Curia comprises several departments, each responsible for given aspect of the Church on a universal level such as: bishops, priests + religious, ecumenism, interpretation of Canon Law, justice + peace, doctrine, worship + sacraments. Each department is headed by a cardinal; the cardinals function as close advisors to the Pope. It is also their job to select a new pope after the present one dies. Answer The Catholic Church is organized and governed by the Holy Spirit. In human terms, she has a Pope, a large number of bishops who are each in charge of a diocese or geographical area, and within those dioceses are many priests. ideally, each priest obeys his bishop, and the bishops obey both the Pope (who is elected by the cardinals) and the teachings of the Magisterium. Most Cardinals are either Archbishops of the largest dioceses in their countries or regions, or the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia (the Pope's Ministers of State,in a sense). The Magisterium is the teaching arm or the Church. The official teachings of the Catholic faith can be found in print or online easily. Do a Google search for Catechism of the Catholic Church. Catholics believe that the Magisterium teaches and operates in Christ's name with the firm guidance of the Holy Spirit, which protects Her from teaching anything erroneous as doctrine. Be aware that there is a vast gulf between doctrine (official teaching) and disciplines ( the rituals and beliefs of various Catholics through the years.) For example, altar girls are a "new" thing, but are only a discipline, not a doctrine. The belief in the Trinity is a doctrine, and therefore unchangeable. For more specifics I can recommend the following book: The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church - by Hans Urs Von Balthasar Also the site Catholicity.com and catholicAnswers.com Hope this helps

2009-06-06 19:07:21
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