Religion Past and Present

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[German Version]

It was Cyprian of Carthage who first used the term collegium for the collective episcopate (Ep. 68, c. 254/255). The expression recalls the college of the Twelve in the New Testament and establishes communion among the bishops as leaders of their particular churches, thus guaranteeing the unity of the universal church (Church unity). Bishops were to be consecrated (Bishop, Consecration of) by at least three bishops as representatives of the collegium. With the development of papal primacy, the notion of collegiality receded into the background. The …

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Neuner, Peter, “Collegiality”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 27 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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