Global organisation of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church is organized in a worldwide hierarchy under the Pope, the Bishop of Rome (Holy See) based in Vatican City.

The Catholic Church is organized into local hierarchies within each nation, or group of smaller nations. National Conferences of bishops co-ordinate local policy within each nation.

Aside from the Latin Church, there are 23 churches of the Orthodox liturgical tradition in full communion with the Holy See, these are known as the Eastern Catholic Churches and are led by either a Major Archbishop or Patriarch. Patriarchal Churches have the privilege of electing their leader, only needing Papal ratification, and a Patriarch is accorded ceremonial precedence.

Four Latin Church archbishops are also called Patriarchs, this is only titular but gives them precedence in papal processions, in the case of the Patriarch of Venice, he can wear the red vestments of a cardinal. Archbishops and Bishops administer individual dioceses as successors of the twelve apostles. As such they are responsible for the appointment and supervision of parish priests, and the oversight of all church affairs within their diocese. If the responsibility associated with a certain diocese is large, a Bishop may be assisted by one or more Auxiliary Bishops, who are accorded a Titular see. A diocese may also have a Coadjutor bishop who is effectively the "co-ruler" of the diocese; Before 1978, Coadjutor bishops were normally assigned a titular see, but that is no longer the case.[1] The bishop of the actual see only has ceremonial precedence.

As of 15 December 2015, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction statistics is as follows; 1 Papal See, 9 Patriarchates, 4 Major Archdioceses, 553 Metropolitan Archdioceses, 77 Archdioceses, 2,214 Dioceses, 42 Prelatures, 11 Territorial Abbeys, 17 Apostolic Exarchates, 8 Ordinariates, 36 Military Ordinariates, 3 Personal Ordinariates, 1 Personal prelature, 88 Apostolic Vicariates, 39 Apostolic Prefectures, 8 Apostolic Administrations, and 8 Missions 'sui juris'.

Catholicism by region and country





North America

Central America

South America



See also


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