Roman Catholic Hierarchy

The earthly leader of the Roman Catholic Church is the pope. The church considers Jesus to be its ultimate spiritual head. The pope governs from Vatican City in Rome, a sovereign state of which he is also the civil head of state[1]. Each pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals, a body composed of bishops elevated to the status of cardinal by the Pope. The pope is assisted in the Church's administration by the Roman Curia, or civil service. The Church community is governed according to formal regulations set out in the Code of Canon Law. The official language of the Church is Latin, although Italian is the working language of the Vatican administration.

The Roman Catholic Church is divided into 2,782 regions called dioceses (also called sees or, in the East, eparchies). These diocese are grouped into 1 of 23 particular rites - the Latin Rite being the most common, but with there being a further 22 Eastern rites - each with distinct traditions regarding the liturgy and the administering the sacraments.

Each diocese is headed by a bishop and is divided into individual communities called parishes. Each parish is staffed by one or more priests. The parish itself is made up of the priests and the laity (general members / church-goers).

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