Clergy, Religious and Readers
All clergy are bishops, priests or deacons, but they may hold different positions in the Church. Today we are going to see how the Church, and in particular the Church of England is organised.
An important unit in the Church is the diocese, a word having the meaning both of household and district. So a diocese is both the district which is governed by the bishop and also the Christian Family within it. The Bishop is the chief shepherd of the diocese and has the spiritual care of the members of the Church who live there. As successors of the Apostles, bishops are the Catholic Church’s representative in their diocese; and as bishops of their diocese they are also the diocese’s representative in the Catholic Church.
Although a diocese forms only a part of the whole Church, it is, from one point of view, complete in itself. In the person of the bishop as a successor of the Apostles, it possesses the fullness of the Christian Ministry. By the Sacrament of Confirmation bishops can admit people to full membership of the Church, and by the Sacrament of Holy Order they can ordain priests so that the members of the Church can receive the Sacraments. Thus each Diocese has its Bishop, Priests, Deacons and People. Bishops may carry out confirmations or ordinations themselves or they may ask an assistant bishop to do this, but the importance of bishops in each diocese is this: they are the channels through whom the Sacraments of the Church come to each of its members.
There are 43 dioceses in England, 44 including the Diocese in Europe. (1)