Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Parishes, Dioceses,
Archdioceses, Patriarchates


The Universal Church

Headed by the Pope, Successor of Peter, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. The Holy Father is advised by his College of Cardinals (who are always Bishops). The Curia, divided into dicasteries (congregations, tribunals, offices, secretariat of state, agencies, etc.), is the agency through which the Vatican is governed.


There are twelve patriarchates, headed by Patriarchs, in the Catholic Church: six Eastern Rite patriarchates and six Latin Rite patriarchates.

The 12 Catholic Patriarchates are:


Latin Rite:


Patriarchate of the West (headed by the Pope)


Patriarchate of Jerusalem


Patriarchate of Lisbon


Patriarchate of Venice


Patriarchate of the East Indies


Patriarchate of the West Indies (vacant since 1963)

Eastern Rite:


Patriarchate of Alexandria (the Coptic Catholic Church)


Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch (the Syrian Catholic Church)


Maronite Patriarchate of Antioch (the Maronite Catholic Church)


Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch (the Melkite Greek Catholic Church)


Patriarchate of Babylonia (the Chaldean Catholic Church)


Patriarchate of Sis, or Cilicia (the Armenian Catholic Church)

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic also have major archbishops who act as Patriarchs but don't have the title.


Some individual countries are headed by Primates (the United States doesn't have any). "Primate" is a title of pre-eminence of honor, not a matter of jurisdiction.


Headed by an archbishop called "metropolitan archbishop" or simply "metropolitan," a province consists of two or more dioceses, each headed by a Bishop, one of whom is the metropolitan Archbishop who handles his own diocese (known as an "archdiocese") and acts as Archbishop of the entire province. The Archbishop of the province is called a "Metropolitan" within the province's diocese(s) outside of his archdiocese, and is called "Archbishop" within his own diocese. In the Eastern Churches, the Archbishop is called an "Archeparch."

In the United States are the Provinces of: Anchorage, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Military Services, Milwaukee, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul-Minneapolis, and Washington D.C.


Dioceses are headed by a single Bishop (also called an "Ordinary") who answers to a Metropolitan (see above). In the Eastern Churches, a Bishop is called an "Eparch" and his diocese is called an "eparchy."

The chief church of a diocese, or "the Bishop's church," is called a "cathedral," from the word "cathedra," meaning "throne," because it is there where the Bishop has his seat and it is nearby where he resides. The central administration building for a diocese is called a "chancery" (though, since Vatican II, you'll probably find it in your phone book under the name "Diocesan Pastoral Center."


A parish is a usually neighborhood-sized area with its own church headed by a diocesan priest, called a "pastor" (or "vicar"), who is appointed by his Bishop. If his is a big parish with many needs, there may also be associate priests ("curates") and deacons to assist him. Parish priests typically live on the same property where their parish church is located, in a house called a "rectory."

Note: a priest who has care of a seminary or of a church that isn't a parish church and isn't affiliated with a religious community is called a "rector." Also called "rectors" are local superiors of a few religious congregations, such as the Jesuits.


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