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 lead by a non-bishop ordinary.)
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 to succession"
which means that when the current bishop leaves office
(by Death, Resignation, etc.) the Coadjutor automatically becomes the new bishop.
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 (401§1) 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 (401§2) 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.
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 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 titles and one of those (Ostia) is assigned to the Dean
in addition to his other Cardinal-Bishop title.
Eastern Rite Patriarches that are also Cardinals are Cardinal-Bishops but do not receive a new title.
The bishop of a patriarchal see.
He is the leader of that rite.
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.
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)
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 rite 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 Rite.
A "personal" jurisdiction which serves the members of the armed forces of a particular country
whereever in the world they happen to be serving.
The equivalent of an archdiocese for an Eastern Rite.
Mission "Sui Iuris"
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.
sorry, not ready yet
The date that an appointment was officially made by the Holy See.
The date a person was born.
If available, the city of birth is noted in the column normally used for a person's title.
Elevated to Cardinal
Formally created as a Cardinal.
The creation of cardinals is often pre-announced a month or more before the formal creation ceremony.
When an appointment is confirmed by the Holy See.
Historically this was often used when kings or other leaders of countries proposed bishops to the Holy See.
Currently it is mostly used when a bishop is proposed by the synod of an eastern rite.
In both cases, the Holy Father can confirm (or not) the proposed bishop.
When a non-Catholic is received into the Church.
Note that invalid "ordinations" to the priesthood or episcopacy in other churches are not recorded.
Ones that are valid, are recorded, but only if they later return to the Church.
The date a person died.
When a priest formally changes dioceses or religious orders.
When a bishop is formally installed (sometimes called enthronement).
Also sometimes called "taking possession" of a see.
It is now common for a bishop's ordination ceremony to also include his installation.
The date a person is ordained (consecrated) as a bishop.
The date a person is ordained as a deacon.
The date a person is ordained as a priest.
When a bishop's resignation is accepted by the Holy See.
This site uses this term when a resignation is accepted in accord with Canon 401§2 or its equivalent.
Note that Pope's always "Resign" regardless of age.
When a bishop's resignation is accepted by the Holy See.
This site uses this term when a resignation is accepted in accord with Canon 401§1 (age limit) or its equivalent.
The date on which a person formally enters a religious order.
When a coadjutor bishop automatically becomes bishop after the See becomes vacant.
When the territorial boundaries are adjusted between two or more dioceses.
For example, one county might be shifted from one diocese to another.
When the class of the jurisdiction is changed.
For example, a diocese becomes an archdiocese.
When a new jurisdiction is created.
When the metropolitan of a diocese is changed.
This usually occurs when a new province is created.
When the name of a jurisdiction is changed.
When a diocese is split into two or more new dioceses.
Often the original diocese was hyphenated before the split.
For example, the diocese "Reno-Las Vegas" was later split into the 2 dioceses "Reno" and "Las Vegas".
When a diocese ceases to exist.
Its territory is assumed into one or more other dioceses.
When two or more dioceses are combined into a new diocese.
Often the resulting diocese will be hyphenated.
For example, the dioceses "Kansas City" and "St. Joseph"
where united into the diocese of "Kansas City-St. Joseph".
When the residence of the bishop and cathedral are moved from one place to another,
but the territory remains substantially the same.
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.
There are a number of different Rites, each with its own liturgical traditions.
The most common is called the Latin (or Roman) Rite.
Others include: Ambrozian, Armenian, Belarussian, Braga, Byzantine, Carthusian, Chaldean,
Carmalite, Coptic, Dominican, Ethiopian, Lyonnais, Maronite, Melkite, Malankarese,
Mozarabic, Romanian, Ruthenian, Slovakian, Syro-Malabarese, Syrian, and Ukrainian.
This is the primary bishop who consecrates (creates, ordains) a new bishop.
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.)