This is a shared term for the institutions, offices, bodies, and individuals who assist a person in charge in the pastoral and managerial governance.
There are two levels, Diocesan and Roman. The diocesan curia is often called the chancery or pastoral offices. Included in these offices are the vicar general, the chancellor, the judicial vicar, and heads of various departments. The curia also contains the archives and finance council.
We read in Canon 469: “The diocesan curia is composed of those institutes and persons who assist the bishop in governing the entire diocese, especially in directing pastoral actions, in providing for the administration of the diocese, and in exercising judicial power.” The curia is the principal instrument at the disposal of the bishop for the governance of the diocese. It has the responsibility of permanent watchfulness in matters concerning the diocese.
Every administrative activity in the church has an apostolic content which must receive some juridical framework at the governing level. In other words, so that the diocese can function smoothly, there has to be organization. The church is an institution, like the government, and so it has run accordingly, ensuring that the church will not be hampered in delivering the message of the Gospel and serving the people of Christ. The appointment to the curia is done by the diocesan bishop. All who are admitted to a curial position must promise to fulfill their office faithfully, as determined by Canon Law or the bishop.
At the universal Church level there is a Roman Curia. It functions much like a diocesan curia. This body assists the pope in the governance of the universal Church. There are ten congregations that belong to the Roman Curia: Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for Catholic Education, Congregation for Divine Worship, Congregation for Oriental Churches, Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Congregation for the Clergy, Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Congregation for the Evangelization of People.
Included in the Roman Curia are other agencies, such as the Apostolic Camera, the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, the Prefecture of the Papal Household, and the General Statistics Office of the Church.