Falling under the authority of the College of Ethicals , the Curia is the collective term for the highest rank of the Church hierarchy. The Curia officially includes all of the metropolitans, as well as the cardinals of each of the Patriarchal worlds and each of the autocephalous worlds. Thus, the heads of Sanctuary Aeon, the Eskatonic Order, the Temple Avesti, and the Church of Ven Lohji are all members of the Curia. This gives them the distinction of being curates, though they are still technically cardinals. The Curia is a factious group of priests that does not meet formally except when called to do so by a Holy Synod. However, the approval or at least acquiescence of the majority of the Curia is generally sought by the Patriarch in any attempt to change Church doctrine on a permanent basis. A great deal of the more vicious politicking within the Church takes place within the Curia, as the cardinals all advance the interests of their respective constituencies, often at each other’s expense.
The Church hierarchy is all traced to the Curia, and so the Curia is often used to refer collectively to the entire hierarchy of the Church. The geographical areas that the Church hierarchy controls are very strictly broken down into a number of subdivisions. The subdivisions correspond closely to the divisions of noble rule, allowing members of the Church hierarchy to work hand in hand with the governing nobles. Each ordained authority will be attended by a number of advisors. The closest advisors may have a suffragan rank, indicating that they do not have the full functions of their rank but are attending on a higher priest. A suffragan bishop, for example, is slightly lower in rank than a bishop, and would likely be found attending an archbishop. The archbishop would also have priests and deacons attending upon them, but they would not necessarily have suffragan rank- only the closest advisors are promoted to suffragan ranks.
These divisions are used both to denote areas ruled by the Church and those ruled by other parties. Any land that is ruled by the Church has one priest, known as the Liason Inferior, who rules the land like a lord in the name of the presiding priest. Liasons Inferior are usually the rank of close attendants of the priest. If, for example, an entire archdiocese were under direct Church rule (which is rare except on Church worlds, though it is the case on Ravenna, Icon, Kish and Midian as well), the land would be ruled by an archbishop but run by the Liason Inferior, who would have the rank of suffragan bishop.
The largest subdivisions of the Church hierarchy are the metropolitan sees, each of which is under the sway of a metropolitan. A metropolitan see comprises a number of planetary sees. There are five metropolitan sees: The Aragon Metropolitan See (Cardinal Jordano): Aragon, Kurga, Beliah (claimed), Sutek, Vera Cruz, Madoc, Leagueheim. The Cadavus Metropolitan See (Cardinal Nadia): Cadavus, Cadiz, Malignatius, Severus, Vril-Ya, Manitou (claimed). The Criticorum Metropolitan See (Cardinal Tara-Leng) Aylon, Criticorum, Istakhr, Shaprut, and Kordeth. The Delphian Metropolitan See (Cardinal Lyander): Bannockburn, Delphi, Gwynneth, Leminkainen, Ravenna, Tethys, Hargard (claimed). The Kish Metropolitan See (Cardinal Lextius Naganaka Li Halan) Apshai, Grail, Icon, Kish, Midian, Rampart, Pandemonium, Ungavorox, Iver (claimed). Archbishop Masahiko, the Kish Metropolitan, has long desired to extend his domains to include Leagueheim, and there is constant dispute between the metropolitans over the world. Metropolitans, who are all automatically curates, are all cardinals, though they are amongst the most powerful cardinals within the church. Each metropolitan usually has at least one theurge of Level 7, and often the metropolitan is such a theurge. Each metropolitan additionally has a full Patriarchal Legion under his direct command. Each metropolitan is attended by suffragan cardinals.
Planetary sees are the next division of Church authority. Each planetary see is ruled by a cardinal. In the case of autocephalous worlds, the planetary cardinals are also members of the curia. The planetary sees of Artemis, Byzantium Secundus, Pentateuch, Pyre, and Velisamil are considered autocephalous, while the planetary sees of Holy Terra, Stigmata, de Moley and Nowhere are under direct Patriarchal authority. Worlds under Patriarchal authority are not under the sway of a metropolitan, but their cardinals are not considered members of the Curia, reporting instead directly to the Patriarch. Planetary sees are in many ways the mainstay of the Church, and they are not all orthodox. Currently the distribution of planetary sees is as follows: Orthodox: Aragon, Beliah (claimed), Leagueheim, Holy Terra, Delphi, Gwynneth, Ravenna, Leminkainen, Severus, Cadiz, Vril-Ya, Manitou (claimed), Aylon, Kordeth, Criticorum, Tethys, Hargard (claimed), Icon, Kish, Midian, Ungavorox, Vera Cruz, Sutek. Amalthean: Istakhr, Grail, Bannockburn, Artemis, Apshai, Rampart. Avestite: Kurga, Madoc, Malignatius, Pandemonium, Iver (claimed), Nowhere, Cadavus. Eskatonic: Shaprut, Pentateuch. Planetary sees are ruled by cardinals who tend to have access to a handful of level 6 theurges, and usually keep a Century of Patriarchal legionnaires under their direct command (in most worlds, these are drawn from the Legion the metropolitan keeps). The cardinals are attended by suffragan archbishops.
Planetary sees are divided into archdioceses, which are roughly equivalent to duchies except that they account for almost the entirety of the planet, and so there are far less officially autonomous regions (though far-flung lands are often members of the archdiocese only in name). An archdiocese might be made up of a duchy with assorted lands on the borders, or it might be made up of a huge region of less-centralized lords taking up a continent. An archdiocese is usually governed by an archbishop attended by a few suffragan bishops. An archbishop can usually call on at least one level 6 theurge, and usually has a maniple of Patriarchal legionnaires under direct command (a part of the planetary see’s century). Of course, an archbishop will almost always be able to call on lords in his archdiocese for military aid if he is threatened, and he can also request assistance from the Patriarchal legions.
Archdioceses are subdivided into dioceses, which roughly correspond to counties, though as with all Church lands, they have more comprehensive coverage than the equivalent noble domains. A diocese is governed by a bishop, who will usually have at least one level 5 theurge on retainer. Dioceses do not typically have any military forces besides a platoon to guard important Church property or personnel. In normal circumstances, however, the local lords will provide security for the Church. When relations between the Church and the local lords are strained, there may be an increased presence of Patriarchal troops to provide security. A bishop’s attendants are usually suffragan priests.
Dioceses are subdivided into regional sees, usually known simply as sees. Each see, which corresponds roughly to a viscounty, is governed by a priest. The attendants of the priest are simply deacons, not suffragan deacons. A priest might have a squad of legionnaires for security, but might not. Most sees will have at least one theurge of level 3, and some have one of level 4. A see is the smallest subdivision of land that hosts a cathedral. Lesser divisions have only churches.
Sees are divided into ecclesia parochial. This subdivision did not exist when the Dark Ages Church structure was set forth under the 4122 Act of Universal Supremacy, but it became apparent over the years that a single see did not have enough centralized authority to monitor large numbers of parishes. An intermediary step, the ecclesia parochial (assembly of parishes), was adopted in 4306, and since then it has become an accepted and essential part of the Church hierarchy. An ecclesia parochial roughly corresponds to an earldom or marquistae and is governed by a deacon attended by a few canons. The Curia has attempted to cultivate theurgical arts to the extent that each ecclesia parochial has at least one theurge of at least level 1, but while many do, there are still a great number of ecclesia parochial that do not.
Ecclesia parochial are made up of parishes. Technically they are not subdivided into parishes, as they are merely organizations of parishes in the first place. A parish, tended by a canon who may have a novitiate attendant or two, roughly corresponds to a barony. A very lucky parish might host a theurge, but it is rare for a theurge of a level above 3 to stay in a parish, as under normal circumstances they are likely to, if discovered, be brought to a greater church to study further. Parishes almost never have Liasons Superior and External, and even where the parishes are Church land, the canon himself is usually the Liason Inferior as well.
Parishes were intended to be the lowest division of land employed by the Church, but the decentralization of the New Dark Ages forced a further subdivision. Parishes are broken down into lesser parishes, which tend to small communities such as villages. Lesser parishes are tended by a novitiate, possibly attended by a few acolytes. Lesser parishes tend to be modest affairs indeed, where a great proportion of the novitiate’s energy is devoted to ensuring that the Orb never goes out. Lesser parishes never have Liasons Superior, Inferior, or External.
At each division of the Church hierarchy, the ruling priest is aided by a number of assistants. One of the more important of these is the Chartophylax, the keeper of the Church library. In areas where the Church has more dealings with other bodies than the ruling priest can keep up with, the priest designates one of his assistants as the Liason External. Areas with significant presences of other sects or bodies such as monasteries similarly tend to have Liasons Superior (in ecclesia parochial and sometimes in sees, the Liason Superior is often also the Liason External).
Areas that are directly ruled by the Church, known as terra firma, also usually have a Liason Inferior, who acts as the administrator of the land. Liasons Inferior wield significant power, as they control the local police forces and are in charge of all taxation, but they are always subordinate to the priest in charge of the area.