An authoritative gathering of bishops for the purpose of discussing ecclesiastical problems with a view toward passing decrees on matters under discussion.
A gathering of the bishops only in a particular region, and not of the whole Church, is a regional council. A local council is a gathering of the bishops in a particular local area. Even with the pope’s approval, a council’s decrees effect only the region it represents.
If only part of the hierarchy is invited, the council is particular.
A particular council is plenary if an entire country’s bishops are present.
A particular council is provincial if only a single provincial area is present, for example in the United States a provincial council might include only the bishops of a particular state or region.
Even a provincial council enjoys juridical authority distinct from legislative powers of individual diocesan bishops.
Councils are different from episcopal conferences, which are not legislative assemblies.
More Information Than You Probably Wanted