Roman Catholic texts have varying levels of authority. Conciliar documents are produced by the "ecumenical councils", such as Vatican II. They have the highest authority after Scripture itself. Papal documents are far more common than those of ecumenical councils, and are considered the most authoritative of the regular teaching instruments of Roman Catholicism. Other papal texts, curial documents, and the documents of the individual bishops and bishops' conferences have a lesser authority. An interesting question that has arisen from the ecumenical movement is the authority of agreed statements and common declarations arising from ecumenical dialogues. This is a matter which will remain undetermined for some time yet.

Catholic Archives

The following sites have a substantial archive of official documents. The links below, generally, draw from these archives. Although these archives can generally be trusted, care should be taken to ensure that the documents are translated accurately.

Bishops and bishops' conferences

In the years since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), a new instrument of the church's magisterium (teaching office) has become important: the bishops' conference. This has led to some struggle for local authority and independence. The catch-phrases that reflect a decentralizing ethos are: "collegiality" and "subsidiarity".


Bishops of Alberta

Bishops of Northern Canada

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

United States

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
formerly: National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) & the United States Catholic Conference (USCC)

United Kingdom

Bishops' Conference of England and Wales

Other bishops conferences

Other Catholic documents

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