THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCE OF PORTUGAL
The Portuguese Bishops’ Conference is one of the oldest, since it has been in operation since the 1930s. However, only in 1967 did it receive its first statutes, approved by the Plenary Assembly of Bishops.
The members of the Conference are: the 21 diocesan bishops, including the Bishop of the Military and Security Forces; the coadjutor bishops and auxiliaries; titular bishops in Portugal who exercise a special function at the appointment of the Holy See. Bishops emeritus are also members of the Conference but with no obligation to take part in the work of the Assembly.
The supreme body of the Conference is the Plenary Assembly, which usually meets twice a year, in April and November.
The president, vice-president and secretary, as well as four or five bishops elected by the Plenary Assembly, constitute the Permanent Council, the body delegated by the Assembly with the task of preparing its work and and following up its resolutions.
The other bodies of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference are the Episcopal Commissions, for specific areas of pastoral activity, the General Secretariat, with functions concerning bureaucratic matters, administration and pastoral coordination, and, finally, the National Secretariats, of a technical and executive nature for specific areas, dependent on an Episcopal Commission.
One of the most important functions of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference consists in the exercising of collegial magisterium in the form of letters and pastoral notes of doctrinal clarification or pastoral exhortation, almost always concerning events calling for a statement from the Episcopate.